'80s - The Original Bucks Fizz (2013)
'A New Beginning'
In late 1980, Nichola Martin and Andy Hill sought to create a new group to enter their song 'Making Your Mind up' in the Eurovision song contest. After successfully finding Mike Nolan, Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston and Bobby Gee they decided on the name Bucks Fizz (after Nichola's Favourite drink!).
After winning A Song for Europe the newly formed band went on to win the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin and also created the now famous skirt ripping routine. Making Your Mind Up went straight to #1 in the UK and around Europe making the band international stars overnight.
Two more #1 singles followed 'The Land of Make Believe' and 'My Camera Never Lies' along with the groundbreaking album Are You Ready. During the hectic recording schedule Bucks Fizz also went on tour, performing worldwide to their legions of fans.
1983 saw the release of the critically acclaimed album Handcut with a further two hit singles 'If You Can't Stand the Heat' and Run For Your Life'. By the end of the year the band had released the stand out track 'When We Were Young' which finally proved that they were not just a pop band. By Christmas they had notched up enough hit singles for a Greatest Hits album.
In the summer of 1984 they released their version of The Romantics song 'Talking in your Sleep' which gave them a top 20 hit. Then came the fabulously dramatic 'Golden Days', but it was on the release of the fourth album 'I Hear Talk' that things would take a dramatic turn for the worse.
While on a December tour, after a sell out concert at Newcastle City Hall, the band were involved in a tragic coach crash which left Mike Nolan in a coma and fighting for his life. A further blow for the band came in 1985 when Jay Aston announced she was to leave the band. Auditions to replace Jay found singer Shelley Preston who secured a further album 'The Writing on the Wall' and five more singles including the stand out top ten song 'New Beginning'.
The single 'Heart of Stone' would be the last recording from Bucks Fizz in 1988, although the final single release was the classic 'Handcut' album track 'You Love Love' from 1983.
The band has continued in various forms until the present day. Bobby Gee still continues to fly the Bucks Fizz flag with his own acclaimed live show and, after the recent departure of Shelley Preston from The Original Bucks Fizz, Jay Aston is back after over 20 years with her old band mates Mike and Cheryl to keep the (Original) Bucks Fizz name alive.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jay Aston about life back in the '80s, that infamous Eurovision Song Contest, the horrible bus crash, and, of course ... penguins!
When We Were Young
Taking it from the top, and you came from a very theatrical family. Your mother was a former dancer, your dad a comedian, and the family even performed as acrobats! Wow, so what was it like for you growing up surrounded by all this talent and energy? "Amazing and difficult to understand other peoples way of life sometimes. So I felt, and still feel a bit of an outsider."
I don't think a lot of people know this, but the year before you appeared on the Eurovision Song Contest (1981) with Bucks Fizz, your brother Lance had performed with Prima Donna the year before! What advice did he give you in the lead up to your own special night? "None. He lost standing in the business by entering. I don't think he thought for a second we would win."
Casting your mind back to that infamous Eurovision Song Contest date in 1981, knowing England didn't have a great winning track record, backstage did the band have a self-belief that they could actually win the whole thing? "Mike Nolan did but I had no idea. In fact I was convinced we wouldn't !"
Indeed, had Bucks Fizz not won that contest do you think you would have still gone on to be one of the top-selling UK groups of the '80s? "No, definitely not."
Back in the day, at a nightclub called Bailey's (Watford, Herts), I saw you guys perform and to this day, even though sometimes I can't remember what I had for breakfast, I can recall the entire show - and meeting both you, Cheryl, and also Bobby backstage (in the narrow corridor) afterwards! Do you also have good memories of smaller shows like that as you were starting out - fond memories of shows/times when things were new/simpler for the band that have stuck with you both to this day? "OhhH tons! I could fill a book! One time the dry ice machine broke and covered the audience!!"
Piece Of The Action
I can't believe, with all those hit singles on the radio year after year (I used to live in Watford!) that you only managed three (3) #1 singles! Surely that can't be true, because in the '80s your music was everywhere! What am I missing here if that truly is the case? "Yes, three number ones, but lots of top tens too!"
One Of Those Nights
Sadly, on 11th December 1984, came that horrible bus crash. Not something that I wish to delve too deeply into, but just a few years ago the Original Bucks Fizz (OBF) went back and played the very same Newcastle venue they had played that fateful night - some 25 years later! Being part of that group for that one special performance, standing backstage, before and after, what emotions were coursing through you? "It was amazing to be back there together. Sort of like therapy meeting all the nurses doctors and ambulance staff who saved our lives. But the evening was overshadowed as my father had died a few days before."
Indeed, in that crash you were hospitalized for back injuries and severe head pains. Today, nearly some 30 years later, how are you doing in relation to these injuries? "I still have scars a weak back, etc. But the emotional side of things take longer to heal. Silly, but still the case you realise life can be short and accidents do happen. I guess I lead a different life as a result."
Being that you didn't seem to take a break from the moment you won the Eurovision Song Contest, come late 1985 and you decided to leave Bucks Fizz. Had the constant touring, media exposure, etc. started turning things sour for you? "There were all sort of business and personal issues that made things difficult. But I loved the schedule. Bring it on! Nothing is better than a pop stars diary!!"
During the latter part of the '90s and the early 2000's, you toured with your band, Aston, then got involved with a cover band, Monster Boogie, releasing Alive And Well (2003). Always the busy bee, especially as Lamb or Lizard came out in 2006, what is it about the industry that keeps you so invested? "It's what I do and fortunately people still enjoy what I do. If I won the lottery I would go back to drama college!"
And, due to your love for physical exercise, you also managed to release a keep-fit album, Shape Up and Dance in early 1984. Featuring you on the front cover in a sexy black leotard and fishnet stockings, what do you remember the most about that photo shoot that day? "It wasn't comfortable lying on a column!! It was a long day, they wanted me to bring and wear neon clothes, but I wanted to look classy. Not so! 80's fitness is for life!"
New Beginning (Mamba Seyra)
Indeed, come 2009 and you rejoined the OBF line-up and have been part of it ever since. Even to the point of bringing out a new album together! Please tell us more about this new album containing a mix of new material and re-worked BF hits, entitled 'Fame & Fortune'? "Honestly I had very little to do with it. Cheryl and her husband Steve Stroud organised the whole thing."
'I Hear Talk' - Watch The New Video!
So, what is it like after 30 years to be back as part of OBF, playing live shows to thousands each night, having your skirt ripped off again, and again ... and again?! "Fab ... love it!!"
I Hear Talk
And will we ever see OBF touring over here in the USA? "Doubt it, unless someone decides it's a good idea out there!"
You now also like to run for charity, alongside your husband Dave. What distances do you run and how many races have you entered and completed? "Two half and one full marathons and I'm in training for another. We run for Cancer and Alzheimer's charities."
Making Your Mind Up
If you could choose one Bucks Fizz song that you have LOVED since day one, which song would you all choose? "Land of Make Believe."
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball (as we ask every celeb this question, due to the fact we're putting together a book of quotes - and penguin drawings - for the charity organization Alzheimer's Association, based here in the US), Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins ... the flightless bird, not the chocolate bar! So, do you have any love for them or even a story, perhaps? "I have a large wooden penguin doorstop a fan gave me years ago! My daughter loves him and has dressed him on occasions; especially at Christmas! X"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
In cooperation with David Patton
'I Hear Talk' - Watch The New Video!
'I Hear Talk' was released as a download only single on 24th May, 2010.
Original Bucks Fizz Tour Dates 2013:
28 June. Kings lynn
21 July. West Malling
31 August. Ely
8 November. Norfolk
16 November. Here & Now Bognor
30 November. Tower Hotel
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED CD from Jay Aston, just answer this question: In March 2007, Jay appeared in a Comic Relief video dancing with her fellow original members of Bucks Fizz. What was the song and how were the original recording artists?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win an AUTOGRAPHED Jay Aston CD! It could be one of her solo albums or a Bucks Fizz CD! Just send us an e:mail here before September 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: SIGNED JAY ASTON CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org