In the early 1980s, video and radio combined to make Brit punk/new wave group Bow Wow Wow a pop sensation with their top hit: I Want Candy.
Created by Malcolm McLaren, the band was made from musicians who had played with Adam Ant: Matthew Ashman, Leigh Gorman and David Barbe.
Fusing pop melodies and African drum beats, the band took six months to find a singer – which ended up being 14 year old Annabella Lwin.
McLaren encouraged Lwin to switch schools so she would have more time to work with the band. At early gigs in London, Boy George (then known as Lieutenant Lush) was considered as another singer for Bow Wow Wow, but was considered too wild.
First signing with EMI in 1981, the band then moved to RCA and had a hit single with Go Wild in the Country in 1982.
It was followed up with cover of The Strangeloves I Want Candy, which went to number one in the UK and North America.
McLaren put the band on tour, with an extensive number of dates in the US, which helped push the song on radio playlists and on MTV and MuchMusic.
Although the band did well in this time period, it was common knowledge the band was a vehicle to promote McLaren’s partner Vivienne Westwood’s clothing line and their vision of popular culture.
Even as an avid fan of new wave from this time period, I suspected this band was as real as Boy George’s extensions.
After the release of the third album in 1983, tensions among band members caused Lwin to be pushed out as the lead singer and Ashman becoming the front man of the newly formed Chiefs of Relief.
Bow Wow Wow faded out as fast as it had developed on the charts – a one hit wonder of the early 1980s.