One might think of Limahl in the same bracket as Boy George, Phil Oakey or Margaret Thatcher as having one of the defining bouffants of the era! But the original duotone spikey mullet man was, oh, so much more than his legendary hair; the band he fronted so much more than their crazy name and angular posturings. That was the spirit of the time, the manner in which one grabbed attention, the means by which in the wake of the New Romantic movement one expressed oneself. From the smugness of hindsight it is all too easy to write off bands like Kajagoogoo, Visage and A Flock Of Seagulls as fashion victims. They were the tribal leaders of a swathe of optimistic, even futuristic, youth. To understand the look, the feel of that unique time in history, one has to have a mind to the can-do culture of that moment. The constraints of class, gender, sexuality were seen not as proscriptive and defining in the manner they had hitherto been, but rather as a rich iconography to be bent and shaped to create image, image, image!!!
Music mattered; it was liberation from one’s immediate surroundings. It was the art form of choice where colour, design, image, attitude and groove coalesced. It was a fantasy of self-transformation accessible to all for the price of a copy of Smash Hits or a 7” Single. It was identity, it was energy, it was integral to to being young. You were a Duranie or into Spandau Ballet, there would be many playground debates about the relative merits of Nik Kershaw or Howard Jones. Limahl was a real contender too, five chart hits over two years and here’s the roll-call :-
Too Shy (no.1) - Ooh To Be Ahh (no.7) - Hang On Now (no.13) - Only For Love (no.16) - Never Ending Story (no.4) .
Big chart hits too possums, look, all top 20!! A five-hit wonder, but no flash in the pan. For a small time, a big star!! Instantly recognisable, obviously talented, so what happened.......
Limahl won the hearts of a global audience as lead singer of Kajagoogoo and co-writer of their million selling album 'White Feathers' spawning the deliciously catchy début single 'Too Shy' which stormed to the top of the charts all over the world, including top 5 in America.
The band’s eye-catching image struck a chord with a whole generation inspiring Kaja mania and a new wave of sometimes dodgy imitation haircuts!
Mainstream popularity brought platinum sales awards and the accolade of performing at prestigious industry and public events alike. One such early career highlight was an invitation to perform at the 1983 Children’s Royal Variety Show at Her Majesty's Theatre, London in the presence of HRH Princess Margaret. The momentum of that breakthrough year culminated in Kajagoogoo winning the ASCAP Award (American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers) for having written one of the most played songs of the year on American radio. Limahl felt particularly honoured by the award being presented by Hal David better known as one half of legendary songwriting duo Bacharach and David.
Far from being the one-hit wonders predicted by the more vociferous critics, their two follow up singles 'Ooh To Be Ah' & 'Hang On Now' charted respectfully, proving that the band were no manufactured overnight sensation. Not only could these guys play their instruments, for an all too brief moment in pop history, they shared an intense and professional musicality; songwriting skills that burnt with a commercial brightness that in the pop culture climate of the time seemed set to assure a measure of longevity.