Hiroshima Mon Amour
Saturday Night in the City of the Dead
The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned
Interview on Swedish TV 1977
He's a Liquid
Dancing Like a Gun
Stars On Fire
Lose All Sense of Time
discusses the influence of Ultravox! and John Foxx
John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh, 26 September 1948) is an English singer, artist, photographer and teacher. He was the original lead singer of the band Ultravox, before leaving to embark on a solo career with Midge Ure taking his place. Primarily associated with electronic synthesizer music, he has also pursued a parallel career in graphic design and education.
Allmusic noted that Foxx "was one of those cult figures known more through the recordings of others rather than those of his own making. His detached, jolting vocal style inspired mainstream and underground artists across the decades, from synth pop superstar Gary Numan to electro-techno duo Adult".
After several name-changes, including Fire of London, The Zips and The Damned, the band became Ultravox!, in July 1976. The group's style fused punk, glam, electronic, reggae and New Wavemusic. Around this time, Leigh adopted his stage name of John Foxx. "Foxx is much more intelligent than I am, better looking, better lit. A kind of naively perfected entity. He's just like a recording, where you can make several performances until you get it right - or make a composite of several successful sections, then discard the rest." (Chris Allen, who had briefly gone by the name Chris St. John, changed his name again, to Chris Cross.)
Once the band signed to Island Records, they released three albums during 1977–1978. The first Ultravox! single, "Dangerous Rhythm", backed with "My Sex", was released on 19 January 1977. Their first album (the self-titled Ultravox!) was released shortly afterwards, produced by Steve Lillywhite and the band, with assistance from Brian Eno. It was followed by their second album Ha!-Ha!-Ha!, which included the single "ROckWrok", although both were commercial failures.
For their third album, Systems of Romance, Ultravox abandoned the exclamation mark in their name. Also missing was their first guitarist, Stevie Shears, who was replaced by Robin Simon, fromNeo. The album was co-produced by Conny Plank. Two singles were released from the album, "Slow Motion" and "Quiet Men". Sales were modest, but the album did gain the band exposure to a wider audience, including the United States.
During the recording of Systems of Romance, a song of the same name was written, but the band had no time to record it. It was later included on Foxx's second solo album The Garden. AtSystems of Romance gigs, Foxx began to perform with the band three future solo songs, "He's a Liquid" and "Touch & Go" (later included on Metamatic, Foxx's first solo album) and "Walk Away" (included on The Garden album). The latter song was not performed again by Foxx until 1983.
Despite being dropped by their record label at the beginning of 1979, Ultravox undertook a self-financed tour of the United States in February. During the tour, the band performed two new songs, "Touch and Go", which Foxx later recorded for Metamatic, and "Radio Beach", which was never recorded in the studio.
Foxx had informed the band that he wished to leave. The band came to a parting of the ways at the end of the tour on the west coast of the United States, Robin Simon deciding to stay on in New York and Foxx announced his plan to go solo upon returning to England. Without a lead singer, the band went into hiatus, Billy Currie joining Gary Numan's touring band and contributing to his 1979 album, The Pleasure Principle. Currie rejoined the group, whilst Foxx was replaced by Midge Ure, whom Currie had met whilst working with Visage. This Ultravox line-up lasted another nine years.
Solo career (1980–1985)
After signing to Virgin Records, Foxx achieved minor chart success with his first solo singles, "Underpass" (UK No. 31) and "No-One Driving" (UK No. 32). Its parent album Metamatic was released on 17 January 1980, and peaked at No. 18 in the UK Albums Chart. Foxx played most of the synthesisers and "rhythm machines", as they were listed on the sleeve. One of the album's songs, "Metal Beat", takes its name from a CR-78 drum machine sound used on the record. Virgin released the album under the imprint name Metal Beat Records, which was used for Foxx releases throughout his contract with them.
He then worked on dozens of tracks for two projected albums, and one of these tracks, "My Face", was released on a flexi-disc given away with Smash Hits in October 1980.
Foxx's next album was The Garden, released in September 1981. It reached No. 24 in the UK Albums Chart. The Garden's starting point was "Systems of Romance", written by Foxx for the earlier album but not released at the time.
In 1982, Foxx set up his own recording studio, designed by Andy Munro, also called The Garden, housed in an artists' collective in Shoreditch, East London, in a former warehouse also occupied by sculptors, painters and film makers. He produced some demo recordings for Virginia Astley's first album From Gardens Where We Feel Secure. Artists such as Depeche Mode, British Electric Foundation, Brian Eno, Trevor Horn, Bronski Beat, The Cure, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tina Turner, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Tuxedomoon also recorded in Foxx's studio.
In 1983, Foxx provided some music for the soundtrack to Michelangelo Antonioni's film Identification of a Woman (Identificazione di una Donna). In September that year, his third solo LP The Golden Section was released (UK No. 27).
The album In Mysterious Ways was issued in October 1985, which spent one week at No. 85 in the UK chart. Musically it was not considered a significant advance on the sound of his three previous releases, nor was it a commercial success although the album's lyrics are far more romantic than any of his previous albums. Foxx later said that at the time he felt divorced from any contemporary musical influences. However, he did produce, co-write and play on Pressure Points, by Anne Clark, the same year.