Based in Gillingham, Kent, England in the early '70s, the rock band Scabb Harry quickly came to the front of the local music scene. Featured in this young group of progressive musicians were Jeremy "Jez" Ryder (later Jack Hues) on vocals and lead guitar, Gordon "Bill" Clift on bass guitar, Andy Collins on tenor sax and flute, and Nigel Robinson on drums. In the months to follow, other members of the band included Carl Callus (whose last name was later changed to Burgess) on bass and Ron Chadwick on vocals. The band played at some London colleges, and on one occasion, supported the band Vinegar Joe (featuring Robert Palmer playing keyboards).
On May 11, a newspaper article on Scabb Harry appeared in a local UK newspaper, The Chatham Standard. The reviewer certainly notices the musical influence of The Beatles and Cream on the band's sound.
1977 - 1978
Singer/guitarist/keyboardist Jack Hues (Jeremy Ryder) and singer/bassist/guitarist/keyboardist Nick Feldman (formerly of the rock band Pig Williams) met for the first time after Jack responded to an advertisement that Nick placed in the classifieds of the weekly British music press, Melody Maker. Prompted by the freedom of the exploding punk music movement in England, they first played together in an avant-garde group called The Intellektuals from mid 1977 to late 1978. The group included Jack Hues (guitar/vocals), Nick Feldman (guitar/vocals), Mike Smith (keyboards), Mike Berry (bass guitar), and Paul Hammond (drums - formerly of the rock band Atomic Rooster). At some point in 1978, Bud Merrick took over on bass guitar until the band ended in late 1978.
1978 - 1979
After The Intellektuals split up, drummer Darren Costin, keyboard player Simon Campbell, bass player Leigh Gorman (who later joined the group Bow Wow Wow), and lead singer Glenn Gregory (who became a member of the group Heaven 17) joined Jack Hues and Nick Feldman, after meeting them while in the same rehearsal studio in the East End of London. They were all part of a little scene, based in a studio called Easy Street. The band was then reborn under the name 57 Men. Some songs they performed included "I Wanna Be An Object", "Disco Dave", "Don't React", "Cheap Emotions" and "Disco Dave's Dream" among others. After playing around England for a year and a half trying to get a record deal, 57 Men split up in the autumn of 1979.
Out of the ashes of 57 Men rose a new band. Jack Hues, Nick Feldman (aka Nick De Spig), and Darren Costin (aka Darwin) re-grouped and started out again as a stripped-down three-piece unit named Huang Chung. The band recorded four live tracks for 101 Records, all of which appeared on a pair of compilation albums in 1980 and 1981.
The independent record company Rewind Records signed the band up for a two single deal. Huang Chung's first single for the label was "Isn't It About Time We Were On TV", gaining their first ever radio play in the UK on John Peel's show. The band's second single was "Stand Still". Saxophonist David Burnand (aka Hogg Robinson) joined the band just after the Rewind singles.
Huang Chung signed to Arista Records in the UK for a two album deal in May with two singles, "Hold Back The Years" and "China", released in July and October, respectively.
In March, Huang Chung's eponymous debut album is released on Arista Records. It is produced by Rhett Davies of Roxy Music fame and Roger Bechirian from The Undertones. A third single, "Ti-Na-Na", is released in April. Throughout 1982, the band toured extensively in Europe where they gained valuable experience and honed their musical skills.
Music group Blanket Of Secrecy released their synth-pop masterpiece album Walls Have Ears. Released on F-Beat Records in the UK and on Warner Brothers in the US (as Ears Have Walls), it includes the song "Lovers" written and arranged by Jack Hues. Saxophonist Hogg also plays on the album. Not much is known about this mysterious band.
David "Hogg" Burnand amicably left the band over musical differences.
David Massey takes over as the band's manager in May.
Huang Chung goes back into the studio to start work on their second album for Arista Records. During this brief time, the band managed to record an early version of "Dance Hall Days" and released it without making any impact on the charts. Sensing the band's future potential and the possibility of the song becoming a big hit, David Massey convinces Arista to close their contract with Huang Chung. Opting not to pursue a second album from the band, Arista frees them from their contract and does not impose a re-recording restriction on "Dance Hall Days". For a few weeks, Huang Chung goes without a recording contract while David Massey searches for a new record deal. Upon being spotted by A&R executive John Kalodner at a live gig, the band sign to Geffen Records in America becoming the first UK act to be signed to the label. In order to make pronunciation easier, record company president David Geffen suggests making a slight change to the band's name to Wang Chung and immediately went back into the studio to record.
The band meets Ross Cullum and Chris Hughes (ex-member of Adam And the Ants, as well as producer of Tears For Fears and Howard Jones). Wang Chung spent nearly all of 1983 in the studio with Chris and Ross recording Points On The Curve, their first album for Geffen Records.
The story behind "Dance Hall Days": The inspiration for their first top 20 hit, "Dance Hall Days", was a little out of the ordinary. Jack Hues was struck by a certain aspect of Vladimir Nabokov's book Lolita – the way the internal struggles progressively led to self-degradation. "I'd just read Nabokov's book Lolita", Wang Chung's Jack Hues stated. "'Dance Hall Days' and Delores Hayes, who is the central character in the book, are all sort of interlinked." Note the phrase "Dance Hall Days" and the name "Delores Hayes" sound alike. But there are other connections. The book deals with a man's lust for a young girl, and the growing paranoia this brings into his life. The song's lyrics also degenerate from innocence to degradation. "There are three verses," Hues says. "The first one is 'Take your baby by the hand,' which is a very innocent gesture. Then it ends up with stuff like 'Grab your baby by the ears.' The song is about growing up and the growing neurosis and paranoia about your relationships with other people."
Their Abbey Road Studios recorded album Points On The Curve yielded two US hits, "Don’t Let Go" and "Dance Hall Days". It was produced by Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum (Adam And The Ants, Tears For Fears). With their first worldwide smash hits in the bag, Wang Chung extensively toured the album in Europe, the US and Canada with The Cars and The Romantics, becoming a staple for the new MTV channel with their first videos.
In October, following their tour with The Cars, drummer Darren Costin left the band. He later pursued another project called Heroes with ex-Shilts member Michael Casswell. It also included Right Said Fred drummer Chuck Sabo.
The band contributed songs to several soundtracks. "There Is A Nation" appeared on the motion picture soundtrack of First Born. Also, they recorded "Fire In The Twilight" for John Hughes' seminal film The Breakfast Club. The soundtrack album was commercially available the following year with their song released as the second single following the monumental success of "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds.
Wang Chung followed up Points On The Curve with a spate of acclaimed soundtrack work. Director William Friedkin sought out Wang Chung to score his 1985 film To Live And Die In L.A. The resulting soundtrack became the group's third album. The movie itself also became a huge hit on the video charts. Friedkin himself directed the band's video.
On September 30, Wang Chung released the motion picture soundtrack for the film To Live And Die In L.A. It allowed Jack Hues and Nick Feldman to take an experimental turn when director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection, Rules Of Engagement) asked them to score his movie. The soundtrack album not only contained Wang Chung's pop stylings, but included several instrumental tracks, as well. Upon William Friedkin having completed as rough draft of the film, Nick and Jack flew to L.A. to view it. That viewing of the rough cut inspired Jack to write a title track for the film. It was produced by Tony Swain and Steve Jolley (Imagination, Bananarama, Alison Moyet, Spandau Ballet) and was the last song to be recorded for the soundtrack.
To Live And Die In L.A. opened in movies theaters across the US on November 1.
On December 6, "To Live And Die In L.A." peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
Wang Chung recorded their Peter Wolf (Frank Zappa, Starship) produced third album, Mosaic, which spawned arguably their biggest hits: "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", which reached Number 1 on several charts, and Top 10 "Let’s Go". Their final US Top 40 single from the album was "Hypnotize Me", featured on the soundtrack of the 1987 Spielberg film Innerspace. Once again, they toured the world to support the album, both on their own and opening for artists like Tina Turner.
"Everybody Have Fun Tonight" is released on October 13 along with its iconic, eye-popping music video directed by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme ("Every Breath You Take", "Wrapped Around You Finger" - The Police, "Girls On Film", "A View To A Kill" - Duran Duran, "Two Tribes", "The Power Of Love" - Frankie Goes To Hollywood). Both the single and music video missed the Number One spot by a thread, peaking at #2 in the US on the Billboard Hot 100 and MTV Top 20 Video Countdown, respectively. The single was kept out of the top spot by another cultural flash point - "Walk Like An Egyptian" by The Bangles. "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" reached #3 on the Billboard dance chart and ultimately ranked #12 among the top 100 song of 1986.
The band ring in the new year by releasing "Let's Go" on January 6 as the follow up to "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", peaking at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in early April. In the UK, it was released in March which coincided with the band touring Britain throughout April to promote the single.
Wang Chung performs in Montreux, Switzerland on May 25 during the annual Montreux Rock Festival and International Music And Media Conference. Their performance was broadcast on June 20 and 21 as part of MTV's Montreux Rock Festival Weekend.
"Hypnotize Me", released as the third and final single from Mosaic, peaks at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The song is also featured in the movie Innerspace.
The band releases their fifth studio album, The Warmer Side Of Cool, spawning the hit single "Praying To A New God". "Swing" is scheduled to be released as the second single from the album but ends up being delayed and then cancelled.
Jack Hues wrote the music for William Friedkin's horror movie, The Guardian. For the soundtrack, Jack worked with L.A. based group The Green Quartet to play the string parts.
Nick Feldman teamed up with long-time friend Jon Moss (drummer of Culture Club). The duo named themselves Promised Land and released their version of "Something In The Air", originally a hit for Thunderclap Newman, on the FFRR label. It was awarded "Single Of The Week" by the NME music publication and became a sizeable club hit in the UK.
Jack recorded and produced a solo album for Epic Records entitled The Anatomy Lesson. It remains unreleased.
Promised Land released their eponymous debut album on Epic Records in July.
Jack Hues helped produce Shift, an instrumental album by Chris Hughes released on Fontana Records.
Jack collaborated with Genesis keyboardist Tony Banks, providing all the lead vocals for a project which Banks named Strictly Inc.
Jack co-produced an album with Chris Hughes called Experience by Definition Of Sound. It was released on Mercury Records.
Everybody Wang Chung Tonight – Wang Chung's Greatest Hits was released. The collection included the brand new track "Space Junk" and a remix of "Dance Hall Days" alongside many of their hits. Nick and Jack took the opportunity to embark on a promotional tour in order to publicize the compilation. They made several appearances on local radio stations across the USA and performed live at several music festivals.
In response to the demand of several American concert promoters, Wang Chung embarked on the "Testing The Waters" tour across the West Coast of the US in November.
Nick Feldman is hired as A&R (Artist & Repertoire) manager for Warner Music UK developing and promoting fine new bands including Arturo, The Screaming Orphans, The Webb Brothers, and ARKARNA. By March, Nick moved on to become an A&R man for Sony Music UK with David Massey, who managed Wang Chung throughout the 1980's.
Their second greatest hits collection, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best Of Wang Chung, is released.
"Dance Hall Days" is used in the smash hit video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
Jack Hues And The Quartet was formed and grew out of friends just getting together and playing. Founding members include Jack Hues (guitar), Sam Bailey (piano), Nadia Tewfik (violin) and Clive Fletcher (double bass). Paul Townsend was originally drafted in as a percussionist, but ended up playing full drum kit. He left and was replaced by Michael Porter. Paul Booth (saxophones) has played with the band on some gigs and appears on the demo extracts. Other guests have included Tony Coe (saxophones) and Martin Elliot (bass guitar). Clive Fletcher left the band in December and Rutledge Turnland (double bass) joined the following month. Their repertoire initially included music by Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis and Kenny Wheeler. It now consists mainly of original compositions by Jack Hues influenced by everything from Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Aphex Twin and Pink Floyd to Johannes Brahms and Radiohead. Their combines composition and improvisation with the cohesiveness and spontaneity that is only achievable through frequently playing together.
On June 16, Wang Chung feature on the US television series Hit Me Baby One More Time (ABC) performing "Everybody Have Fun Tonight" and a crowd-pleasing cover of "Hot In Herre" by Nelly.
The band contribute "Akasha", a previously unreleased song, to the the album Of Hands And Hearts, a compilation released in response to the 2004 tsunami crisis in Southeast Asia.