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Meet Kajagoogoo [PHOTOS/VIDEOS]

kajagoogoo now
Kajagoogoo today! (Official site photo)

Recently, on Deminski & Doyle, I heard Jeff and Bill wondering…what ever happened to Kajagoogoo? Where is Chris Hamill today?

Originally known as “Art Noveau,” the band that would be Kajagoogoo formed in Leighton Buzzard, England in 1979.

It was a 4-piece instrumental group, with Nick Beggs on bass guitar, Steve Askew on lead guitar, Stuart Croxford Neale on keyboards, and Jeremy “Jez” Strode on drums.

Art Nouveau released a song called “The Fear Machine,” which sold a few hundred copies.  A record deal did not follow…

In 1982, the band went on the hunt for a lead singer, ultimately choosing Chris Hamill. At the time, he was using the stage name “Limahl,” an anagram of Hamill.

And, the group name change happened in 1982: They phonetically spelled out a baby’s first words…Gaga GooGoo…and with a little creative thinking, it became Kajagoogoo. Simple as that!

The band signed with EMI Records in July of 1982…after Chris Hamill, working as a waiter in a London club, met Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran!

Rhodes would co-produce Kajagoogoo’s hit “Too Shy” with Duran Duran’s EMI producer Colin Thurston.

“Too Shy” would rocket to #5 on the Hot 100 charts in the U.S…

…it was #1 in Britain, in 1983.

The followups, “Ooh To Be Aah” and “Hang On Now” went into the Top 20 in the band’s native England.

Only “Hang On Now” charted here in the U.S. (#78/1983).

kaja hang on
Kajagoogoo remix…with special offer inside! (amazon.com)

As often happens with success, tension started to grow within the band.

Ultimately, Chris Hamill was fired! This was mid-way through 1983. He accused his band mates of jealousy. They countered that he was hard to work with, and an egomaniac. In the end, there were the usual lifestyle and creative differences to contend with.

Nick Beggs took over as lead singer….

The first single in the post-Hamill era, “Big Apple” went Top-10 in England in September 1983.

“The Lion’s Mouth” landed in the Top-30 in England in February 1984…and the British record-buying public followed the advice of Kajagoogoo’s next single: “Turn Your Back On Me.”

In the meantime, the band called themselves “Kaja” in the U.S….and “Turn Your Back On Me” was popular in the clubs…and it was a #2 hit on the Dance charts!

Limahl would mount a solo career…you might recall “Never Ending Story,” which landed at #17 on the Hot 100 charts in 1985.

Now, Strode would leave Kajagoogoo.

In an attempt to shed their “bubblegum” image, the band decided to do in Britain what they were already doing here…they relaunched as Kaja.

“Shouldn’t Do That” barely blipped as a single (#63/1985, UK), and the band’s third album, “Crazy People’s Right To Speak” went unnoticed.

The remaining 4 members of the band called it quits in December 1985.

But, wait…

VH-1′s “Band Reunited” brought the original 5 members of the band back together, although only briefly…as disagreements among the members continued. Further, it was collectively believed that the show’s editing simplified the reasons why Hamill and Strode had left the band in the 1980′s.

But, wait…

In 2007, Nick Beggs, Steve Askew, and Stuart Neale decided to revive the reunion, by releasing the single “Rocket Boy,” which got airplay on British radio.

An announced new album was quickly postponed…as behind-the-scenes talks were going on…and in February 2008, Chris Hamill and Jez Strode rejoined the band!

kajaelves
The “Kajaelves” in 2009. (official site photo)

The guys say that they don’t dwell on the past…that their disagreements were valid…but, being older and wiser, they’d rather focus on the future.

Since reforming, Kajagoogoo has released an EP, and toured Europe extensively.

Their label, EMI has reissued much of Kajagoogoo’s music catalog, including remixes.

In June 2011, Kajagoogoo released their first single with the original 5-man lineup, since 1983!

“Death Defying Headlines” was released as both a digital single version, and as an extended remix.

Their newest single “1983″ was issued on iTunes in 2012!

To see what else the band is up to, click here for Kajagoogoo’s official website!

Kaja_Shy
“Living In Oblivion,” Volume #1, Cut #1. (Craig Allen photo)

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