The time Craig Allen was hanging out with Adam Ant
In the late '80s and early '90s, I had the chance to "hang out" some very cool chart-toppers. This is the story about the time I got to "hang out" with Adam Ant.
Adam was born Stuart Goddard, an only child, November 3, 1954, in Marylebone, London, England. His father was an alcoholic, and his parents divorced when he was 7. "There was no luxury, but there was always food on the table," Goddard says of his youth. In his early school years, he was encouraged to develop his artistic abilities. He entered the Hornsey College Of Art, studying graphic design, before dropping out to concentrate on his music.
By the mid '70s, Goddard joined his first band "Bazooka Joe," where he played bass guitar. Shortly, he formed his own band the "B-Sides" which rehearsed, but never played publicly. It was at this time (while still in college) that Goddard got married, and developed anorexia. After overdosing (purposely) on pills, he was sent for the first time to a mental hospital. Upon release, he renamed himself Adam Ant, and formed the first version of the band "Adam And The Ants" (1977-1982). The band would go through many lineup changes over the years.
Initially just "Ants," the band was part of the ever-growing punk rock movement of the time. The band toured England in 1979, but was not popular with the British music press. In 1980, "Antmusic" was a #2 single in the UK, spawning the "Antmania" in England. Further British hit records followed.
In 1982, Adam Ant went solo, and scored a chart hit with "Goody Two Shoes" (#1 UK, #12 U.S). Ant toured England and America that year, and appeared on television here.
In 1983, Ant recorded the album "Strip." The song "Strip (#42 U.S.) was produced by Phil Collins, who also plays drums on the single. In England, the BBC banned the song and video.
As the 1980's continued (1986-1989), Adam Ant concentrated on his acting career, appearing on the British stage, in movies, and American TV shows like: "The Equalizer," "Tales From The Crypt," and "Northern Exposure."
1990 brought a return to music, and the hit single "Room At The Top."
This is when I met Adam Ant.
The song is getting extensive play on the station (WPST, Trenton), and is headed up the national Top-40 charts (#17/1990). Adam is quickly booked as a headlining act at the annual station party. Backstage, he seems like a really regular guy. Friendly and engaging with everyone (unlike Howard Jones the year before).
Adam Ant wows the crowd with his music, passion and onstage energy. Afterwards, he changes into "street clothes," puts on glasses, and hangs out for the night. We strike up a conversation in the hospitality suite, and eventually I head out onto the main floor to check out the action. Adam Ant follows me.
This is before the internet, before DJ pictures, bios and articles are commonplace, so I move mostly un-noticed through the crowd (not flashing my station ID, or backstage pass). In his street clothes, Adam Ant can, too. So, we walk through the crowds, talking about music and radio. He asks what other artists are "hot" on the station, and we talk about who we like, and who we each think are upcoming artists.
All these years later, I wish I could clearly remember specifics. But, it was a fascinating night. Of all the station personalities he could pal around with, Adam Ant decided to hang out with me. We were just two guys enjoying the festivities, sharing a passion for hit music, and talking about everyday life.
All these years later, its clear that Adam Ant loved performing that night, and then just being a "regular guy" walking through the crowds with me, being, for the most part, anonymous. Enjoying the rest of the night, like he was a station listener and party-goer. When he felt like it, he would strike up a conversation with an individual, or a couple, in the crowd...and they were always surprised to find out that they were talking with Adam Ant. And, yes, the loyal listeners...our party-goers...were always respectful.
What has happened since 1990? Adam Ant scored another U.S. chart hit, "Wonderful" (#39/1995).
Ironically, I was able to play Adam Ant's last chart hit on that same station, and, again, talk about that fun night five years later. The song did well during PST's "alternative" phase. I had returned to the airwaves there for a year, in between Philadelphia radio jobs.
Through the 1990's, Adam Ant put out more music (with little chart recognition, stateside), lived for awhile in Los Angeles, again pursuing an acting career, and he had a few high-profile relationships (including actress Heather Graham). He also acquired a stalker, whose antics drove him to a breakdown, and more hospital time.
On a happier note, in the late '90s, Adam Ant got married (briefly), and had a daughter, Lily.
Sporadic touring, some new music, and box-set releases and album reissues mark the late '90s, and 2000's for Adam Ant.
The early 2000's result in several scuffles with the law, and subsequent hospitalizations. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 21, and has stated: "Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It is the final taboo, and it needs to be faced and dealt with."
I'll always remember Adam Ant...hitmaker...loving life as a "regular guy."