One of the most charismatic and unique bands of the 1980’s
The Sigue Sigue Sputnik “Space Cowboy” Martin Degville turns 58 today
Martin Degville was born on January 27th, 1961 in Walsall, England and came to prominence during the 1980’s as the lead singer and mastermind of the British Electronic/Space Pop band Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Degville was Boy George’s flatmate and a popular face on the Birmingham club scene during the late 1970’s, and like many of his contemporaries, he dabbed between the Punk and New Romantic movements until settling for the music style that popularized Sigue Sigue Sputnik. He formed the band in 1982 and is also a fashion designer, he styled Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s original image, and consequently their musical style which was a cross between Punk and Electronica. The themes and imagery in the band’s songs were often influenced by futuristic, dystopian or post-apocalyptic films such as “A Clockwork Orange”, “The Terminator”, “Blade Runner” and the “Mad Max trilogy”. Their visual image mashed together a range of other pop culture and electronica influences included fishnet masks and brightly colored wigs.The band’s first single, the Giorgio Moroder-produced “Love Missile F1-11”, was released in February 1986, was a major hit in several countries in Europe and Asia, and reached Nº3 on the UK charts. The song features vocals with high echo and uses multiple sound effects to create a futuristic atmosphere. It begins with a sample from Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 movie “A Clockwork Orange” where Malcolm McDowell’s character Alex, professes his fondness for a bit “of the old ultra-violence”, it also includes many other samples taken from old movies and advertisements. Its popularity was boosted by its inclusion in the John Hughes film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. The samples used in the single had not received copyright clearance and were replaced in the US version. The follow-up, “21st Century Boy”, using a similar musical and sample structure of their first single (which became Sigue Sigue Sputnik signature sound and formula), reached number 20 in the UK and, despite largely negative reviews, the album that followed, “Flaunt It”, again with Moroder at the controls, went top ten in the UK, and also reached number 96 in the US. The album included the novelty of having paid commercials between tracks, bassist Tony James stated prior to its release that they would sell 20–30-second advertising slots for between $2,500 and $7,000. He explained this by saying “commercialism is rampant in society. Maybe we’re a little more honest than some groups I could mention,” and “our records sounded like adverts anyway”. Advertisements that did sell (including spots for i-D Magazine and Studio Line from L’Oréal) were complemented by ironic spoof ads including one for the Sputnik corporation itself claiming that “Pleasure is our Business”. In 1989, one year after releasing their second album “Dress For Excess” and the song “Success”, which became a minor hit in Europe, the band broke up. they did several comebacks and reunions during the 1990’s, however, they were never able to repeat the same level of success they had with their first two singles. Martin Degville still performs Sigue Sigue Sputnik songs with his band Sigue Sigue Sputnik Electronic that he formed in 2009 while keeping up with his trademark image. The band has gained a cult following over the years which keeps Martin’s career very much active. Today he turns 57.
Look back at the 1986 music video for “Love Missile F1-11” by Sigue Sigue Sputnik
Watch Sigue Sigue Sputnik performing their second single “21st Century Boy” live in 1986
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