Thursday, 12 January 2012 For some reason, Bananarama developed a very bad reputation with the music press. Although they started out as three ordinary but very likeable women, they became known as being awkward with journalists and especially difficult with photographers.
I never saw this side of them at all. I met them fairly early on in their career well before fame had had a chance to go to their heads. I was introduced to them by the DJ Gary Crowley in the summer of 1981 whilst I was shooting him for The Face magazine. I didn't know it at the time but I'd actually met and photographed two of them once before - Keren and Siobhan - at Billy's Club in Soho three years previously. I only discovered those photographs fairly recently.
The photograph above was commissioned by the magazine Cosmopolitan. At that time I had a fairly open brief from Cosmopolitan and I was detailed to find young pop bands that were destined for the top. It was for a half-page, monthly feature. When I was introduced to them, in all honesty, I had no real idea if they were going to be any good (it was some time before their first single) but they were three attractive, young women in ra-ra skirts and therefore perfect for the spirit of the times. Plus I thought they would be just right for Cosmo's demographic.
We decided to drive down to Brighton for the photographs. We ended up doing most of them on the pier but I also took some shots of them at the funfair, on the big wheel, and larking about fully clothed in the surf.
It was a great day out with beautiful sunny weather. The three of them couldn't have been any more charming or easier to work with. Soon afterwards I went to the WAG Club in Soho and saw them do a live PA of what would become their first single 'Aie a Mwana'. I thought it was great. Produced by Sex Pistol Steve Jones, it's still my favourite of all their singles.
I also managed to persuade Nick Logan to run a couple of the pictures in The Face. Where, according to legend, they were seen by ex-Specials lead singer Terry Hall. I guess he must have assessed them in much the way I'd done because, based solely on the way they looked, a meeting was arranged between them and Terry Hall's next band - the 'Fun Boy Three.' The rest, as they say, is history. The two bands subsequently collaborated on the single 'T'ain't What You Do (It's the Way That You Do It)' and it got to number 4 in the UK singles charts.
Bananarama's next record 'He Was Really Sayin' Something' then had The Fun Boy Three singing backup. That one got to number 5. I shot the photograph for the cover. It was taken at Orleans House Gallery, near the riverside in Twickenham.
I also shot them for the cover of NME a couple of times, once during the time Jacquie O’Sullivan was in the band. They were always fine with me. I loved working with them.