“A lot has happened to me since I was wearing the gold lame suit and performing Look Of Love on Top of the Pops. A lot of adventures, a lot of tough moments and a lot of brilliant moments.”
The singer’s literate, heartbroken lyrics and the producer’s grand vision for pop combined to create ABC‘s Lexicon Of Love, a stylish, funky album that was a deliberate reaction to the dour, grey musical landscape of the early 80s.
“A lot of music at the time was about electricity pylons,” Fry once said, “and we wanted to take our audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride.”
Decked out in tailored suits and gold lame, they did just that, topping the charts for four weeks and launching a thousand imitators.
But thanks in large part to Anne Dudley‘s sumptuous string section, Lexicon Of Love hasn’t dated as badly as the records it inspired.
Yet ABC never managed to follow it up. Their second album, Beauty Stab, ditched synths for guitars and stalled at number 12.
The hip-hop rhythms of 1985’s How to Be A… Zillionaire! were ahead of their time, but they failed to arrest the band’s commercial decline.
Then, aged just 27, Fry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease and went “straight from Top of the Pops to the cancer ward”.
Incredibly, he worked throughout the two-year treatment, during which he lost all his hair and endured several operations, re-emerging in 1987 with the top-10 single When Smokey Sings – a eulogy to Motown legend Smokey Robinson.