Bucks Fizz Biography

‘Britain’s answer to Abba’, Bucks Fizz was originally conceived as a vehicle for singer, producer and manager Nichola Martin to appear in the Eurovision Song Contest. With her partner, and later husband, Andy Hill producing and composing material, Martin auditioned hundreds of applicants before deciding on Mike Nolan (7 December 1954), Bobby Gee (b. Robert Gubby, 23 August 1957, Epsom, Surrey, England), Jay Aston (b. 4 May 1961, London, England) and Cheryl Baker (b. Rita Crudgington, 8 March 1954, Bethnal Green, London, England). Of the four, Baker had the most experience, having previously appeared as a Eurovision entrant with Coco. So impressed was Martin with her discoveries that she suppressed her singing ambitions and reverted to a wholly managerial role. Having signed the group for publishing, she soon abandoned the management reins, which were passed over to Jill Shirley of the Razzmatazz agency.

Armed with the catchy ‘Making Your Mind Up’, the manufactured Bucks Fizz duly won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest and enjoyed a UK number 1 in the process. During the next 12 months they had two further UK number 1 hits, ‘The Land Of Make Believe’ and ‘My Camera Never Lies’. For the next two years all was well, but after ‘When We Were Young’, their chart performance declined significantly. In 1984 the group was involved in a much publicized coach crash and Nolan was incapacitated for a considerable period. Matters worsened when Aston became involved in an affair with Hill, thereby straining the relationship with Martin. Feeling ostracized, guilty and emotionally confused, Aston attempted suicide, sold her dramatic story to the press and sought legal redress against Martin’s Big Note Music after departing from the group. Martin and Shirley subsequently conducted another mass audition to find a replacement before choosing the totally unknown 21-year-old Shelley Preston (b. 16 May 1964, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England). Although the new line-up did not recapture the success of its predecessor, the aptly titled ‘New Beginning (Mamba Seyra)’ returned them to the UK Top 10. They had further minor entries in the late 80s, with ‘Love The One You’re With’, ‘Keep Each Other Warm’ and ‘Heart Of Stone’.

Nolan left the group in 1996, to be replaced by former Dollar frontman David Van Day. Amid a certain amount of acrimony, Nolan subsequently returned to launch his own version of Bucks Fizz with Day, Lianna Lee and Sally Jacks. In 1998 they released a revamped ‘Making Your Mind Up’, faster in tempo and with ‘lots of pingy electronic bits’. Meanwhile, Bobby Gee’s rival outfit, which is accepted by many to be the official Bucks Fizz since he kept the group alive when the others had left, saw him joined by Graham Crisp, Heidi Manton and Louise Hart. Since the original group disbanded, founder member Cheryl Baker has become a popular UK television personality, hosting shows such as Eggs ‘N’ Baker, The Survival Guide To Food and Record Breakers. In the wake of the coach crash, she also founded the charity Headfirst.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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