Wet Wet Wet Biography

This Scottish pop band was formed in 1982 by Marti Pellow (Mark McLachlan, 23 March 1965, Clydebank, Scotland; vocals), Graeme Clark (b. 15 April 1966, Glasgow, Scotland; bass/vocals), Neil Mitchell (b. 8 June 1965, Helensburgh, Scotland; keyboards), and Tommy Cunningham (b. 22 June 1964, Drumchapel, Glasgow, Scotland; drums). The quartet took their name from a line in the Scritti Politti song ‘Getting Having And Holding’. After frequent live performances, they recorded a promising demonstration tape, and were signed by Phonogram Records in 1985. Recordings in Memphis followed with veteran soul producer Willie Mitchell. In 1987, ‘Wishing I Was Lucky’ reached the UK Top 10, followed by the even more successful ‘Sweet Little Mystery’. The band’s agreeable blue-eyed soul was further in evidence on their debut album Popped In Souled Out, which climbed to number 2 in the UK album chart. Further UK hits followed with ‘Angel Eyes (Home And Away)’ and ‘Temptation’. Unfortunately, the band suffered litigation at the hands of Van Morrison, who reached an out of court settlement over their use of his lyrics in part of ‘Sweet Little Mystery’ (also a John Martyn song title).

In June 1988, Wet Wet Wet’s profile was increased when they reached number 1 in the UK with a track from the various artists compilation, Sgt Pepper Knew My Father. Their innocuous reading of the Beatles’ ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ maintained their standing as 80s pin-up idols. Their reputation as one of the leading UK pop bands was enhanced in 1992 when ‘Goodnight Girl’ remained at the top of the charts for several weeks. Their broad appeal did not detract from the talent within, led by the confident vocals of Pellow. Their single, ‘Lip Service’, released in summer 1992, suggested a new interest in more dance-orientated music. Any suggestion that their commercial fortunes may be declining were blown apart by the staggering success of their cover version of the Troggs’ ‘Love Is All Around’, the theme song to the hit movie Four Weddings And A Funeral, which, in 1994, stayed at the top of the UK charts for 15 weeks. ‘Julia Says’ also reached the Top 10, but subsequent releases did not achieve the same high level of commercial success.

Following 1997’s 10, drummer Cunningham left the band. A more serious defection followed in May 1999, when Pellow announced he was embarking on a solo career following the admission of a serious drug habit. His debut album Smile was released in summer 2001, but he enjoyed more success in the role of Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago. He was reunited with his former Wet Wet Wet colleagues at his mother’s funeral, and in 2004 the quartet announced they were re-forming to tour and record new material. It was another three years before Timeless (with sleeve artwork by Klaus Voorman) was released.

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

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