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Gang of Four Biography

Last updated: 11/17/2010 11:00:00 AM

Gang Of Four was formed in 1977 in Leeds, England, by Andy Gill, Jon King and Hugo Burnham, all graduates of Leeds University, and Dave Allen, who answered an advert for a 'bass player wanted'. After their first single in 1978, they were snapped up by EMI and released their debut album Entertainment! in 1979.

Their second single, At Home He's A Tourist, actually made the UK Top 40, and Gang Of Four had been due to appear on Top Of The Pops, but were dropped at the last minute when they refused to remove the word 'rubbers' from the lyrics. Having retained their artistic integrity but missed their chance of wider fame, they were destined to remain a cult band, and they never again reached the singles chart.

The second album Solid Gold was released in 1981, but shortly afterwards Dave Allen left to form Shriekback, and was replaced on bass by Sara Lee. A third album, Songs Of The Free followed in 1982, but by this point much of the original hard edge had been lost from the music. Hugo Burnham left after this album, and the fourth album, Hard (1983), featured Andy Gill programming the Linndrum, with Jo Galdo, Ron Albert and Howard Albert also heavily involved. Steve Goulding provided live drums until 1984, when the band broke up. A live album, At The Palace, features one of their last gigs.

For a while, that was it, but in 1990 Gang Of Four was re-formed, on a part-time basis, by Andy Gill and Jon King, with various people filling in on bass and drums. The first single from the reformed band was Money Talks, released by independent record label Scarlett Recordings, and an album Mall followed in 1991, on Polydor. The sound was rather more electronic than Gang Of Four's earlier work, and later they admitted to only being happy with about half of it.

Andy and Jon kept themselves busy with film soundtrack work, and one such film, Delinquent, provided much of the music for the sixth Gang Of Four studio album, Shrinkwrapped. The album was released by When! (part of Castle Communications) in 1995, to widespread acclaim but (presumably) the usual dismal sales. A couple of rare but triumphant gigs followed, in London and America, but Jon King has since left the music business, meaning the end of Gang Of Four.

In 1998 Andy, Hugo and Dave worked together in compiling a 2-CD compilation, 100 Flowers Bloom, which was released in the USA including a number of new remixes and previously unreleased live and demo versions of earlier songs. For the future, a live album and even a live video have been rumoured.