Former Adam and the Ants’ Dave Barbarossa (drums), Matthew Ashman (guitar), and Leigh Gorman (bass) along with the stunning, “plucked from obscurity” Annabella Lwin (vocals) made up the 1980s pop group, Bow Wow Wow. The band was the brainchild of Malcolm McLaren, former manager of the Sex Pistols and New York Dolls, to help promote his partner, Vivenne Westwood’s fashion lines.
The group released the world’s first cassette single on record label EMI but didn’t start to achieve real mainstream attention until its switch to RCA in 1981. That same year, Bow Wow Wow released its first album called See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang Yeah! City All Over, Go Ape Crazy. The album attracted controversial attention due to Lwin, then only 15, shown naked on the cover but also produced the group’s first UK top ten hit in the form of Go Wild in the Country.
In 1982, Bow Wow Wow had limited success with its second album Last of the Mohicans which included its cover of The Strangeloves’ I Want Candy. Bow Wow Wow’s version of this song is still considered a New Wave classic and features on various movie soundtracks, TV advertisements and 80s compilations.
Bow Wow Wow stepped away from its catchy pop tunes with a distinctive African beat to produce When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going but the sound didn’t strike a chord with original fans and harkened the end for the band.
Citing exhaustion and illness, Bow Wow Wow went their separate ways in 1983. Ashman and Barbarossa went on to form Chiefs of Relief and Lwin enjoyed a humble solo career.
Shortly after Ashman’s death in 1995, Lwin and Gorman did get back together for a North American tour in 1997 and then again in 2003 for KROQ’s Inland Invasion concert series. Operating at of Los Angeles, these two original members front the new lineup of Bow Wow Wow and continue to perform sporadically at smaller venues.
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