early 80s; The Falklands War between Britain and Argentina,
sixties British musician Billy Fury and seventies American
musician Karen Carpenter both die tragically young, America
is under the reigns of Ronald Regan with his 'special
relationship' with Britain's 'Iron Lady' Margaret Thatcher.
The first case of AIDS is diagnosed in Australia, The Jam
split up and Henry VIII's flagship The Mary Rose is lifted
from the deep after hundreds of years. The Internet is but a
dream, mobile phones are anything but mobile and the size
and weight of a housebrick. Punk is on the wane and the New
Romantics have been in the ascendant. Culture Club, The
Police, Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran top the charts.
Leighton Buzzard is a pretty market town nestling in the
Chiltern hills. The town centre is relatively unspoilt and
contains some fine examples of architecture from previous
centuries, and, at Christmastime is a picture reminiscent of
something from Dickens. Four friends, Nick Beggs, Steve
Askew, Stuart Neale and Jez Strode, grow up and form a band
together in this unremarkable but pleasant town and
call themselves 'Art Nouveau'. They play the local circuit
for a couple of years. As many bands have done before, they
advertise for a singer in Melody Maker and attract ex-actor
and solo performer, the anagrammatically-renamed and
exotically titled Limahl (formerly Chris Hamill). The
new line-up secures a gig at the prestigious Embassy Club in
London. They get attention from several record companies and
manage to land a contract with the mighty EMI. The renamed
Kajagoogoo, under the production skills of Duran
Duran's Nick Rhodes, hit immediate, immense and
international success with their first self-penned single
'Too Shy' which goes to Number One and within 24 hours
propels the members of the band into pop star status in
Britain, Europe and Japan and with a top five place in the
charts in America.
Every pop and teen magazine cover features the band.
Merchandise - such as stickers, patches, badges, souvenir
books and picture discs proliferate.
on the cover of a teen mag in 1983
becomes a teen heart-throb, Nick Beggs, with his
foppish hairstyles and dangly beady earrings, becomes
something of a trademark.
unlike many other pop and teen bands, this band write their
own material and the band are now riding, rather
uncomfortably perhaps, the wave of the relentless pop
publicity machine. Two further singles chart in the
mid-teens in Britain - 'Ooh to Be Ah’ and ‘Hang on
Now’, but the cracks are already starting to appear. The
four original members of the band and Limahl reveal tensions
and the classic 'musical differences' - he wants to pursue
the pop line and the rest of the band want to move on
musically and 'grow up with their audience'. Probably more
likely was the fact that their arguments were based on
financial remuneration and recognition for the songwriting.
In any event the sparks start to fly. The inevitable
acrimonious split occurred and by 1984 Limahl was gone,
banished to a solo career once more, and Nick
Beggs returned to the lead singer position. The
band continues, renamed as 'Kaja' in an attempt almost to
herald the new direction of the band. The band are pleased
with the resultant album 'Islands' and it gains a lot of
plaudits and admiration from the fans. The band continued
until 1985 with an attempt to infiltrate further the
American market but it seems that 'synth pop', as it
had been labelled, has had its day.........
In 2003 the band were reunited for a music TV programme and,
amazingly, all five original members agreed to meet-up
twenty years on and to bury their differences. The now more
mature members of the band show great strength of character
with their openness to meet-up and discuss, to hug and cry
over lost relationships and opportunities. But this
reconciliation is short-lived - offers for new tours
and work come in, but major differences in approach and
aims still exist and a permanent reunion is unlikely.
days, Nick, Steve and Stuart are still as close as ever and
continue to fly the Kajagoogoo flag and to work
together. Nick very kindly agreed to answer some questions
Who were your musical influences?
Nick: My earliest influences were YES and any of the
progressive rock bands of the 70s. In my opinion, they are
still the most important musical movement ever.
Digger: If you could create a supergroup of musicians,
living or dead, from America and Britain, who would be in it
Nick: I'd have Jaco Pastorious on wash board. Chris Squire on
swanie whistle. Pat Metheny on stylophone. Chester Thompson on
spoons. Keith Emerson on hair and make up.
Digger: What albums are you listening to at the moment?
Nick: The new Daft punk album 'Human after all.' Everything by
Imogen Heap. And John Mayer.
Digger: Who are your favourite songwriters?
Nick: Imogen Heap. Bono. Oh and Nik Kershaw is writing the
best stuff he's ever done right now.
Digger: Being very young at the time, how did you cope
with being recognised everywhere you went and with the
incessant publicity in the early 80s?
Nick: I ran very fast. No one could ever catch up with my
spindly legs. I can even out run the tax office officials.
Digger: How have you and the guys changed in the last 25
Nick: Well, we all have more grey hair but at least we have
hair. I'm certainly more laid back than I was. And Stuart is
more wealthy than he's even been due to his hard work. As for
Steve. He underwent a full sex change and likes to be referred
to as Stephanie now.
Digger: Where did the name Kajagoogoo come from?
Nick: From the depths of my twisted mind.
Digger: When composing, how does it work for you? Is
there a light bulb in your head? Do the words come first? Or
the title? Or the subject? Or the melody? Do you have to work
hard at it? Be in the right mood? In the right environment? Or
do songs come form anywhere at any time in many ways?
Nick: Inspiration is very hard to find it's true, so I've
resorted to ripping off other peoples' ideas. Also for extra
lyrical depth I've been taking the help of an ancient spirit
guide named John Lemon. Through various séances John has
imparted a plethora of songs into my subconsciousness. As for
what comes first really depends on Johns' frame of mind at the
time. At the moment I'm working on a new tune called Captain
Paprickas' dispossessed primary aortic valve club group.
Digger: What are your happiest memories from the early
still on the cover of a teen mag in 1983
Nick: Well eating Boy George's' eye liner pencil ranks quite
high in the happy memory ratings. And then there's the time
that Spandau Ballet and I had tattoos done. Did you know that
Steve Norman had my face on his arse?
Digger: Do you have any regrets regarding Kajagoogoo and
their huge short-term success compared to their enduring success with the die-hard and new fans?
Nick: I never regret anything other than being born.
Digger: With touring and performing, recording and writing,
how do you juggle the different disciplines?
Nick: Mainly drugs. Oh and group sex. I find dwarves most
accommodating and highly agreeable before a taxing schedule.
It seems to give me the focus I need.
Digger: What are the highlights and low-lights of
touring for you?
Nick: Well? It's quite hard to find dwarves. But the sex and
drugs are ten a penny.
Digger: Are there regional and country variations in
Nick: Yes. But swearing seems to be pretty much the same the
Digger: Do you tailor your act for America or Europe or Japan?
Nick: I have no dressmaking experience. Though my father once
starched his hat.
Digger: How would you describe your friendship and
musical alliances with the other members of the band?
Nick: Well Steve farts a lot and Stuart has a big
nose............... Quite close really.
Digger: How do your wife and children deal with you and
your musical profile?
Nick: The counseling bills are quite high. But I feel it's all
worth it now we've managed to stop the boys setting fire to
their hair at bed time.
Digger: What do you consider your biggest achievements
and what would you still like to accomplish?
Nick: Honestly speaking just having two sons who don't set
their hair a light last thing at night would be a personal
Digger: How do you consider the state of British music
today when compared to the sixties and seventies and eighties?
Nick: The 60s was about self awareness, breaking wind and
flowers. The 70s were about drugs, sex and accessorising. The
80s were about hair and synthesizers. And that's about it
really. I hope I didn't leave anything out.
Digger: Do you think technology and computers help or stifle
musical creativity and ability?
Nick: They are an amazing help. But the secret is to remember
to turn them on.
Digger: Who are your favourite musicians?
Nick: Ronald Regan did a great album during his time as
president. But by far my favourite coupling was the
Thatcher/Regan Box Set album. I think it sums up the spirit of
the 80s as only a box set album can do.
- Nick, Stuart, Jez, Limahl and Steve
Digger: Who have been your biggest inspirations in life?
Your heroes and heroines in any walk of life.
Nick: Oh the endless questions! Will they never end? They hem
me in like the voices in my head. What must I do to be free of
the endless questions?
Digger: What makes you laugh, what makes you sad and
what makes you angry?
Nick: There you go again! Don't you think I've had enough of
the puerile twoddle? No one ever asks me questions about
things I'm interested in. I'm a sexual pervert with an I.Q. of
a million and you want to know what makes me angry? Ok! OOk!
I'll play it your way. When my wife says, " No sex
tonight. That makes me really angry! I'm still angry. I can
feel the anger coursing through my......!"
Digger: If you hadn't been a musician, what would you
Nick: A Gynecologist! Or a Minister. I've always felt a great
kindredness to both professions. They are not as different as
you might think my son.
Digger: Do you consider yourself nostalgic or do you
usually look ahead?
Nick: No! And only when I'm driving!
Digger: Do youngsters often come to your gigs and
approach you, knowledgeable and appreciative
of your work?
Nick: Yes but that doesn't make me a bad person!
Digger: Steve Priest of Sweet, Dave Hill of Slade, Rob
Davis of Mud all wore outrageous clothes and jewellery.
Were any, or all, of these responsible for influencing your
showy image in the band?
Nick: I hold everyone personally accountable for my life and
you have just been added to the top of the list.
Digger: What are your current projects and what do you
have lined-up for the future?
Nick: I'm working on a model of all 5 members of Kajagoogoo,
made out of match sticks. Once all the gluing is complete I'll
move onto the sanding and then the painting. Would you like to
see it? You seem to understand.
Digger: Please choose ten words or short phrases to
Nick: Trowel, acquiescent, Tintagel, Velociraptor. I'm a good
little doggie! Woof! Woof! x
in quiet, thoughtful mood
|Steepletone Record Players
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One Night Hire - You can create a little bit of
magic at your party no matter what the occasion
One Night Hire
Automatics Ltd was founded in 1958. We
have now been in business for over 50 years so
you can rely on us as an established company.
We first supplied jukeboxes to bars and clubs in
London and the surrounding area. Later we
started supplying jukeboxes to private parties.
We cater for everyone having any sort of party
or event from weddings and birthdays to company
events. We have supplied jukeboxes to many
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the South East and we are recommended by many as
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You can create a little bit of magic at your
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Jukebox One Night Hire
Mr, Robin Rowe
99 Wills Crescent
Tel: 0208 894 4463 Mobile:
website for details
would like to thank Nick for his time and cooperation with
this interview. For more information on Nick and his
work, please visit: