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Madness are an English pop band that formed in 1976. A prominent band of the 2 Tone ska revival of the late 1970s, Madness achieved most of its success in the 1980s, spending more weeks in the UK chart than any other group.
The band was formed in London in 1976, by Mike Barson (Monsieur Barso) on keyboards and vocals, Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) on guitar and Lee Thompson (Kix) on saxophone and vocals under the name The North London Invaders. In 1978 they were joined by frontman Graham McPherson (Suggs) on vocals, Mark Bedford (Bedders) on bass guitar and Daniel Woodgate (Woody) on drums. After performing periodically as The North London Invaders and Morris and the Minors, the group changed their name to Madness. Carl Smyth (Chas Smash) on trumpet and vocals joined in early 1980.
The band's first single, released September 1, 1979 on The Specials' 2 Tone Records label, was "The Prince". The song, written by Lee Thompson, was a tribute to the Jamaican ska musician Prince Buster, after whose song, "Madness", the band had named themselves and which also was released as the B-side of "The Prince". This was followed by the album One Step Beyond... in 1979, named after another Prince Buster song, which stayed in the British charts for over a year, peaking at number 2. One Step Beyond... was released on Stiff Records, which became the band's recording label. From 1979 through 1988, the band released 25 singles (21 top twenty hits ) and eight albums (including two compilation albums, both UK #1 albums) in the UK. During the early 1980s, Madness was one of the most popular bands in Britain. In 1984 the band formed their own record label, Zarjazz Records. The album Mad Not Mad was the first Madness album released on this label, in 1985. The album was recorded at their own Liquidator studios, which were most recently used by the band to record the demos for their last original album, 1999's Wonderful.
The band's first 20 singles all made it into the UK top 20, as the band's self-described "nutty sound" evolved to include polished pop elements along with large doses of ska, reggae, and other Caribbean music. The band only had one UK no.1 single in the shape of 'House Of Fun' in 1982 and narrowly missed the top spot in 1983 with the single "Wings Of A Dove". They had limited success in the US, however, with only two singles making the top 40 ("Our House" peaked at #7 and "It Must Be Love" hit #33). This was perhaps a result of their quirky style, and the limited marketplace for ska in the US – although the band still had a strong underground following there, and also were a popular staple of early MTV. Years later, many American third generation ska bands such as No Doubt and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones cited Madness (who had been fondly nicknamed "The Nutty Boys") as a major influence on their music.
The band's videos were highly creative and entertaining, which was partially responsible for their heavy inclusion on early MTV and on the BBC's Top of the Pops. The videos relied on humour and storytelling to an unusual extent, producing a product that stood alone as creative output, not just slick promotional material.
Mike Barson left the band in 1984 shortly after the release of their fifth album Keep Moving (UK #4) and moved to Amsterdam. After Mike's departure the band signed to Virgin Records and released the album Mad Not Mad (UK #16). The band disbanded in 1986 with the farewell single '(Waiting For The) Ghost Train' a song about the troubles in South Africa at the time. The song reached #18 in the UK charts and was the band's last top 20 of the 80s. Suggs, Chas, Lee and Chris went on to form The Madness and released a self-titled album on Virgin Records in 1988 reaching #66 in both the US and UK album charts.
In 1992, news spread that the original seven members would reform following the success of the Virgin compilation Divine Madness featuring the band's most successful singles, which entered the UK album charts at #1. 'Madstock' took place in Finsbury Park London, in which Madness performed over a weekend to 75,000 fans. The crowd danced so much that an earth tremor of over 4.5 on the Richter scale was recorded during the song "One Step Beyond". An album featuring the best of Madstock was released and also a single, a cover of Jimmy Cliff's 'The Harder They Come', which just failed to make the UK Top 40. From 1992-1998 Madness reformed every two years for Madstock and the occasional Christmas tour of UK arenas. Suggs also had a brief but successful solo career. His biggest hit, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Cecilia", sold over 500,000 copies in the UK. Suggs also went on to a modestly successful TV career, becoming a regular on panel shows and even hosting his own celebrity karaoke knees-up.
In 1999, Madness released Wonderful, their first original album in 14 years, on Virgin Records. Wonderful proved another successful Top 20 UK album for Madness, spawning the singles "Johnny the Horse" and "Lovestruck", the latter of which provided Madness with another Top 10 UK hit.
In 2002 Our House, a musical built around Madness' catalogue of songs, took the stage at the Cambridge Theatre in London's West End. The show had a book by writer Tim Firth. Madness played a role in the executive production of the show and Suggs himself stepped into the production for a time, playing the central character's father. In 2003, the show won an Olivier Award for best new musicial, cementing it as a success. The show ran from October 28, 2002 to August 16, 2003 before closing. The show did not produce a cast album, but it was recorded for DVD release near the end of the run. In 2006, a new production of the show toured Japan, starting in Tokyo. Plans are also in place for the show to tour UK theatres next year.
In May 2005 guitarist Chris Foreman left the band citing "petty time consuming bollocks" as the reason. Currently the band are working on their first original album in seven years which is being produced by Clive Langer and White Stripes producer, Liam Watson and is due for release in late 2006/early 2007. This summer (2006) Madness have toured Europe and Japan and plan to return to the UK in December for 'To the edge of the universe...and beyond tour' taking in the UK's major arenas.
On Friday 28th July 2006 Madness performed at The Fuji Rock Festival - a 3 day festival held at the Naeba Ski Resort in Japan. Madness drummer woody appeared on stage with Franz Ferdinand at the 2006 Reading Festival performing on the song 'The Outsiders'.
In October 2006 Madness launched their official myspace page with news they plan to release their new single this December entitled 'Sorry'. ~ Wikipedia.org