Eurythmics are a British musical duo, formed in 1980 by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.
The pair have achieved significant global, commercial and critical success, selling 75 million records worldwide, winning numerous awards, and have undertaken several successful world tours. They are Britain's biggest selling duo, and are noted for their songs that showcase Lennox's powerful and expressive alto voice and Stewart's innovative production techniques. They are also acclaimed for their promotional videos and visual presentation.
1975 - 1982: Formation
The pair had first worked together in 1976 in the punk rock band The Catch. After releasing one single under this name in 1977, the band evolved into The Tourists. During this time, they were also romantic partners. The Tourists achieved modest commercial success, but the experience was reportedly an unhappy one. Personal and musical tensions existed within the group, whose main songwriter was Peet Coombes, and there were legal wranglings with the band's management, publishers and record labels. Lennox and Stewart felt the fixed band line-up was not a good vehicle to explore their experimental creative leanings and decided their next project should be much more flexible and free from artistic compromise. They were interested in creating pop music, but wanted freedom to experiment with electronics and the avant-garde as well. Calling themselves "Eurythmics" (after a dance technique "eurythmy" that Lennox had encountered as a child at school), they decided to keep themselves as the only permanent members and songwriters, and involve others in the collaboration as they saw fit "on the basis of mutual compatibility and availability". The duo signed to RCA Records. At this time, Lennox and Stewart also decided to discontinue their romantic relationship.
During the period that Lennox and Stewart were in The Tourists they were managed by James Wyllie, who when the band separated, stayed on when Stewart and Lennox moved on.
Their first album saw them work in Cologne with Conny Plank (who had produced the later Tourists sessions). This resulted in the album In the Garden, released in October 1981, which included contributions from Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of Can, drummer Clem Burke of Blondie, Robert G?śrl of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, and flutist Tim Wheater. A couple of the songs were co-written by guitarist Roger Pomphrey (now a TV director). The album mixed psychedelic, krautrock and electropop influences. It received an indifferent critical reception and bad sales. Two singles from the album also flopped, though "Never Gonna Cry Again" made the UK charts. Lennox and Stewart then activated their new Eurythmics mode of operation by touring the record as a duo, accompanied by backing tracks and electronics, carted around the country themselves in a horse-box.
During 1982, the duo retreated to Chalk Farm in London, and used a bank loan to establish a small 8-track studio above a picture framing factory, giving them freedom to record without having to pay expensive studio fees. They began to employ much more electronics in their music, collaborating with Raynard Faulkner and Adam Williams. They continued to record many tracks and play live using various line-up permutations. However, the three singles RCA released for them that year ("This Is the House", "The Walk" and "Love Is a Stranger") all scored badly on initial release in the UK. The band's state of affairs was becoming critical although their mode of operation had given them the creative freedom they desired, commercial success was still eluding them, and the responsibility of running so many of their affairs personally (down to roadying their own equipment) was exhausting. Lennox apparently suffered at least one nervous breakdown during this period, while Stewart was hospitalized with a collapsed lung.
1983 - 1984: The breakthrough and worldwide fame
Eurythmics' commercial breakthrough came with Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) released in January 1983. The successful single of the same name featured a dark, powerfully sequenced synth bass line and a dramatic video that introduced the now orange crew-cutted Lennox to audiences. The song reached no.2 on UK singles chart and topped the US charts. The band's fortunes changed immensely from this moment on. The album became a great British success due to the title track, which later topped the American charts as well. Lennox was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Stewart recently revealed that the famous synthetic bass line in the song was discovered by accident when he inadvertently played a track backwards. Their previous single "Love Is a Stranger" was re-released and became a success in its own right. The "Love Is a Stranger" video saw Lennox in many different character guises, which she later became known for in subsequent videos. The album's working title was Invisible Hands (as was a track left off the album), inspiring the name of UK independent company Invisible Hands Music - known for releasing music by Hugh Cornwell, Mick Karn and Hazel O'Connor.
Touch, the rapid follow-up to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), was released in November 1983 and became the duo's first no.1 album. It also spawned three major hit singles; "Who's That Girl?" was a top 3 hit in the UK, the video seeing Lennox as a blonde chanteuse and featuring cameos by Hazel O'Connor, Bananarama (including Stewart's future wife, Siobhan Fahey), Kate Garner of Haysi Fantayzee, Thereza Bazar of Dollar, Jay Aston and Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz, Kiki Dee, Jacquie O'Sullivan and "gender-bending" pop singer Marilyn, among others. The upbeat, calypso-flavoured "Right by Your Side" made the UK Top 10 while showing a different side of Eurythmics altogether, and "Here Comes the Rain Again" (number eight in the UK, number four in the U.S.) was an orchestral/synth ballad (with orchestrations by Michael Kamen). Touch solidified the duo's reputation as being major talents and cutting edge musicians.
In 1984, RCA released Touch Dance, a mini-album of remixes of four of the tracks from Touch, aimed at the club market. The remixes were by prominent New York name producers Francois Kevorkian and John "Jellybean" Benitez. Also released in 1984 was Eurythmics' soundtrack album 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother). Virgin Films had contracted the band to provide a soundtrack for Michael Radford's modern film adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Radford later said that the music had been "foisted" on his film against his wishes, and that Virgin had replaced most of Dominic Muldowney's original orchestral score with the Eurythmics soundtrack (including the song "Julia", which was heard during the end credits). However, the record was presented as "music derived from the original score of Eurythmics for the Michael Radford film version of Orwell's 1984". Eurythmics charged that they had been misled by the film's producers as well, and the album was withdrawn from the market for a period while matters were litigated. The album's first single, "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)", was a top 5 hit in the UK, Australia and across Europe, and a major dance success in the United States, but its supposedly suggestive title (actually taken from the newspeak phrase used in Orwell's book) resulted in many U.S. pop radio stations refusing to play the track.
1985 - 1988: New musical direction
The duo's next album, Be Yourself Tonight, was produced in a week in Paris. It showcased much more of a "band style" and a centred sound (with an R&B influence), with real drums, brass, and much more guitar from Stewart. Almost a dozen other musicians were enlisted, including members of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, guest harmonica from Stevie Wonder, bass guitar from Dean Garcia, string arrangements by Michael Kamen, and Lennox singing duets with Aretha Franklin and Elvis Costello. It continued the duo's transatlantic chart domination in 1985, and contained four hit singles; "Would I Lie to You?" was a U.S. Billboard top five hit and Australian number one, while "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" (featuring Wonder's harmonica contribution) became their first and only UK number one single. "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)" and the Franklin duet (originally intended for Tina Turner) "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" also rode high in the charts.
Dave Stewart at Rock am Ring in Germany, 1987.
Eurythmics released their next album, Revenge, in 1986. The album continued their move towards a band sound, verging on an AOR-pop/rock sound. Sales continued to be strong in the UK, but were somewhat slower in the U.S., though "Missionary Man" reached number 14 on the U.S. Hot 100 chart and went all the way to No. 1 on the US Album Oriented Rock chart (AOR). 'bvx'Revenge would eventually certify Double Platinum in the UK and Gold in the U.S. The band went on a massive worldwide tour in support of the album, and a live concert video from the Australian leg of the tour was released. The folk-tinged "Thorn in My Side" powered the UK svucing]], for ). The brazen, sexually charged rocker "I Need a Man" remains a Eurythmics staple, as does "You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart". Much less commercial than the two previous albums, Savage was mostly ignored in the U.S., although rock radio in more progressive markets supported "I Need a Man". In the duo's native UK however, the album was a top 10 success and was certified platinum.
1989 - 1998: Hiatus and solo careers
In 1989, Eurythmics released We Too Are One which entered the UK album chart at no.1 (their second no.1 album after Touch). The album was less successful in the U.S., although the single "Don't Ask Me Why" grazed the Billboard top 40. Other singles from the album included "Revival", "The King and Queen of America", "Angel".
After strenuous years of touring and recording (Eurythmics had released eight studio albums in eight years), a rift had developed between the duo and Eurythmics disbanded (although no official notice was given). Stewart began writing film soundtracks and earlier had a hit with saxophonist Candy Dulfer with the instrumental track "Lily Was Here" which reached no.6 in the UK. He also formed a band called The Spiritual Cowboys, releasing two albums with this group. Lennox needed a vacation and took time to have a baby and to consider a life after Eurythmics, and the duo had very little communication with each other from 1991 to 1998. In 1991, Greatest Hits collection was released, entering the UK album chart at #1 and becoming a massive worldwide seller. New remixes of "Sweet Dreams" and "Love Is a Stranger" were also released as singles at this time. During 1993, a live album entitled Live 1983-1989 featuring recordings from various years throughout Eurythmics' career was also released.
During 1992, Lennox released her first solo album, Diva. The album was a critical and popular success, scoring no.1 in the UK and achieving quadruple platinum status (more than any Eurythmics studio album had done) and a string of five hit singles. Stewart released the solo albums Greetings from the Gutter (1995), and Sly-Fi (1998), but neither of these albums were successful commercially. Lennox's second solo album Medusa (1995), an album of cover versions, fared much better and scored the second number one for her in the UK reaching double platinum rating.
1999 - 2005 : Reunion
Eurythmics reunited during 1999 and released Peace. The single "I Saved the World Today" reached number 11 in the UK singles charts, and a remix of "17 Again" gave the duo their first chart-topper on the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The band also embarked on a world tour, dubbed Peacetour, to support the album. The tour started on 18 September 1999 at Cologne's Kolnarena and ended on 6 December 1999 at the London Docklands Arena (which was filmed and released on video and DVD). All proceeds from the tour went to Greenpeace and Amnesty International. The year 2000 saw numerous European festival appearances by Eurythmics (at Germany's Rock am Ring, among others). In 2001, Stewart performed with U2 for the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert.
Annie Lennox in 2004.
In June 2003, Lennox released her third solo album, entitled Bare, which was a top 5 hit in the UK and the US, with three singles reaching the top of Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. She also recorded the song "Into the West" for Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, where it appeared as the closing theme and earned Lennox the Academy Award for Best Song. In November 2003 Eurythmics played three songs at the 46664 in Cape Town. David Stewart had a major part in the organisation of this show. They played an unplugged version of "Here Comes the Rain Again", "7 Seconds" with Youssou N'Dour and "Sweet Dreams". Stewart collaborated with The Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger on the soundtrack to the movie Alfie, released in 2004, including the critically acclaimed "Old Habits Die Hard", which won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture.
On 7 November 2005, Eurythmics released Ultimate Collection, a remastered greatest hits package with two new songs. One of them, "I've Got a Life", was released as a single and reached no.14 on the UK singles chart, as well as spending three consecutive weeks at number 1 on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play in the U.S. Lennox and Stewart appeared on a number of TV shows to promote the new single and their new compilation album. On 14 November 2005, RCA re-released their eight studio albums in remastered and expanded editions featuring rare b-sides, remixes and unreleased songs. The remasters are available separately as digipaks with expanded artwork and together in a collector's box set, Boxed. However, the 1984 soundtrack album 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) was not included in this re-release campaign as Virgin Records holds the rights to that album. In 2009, Lennox stated that although she and Stewart remain friends, she does not foresee any further Eurythmics projects in the future.