Human League

The Human League are a British synthpop band. Formed in Sheffield in 1977, they achieved popularity after a key change in line-up in the early 1980s. They have continued recording and performing with moderate commercial success throughout the 1980s up to the present day.


Originally an avant-garde all male synthesizer-based group from Sheffield, the only constant band member since 1977 is vocalist and songwriter Philip Oakey. Since 1987, the band has essentially been a trio of Oakey and long-serving female vocalists Joanne Catherall and Susan Ann Sulley (who joined the band in 1980), with various additional musicians. The Human League have influenced many electro-pop, other synthpop, and mainstream acts including Madonna, Moby and Little Boots . They have been sampled and covered by various artists including YMO, Ministry of Sound, Craig David, George Michael and Robbie Williams.


Since 1978, they have released nine studio albums, twenty six singles (including 8 UK top 10 singles with 2 number one singles in the US/UK) and played over 350 live concerts. The Human League have sold an estimated 20 million records worldwide.


Band history


1977: "The Dead Daughters" and "The Future"

Before adopting the name The Human League, the band briefly had two previous incarnations. In early 1977, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh were both working as computer operators, and combined a love of pop music (such as glam rock and Tamla Motown) with avant-garde electronic music acts such as German group Kraftwerk. With the price of electronic components dropping in the mid 1970s, previously unaffordable equipment was now in the range of the average consumer. Ware and Marsh saved up and bought a Korg 770S synthesizer between them and set about learning how to play it. Their musical reputation spread and they were invited to play at a friend's 21st birthday party. For the party, Ware and Marsh formed themselves into an informal band called The Dead Daughters. Their live highlight was a rendition of the theme of the British TV series Doctor Who.


After a few further low-key, private performances, Ware and Marsh decided to form a proper band. Joined by their friend Adi Newton and another synthesizer (a Roland System-100), they formed The Future and began to create music in their own ad-hoc rehearsal facility. Although The Future were never signed and released no material commercially at the time, a collection of demos from this period was released retrospectively on CD in 2002 titled The Golden Hour of the Future, mixed by Richard X. The association with Adi Newton was short; Newton left The Future and went on to form Clock DVA. Ware at this point decided that he needed a singer rather than another keyboard player. The reason for this was twofold: record companies had been reluctant to sign The Future, as they couldn

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