Simply Red are a British soul band that sold more than 50 million albums over a 25-year career. Their style draws influences from blue-eyed soul, new romantic, rock, and jazz.
Simply Red originated from the 1976 Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester, England. Manchester art student Mick Hucknall was one of the many young music fans present, along with original members of the bands Joy Division, The Smiths and Buzzcocks. The first incarnation of the band was a punk group called The Frantic Elevators, which existed for 7 years, with limited releases on local labels, but split in 1984 with only limited local attention and critical acclaim for their final single, "Holding Back the Years".
After the demise of The Frantic Elevators, Hucknall linked up with manager Elliot Rashman. By early 1985, Hucknall and Rashman had assembled a band of local session musicians, and began to attract record company attention. Around this time, the group adopted the name Simply Red (after Hucknall's nickname, which denoted hair colour). They signed a contract with Elektra in 1985, with the somewhat changeable line-up of Hucknall, Tony Bowers (bass), Fritz McIntyre (keyboards), Tim Kellett (brass), Sylvan Richardson (guitar) and Chris Joyce (drums).
Their first single, released in 1985, was "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)", a cover of a soul standard originally recorded by The Valentine Brothers. This single had big international success, reaching the UK and Irish Top 20, later the American, French and Dutch Top 30, and the Italian Top 5, beginning a successful career in Italy, sometimes more successful than in the UK. Their debut album, Picture Book, was also released in 1985.
In 1986, the band re-recorded a song that the Frantic Elevators had recorded earlier, "Holding Back the Years", in an interesting soul ballad style, and this time it was a major hit, peaking at #1 in Ireland, #2 in Great Britain, #3 in the Netherlands, #20 in Italy and later #1 in the United States. The song established Simply Red as a household name, and remains one of the band's most recognized works. The album began to sell more copies, and soon became an international hit.
Their second album, 1987's Men and Women, saw the band adopting bowler hats and colourful suits instead of their earlier ragamuffin look, and the introspection and social commentary of their debut performance was replaced by a blue-eyed soul sound with funk influences.
With their third album A New Flame in 1989, Simply Red adopted a yet more mainstream populist sound aimed for commercial rather than critical success, typified by their cover of Harold Melvin's pop classic "If You Don't Know Me By Now", which became their second U.S. #1 hit, and one of the biggest singles of the year internationally; and their greatest success until now. Hucknall was by this time an international superstar, being photographed with models and Hollywood celebrities. This seemed to harm the band's coherence as a unit, with Hucknall declaring in 1991 that Simply Red was "essentially a solo project".
The band's popular career peaked later that year with the release of Stars, which became the best-selling album for two years running in Europe and the UK (though notably had far less success in the US than their previous albums). Stars mixed Hucknall's anti-Thatcherite political lyrics with an easy-listening lounge-jazz sound, apparently to avoid alienation of their existing fanbase. It was featured on the soundtrack of the 1995 movie Jack and Sarah.
After touring and promoting Stars for two years, Simply Red returned in 1995 with "Fairground", a dance-influenced track prominently featuring a sample from Zki & Dobri's Goodmen project. A massive radio hit, "Fairground" went on to become the band?s first British #1, amid critical panning. Its parent album Life sold more than a million copies in the UK alone, making it the fourth-biggest seller of the year. The band followed this up with cover heavy Blue in 1998 and Love and the Russian Winter. Subsequent releases have mostly been greatest-hits collections, although the band did release "Home" in 2003, a mixture of original songs and covers, including a version of The Stylistics song "You Make Me Feel Brand New". Simplified followed in 2005, mainly an album of stripped down versions of their Classic hits.
The single "Oh! What A Girl!" released in September 2006 from their album Stay, their 10th, released on . This was preceded by the single ?So Not Over You?, released on . The third single from the album was the title song "Stay", released on . The fourth and the last single of Simply Red, "The World And You Tonight", was released in November 2007.
Simply Red will perform a greatest hits show on December the 3rd, in support of their newest Greatest Hits album.
Mick Hucknall announced that the band were due to split in 2010, after a farewell tour, starting in early 2009, ending in 2010.
"I've kind of decided that the 25 years is going to be enough, so I intend that the 2009 will be the last Simply Red tour."
Hucknall released his first solo album, Tribute to Bobby on .