Wet Wet Wet are a Scottish pop band that formed in the 1980s. They scored a number of hits in the British charts and around the world. The band comprises Marti Pellow (vocals), Tommy Cunningham (drums, vocals), Graeme Clark (bass, vocals) and Neil Mitchell (keyboards, vocals). A fifth, unofficial member, Graeme Duffin (lead guitar, vocals), has been with them since 1983.
The quartet formed at Clydebank High School in Clydebank, Scotland, in 1982, under the name Vortex Motion. "It was either crime, the dole, football, or music - and we chose music," said Cunningham.
Graeme Clark and Tommy Cunningham met on the school bus and became close friends. Mutual friend Neil Mitchell, prompted by his pals' positive attitude, promised to supply keyboards when he could scrape together enough money from his paper round. To complete the quartet, Clark approached Mark McLachlan. He said, "At break we all went behind the kitchen for a fly smoke, and there in the corner was this quiet kid who said very little, but when he sang, everyone listened."
With the line-up complete, rehearsals took place in Mrs. Clark's kitchen. McLachlan sang to the gas cooker, and the musical blend quickly took shape: McLachlan's soul music influences (from his mother's record collection) ??? Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Al Green; Clark's love of the Clash, Elvis Costello and reggae; Cunningham's penchant for 1960s music ??? the Beatles, Long John Baldry, Roy Orbison, et al.; and Mitchell's musical tastes included everything from Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Webb to ABC and Burt Bacharach.
Clubs, dominated by the Philadelphia Sound of Barry White, the O'Jays, the Three Degrees, as well as the New York dance sounds of Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, Chic, etc., would also influence them.
They later changed their name to Wet Wet Wet, a title they took from the Scritti Politti song, "Gettin, Havin' and Holdin'", and McLachlan changed his birth name in favour of the stage name "Marti Pellow".
It was sometime in 1983 that Graeme Duffin joined Wet Wet Wet. He was previously in a 1970s Glasgow-based band called New Celeste, who produced three albums before they broke up. The band combined folk, rock and jazz players.
After obtaining a record deal with PolyGram in 1985, the band scored their first hit two years later with their debut single "Wishing I Was Lucky", which reached number six in the UK singles chart in 1987. "I was in a queue in a chip shop in Glasgow when it came on Radio Clyde," Cunningham remembers. "I felt like shouting to everybody, 'That's me and my mates!' It was an incredible feeling I've not forgotten."
The parent album, Popped In Souled Out, also became a hit and produced three more hit singles, namely "Sweet Little Mystery", "Temptation", and "Angel Eyes". They also supported Lionel Richie on his UK tour.
In 1986, the band had contributed a track ("Home and Away", which would later be reworked into "Angel Eyes") to a compilation cassette entitled Honey at the Core, featuring then up-and-coming Glasgow bands, including Deacon Blue and Hue and Cry.
In 1988, the Wets scored their first Number 1 hit with a cover version of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends", recorded for the charity ChildLine. Another Beatles song, "She's Leaving Home", was equally-billed on the flip side, performed by Billy Bragg. In the same year, an album - entitled The Memphis Sessions - was released from their spell in the USA prior to hitting the big time.
The following year the band released their third album, Holding Back the River, which was also a success and produced the hit single "Sweet Surrender". The album was well-received, relying more on strings and other classical arrangements. At the end of 1989, Pellow appeared on the Band Aid II charity single.
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In 1992, the band released a fourth studio album, entitled High on the Happy Side, which spawned the Number 1 hit single "Goodnight Girl" - the only self-penned chart-topping single they have had to date. The song proved something of a saviour, as the previous two releases from the album had failed in the singles charts, although the album sold well. In total, five singles were released from it. The following day saw the release of a special-edition album, Cloak & Dagger.
The band's first greatest-hits package, End of Part One, was released towards the end of 1993. The eighteen-song selection included "Shed a Tear" and "Cold Cold Heart", which were recorded especially for the album and released as singles.
In 1994, Wet Wet Wet had their biggest hit, a cover version of the Troggs single "Love Is All Around", which was a huge international success and spent fifteen weeks atop the British charts. The week before it could have equalled the record for the longest-standing Number 1 single, held by Bryan Adams' "(Everything I Do) I Do It for You", Pellow insisted on its deletion (he was bored with its chart domination and overheard people complaining about it). However, it would have not broken the record. There were still enough copies in the shops, and the song slipped to #2 the week after its deletion. In any event, it remained in the Top 40 for the remainder of the year. "Love Is All Around" was used on the soundtrack to the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. In the official UK best-selling singles list issued in 2002, it was placed 12th. The song also featured on the 1995 album Picture This, their sixth, which also spawned the hit single "Julia Says". The album, although well-received by critics, would ultimately live in the shadow of "Love Is All Around".
Around this time, the Wets became the shirt sponsors of their hometown football club, Clydebank.
During the rest of the 1990s the band maintained a strong UK following, although success in the singles charts became more sporadic. Their seventh studio album, 1997's 10, celebrated the group's decade at the top.
After the tour in support of 10, things turned sour over a dispute about royalty-sharing. Revenue from the group's songwriting had been a four-way equal split. Cunningham turned up for what he thought was a routine band meeting, only to discover the real reason was that the other three members wanted to revise the policy, paying the drummer a lesser amount. Cunningham quit the group, later forming The Sleeping Giants.
In 1999 Pellow also quit, and went into rehab to battle a debilitating heroin addiction.
Pellow succeeded in kicking his habit, and returned to the public eye in 2001 with his debut solo album, Smile.
In March 2004, the band cautiously reformed in order to work on an eighth album. A single entitled "All I Want" was released in November 2004 from the band's second Greatest Hits, released a week later. They undertook a successful tour of the UK the following month.
In July 2005, Wet Wet Wet played at the Summer Weekender festival in England, and were one of the headline acts at Live 8 Edinburgh in Scotland. They were briefly joined by young session bass player Dave Phillips who stood in for Graeme Clark, who injured his wrist while fishing in the Firth of Forth.
In September 2006, The Mail on Sunday gave away, over two consecutive weekends, two CDs of live performances by the Wets, with ten songs in each volume. Volume One included performances of "Sweet Little Mystery", "Goodnight Girl", "All I Want", "Love Is All Around", "Somewhere Somehow", "Wishing I Was Lucky", "I Don't Wanna Fight Anymore", "Sweet Surrender", "Angel Eyes (Home and Away)" and "East of the River". Volume Two featured "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Julia Says", "Hold Back the River", "(Feels Like I'm) Walking on Water", "Lip Service", "Don't Want to Forgive Me Now", "Gypsy Girl", "Temptation", "I Can Give You Everything" and "Learn From Each Mistake". Graeme Duffin featured on guitar, while Dave Phillips (bass), Paul Spong (trumpet), Neil Sidwell (trombone) and Jamie Talboy (saxophone) also assisted.
In October 2006, Graeme Clark posted on the band's website that the album that was rumoured to be released in 2004 is due out at the end of 2006 or early in 2007.
On , 2006, Wet Wet Wet were the headline act for Aberdeen's Hogmanay celebrations when the celebrations in all other scottish cities was held off because of strong winds and heavy rain. They performed thirteen songs in an hour-long set.
A single, "Too Many People", was released on , 2007, and its parent album, Timeless, on November 12. These preceded a sold-out December tour, a taste of which was given at their Newmarket concert in August. In preparation for the tour, the band also announced that they will be playing two intimate dates at zavvi stores in Glasgow and London in November. "Weightless", the second single from the album, was released on and charted at No.10, giving them their first top-ten hit in eleven years. The song dropped from #10 to #96 a week later - the largest-ever fall for a top-ten single in the UK, beating the previous record held by The Wedding Present in 1992, for their single "Come Play With Me".