The British new wave band Bow Wow Wow formed in 1980, and consisted of guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman and drummer David Barbarossa, along with Annabella Lwin as their lead singer. Annabelle was only 14 when she joined the band, which is why her appearing naked in a photo recreation of Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass was particularly controversial and kept this photo from being used as the album cover for Bow Wow Wow’s bestselling album in the US, The Last of the Mohicans.(source: wikipedia) Bow Wow Wow is well known for their song “I Want Candy”, which is among the 80’s classics that retro 80’s bands cover regularly. This song appeared in the John Cusack film High Fidelity, and whether it was this movie or a recent 80’s concert that lodged this song in my head, this was the tune I had running through my head last Sunday. So, naturally this is one of the bands I had to include in this series of blog posts.
Bow Wow Wow reassembled several times after they disbanded in 1983. In 1983 Annabelle was dropped from the group and Matthew Ashman, the group’s guitarist, took over lead vocals. The group continued recording and performing under the new name Chiefs of Relief. Ashman died in 1995 from complications resulting from his diabetes. In 1997 Bow Wow Wow was back with a new lineup, and they reassembled again in 2003. Once again, now, in 2012, Bow Wow Wow is back in play, touring the US and the UK, this time including their original singer Annabelle Lwin, who has been working in Los Angeles as a singer-songwriter(Belfast Telegraph). The band has been rumored to be working on new material at various points in their complicated history, but so far while they have performed previously unrecorded material in live shows, they have not yet recorded new material in the studio since the early 80’s.
A bit of disambiguation is in order with respect to Bow Wow Wow, especially for all those who were born after Bow Wow Wow’s initial lineup disbanded. There is actually an influential Japanese hard rock band which was called Bow Wow during the 80’s, which changed its name to Vow Wow in the late 80’s when they shifted to the UK (wikipedia). They are pretty good, though because their name is so similar to Lil Bow Wow, a rapper, and Bow Wow Wow, it is very hard to find the correct albums for each on either spotify or amazon by searching for them by name. You can find them on spotify by looking up their album name Warning from Stardust. Neither Bow Wow Wow nor Bow Wow/Vow Wow is equipped with a very good web-presence, though both groups are still somewhat active in the live music scene. Of course, both groups had their high points long before facebook existed, so that they are online at all is pretty good.
And, of course, while I am really not a R&B/rap/hip hop fan, I have to at least mention the third Bow Wow, (Lil’) Bow Wow. Shad Gregory Moss was born in 1987, well after the original disbanding of Bow Wow Wow and at about the time the Japanese Bow Wow changed their name to Vow Wow. He started out using the stage name Lil’ Bow Wow, and dropped the Lil’ by his third album. He’s released 7 albums so far, making him far more productive musically than either of the other “Bow Wow” groups. His name derives from the fact that Snoop Dogg gave him his stage name, so it is not a reference to either the hard rock band or the 80’s new wave band.