Well, back in 1983 we did – I found these adverts in a colour supplement from my huge collection of 70s and 80s magazines…
Few remember but 1983 was a year of pop carnage. Bands that were going to dominate the 1980s nosedived in to the ground like the Hindenburg. Most shocking was the decision by Fun Boy Three to go their separate ways when it seemed they’d only left The Specials yesterday morning.
I wrote Neville Staple’s biography and for him, the phone call from Terry Hall was a bit of a surprise. Ultimately it let Neville return to the 2Tone sound and get away from the bouncy bubblegum pop of Fun Boy Three. The demise of that trio was just the start of the year’s musical bloodshed.
ABBA’s demise was not so surprising – many of their later songs seemed to be about their divorce court proceedings in heavy code. And thank God the Bay City Rollers pulled down the shutters – how on earth did they survive punk, let alone the 1970s? A few short years later, ABBA would enjoy a revival in popularity without reforming. Such good fortune didn’t come to the Rollers.
And then there was Roxy Music – when the LP Avalon was released, it seemed they were at the top of their game again, but all too soon they called it a day. One of the greatest combos of the 70s, a highly intelligent art school pop band, had gone. No more Pyjamarama! Not until they reformed in 2001.
The Human League wobbled through 1983, nearly coming to an end then struggling past the end of the year to release Lebanon in 1984. Some reports thought they’d gone in 1983 but they held out. Shame as Dare was such a great album at the start of the 80s.
Scritti Politti had been hailed as the future in 1982 but became the past in 1983. Off went Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Wah! – two bands I thought would have a longer lifespan. Dexy’s had toured with the 2Tone bus at the start of the decade.
Altered Images called it a day. In fact, I remember seeing Clare Grogan hanging round the Cambridge pub in Liverpool one day but I didn’t buy her a drink. Yazoo – gone in May, 1983. Female vocalist Alison Moyet continued with a solo career.
Looking back now, you can see that an era was slowly coming to an end. The post-punk explosion of youth cults like mod, 2Tone, New Wave, futurist, etc, etc…would soon give way to new sounds and new bands.
In 1983, New Scientist claimed that an accident at the Windscale nuclear plant in 1957 had been hushed up. Windscale is now called Sellafield and at the time of this article, CND was at its height commanding massive attendances at its demonstrations. The question nearly thirty years after that article is – was there a disaster in the 1950s or were we all getting carried away in the early 1980s?
The train of events has been detailed by somebody on Wikipedia under Windscale Fire and I’m not going to repeat the Wiki entry. I don’t just cut and paste Wiki on here. I’ve got original newspapers and magazines from the time in front of me and I can tell you what while Wiki claims there may have been an extra 240 deaths from thyroid cancer – the claims in 1983 were of a possible 8,000 deaths.
And what would have been the culprit – why, our old friend Polonium. You remember Polonium? It was what ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had popped in his tea without his knowledge at the Itsu restaurant in London in 2007 leading to his death.
In the 1983 magazine article it was claimed that a radioactive cloud passed over the UK and most of Europe from Windscale. Milk was effected in the local area leading to substantial quantities being dumped in the Irish Sea. The figure of 8,000 cancer deaths was speculated on though as I say, the current Wiki entry has dramatically reduced that figure.
Happy for any feedback on this.