I was planning to finally begin putting together my piece looking back at the hit singles of pop group Bananarama in the 1980s and 90s, when I got somewhat distracted after I discovered a further twist in the remarkable “Bananarama decided to reform after they met up at Siobhan’s house in Bethnal Green which is where I live in London” story, it seems that they aren’t the only 80s pop stars round here!
In recent years the area where I live in London seems to have become one of those places that is suddenly trendy and all those hipster types like to hang around, and my mum often says “when I was out earlier there was some bloke walking along the street who looked as if he might be in a band”. I don’t know how many there really are, but here is another example of one.
I am not a member of the website Instagram, but you might remember when I looked at Siobhan from Bananarama’s page and noticed that she was putting pictures of herself on there in places not too far from where I live. I also noticed that there was another woman who was appearing in a lot of these pictures with her called Brix Smith. Now she was someone who I didn’t know much about so I decided to discover more.
American born-Brix found fame in the 1980s when she became a member of indie band The Fall, and in July 1983 she married their frontman Mark E Smith (who actually died while I was putting this piece together), and around the same time she was in another band called The Adult Net who had a few minor hit singles. She also appeared on the cover of a lot of music magazines in the mid/late-80s including NME, Record Mirror and Sounds. A couple of years ago she published a book about her career.
When I was putting together my piece on The Roxy and was looking for videos of performances from that show on YouTube, I found The Fall’s “Hit The North” from 1987 which features Brix on stage, and it seems that a lot of people thought that it was rather unusual for them to appear on primetime ITV. Then when I was channel hopping one night around the same time there was a documentary on Channel 5 about classic Christmas films which Brix contributed to where she was credited as a “TV presenter”. I thought it was weird that she was suddenly turning up a lot.
As well as her music career, it seems that Brix has also had success in the world of fashion and for a while she owned a clothes shop with her second husband Philip Start in Shoreditch, which again is very close to where I live. So I decided to do a search for “Brix Shoreditch” and sure enough I found a few articles with interviews where she spoke about her career which stated “Brix lives in Shoreditch”. So she didn’t just have the shop there, she actually lived there. This is starting to get interesting…
So I thought I might as well take this to its natural conclusion and searched for “Brix Bethnal Green”. Has she been anywhere that I would know? The results were rather surprising. I found a post from September 2017 saying that Brix was going to perform a gig at a place called The Sun Tavern in Bethnal Green. Now I do actually know where this is and it’s only a couple of minutes walk from where I live. So how did it all go? Did anyone turn up to this?
And well, ooh yes, there’s only a picture of Brix alongside Siobhan at the gig at The Sun Tavern (where she describes Siobhan as “my dear friend”). Well again, I couldn’t believe it. You should know by now that I am into Shakespear’s Sister and I remember their epic run at the top of the singles chart in 1992 with “Stay”, so to think that one of the women who sang on that classic song is often here really has shocked me. It’s something that’s so strange that it reminds me of what Alan Partridge once said: “it’s like The X Files… but a pleasant X Files“. I wonder how they met and how long they have known one another?
Not long after, Siobhan joined Brix onstage during a gig to perform the old The Fall song “Totally Wired” with her, at a venue called Oslo in Hackney, which again isn’t too far away. So if you saw the Bananarama tour recently, as much as I’m sure Siobhan enjoyed performing such classics as “Cruel Summer” and “Venus” across the UK, it seems that she’d sooner be down the pub performing The Fall songs round the corner from me. Sorry everyone!
I have said before that I have no real interest in the cult of celebrity, but I wondered if Brix and Siobhan (or indeed any other pop stars) have ever been to other local trendy hotspots including the Working Men’s Club (which hit the headlines recently when Liam Gallagher performed a surprise gig there) or The Star Of Bethnal Green, which really is just about literally across the road from me. It does make me wonder just how many more 80s pop stars could be round here. Is Kim Wilde always in the local supermarket? Does Siouxsie Sioux live next door? Well in the future, if I see a woman walking along the street dressed like this, I’ll know who it is…