THE HUMAN LEAGUE FACTS:
Members: Philip Oakey, Joanne Catherall, Susan Ann Sulley
Genre: Electronic, New Wave
Hometown: Sheffield, England
Albums: Reproduction (1979); Travelogue (1980); Dare (1981); Love and Dancing (1982); Hysteria (1984); Crash (1986); Romantic? (1990); Octopus (1995); Secrets (2001); Credo (2011)
Awards: 1 Grammy Nomination
Hits: "Don't You Want Me," "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" "Human"
Other: The band's name is taken from a faction in the 1974 board game Starforce: Alpha Centauri.
The roots of the band known today as The Human League begin in England in 1977, with Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh and some economical electronic music equipment. The two men were joined by their friend Adi Newton and became a band called The Future. Their search for a lead singer lead them to Philip Oakey, a man without a lot of experience in singing but who, according to Ware "already looked like a pop star."
Once formed, a new name was chosen from a board game, and "The Human League" was born. While the band was signed to Virgin Records by 1979, early success eluded them. Their first album Reproduction, consisting of a more heavily electronic sound, did not make a significant impact on the charts. 1980's Travelogue charted better, reaching #16 in the UK due in part to its more commercial sound.
Ahead of an early 1980 tour, creative tensions between Oakey and Ware boiled over, causing Ware and Marsh to depart to form a band named Heaven 17. With the tour waiting, Oakey had to rebuild The Human League quickly. He did so by visiting nightclubs in Sheffield, where he found two literal schoolgirls, Susan Ann Sulley and Joanne Catherall, to join the band. The girls had no experience, but, after securing permission from their parents, were taken on tour and eventually formally added to the band.
With the help of producer Martin Rushent, the band recorded the album Dare, which went double Platinum in the UK and contained the #1 single "Don't You Want Me." Oakey did not originally care for the track and resisted releasing it. He has since reconsidered its value. The track was supported by a slick, story-driven music video, something out of the ordinary for 1981, which only contributed to its worldwide popularity.
The Human League found it difficult to reproduce the success of Dare. Throughout the 80's and 90's they released albums with a variety of different production teams, and members departed. The current incarnation of the band includes only the core group of Philip Oakey, Joanne Catherall, and Susan Ann Sulley, with regular support from Neil Sutton.
While the Human League returns to the studio to keep things fresh, they've committed to touring, providing fans with live shows around the world for as long they turn out to see them.
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