Formed 1979, London, UK: Sara Dallin – vocals; Siobhan Fahey – vocals; Keren Woodward – vocals. The most charted all-female group in UK chart history originally came together as more of a gang than a band. The girls eschewed the obvious route to fame and the advances of Malcolm McLaren, instead playing down their sexuality with a ramshackle, tomboyish image. First single Aie A Mwana, released in September 1981 and sung entirely in Swahili, caught the attention of ex-Specials singer Terry Hall who asked them to accompany his Fun Boy Three on their second single It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It. The collaboration reached #4 in 1982 and Hall and co returned the favour by backing the girls on their next single Really Saying Something, another top five hit. After further top five hits with Shy Boy and Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, Bananarama’s début album Deep Sea Skiving was finally released in March 1983 and made #7. After further top ten hits Cruel Summer and Robert De Niro’s Waiting, second album Bananarama reached #16, but the hits were beginning to dry up.

In 1986 they adopted a sexier image and enlisted the services of Stock, Aitken and Waterman to produce a cover of Shocking Blue’s Venus which reached #8 in the UK and #1 in the US. Third album True Confessions was not a huge success but further SAW collaborations produced a run of top twenty hits including I Heard A Rumour (1987, #14), Love In The First Degree (1987, #3) and I Want You Back (1988, #5) from the top thirty album Wow! By this stage Fahey, now married to David A. Stewart of Eurythmics and looking to broaden her musical horizons, quit to form the inaccurately spelt Shakespear’s Sister, named after a song by The Smiths, with American singer/guitarist Marcella Detroit. Siobhan’s replacement was Jacquie O’Sullivan, formerly of all-female rockabilly band The Shillelagh Sisters, who was gradually eased into the band over the course of a top three Greatest Hits album, a Comic Relief collaboration with French & Saunders on a cover of the Beatles’ Help! (1989, #3) and a remix of Cruel Summer which reached #19. Meanwhile Shakespear’s Sister broke into the top ten in the second half of 1989 with second single You’re History and début album Sacred Heart.

Bananarama’s success continued sporadically into the early ’90s with two further albums, Pop Life (1991, #42) and Please Yourself (1993, #46), the latter recorded as a duo following the departure of O’Sullivan. Meanwhile Shakespear’s Sister scored an unexpectedly massive hit in 1992, spending eight weeks at number one with their single Stay and spent the next year milking the accompanying Hormonally Yours album. However, Siobhan and Marcella fell out soon afterwards and the band’s momentum was lost in the four year gap before their next release. The lack of interest shown in the 1996 comeback single I Can Drive resulted in the third Shakespear’s Sister album being shelved for the best part of a decade. Bananarama continued to record, although their next two albums Ultra Violet (1995) and Exotica (2001) were not released in the UK. They finally returned to the British charts in 2005 with the hit singles Move In My Direction (#14) and Look On The Floor (Hypnotic Tango) (#26), eventually cracking the album chart again with Viva (2009, #87).



Cruel Summer sleeve

June 1983, #8

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Robert De Niro's Waiting sleeve

March 1984, #3

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I Heard A Rumour sleeve

June 1987, #14

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Deep Sea Skiving LP sleeve

March 1983, #7

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Bananarama LP sleeve

April 1984, #16

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Wow! LP sleeve

September 1987, #26

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