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Members include Jay "J" Aston (born John Aston in Porthcawl, Wales, England; twin brother of Michael Aston), vocals and guitar; MichaelAston (born in Porthcawl, Wales, England; twin brother of Jay Aston), vocals and guitar; ChrisBell, (replaced Marcus Gilvear, 1986); MarcusGilvear, (on Immigrant, 1985-86); SteveGoulding, (briefly replaced Dick Hawkins in the early 1980s); Richard (Dick)Hawkins, drums; IanHudson, guitar; SteveMarshall, bass;JohnMurphy, drummer;JulianneRegan, (joined after first single demo, 1982-1984), bass, piano, and vocals; PeterRizzo, (replaced Julianne Regan, 1984), bass; James Stevenson (replaced Ian Hudson, 1986), guitar. Addresses: Record company--Monte Robison, Robison Records Ltd. E-mail: Email-- Morobison@aol.com.
In the midst of a surge of popularity in the mid-1980s, Gene Loves Jezebel remained among the least understood of the barrage of bands that comprised the musical genre called alternative rock. The band and its music in many ways reflected a cult-like persona, and conflicting reports concerning the origins and membership of the band dealt the group an aura of mystery that successfully enhanced the appeal of Gene Loves Jezebel. The band, which was heavily influenced by the gothic music movement, initially emerged as a trio and expanded later into a quintet. Their unique style, characterized by a high degree of experimentation, garnered significant support from broad-minded audiences including collegiate radio listeners. Despite a virtual disbanding of the group's membership in the mid-1990s, Gene Loves Jezebel regrouped with relentless persistence and expanded its experimental evolution into the late 1990s.
Conflicting accounts detail the specific origins of Gene Loves Jezebel. Among those, many popular stories maintain that the twin siblings, Jay (born John) and Michael Aston of South Wales, originally formed a group by the name of Slav Arian. Some sources cited the group's name as Slav Arian and others reported the group's name as Slay Arian. Still other reports indicated that the group was called Slavorian. As with the precise name of the band, little else was clearly documented about the early Slav Arian group. Reports concur nonetheless that Slav Arian was a forerunner to Gene Loves Jezebel, and that musicians Michael Aston and Jay "J" Aston, identical twins from a working class family in Porthcawl, Wales, were deeply involved in the roots and history of both bands. According to one version of the account, the twins, who sang and played guitar, moved to London, England in 1980, and there they re-christened their Slav Arian band under the name of Gene Loves Jezebel. Another mainstream version holds that Michael Aston initially moved from Porthcawl to London on his own and established the Slav Arian band while his brother remained in Wales, and that the two rejoined forces later in London. In the wake of conflicting details as to whether one or both twins initially went to England, it was nonetheless evident that the brothers "surfaced" on the British music underground sometime around 1980. Also clear was the fact that Gene Loves Jezebel was a reinvention of the earlier Slav Arian group of 1980 or 1981.
Prior to the name change, one or both of the Astons established a professional relationship with guitarist and songwriter Ian Hudson; Hudson later joined with the twins to form a trio. A short-lived association with a drummer named James Chater predated the initial formation of the group as a trio; thus their earliest performances did not include a drummer and utilized a drum machine as an interim solution for rhythm. Gene Loves Jezebel appeared in a live performance for the first time on December 30, 1981 and performed their London debut at the Convent Garden Rock Garden.
In keeping with the group's unaffected and characteristically unrehearsed music style, the name of the band was not an issue for some time until the trio sought to come up with a billing name for themselves. All the while the twins were popular frequenters of a club called the St. Martins, where the other patrons dubbed J with the nickname of "Jezebel" because of his long and flowing hair. Michael Aston, who limped from a badly healed broken leg, received the nickname "Gene," evocative of the late bop musician, Gene Vincent, who was crippled in a motorcycle accident in the 1950s. Historical details notwithstanding, the trio adopted the name of Gene Loves Jezebel no later than 1982 in London, England and achieved a peak of popularity in the mid-1980s. In 1982 the group secured a booking at the Institute of Contemporary Art Rock Week Festival, and the performance led to a record deal with Situation 2 Records. When the new group assembled to begin its first commercial recording session, it had expanded to a quartet, with the addition of Julianne Regan on piano and vocals. Also in the very early days of Gene Loves Jezebel's recording history, they were joined by well-respected guitarist, Albi Deluca, for the taping of the 1983 single release, "Screaming for Emmalene." Although Hudson was heard on bass for that tape, the group's 1983 United Kingdom debut album called Promise featured Hudson in his regular position on rhythm guitar following the introduction of bassist Steve Marshall into the group. Drummer Richard "Dick" Hawkins joined the group as well for that album. Promisewas later released in the United States on Geffen in 1987.
In 1984 the twins brought the band to the United States, and it was there that Gene Loves Jezebel established its greatest concentration of listeners. The band members collaborated with fellow Welshman, John Cale, on the 1984 release, Immigrant,which became a classic. The album was released on three separate labels over the course of the next two years. Beggars Banquet released the disc in 1984, and Situation 2 (a Beggar's Banquet subsidiary) released it in the United Kingdom in 1985. Also in 1985, the album appeared in the United States under the Relativity label. Cale, who produced the album, appeared with Gene Loves Jezebel during their first United States tour near the end of 1985. The mid-1980s also saw the demise of Hawkins and the addition of Marcus Gilvear as drummer. Gilvear was intermittently replaced by Chris Bell, to the point where both drummers, Gilvear and Bell, are credited for the drum accompaniments on Immigrant.Reportedly the two drummers switched turns even mid-song on certain cuts of that album.
Gene Loves Jezebel signed with Geffen in 1986 and with Beggars Banquet that same year. Also in 1986 guitarist Ian Hudson, who was a member of the original trio, left the music industry altogether. The group's ensuing release was Discover,featuring guitarist James Stevenson of Chelsea and Generation X fame. Stevenson, a master of guitar heroics, brought a new flamboyance to the group, and the band's popularity soared. The artistic content of Gene Loves Jezebel's work at times spawned debate, although classic Gene Loves Jezebel albums such as Discovercame to be prized on college radio broadcasts, where freedom of expression ruled the airwaves. "Motion of Love," "Desire," and the group's 1990 single, "Jealous," each surfaced in the top 100 of the Billboard charts, and Gene Loves Jezebel sold over one million records on the Geffen Label.
Young female fans swooned at every stop as Gene Loves Jezebel toured and performed to sellout crowds, most frequently in the United States where, according to Jay Aston in Musician's Monthly, "[H]ere they celebrate the otherness, they love what's different about the group." Surprisingly, in the estimation of the Aston's, the group was preceded by a media image that presented it as the paradigm of the cold and dark gothic bands that permeated the British alternative rock scene at the time. In reality, the group's members espoused lighthearted innocence, frolic, and fun; they were neither introspective nor morose. In actuality they were the antithesis of the contemporary gothic movement.
The dichotomy of image led to hesitancy among the band members as the 1980s drew to a close. In 1987, Gene Loves Jezebel founder Michael Aston quit the group and moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career as a solo recording artist. In 1992 he formed a group called the Immigrants and reinvented that band under the name Edith Grove in 1994. His twin brother remained in London for the duration, occupied in propelling the momentum of Gene Loves Jezebel. The band released the album Kiss of Life in 1990; that disc featured the hit single, "Jealous," that reached number 68 on the United States music charts in August of 1990. Another album, Heavenly Bodies, followed in 1993; and in 1995 Michael Aston returned to the Gene Loves Jezebel circle to collaborate on an anthology that was released in September of 1995. The band at that time included "J" Aston, guitarist Stevenson, drummer Chris Bell, and bass player Peter Rizzo. Gene Loves Jezebel then severed its ties with Beggars Banquet, refused a contract offer from Atlantic Records, and signed with Avalanche Records to produce the reprise album, Some of the Best of Gene Loves Jezebel.After the best of album, the group aligned briefly with Savage Records before essentially disbanding for approximately three years. Michael Aston went on to record with Scenic and as a solo act on Why Me, Why This, Why Now,in 1995. J meanwhile also went solo and Stevenson joined another band, called the Cult.
A new and more focused band emerged in 1998 when J assembled Stevenson and Rizzo for a resurrection of Gene Loves Jezebel. They recorded a new album called VIIin 1999 under the newly formed record label, Robison Records Ltd. VII featured a dozen new songs created through the mixology and production talents of industry specialist Peter Walsh, whose technical expertise was a well-known component behind U2 and Peter Gabriel. In April of that same year the group toured the United States and the Americas to promote the album. Although traditional critics remained largely at a loss to extol the musical virtue of Gene Loves Jezebel and despite persistent personnel changes and other inconsistencies, the band's 20-year staying power served to validate the Aston twins and their cohorts in bringing an experimental musical genre to the forefront.
by Gloria Cooksey
Gene Loves Jezebel's Career
Signed with Situation 2, 1982; U.S. tour, 1985; signed with Geffen, 1986; signed with Beggars Banquet, 1986; signed with Robison Records Ltd., 1998; U.S. tour, 1999.
- Selected discography
- "Shavin' My Neck," 1982.
- "Screaming For Emmalene" (with Albi Deluca), 1983.
- "Bruises," Canadian Beggars Banquet (Canada)/Vertigo, 1983.
- "Influenza," Relapse, 1984.
- "Shame," Whole Heart Howl, 1984.
- "Cow," 1985.
- "Heartache," 1985.
- "Desire," 1985.
- "Sweetest Thing," 1986.
- "Motion of Love," 1987.
- "Gorgeous," 1987.
- "Jealous," 1990.
- "Tangled Up In You," 1990.
- "Josephina," 1993.
- Promise Situation 2 (United Kingdom), 1983.
- Immigrant (with John Cale), Beggars Banquet (Canada), 1984.
- Immigrant (with John Cale), Situation 2 (United Kingdom), 1985.
- Immigrant (with John Cale), Relativity, 1985.
- Desire (with James Stevenson),Relativity, 1985.
- Discover (with James Stevenson), Beggars Banquet, 1986.
- Glad To Be Alive (limited edition included with Discover) ), 1986.
- Discover (with James Stevenson), Geffen, 1986.
- Promise Geffen (re-release, United States), 1986.
- The House of Dolls (includes "Motion of Love"), Beggars Banquet (Canada), 1987.
- The House of Dolls (includes "Motion of Love"), Geffen, 1987.
- Suspicion Geffen, 1988.
- Kiss of Life (without Michael Aston, includes "Jealous"),1990.
- Josephina Savage, 1992.
- Heavenly Bodies (without Michael Aston), 1993.
- From the Mouths of Babes AV, 1995.
- Some of the Best of Gene Loves Jezebel Avalanche, 1995.
- Desire: Greatest Hits Remixed Cleopatra, 1998.
- VII Robison Records Ltd., 1999.
- Voodoo Dollies: The Best of Gene Loves Jezebel Beggars Banquet, 1999.
- Love Lies Bleeding Robison Records Ltd., 1999.
- Live in Voodoo City Robison Records Ltd., 1999.
- Melody Maker,September 1987.
- All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/cg/x.dll[UID=3:28:37[PM&p=amg&sql=B13035-~C (December 6, 1999).
- "Boss Booking Agency--Michael Aston of Gene Loves Jezebel," http://www.thebossbookingagency.com/Aston.html (December 6, 1999).
- "Gene Loves Jezebel,"http://rollingstone.tunes.com/sections/artists/text/bio.asp]afl=rsn&LookUpString=740 (December 6, 1999).
- "Gene Loves Jezebel," http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/goth/glj.htm (December 6, 1999).
- "Influential English rock Group Gene Loves ...," http://www.businesswire.com/webbox/bw.030199/190600370.htm (December 7, 1999).
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