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Members include Annie Lennox, (born on December 25, 1954, in Aberdeen, Scotland; married Uri Fruchtman, 1988; two children), vocals, flute; Dave Stewart, (born David Allan Stewart on September 9, 1952, in Sunderland, England; married Siobhan Fahey, 1987; two children), guitar, keyboards, vocals. Addresses: Record company--Arista Records, 6 W. 5th St., New York, New York 10019.
Throughout much of the 1980s, Eurythmics were one of the most popular music acts in the world. Combining the production and instrumental talents of Dave Stewart with the soulful voice and provocative stage presence of Annie Lennox, the duo outlasted many other synthesizer-laced New Wave bands that cropped up at around the same time. Eurythmics delved increasingly into their soul and rhythm & blues roots as time went on, while Lennox's creative use of androgyny on stage and in videos kept audiences fascinated. By 1990, though, their popularity had started to wane, and the two quietly decided to stop recording and performing together, going their separate ways. In 1999, though, a reunion to record one song for a greatest hits album found them collaborating so successfully that they produced Peace, their first new album in nearly a decade.
Their vastly different backgrounds made their eventual collaboration, let alone their success, sound unlikely. Lennox grew up in Scotland and moved to London to attend the Royal Academy of Music to study flute. Stewart, on the other hand, ran away from home as a teenager to work for and occasionally play with a folk-rock band. When they met in a London restaurant, Lennox was waiting tables after having left the Royal Academy because she felt uncomfortable with the school's pretensions. Stewart was dining with his song-writing collaborator at the time, Peet Coombes, having just left his band Longdancer following a car accident in which he had suffered lung injuries. According to Lennox, Stewart's first words to her were, "Will you marry me?" Whether true or not, the two quickly struck up a romance.
They also formed a musical partnership. Along with Coombes they started a band called the Tourists in 1977. Over the course of two years, they released three albums. They achieved some commercial success, with their version of "I Only Want to Be With You" climbing to number four on the British pop charts. The Tourists also lived up to their name, traveling around the world to perform, only to disband while in Bangkok, Thailand. Lennox and Stewart's romance ended at about the same time.
No longer a couple, the two decided that musically they could still work well together. They came up with the idea of Eurythmics, taking the name from a late nineteenth-century method of teaching music to children through movement. Their original notion was that they would form the core that would write for and perform with shifting combinations of supporting players. They took their idea to Germany and began writing in a studio owned by Conny Plank, the producer for the German synthesizer group Kraftwerk. The sessions resulted in In the Garden, released in the United Kingdom in 1981 to little fanfare. Having more of a mechanical electronic music sound than the soulful rhythms that would mark their later work, the album went nowhere, and their tour in support of it resulted in illness for both Lennox and Stewart.
Eurythmics Had Sweet Dreams
When they went back into the studio for their next effort, they did so in one built in a warehouse by Stewart. The lush arrangements remained, produced on an eight-track recorder. Yet a new element emerged, one that made a commercial and critical success of Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) in 1983. Justin Lewis described what made the album stand out in Rock: The Rough Guide: "The music had hit a chord: contemporary and hugely catchy, it was synth- and production-driven, yet it had a soul, melancholy, and personal." The title track shot to the top of the charts, hitting number one in the United States and number two in the United Kingdom.
Eurythmics didn't rest on their laurels, and later that year released their third album, Touch. Again, they had a hit on their hands, enhanced by the videos that they released in support of the songs. MTV had just come into existence, and the Eurythmics took advantage of the new medium to showcase Lennox's presence and her provocative gender-bending performances. The video for "Who's That Girl" from Touch featured her in both a male and a female role, and through special effects her characters kiss at video's end. Lennox also made waves by dressing as a man for a performance at the 1984 Grammy Awards ceremony.
Not every project Eurythmics touched turned out successfully, though. Enlisted to write and perform the music for a new movie production of the George Orwell novel 1984, their differences with the director led to much of their work getting left out of the film. Still, they released a soundtrack album, 1984: For the Love of Big Brother. The single "Sexcrime" made the top ten in the United Kingdom, but received little air play in the United States. Many radio stations refused to put it on, deeming the subject matter too controversial. That same year the duo also had differences with their record label when RCA issued the EP Touch Dance. Consisting of remixes of earlier songs, it was released in spite of the duo's objections.
The events of 1984 turned out to be minor irritants instead of career setbacks. Their 1985 album Be Yourself Tonight spawned such hit singles as "Would I Lie to You" and "Sisters are Doin' It for Themselves." The latter featured soul legend Aretha Franklin singing with Lennox, a collaboration that typified two important elements of the album. It featured appearances by a wide range of guest performers, including Elvis Costello and Daryl Hall. The songs themselves also showcased Eurythmics's return to their roots in the soul sounds of the 1960s. 1986's Revenge saw a shift again to other roots, rocking harder than their previous work. While the album sold less in the United States than their previous ones, in Europe it racked up more sales than any of their earlier releases.
Other Career Options Explored
Both Lennox and Stewart took advantage of Eurythmics's success to work without each other in realms other than playing music. Lennox made her acting debut with a part in the 1985 film Revolution, while Stewart worked as a producer for Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, and Tom Petty, among others. Still, the duo kept going as Eurythmics, releasing Savage in 1987. The album, with more of a disco style than their previous two, didn't go over very well and showed that they had passed their peak of popularity. While 1989's We Too Are One spawned their first American hit ("Don't Ask Me Why") since "Missionary Man" from Be Yourself Tonight, it would prove to be what both members thought of as the end of Eurythmics.
The breakup of the band took place quietly, with no public rancor. Lennox retreated to her home to write songs and give birth to her first child, while Stewart continued producing and took up writing movie soundtracks. Reflecting on their song writing process, Lennox told David Gates of Esquire, "I was the one wandering around saying, 'Never, never, never,' and he'd be going, 'Oh, come on this is great.'" While this interplay between the pessimist and optimist had been fruitful, Lennox went to say that it became "a struggle for us to be in the room together." For his part, Stewart told Jeremy Helligar of People, "You're tied together, and it comes to a point where you just need space. Still, I think she's a great songwriter. That's why we spent so long together."
While Lennox began recording her own solo work within three years of the breakup, releasing the album Diva in 1992, it took Stewart longer to start recording on his own. At one point he even spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital in order to get his confidence up, telling Helligar, "I had never done my own album because of insecurity and self-doubt." After working with a band called the Spiritual Cowboys for a few years, he finally put out his first solo album, Greetings from the Gutter,in 1995. While Lennox enjoyed considerable success with her solo albums, including a Grammy Award for 1995's Medusa,Stewart's didn't fare so well.
A Surprise Reunion
Although the two were out of touch during the mid 1990s, they got together to perform as a surprise at a party for a friend in 1998. After that, they played their first public gig in years at a tribute concert for a British journalist. When they received a Lifetime Achievement award at the BRIT Awards ceremony in 1999, they decided that they should also write together again, agreeing to create one new song for a greatest hits album. They found they couldn't do just one, though. Stewart told Larry Flick of Billboard, "We ended up writing four or five songs in a few days. Soon we realized it sounded like an album. We went into the studio and immediately started recording."
The resulting album, Peace, garnered mixed reviews, often eliciting comments about the quality of the whole but noting the absence of any remarkable songs like the duo's past hits. Barry Walters of Rolling Stonewrote, "Peace charms with repeated listenings, but its well-crafted down-tempo musings lack the old urgency," while David Gates in Newsweek noted, "Stewart's production sounds richer and more organic ... and Lennox sounds warmer and more expressive. Still, the new songs mostly lack the transcendent strangeness of ... old Eurythmics hits...." The record-buying public evidently didn't share this concern, especially in Europe, where the album reached the Top Ten charts in several countries, although it peaked at number 25 in the United States.
Just as reviewers inevitably compared the new album to Eurythmics's past work, Lennox and Stewart revisited their past with the album's first single, "Seventeen Again." The song traced the arc of their career from first meeting to breakup, commenting on their past work along the way. As far as the future was concerned, they had no definite plans for the Eurythmics beyond a tour to benefit Amnesty International and Greenpeace. Clearly, though, the two of them were glad to be working together again. Lennox struggled to explain to Flick how they collaborated, calling the process "an unexplainable, almost psychic way of making music.... I don't question it anymore, nor do I wonder how long it will work. I'm just grateful every time it happens."
by Lloyd Hemingway
Formed first band, the Tourists, 1977; formed Eurythmics and released first album, 1981; released multi-platinum album Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), 1983; performed soundtrack for the movie 1984,1984; released We Two are One,their last album before 10-year hiatus, 1989; performed together again in public for the first time, 1998; reunited for new album, Peace,1999.
BRIT Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999.
- Selected discography
- In the Garden RCA, 1981.
- Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) RCA, 1983.
- Touch RCA, 1983.
- Touch Dance RCA, 1984.
- 1984: For the Love of Big Brother (soundtrack),RCA, 1984.
- Be Yourself Tonight RCA, 1985.
- Revenge RCA, 1986.
- Savage RCA, 1987.
- We Too Are One Arista, 1989.
- Greatest Hits RCA, 1991.
- Eurythmics Live 1983-89 RCA, 1993.
- Greatest Hits BMG International, 1998.
- Peace Arista, 1999.
- The Tourists
- Tourists Logo, 1979.
- Reality Effect Epic, 1980.
- Luminous Basement RCA, 1980.
- Annie Lennox solo
- Diva Arista, 1992.
- Medusa Arista, 1995.
- Dave Stewart solo
- Lily Was Here (soundtrack), Arista, 1990.
- Greetings from the Gutter EastWest, 1995.
- Buckley, Jonathan and Mark Ellingham, editors, Rock: The Rough Guide, Penguin, 1996.
- Clarke, Donald, editor, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music,Penguin, 1989.
- Larkin, Colin, editor, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Muze, 1998.
- Romanowski, Patricia and Holly George-Warren, editors, The New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Fireside, 1995.
- Stambler, Irwin, editor, Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock & Soul,St. Martin's, 1989.
- Billboard, October 2, 1999, p. 5; October 30, 1999, p. 18.
- Esquire,July 1992, p. 82.
- Newsweek,October 25, 1999, p. 82.
- People,March 13, 1995, p. 21.
- Rolling Stone, October 14, 1999, p. 36; November 25, 1999, p. 98; December 16-23, p. 236.
- "Eurythmics," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (September 21, 2000).
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