Bananarama formed in September 1980 when three kindred spirits met. Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward had been childhood friends and, after moving to London, met Siobhan Fahey when they who was studying the same subject at university as Sara.
They would ultimately enjoy 22 top 20 Irish singles spending 78 weeks on the Irish singles chart. They had 11 singles reach the US Billboard Hot 100 and have sold 30 million records worldwide. They also have the entry in the Guinness book of World Records for the most charted hits by a female group in history!
Unlike many bands their very first demo led to their record deal. Things happened very quickly from there. An article in The Face caught the attention of ex-Specials member Terry Hall.
He invited them to collaborate with his new group Fun Boy Three on their album and the single It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It). The song went Top 5 in both Ireland and the UK in 1982 and Bananarama had arrived.
Fun Boy Three reciprocated later that year collaborating on the Bananarama single Really Saying Something. This hit number 9 in Ireland spending five weeks in the charts.
The song was included on their debut album Deep Sea Skiving which also produced two more hit singles. Shy Boy hit number 8 in the Irish charts in July 1982. That was followed with a cover version that they completely made their own. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye had hit the top spot on the US Billboard charts in 1969 for a band called Steam. Bananarama released their version in March 1983 and it went to number 4 in Ireland and has become one of their most popular live tracks. It has also taken on a life of its own as a sports anthem.
Their second album, released in 1984 was called simply Bananarama. It contained their first US top ten single Cruel Summer, which got a boost when it featured in the hit movie The Karate Kid. The song hit number 7 in Ireland. It wasn’t the only Hollywood link on the album which also contained the track Robert De Niro’s Waiting. It was almost called Al Pacino’s Waiting. However they decided that Robert De Niro sounded better. The actor himself was so impressed that he asked to meet the group after the single came out.
Their next single came as a surprise to many. After a couple of years out of the spotlight they shed their trademark tomboyish image and bounced back with a cover of Venus produced by the pop producing supremos Stock, Aiken and Waterman. The video was quite a departure for the group being far more glamourous and sexier than their previous offerings. The track hit number one in several countries and won a Juno Award in Canada for International Single of The Year. It marked a definite shift in direction for the group.
The Stock, Aiken and Waterman collaboration proved a very fruitful one for the group. The album Wow! had a much more Europop sound than anything they had done before and yielded the hit singles I Heard a Rumour, Love in the First Degree and I Can’t Help It.
But changes were afoot and in 1988 Siobhan bid farewell to the band to work on her own projects. Sarah and Keren recruited Jacquie O’Sullivan to replace her. They rerecorded subsequent singles from the album with her vocals. Their first release with their new member I Want You Back hit number 3 in Ireland and number 5 in the UK.
This line up lasted for one more album, 1991’s Pop Life, before Sarah and Keren officially became a duo in 1992. Their first album as a two piece, Please Yourself, garnered three hit singles including a cover of the 1976 Andrea True song More, More, More, which reached number 16 in Ireland.
Keren and Sara briefly reunited with Siobhan in 2017 for The Original Line-Up Tour, which saw them perform 23 sell-out dates across the UK in November and December that year. However, they reverted to a two piece again at the end of the dates. They’ve now been a duo longer than they were ever a three piece. In 2020 they released their autobiography, the fittingly titled Really Saying Something, and just last year they released their latest hugely acclaimed album Masquerade.
They proved so popular at last year’s Forever Young that fans begged us to bring them back as a and we are delighted to oblige. They will headline the Sunday night of the festival on July 16th.
Bananarama headline the ‘Forever Young’ festival in Palmerstown House Estate on Sunday July 16th, 2023. ‘Forever Young’ is a three-day celebration of the music of the 1980s featuring artists such as Andy Bell (Erasure), Squeeze, Billy Ocean, Tony Hadley, ABC and many more.
Full line-up and tickets are available here