His powerful voice, bittersweet lyrics and flamboyant stage manner have earned him millions of fans around the world.
Andy Bell has been one of Britain’s best loved pop icons for 25 years. His powerful voice, bittersweet lyrics and flamboyant stage manner have earned him millions of fans around the world along with his many talents as a performer, re-mixer, collaborator and DJ.
Born and raised in Peterborough, Andy is best known as the singer and co-songwriter of chart-topping duo Erasure. With Erasure he has been privileged to play sold-out shows at some of pop’s most legendary venues including Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Los Angeles Forum and the historic Fillmore in San Francisco. At home, he also entertained 60,000 people at the gigantic Milton Keynes Bowl, and packed out London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall.
Bell has also been involved in numerous outside projects including musical collaborations, charity events, TV and film work. In recent years he has established himself as a solo artist and a DJ, tapping into his lifelong love of classic electro. “Doing stuff on my own is important to me because I really love dance music,” Andy says. “My heart’s really in club music. I’m still waiting to make that big club record.”
Andy made an appearance with KD Lang on her 1994 single Lifted by Love and with Ant & Dec on Shout in 1997. He has also remixed several Erasure singles as well as Sandra Bernhard’s 1994 cover of the Sylvester disco classic You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), Goldfrapp’s Ooh La La in 2005, and the 2008 re-issue of Yazoo’s Nobody’s Diary.
Andy has performed at countless AIDS benefit shows and twice on the True Colors tour, with Erasure in 2007 and solo in 2008. Designed to raise awareness for the LGBT lobbying group Human Rights Campaign, these tours featured an all-star bill including Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Harry, Rufus Wainwright, The B52’s, Joan Jett and The Gossip.
In 2005, Andy released his debut solo album Electric Blue showcasing a wide variety of musical styles. The self-penned album featured 14 brand new tracks, including duets with Claudia Brucken (Propaganda & Act) and Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters). It also featured beats by Manhattan Clique, and generally took more muscular and club-friendly direction than Erasure’s recent work. The first single from the album Crazy, featured a dazzling sci-fi video created and directed by the genius of Al & Al.
“His zest for living and enjoyment comes over very strongly throughout,” expressed the BBC website, “and his enthusiasm for pop music is as strong now as it ever was.” Pop Matters described Electric Blue as “lyric-heavy dance synth-pop that overachieves and succeeds in its mingling of emotion and sexuality” while All Music Guide branded it “triumphant” and “downright blissful.”
Bell followed Electric Blue with a fresh round of Erasure commitments, co-writing the lush gospel-pop confessionals on the duo’s acclaimed 2007 album Light At The End of the World. Shortly after came the mighty career-spanning retrospective Total Pop! 40 hits released to rave reviews in February 2009.
“I decided I really needed a year and a half off from Erasure,” Andy says. “Just to get my head together and work out who I am outside this Erasure thing. I’ve spoken to Debbie Harry and she always refers to Blondie in the third person. I could never understand that before, but now I do. You don’t get bored but you just become consumed by it, you are no longer your own person.”
A second solo album Non Stop – recorded with producer Pascal Gabriel – sees Andy steer his solo career in a darker direction than on Electric Blue; the album combines Andy’s long-standing love of electro with contemporary club beats, and the kind of irresistible pop hooks that have already seen media tastemakers – including Radio 1 and Kiss – fully embrace the album’s first single Will You Be There?.
In 2010 Bell returned to work with Vince Clarke and produced Erasure’s fourteenth studio album Tomorrow’s World which they released in October 2011, followed swiftly by a world tour. Besides recording and performing with Erasure and as a solo artist, Andy is also building his profile as a DJ playing hard-edged electro and classic 1980s dance-pop. This marks a natural return to the singer’s teenage roots as a “soft punk” infatuated by new wave icons like Japan, Siouxsie, Lene Lovich and Nina Hagen.
“I was doing electro anyway before I met Vince,” Andy nods. “I was in a band called The Void, writing with Pierre Cope and producer Pete Gage, doing the usual demo-tape hiking around the record companies. What I really love is electro. Once you’ve been to a club like Nag Nag Nag and heard those tracks on a bass amp, they sound really incredible. The bass goes right through your bones.”
Whether on stage, in the studio or behind the decks, Andy remains an icon of party-friendly positivity.