Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bow Wow Wow

Bow Wow Wow were formed by former Sex Pistols' manager Malcolm McLaren. The line up consisted of Leigh Gorman, Dave Barbarossa, Matthew Ashman and Annabella Lwin.
Bow Wow Wow were heavily influenced by tribal beats. Groups such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers and No Doubt cite Bow Wow Wow as a strong influence.

 Scandal also followed Bow Wow Wow as McLaren and Annabella's mother squared off over a naked picture of the underage songstress. The scandal added to the allure of the band and they hit the charts with songs such as Go Wild in the Country and I Want Candy.

The Beginnings

Bow Wow Wow owe their start, in part, to Adam Ant. Adam Ant was disappointed with his group Adam and the Ants' first album. Having met Malcolm McLaren when McLaren was managing the Sex Pistols he asked him for some advice. McLaren gave him some image advice - he is credited with helping to achieve the dandy highwayman look that Adam and the Ants became famous for.

Malcolm McLaren also decided to lure the Ants away from Adam. He offered the Ants' bass guitarist (Leigh Gorman), drummer (Dave Barbarossa) and guitarist (Matthew Ashman)the chance to start a new group. That group was Bow Wow Wow. All that they needed now was a singer.

Myant Myant Mye was discovered singing along to the radio in a London dry cleaners. Malcolm McLaren persuaded her to change her name to Annabella Lwin and made her the lead vocalist for the band. Annabella was only 14 years old at the time.
Myant Myant Mye is Burmese for Cool Cool High
The Music

The band's signature was a tribal beat that caused controversy when they were accused of stealing it from Zulu songs and turning the original lyrics into English. In their defense the band agreed that their sound was influenced by the Zulu's, but claim to have fused it with a mixture of West African beats, Brazilian pop and conventional rock and roll.

Groups such as the Red Hot Chili Peppers claim that Bow Wow Wow were a big influence in them. In fact mention is made of the group in two of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' songs. In the song "Suck My Kiss" one of the lines is "swimming in the sound of bow wow wow." The song "Right on Time" includes the line "Holy cow bow wow wow," in homage to the group.

See Jungle
Police Called In

In 1981 Bow Wow Wow released their first album which was called "See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!"

The proposed album cover caused controversy, something that Malcolm McClaren was very good at. It showed the now 15 year old Annabella posing naked as the cover. The cover was meant to be a copy of Manet's "The Luncheon on the Grass" painting.

Scotland Yard were called in by Annabella's mother as she tried to bring charges against Malcolm McLaren. "Hello, hello what do we have here then?" Exploitation of a minor for immoral purposes officer. Luckily for Bow Wow Wow fans an agreement was reached as Annabella's family nearly made her leave the band.

The Agreement 

The agreement that Malcolm McLaren made with Annabella's family included not publishing the album cover. The cover was used, however, on an EP a year later when she was 16. The controversy certainly didn't hinder the album sales and the track "Go Wild in the Country" was a big hit in the UK.

The Last of the Mohicans Want Candy 

Last of the Mohicans was an EP released in 1982, this featured the song that was to also be the name of their next album - I Want Candy.

I Want Candy became Bow Wow Wow's biggest hit. Last of the Mohicans was also the EP that spawned the infamous cover. I Want Candy was recorded because the record label did not like the direction that Malcolm McLaren was taking Bow Wow Wow. With Kenny Laguna helping the group out they made the wise move of remaking the Strangegloves song I Want Candy.

When the Going Gets Tough 

After the success of I Want Candy, Bow Wow Wow carried on with another album, When the Going Gets Tough. They were still without Malcolm McLaren and Annabella said in an interview at the time that they were now concentrating more on the music than the image. Unfortunately Bow Wow Wow's fans loved the image and when the songs seemed to be too polished and lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

One of the singles on the album was Aphrodisiac, but the fans decided to move on and this single was not a hit.

Bow Wow Wow - The End? 
The Bow Wow Wow Break Up

It was during the tour promoting their When The Going Gets Tough in the US that Matthew Ashman broke his hand. The tour had to be cut short, with the band members also suffering from exhaustion it was time to disband.

How did Matthew Ashman break his hand?

In the words of Annabella Lwin -

“He was wearing dark shades and couldn't see, so he fell off of the stage!” 

What Happened Next? 

Bow Wow Wow members do other things It seems to be a little hazy about how the band split up, according to Annabella Lwin she read that they had split up in the New Musical Express! The record label wanted her to do a solo record and everyone went their own way.

What Did The Band Members Do Next?

Matthew Ashman became the frontman of a band called Chiefs of Relief alongside the other former members of Bow Wow Wow, except Annabella. The others drifted away and after five years the band had disbanded. Matthew Ashman ended up dying of diabetes complications in 1995, you can read about his life here - Matthew Ashman

Leigh Gorman initially joined his former bandmates in a new band called Chiefs of Relief, but left after only a few months, by 1989 Gorman had turned to record production and even worked with Malcolm McLaren again in the early1990s. Gorman and Lwin have also reformed Bow Wow Wow together since and toured. Find out more about Leigh Gorman here - Leigh Gorman

David Barbarossa initially joined his former bandmates in forming a new band called Chiefs of Relief, but left shortly afterwards. Barbarossa also had some more chart success in the mid 90s when he was in the band Republica. More about David Barbarossa here - David Barbarossa

Bow Wow Wow's Reformation

In 1997 Annabella Lwin and Leigh Gorman reformed Bow Wow Wow and embarked on the "Barking Mad" reunion tour. Matthew Ashman had died from complications arising from diabetes so they needed a new guitarist. Dave Calhoun took over as the guitarist.

Dave Barbarossa was also unable to tour with Bow Wow Wow as he had commitments with his current band - Republica. He did however take time out to work with Eshan Khadaroo from Blue Man Group. Eshan Khadaroo then performed on the drums for the whole tour.

After the 'Barking Mad' tour the band members did their own thing again before another reunion in 2003. In 2003 Adrian Young from No Doubt joined Bow Wow Wow as a guest drummer. Dave Barbarosa was again unable to perform as he had commitments with the band Cicane.

Share Your Thoughts & Memories of Bow Wow Wow

Did you like Bow Wow Wow? My favorite single was I Want Candy, I know that's a very cliched favorite of theirs, but what can I say?


  1. Probably you know the answer - what relations were inside to group?

    1. Not quite sure if you mean whether anyone was related or if anyone was in a relationship.

      As far as I know none of the members were related and I'm not aware that any of them were in a relationship, I've certainly never heard any gossip about them in that way.