A generation after this song was first released, it became a hit once again (#62 US, #9 UK) when it was released by the band Bow Wow Wow on their 1982 album The Last of the Mohicans
(a reference to the Mohawk hairstyles the band wore). Bow Wow Wow was put together by Malcolm McLaren, who is famous for creating The Sex Pistols. The lead singer was Annabelle Lwin, who came to England from Burma when she was five years old. When McLaren discovered her, she was 14 and working in a dry cleaner. She had the look he wanted, so he teamed her with former members of Adam And The Ants to form the band.
Bow Wow Wow came across the song when producer Kenny Laguna was brought in to work with them. Laguna had recently helped Joan Jett establish herself as a solo artist and wanted to concentrate on working with her, but Joan thought he should do it, so Kenny agreed to produce their album. Laguna told us: "I went to Florida and they flew Bow Wow Wow from England. They had some great songs, but I didn't hear the hit. That pissed them off. My deal was, I would produce them, but I would bring one song to the table. I had a couple of ideas, I finally talked them into doing 'I Want Candy.'"
After talking Bow Wow Wow into recording the track, Laguna realized he didn't have a copy of the song and didn't know the lyrics. There was no easy way to get the original song (this was before the Internet), so he called a friend who got him in touch with Richard Gottehrer, one of the producers who wrote and recorded this with The Strangeloves. Richard was cutting the song "Vacation
" with The Go-Go's when Kenny called him. Kenny explained that he was in a bind and asked Richard if he remembered "I Want Candy," and fortunately, he remembered every word and helped Kenny through the song by singing the melody over the phone. Said Kenny, "I learned the song, then I took what I had gotten over the telephone and I recorded it on a little tape recorder. Then I went in the studio and taught it to the band Bow Wow Wow. We cut it and learned it right on the spot. I've never compared it to the original."
Laguna almost left out the guitar part that makes up the intro of the song because he couldn't remember it. After completing the basic track without the guitar, he called back Gottehrer, who sang him the guitar part and made sure Kenny knew it was a very important part of the song.