Fine Young Cannibals formed in 1984 after David Steele and Andy Cox, both former members of The Beat, finally found their leading man in ex-Akrylyxz singer Roland Gift. Aside from compilations, they only released two albums, Fine Young Cannibals
(1985) and The Raw and the Cooked
(1989), but still produced enduring hit songs like "She Drives Me Crazy
" and "Good Thing
The group's name was inspired by the 1960 film All the Fine Young Cannibals, starring Hollywood sweethearts Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, though none of them actually saw the movie. It was chosen on the spot when the band got their first interview offer and still didn't have a name yet.
There's only one cover on the Fine Young Cannibals' debut LP: Elvis Presley's career-reviving hit "Suspicious Minds
," first released in 1969. Steele claimed the legend appeared to him in a dream and told him to record the song and promised it would become a hit. "When you have that happen to you," bandmate Gift asked in a 1986 Creem
interview, "what can you do? You can't refuse the King."
Presley was true to his word. The song peaked at #8 on the UK Charts.
According to Steele, you are what you read. Drummer Jenny Jones found this out the hard way when she was ousted from the backing group for reading a conservative morning newspaper. "I'd rather use a bad drummer who doesn't read The Sun than a good drummer who does," Steele told Q magazine in 1990. "I'm not one of these wet liberals, but I can't work with conservative people."
Jones is credited as a drummer and backing vocalist for "Couldn't Care More" from the group's debut album.
Gift, who is also an actor, told Q magazine what it was like to perform his nude scene in the 1987 movie Sammy and Rosie Get Laid: "I can say it's a bit like going to the doctor's. You're all there to do a job of work. Perhaps it's more like being a prostitute. It's just work and the customer is the viewer. Like all actors say, I wouldn't do it for the sake of it, and I wouldn't make a habit of it."
During a brief hiatus in 1988, Cox and Steele formed Two Men, A Drum Machine and A Trumpet and released the instrumental dance hit "Tired Of Getting Pushed Around." It peaked at #18 on the UK Singles Chart.
For FYC's songs, Steele and Cox would generally lay down the arrangements with beats and chords on cassette tapes, then Gift would contribute the melodies and lyrics.
In an interview with The New Zealand Herald in 2002, Gift blamed the group's demise on the decision to move to New York in 1990, a year after the release of their second album. By the time they realized their mistake, he said, too much time had been wasted in fruitless recording efforts and they were no longer on speaking terms.
It was also a case of too much too soon: "We made a great deal of money with the Cannibals in a short time and, in a way, it ruined us. I'm not complaining, it's allowed me the freedom to not have to work. But as a band we suddenly became obsessed with writing bigger hits, selling more than five million copies of the next album ... stupid stuff, really. We lost the sense of making music because we enjoyed it, and this album is very much about me enjoying making music."
Aside from being a guitarist, Andy Cox is a bicyclist - meaning he plays the bicycle as an instrument. He shared fragments of his experimental music on The Bike Show
in 2007, but the practice has been around much longer. Rock legend Frank Zappa made his first TV appearance playing the bike on The Steve Allen Show