Bananarama were one of the biggest girl bands of the Eighties, and it may surprise you to know that they are still performing today, albeit with only two of the original three members. Formed in 1979 and consisting of Keren Woodward, Sara Dallin and Siobhan Fahey, Bananarama started off performing short sets or providing backing vocals at other bands gigs.
Interestingly Keren and Sara have been life long friends, and have known each other since the tender age of four. Sara met Siobhan at College, and that was how the three came together to first become friends and then become a musical group.
In 1981 they recorded their first proper demo song Aie a Mwana, which was perhaps a bit of a strange choice given that it is sung in Swahili. However, it got them noticed and they found there first chart success when they teamed up with Fun Boy Three for T’ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It). I always remember it seemed a bit odd to me that Bananarama only got the “featuring” tag for this song, since it seemed like they did most of the singing!
This song set them up on the road to success, and it led to a string of chart successes including Really Saying Something, which was the return of a favour as it featured Fun Boy Three, Robert De Niro’s Waiting and Cruel Summer, which featured as part of the soundtrack on The Karate Kid.
By 1986 Bananarama started to work with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, which yielded them further chart hits such as Venus, I Heard A Rumour and Love In The First Degree, which I’m sure are some of the first songs many people will think of straight away when asked to name a Bananarama song (in particular Venus, which sadly is now going to be linked forever to women’s razors it would seem).
In 1988 though, Siobhan Fahey left the group after becoming a bit disinterested in the way the band had changed under the guidance of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. She reappeared as Shakespears Sister (initially alongside Marcella Detroit), and whilst it wasn’t their only release, Stay will be the song most will remember from them.
Bananarama continued on without Fahey though, and brought on board new member Jacquie O’Sullivan. More hits followed including I Want You Back and Nathan Jones, and the group were also listed in The Guinness Book of World Records as the female group with the most chart entries (a record which they still apparently hold today, so take that Spice Girls!).
In 1989 the girls joined with Lananeeneenoonoo, (otherwise known as Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke) to record a version of The Beatles song Help for Comic Relief.
Jacquie O’Sullivan left the band in 1991, but Keren and Sara still continue to perform as Bananarama, now a duo, to this day. They are still recording new songs, and also continue to play live at events such as the Rewind Festival.