The following extracts are taken from an article
called "The Pet Shop Boys Story" published in Smash Hits
magazine in 1989 It was August 19th, 1981 when the fateful
meeting took place.
Chris remembers that he
thought Neil was brainy "because he had glasses on which
is the mark of a brainy person
remembers Chris was a bit mad "because he laughed a lot.
They got chatting about music and found they had
almost nothing in common at all. Neil liked serious,
slightly wordy "rock music" by people like David Bowie and
Elvis Costello. Chris, quite simply, liked disco. "I
remember he liked 'Body Talk' by Imagination," recalls
Neil, "which I thought was dreadful." For some reason,
from this unpromising beginning, within days they had
formed a group.
Pretty quickly they decided what they
wanted to sound like. Chris was a massive fan of a New
York disco producer called Bobby O who made simple disco
records under a variety of names - pretty soon Neil was
just as big a fan. They wrote lots of songs, recorded lots
of "demos" and wondered whether they might ever get famous
(thinking, so they claim, not on your nelly).
Chris had gone back to Liverpool to study, commuting to
rehearsals and writing sessions. Neil meanwhile had found
a new job. A while back he'd put together a book about the
pop group Madness - he'd then been asked to edit the 1983
edition of this very book, The Smash Hits Yearbook.
1983 Smash Hits asked Neil to go to New York to interview
Sting. He wasn't mightily keen on Sting but he had an
idea. He tracked down Bobby O's phone number and rung him,
explaining he was a big fan and asking if he could take Mr
O out to lunch. Bobby O who, truth to tell, wasn't really
was quite flattered and only too pleased. So
it was that on August 19th 1983 - as fate would have it
two years to the day from that fateful "electrical shop
meeting" - that they sat down in a New York restaurant
called Apple Jack for a cheeseburger and some carrot cake.
Near the end of the meal Neil finally plucked up the
courage and mentioned he was in a group. To his surprise
instead of saying "how very interesting, could you pass me
the relish?" Bobby O simply declared that this news was
"fabulous" and that they should make a record together
They went straight back to Bobby O's offices to
listen to a tape that Neil "happened" (hem hem) to have
with him, featuring three of their songs, "Opportunities",
"It's A Sin", and the never-released "It's Not A Crime".
Bobby O was convinced. He said "I could do this!" Neil
remembers. "And I thought, well, you should be able to,
because it's completely ripped off from you."
weeks later they recorded "West End Girls" then later,
lots of songs including "One More Chance". Those two were
released but to no great success. "West End Girls" became
a radio and club hit on the west coast of America, they
were popular in a small way in Europe and that was more or
Unperturbed they started looking for another
record contract and carried on writing songs - by the
beginning of 1985 they'd written most of the songs that
would turn up on their first LP but "It's A Sin", "Rent",
"I Get Excited" and "What Have I Do To Deserve This?"
(based on some words Neil wrote on the bus home after a
day's work at Smash Hits).
After some palavar, and
after agreeing to pay Bobby O a fortune, they got a record
contract and prepared to release their next single,
"Opportunities". Neil decided it was only sensible to give
up his job and concentrate on the pop caper full time. His
mum was less than convinced.
Fairly quickly they became
known for being a little down to earth about most things.
When Chris was asked on Italian TV why they'd written
"West End Girls" his enthusiatic answer was "I dunno,
really". When they were asked what it was like being at
number one - which they frequently were - they answered
quite plainly that "What it feels like is vaguely nothing.
It's like having a cup of tea". As the follow-up, "Love
Comes Quickly", was prepared for release, Neil simply
said, "if the new single isn't a hit I wouldn't slash my
wrists. I'd just think, it's not a hit, oh dear. We're
down the dumper, I knew we would be."
But of course it
was a hit, followed by their first LP "Please" a new
version of "Opportunities", a new version of "Suburbia"
and a remix LP called "Disco" (oddly enough the original
title of "Please" had been "This Is Disco".) It was all