Happy Birthday: Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014
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Happy Birthday: Siobhan Fahey of Bananarama

Today marks the 56th birthday of a woman who was part of one of the greatest girl groups of the ‘80s before departing their ranks to explore other musical territory, but given that she bid Bananarama adieu only to score a #1 UK hit (and a #4 US hit) as part of Shakespears Sisters, there’s no doubt that Siobhan Fahey made the right move.

Born in Dublin, Ireland in 1958, Máire Siobhán Deirdre Fahey moved to Yorkshire, England when she was all of two years old, but with a father who was serving in the British Army, it was far from the only move of her childhood: she also lived in Germany for a period and, after returning to the UK, attended various schools in Edinburgh, Stroud, Gloucester, Kent, and Harpenden. It was her move to London at age 16 that led her into a career in music, one which came about as a result of meeting Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward while she was taking a course in fashion journalism.

Bananarama recorded their first demo with the assistance of former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and got some of their earliest breaks as a result of teaming up with Fun Boy Three, but it wasn’t long before the group was able to pull chart hits on their own, delivering such classic singles as “Shy Boy,” “Cruel Summer,” “Robert De Niro’s Waiting,” “I Heard a Rumor,” and “Love in the First Degree.”

By 1988, however, Fahey had decided that she was more likely to make the music she wanted to make if she went out on her own, so she left Bananarama behind and started Shakespears Sister, eventually adding Marcella Detroit to the mix, at least for the first two albums, Sacred Heart and Hormonally Yours. The collaboration proved to be a commercial success right off the bat in the UK, with “You’re History” hitting #7, but it was “Stay” which ended up being the defining moment for the group…so much so in the US, in fact, that Shakespeares Sister is often mistakenly perceived as a one-hit wonder.

Well, okay, it’s kind of true, at least if you only count top-40 hits, but the follow-up single, “I Don’t Care,” did hit #55 on the Billboard Hot 100, at least.

Although tensions between Fahey and Detroit led to a split between the two, Fahey has continued to record as Shakespears Sister – which is only fair, as she’d started the project well before Detroit ever came aboard – while also releasing some material under her own name. In addition, she’s reunited a few times with Bananarama over the years, and earlier this year she could be found within the ranks of Dexys (they’ve dropped the “Midnight Runners” bit) for some of the band’s live shows, so she’s absolutely been keeping herself busy on the music front.

To celebrate Ms. Fahey’s birthday, we’ve put together a playlist featuring her most memorable tunes with Bananarama and Shakespears Sister, and in addition throwing in a song from her solo effort, The MGA Sessions, we’ve closed things out with a very appropriate track by the Bluebells which – in case you didn’t know – she co-wrote. Give it a spin, and if you’re on Twitter, give her your best! (You can find her at @Siobhan_Fahey.)