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What happened to Haircut One Hundred?

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Haircut One Hundred - Pelican West album coverHaircut One Hundred was the ultimate preppie band. Formed in London in 1980, they skyrocketed to fame in their native U.K. based partly on their sound — a blend of new wave, lite jazz and Caribbean music — and partly on their looks — Ivy League haircuts, bright neckties, and pastel sweaters. They were a teen pinup magazine’s dream but played like a seasoned band, and the combination got them four quick Top 10 hits in the U.K. and some decent play in U.S. nightclubs.

And they fell as quickly as they rose to the top. Let’s find out what happened.

The story of Haircut One Hundred

As with many bands, the success of Haircut One Hundred (spelled out — not Haircut 100) was based mainly on one person. That person was Nick Heyward, the seemingly bashful lead singer who wrote most of the music and controlled the look and brand of the band, right down to the logo. But all that responsibility, coupled with their meteoric rise to fame, took its toll on Heyward, all of 20 years old when the band had its first hit.

Citing exhaustion, he refused to attend recording sessions for Haircut One Hundred’s second album. The band went on without him, and he eventually parted ways with them, leaving songwriting and singing duties to percussionist Marc Jones. “That whole second incarnation of Haircut One Hundred was me trying to guess what Nick would have sang,” said Jones, who admitted to being neither a singer or a songwriter. The album, 1984’s Paint and Paint, reached only No. 46 on the U.K. album chart. The band subsequently split up, unable to find success without Heyward.

Separate ways

Heyward, well rested, came back and released the single “Whistle Down the Wind,” which was supposed to be recorded by his former band. The song hit No. 13 on the U.K. singles chart in 1983. He released the album North of a Miracle later that year. Critics embraced Heyward the solo artist, and he continued to record and release albums full of Beatlesque tunes over the next 30 years:

  • Postcards from Home (1986)
  • I Love You Avenue (1988)
  • From Monday to Sunday (1993)
  • Tangled (1995)
  • The Apple Bed (1998)
  • Open Sesame Seed (2001)
  • The Mermaid and the Lighthouse Keeper (2006)
  • Woodland Echoes (2017)
Graham Jones and Nick Heyward.

Graham Jones and Nick Heyward (from Nick Heyward’s Instagram)

The rest of the band found success in various careers:

  • Marc Fox became an A&R representative for several major record labels. He still plays percussion and is a music consultant for television and advertising. He owns re:record, a company that specializes in rerecording classic songs.
  • Guitarist Graham Jones’ love of surfing took him to the coast of England, where he eventually became a tree surgeon. He still plays guitar and helps young musicians develop their talent.
  • Bassist Les Nemes, who helped found Haircut One Hundred with Heyward, was a session musician for numerous artists including Chris Rea, China Crisis and Rick Astley. He moved to Spain in 2003. He played bass on several of Heyward’s solo albums and now has his own YouTube channel.
  • Saxophonist Phil Smith also became a session musician, playing for Toyah, Transvision Vamp, ABC and George Michael.
  • Drummer Blair Cunningham has played for a number of artists including Echo & the Bunnymen, Indigo Girls, the Pretenders, Roxy Music, Sade, Lionel Richie, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Tina Turner.

Reunions

In 2004, the VH1 show “Bands Reunited” managed to find all six members of Haircut One Hundred and reunite them for a one-time performance. Five years later, Heyward invited the band to perform at one of his solo gigs. They played in London in 2011, and the performance was released as a live CD.

Heyward has hinted at another reunion, and fans are still waiting for lightning to strike twice and rekindle that magic that occurred in 1982.

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