What Happened to Thompson Twins?
Thompson Twins were one of those bands whose name made no sense. None of the members were named Thompson, none were twins, and during their heyday, there were three members (and at one time the ranks swelled to seven). The group was named after two detectives in the comic strip Tintin, and from 1982 to 1985 they were one of the biggest acts on both sides of the Atlantic.
But like many 80s artists, their success was short-lived, and their music is now relegated to 80s playlists and radio rotations. So what happened?
Thompson Twins seemed to come from out of nowhere, hitting the U.S. in 1984 during the temporary lull in the Second British Invasion of 1983. Their single “Hold Me Now” reached No. 3 on the U.S. charts, followed by the equally catchy but mysterious “Doctor! Doctor!”, which just missed the Top 10. The album Into the Gap went platinum.
But the group had actually been formed back in 1977, their first album coming four years later. The group had formed a trio composed of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway prior to success in the U.K. in 1983, when the singles “Love On Your Side” and “We Are Detective” hit the top 10.
Thompson Twins’ follow-up album to Into the Gap, 1985’s Here’s to Future Days, was not successful in the U.K., with no Top 10 singles, but they continued their success overseas, with “Lay Your Hands on Me” and “King for a Day” reaching the Top 10 in the U.S. They performed at Live Aid, and Madonna even joined them onstage to perform “Revolution” by the Beatles.
Then — nothing. Or so we thought.
Lost chemistry and a name change
Joe Leeway left Thompson Twins, leaving Tom Bailey and Alannah Currie, who were secretly dating, to carry on as a duo. The chemistry wasn’t as good, though, as 1987’s Close to the Bone was a commercial failure everywhere, barely reaching the Top 100 albums in the U.K. Big Trash followed in 1989 to rave reviews, and the single “Sugar Daddy” became a major dance hit in the U.S. The couple had a child in 1988 and married in 1991.
The two released Queer in 1991 only in the U.S. and Germany, and “Come Inside” once again proved that the group could be successful on the dance charts.
By 1993, Thompson Twins as a name was dead, and Bailey and Currie changed genres, focusing more on trip-hop and ambient music. Changing their name to Babble, they released two albums during the 1990s, neither of which made a splash. The couple divorced in 2003.
Bailey continued making music, releasing several dub albums during the 2000s. Currie currently works as an artist in London under the name “Miss Pokeno,” creating work using “luxurious veneers around uncomfortable and provocative narratives.” And Leeway lives in Los Angeles, where he was last reported to have been working in hypnotherapy.
Bailey tried unsuccessfully to reform Thompson Twins with the original lineup, with Currie declining to participate. “When it came time for the Thompson Twins to re-form in recent years, she had no interest,” he said. “I was seduced into it from a retrospective point of view. My touring band is now made up of all women.” The band played a gig in 2022 in Belgium.
Each has found their own way in light of the success and ultimate failure of a group that was the epitome of new pop and new wave. Fame was glorious but brief. Here’s to Future Days, eh?