I can not believe that is has been five years since the death of my favorite musician.
Frank Tovey, an innovative English musician who recorded electronic and industrial music in the 1980’s using the name Fad Gadget, died on April 3 2002. Tovey was a artist, a poet, a lyricist, a pioneer, an innovator, a composer, a experimentalist, a storyteller, a father, a husband, and a friend.
Influenced by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Marc Bolan, Tovey formed his first band in high school. He attended St. Martin’s School of Art and then studied performance art at
Leeds Polytechnic. He returned to London, where he lived with the
Artist known as Savage Pencil.
There, he began to make music on a drum machine and an electronic
piano. At the time, across Britain, punk rock was being subverted by
electronic-instrument-wielding art school students into an experimental pop
that was both more macabre and more romantic.
Acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and Depeche Mode (who open for him on his first tour) were beginning to emerge, and. Tovey soon joined their
Ranks in 1979 when he was the first artist signed to the innovative
Independent label Mute. Daniel Miller first printed a single with his band The Normal ( Warm Leatherette) and was influenced by Tovey to start the new label.
Using the name Fad Gadget, he released four albums, which were marked
by dark electronic funk topped by Mr. Tovey’s distinct British accent.
Half speaking and half singing, he delivered wry editorials on
politics, society and love, painting a dark dystopia fueled by technology.
I remember getting the first 45 of Ricky’s Hand. It was the talk of all the major critics as Tovey used an electric drill as a musical instrument.
“A view from my window/A motorway intersection,” he sang on his
Breakthrough album, “Under the Flag.” “Exhaust pipes at pram level/Now playgrounds
In 1981 he recorded an album with the industrial-music noisemaker Boyd
Rice, which was released years later as “Easy Listening for the Hard of
Hearing.” He also recorded with Mute Records founder Daniel Miler and release a LP of 50’s and 60’s cover songs done in an electronic sound called the Silicon Teens.
On tour Tovey’s performances were often highly intense and theatrical.
In 1985 Mr. Tovey began to record for Mute using his own name, making
An effort for the first time to learn how to play acoustic instruments.
After an industrial-dance side project, MKultra, he took a new
approach to his condemnation of industrialization by rounding up a mostly acoustic
band for 1989’s “Tyranny and the Hired Hand,” a collection of new and old
protest and labor songs like “Joe Hill” and “Sixteen Tons.”
Recruiting a backing band called the Pyros, with Paul Rodden on
Electric banjo, he tried his own hand at such material with a wry, rootsy look
at postwar, post-yuppie England on “Grand Union” two years later.
In 1993 Tovey and the Pyros released “Worried Men in Secondhand
Suits” and then took a long hiatus.
In 2001 he was asked to tour and began to opening act for Depeche Mode the band who opened for him on his first tour.
Tovey was honor on April 1st of 2002 for his influence in Electonica. His peers gave him that honor. Two days later he was found death from a heart attack.
He was working on a new album at the time of his death.
Go find the new DVD/ CD collection of his work called Fad Gadget by Frank Tovey.
4 disks for under 25 dollars.
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