Frank Tovey – 5 Years without a new Fad Gadget.

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

Are carparks.”


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.


2 Responses

  1. Was just dusting off some of my favorite vinyl…Fad…have 3 of his early albums and singles plus a couple under Frank’s name, and decided to search the web for some update on his activities, SHOCKED and dismayed to hear of his early death…had not heard. Indeed, have been wondering off on and on last few years why he hasn’t re-appeared.

    Thank you for your comments about Fad….he was a huge influence on my musical tastes 1979-1986, along with Depeche, Cab V. , and early Simple Minds. He was indeed an innovator and influencer. May his music last forever!!

  2. Yahoooo.. That’s a good package.. 4 Discs for $25 only.. Thank’s

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: