Adam Ant

Adam Ant, one of the defining musicians of new wave, brings his ANTMUSIC tour to North America in 2024, extending a legacy that stretches back to the heady days of post-punk. 

That legacy began in earnest in 1980, when Adam & The Ants stormed the UK charts with “Dog Eat Dog” and “Antmusic,” a pair of singles that lit the spark that was Antmania in Great Britain. During those early years of the ’80s, Adam Ant epitomized all the eccentric excitement of new wave, pairing their fusion of Burundi drumming and rock & roll swagger with a cinematic flair: they were a band ideally situated to be mainstays on the emerging cultural powerhouse of MTV. Number one hits in England, “Stand and Deliver” and “Prince Charming” were underground hits in America, laying the groundwork for “Goody Two Shoes”–the first single Adam Ant released as a solo act–to turn him into a star in the US, a position that he held over the ensuing decades, buttressed by his work as an actor and his acclaimed return to live performances in the 2010s. g

A native of central London, Adam Ant became obsessed with music as a kid, hearing all types of rock n roll and pop on the radio. When he was 12, he learned to play bass, adding guitar to his repertoire by the time he played in Bazooka Joe, a rock & roll oldies revue that orbited the fringes of Britain’s pub rock scene. Bazooka Joe wound up sharing a bill with the Sex Pistols, a gig that changed the trajectory of Adam’s life. Already enthralled by the proto-punk primitivism of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges and Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, Adam was drawn to the riveting simplicity and power of the Sex Pistols, leading the singer to leave Bazooka Joe to form Adam & the Ants. 

Adam Ant may have found inspiration from the Sex Pistols but his band Adam & The Ants distinguished themselves in the chaotic clamor of the glory days of British punk. Decked out in leather and toying with S&M imagery, Adam & The Ants channeled the sexy swagger of glam through the provocations of punk. Dirk Wears White Sox, the group’s debut, sounded unlike anything else in 1979: it was a dark, sexy and vital record that would influence the likes of Nine Inch Nails, who would later cover Adam & The Ants’ B-side “You’re So Physical.”

Teaming with Malcolm McLaren, the manager who helped make the Sex Pistols notorious, Adam Ant developed the sound and sights that made him an international star. Sporting warrior makeup, Adam & The Ants now sang clever, snappy pop backed by thunderous rhythms, a combination showcased on “Antmusic,” a number two UK single that kicked off Antmania. 

Adam & The Ants stayed on the top of the British charts with “Stand and Deliver” and “Prince Charming,” a pair of hits that earned him the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year; additionally, the organization named “Stand and Deliver” Best Selling Single in 1982. Adam Ant went solo in 1982 with Friend or Foe, an album that gave him his American breakthrough with the jaunty “Goody Two Shoes.” That year, Adam Ant earned a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist.

For the next few years, Adam Ant was a fixture in pop culture. Kings of the Wild Frontier won Adam & The Ants the first ever BRIT Award in 1981, MTV named Adam Ant the Sexiest Man Alive and, at one point, Adam Ant had eight simultaneous singles in the UK Top 40, a feat that not even the Beatles could match. After Strip and its hit “Puss ‘N Boots” in 1983, Adam Ant worked with Tony Visconti, the legendary producer for David Bowie and T. Rex, on 1985’s Vive Le Rock then teamed with R&B giant Andre Cymone for Manners and Physique, a 1990 album that generated the hit single “Room at the Top.” 

Around the time of “Room at the Top,” Adam Ant chose to divide his time between music and acting. He first appeared on screen in Derek Jarman’s seminal 1977 punk document Jubilee but a guest role on a 1985 episode of The Equalizer sparked Hollywood’s interest, leading to plum parts on such hit series as Amazing Stories, Sledge Hammer!, Tales from the Crypt and Northern Exposure, along with several film roles. 

Despite his success as an actor, Adam Ant did not abandon music. During the heyday of grunge and Britpop, he scored another hit in 1995 with the shimmering love song “Wonderful.” Adam Ant’s influence could also be felt in alternative rock on both sides of the Atlantic thanks to such disciples as Nine Inch Nails and Elastica, who both tapped into the dark undercurrents flowing through the earliest music from Adam & The Ants. 

Adam Ant himself would eventually find himself revitalized by reviving the sound and spirit of his earliest work. He began the process of reclaiming his musical legacy in the 2000s, notably earning a Q Music Icon Award in 2008. Shortly afterward, Adam launched his own label to release Adam Ant Is The Blueblack Hussar In Marrying the Gunner’s Daughter, his first album of new material in 18 years. Following its release in 2013, he returned to the road. Once he wrapped up the initial promotion for The Blueblack Hussar, he started shining the spotlight at different eras in his career by performing Dirk Wears White Sox, Kings of the Wild Frontier and Friend or Foe in their entirety. The ANTMUSIC tour follows in this tradition, pulling from all aspects of his deep catalog.

Photo: Steven Scouller

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