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Tears for Fears Artist Profile

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Tears for Fears Artist Profile
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Mercury

Formed:

1981 in Bath, Somerset, England - initially as History of Headaches

Core '80s Group Members:

  • Roland Orzabal (born Roland Jaime Orzabal de la Quintana on August 22, 1961 in Portsmouth, England) - Lead vocals, guitars, primary songwriter
  • Curt Smith (born June 24, 1961 in Bath, Somerset, England) - Bass guitar, backing vocals, keyboards, occasional songwriter
  • Ian Stanley (born Ian Christopher Stanley on February 28, 1957 in High Wycombe, England) - Keyboards, occasional songwriter
  • Manny Elias (born 1953 in Calcutta, India) - Drums, percussion

Overview:

British new wave band Tears for Fears delivered some of the most provocative, intellectually engaging mainstream pop/rock of the early '80s. Eventually becoming major superstars worldwide, the group started off as a mouthpiece for the devotion of Orzabal and Smith to Arthur Janov's psychological theories known as primal therapy. However, this association did not lessen the band's commercial viability, as 1985's Songs from the Big Chair became one of the most successful and critically revered records of the decade. Here's a look at the ultimately long-lasting career of a worthy '80s icon.

Early Years:

Orzabal and Smith became acquainted as teenagers in Bath, quickly gravitating toward music as session players for the band Neon, during which they played with the duo that would later become synth pop group Naked Eyes. The former pair then created their first band, a post-punk mod revival outfit called Graduate. That ska-influenced band released one album to limited success before its leaders began to crystallize a true sound and philosophy - resulting in Tears for Fears, an act that would experience quickly developing success in its native U.K. by 1982.

Initial Singles Success:

Though Tears for Fears' debut LP The Hurting would not appear until 1983, the group released singles as early as 1981 on U.K. label Phonogram Records. None was particularly successful until "Mad World," a 1982 track that reflected the psychological interests of the group's leaders and also presented Smith in a rare but memorably haunting lead vocal performance. The single peaked at No. 3 on the U.K. pop charts and opened the door for subsequent British hits and '80s classics like "Change" and "Pale Shelter" in 1983. The group failed to generate commensurate American success but didn't have to wait long for world stardom.

Huge Hits, Big Chair:

The group hit its unquestioned stride during the 1984 recording sessions that would soon yield 1985's Songs from the Big Chair, an album that generated four classic singles of the era. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout" rocketed to number one in the U.S., while "Head Over Heels" narrowly fell short of that zenith. These worldwide smashes combined with lead-off single "Mothers Talk" to build essentially an instant legacy, as the group's blend of guitar, keyboards and searching melody extended far beyond the confines of new wave. More music would not follow immediately, but Tears for Fears had already earned a solid position in '80s pop music.

Hiatus and 1989 Return:

Following the huge success of Songs from the Big Chair (which took its name from a noted psychological source - the famed book and TV movie Sybil, which treated the subject of the specific dissociative disorder commonly known as multiple-personality disorder), Tears for Fears needed a bit of a break. After a long worldwide tour and multi-platinum, long-term chart success in the U.S., Orzabal and Smith would not return with a group recording until 1989's The Seeds of Love. It was an expensive album, recorded without Elias and featuring a more heavily produced sound. "Sowing the Seeds of Love" was a major hit, while "Woman in Chains" also made the Top 40.

Later Years & Continuing Legacy:

Tears for Fears remained active during the first half of the '90s - releasing two albums between 1993 and 1995 - before taking a longer hiatus for almost a decade preceding 2004's Everybody Loves a Happy Ending. In the years since its last release, the group has maintained a clear if relatively modest status as one of the finest pop/rock acts of the frequently maligned '80s music era. Piercing songwriting and believable, anthemic performances remain the central hallmarks of the ongoing musical partnership of Orzabal and Smith, but it remains to be seen if the pair will ever add to an already highly respected catalogue.
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