Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Who are the Pet Shop Boys

Well, this is an easy one :). Pet Shop Boys are Neil (Francis) Tennant, and Cris Lowe (Christopher Sean Lowe). They met accidentally in a HI-FI shop on King's Road, and while waiting to be helped, they started a conversation about musicians and synthesizers. After going their separate ways from the hi-fi shop, they kept in touch and soon became friends and musical collaborators, writing songs together in Neil's apartment on his synthesizer. Although in general they had different musical tastes, they found they shared a passion for Euro-Disco and hi-NRG music. They also soon discovered a mutual fondness for the music of the American dance producer Bobby 'O' Orlando.

In the summer of 1983, a remarkable string of coincidences came into play. Smash Hits assigned Neil the task of traveling to New York City to review a Police concert and to interview Sting, who happened to be a fellow alumnus of St. Cuthbert's School (coincidence #1). And, as it also happened, the building in which Neil was scheduled to meet Sting was the same building in which Bobby O had his offices (coincidence #2). So on August 19—two years to the day after he and Chris first met (coincidence #3)—Neil arranged to meet Bobby O, which was not a particularly difficult thing to do considering his credentials as a British pop music journalist.

Neil and Bobby O wound up having lunch together at a small restaurant nearby on Broadway, the Applejack Diner. During the course of their conversation, Neil "let slip" that he was a member of a songwriting duo interested in making music somewhat influenced by Bobby O himself. The producer immediately agreed, without having heard so much as a single song or demo tape, to cut a record with them. (He later confessed that he liked Neil's "look" as a potential pop star as well as the idea of recording with a singer with a strong British accent.)

Neil returned to London to file his articles with Smash Hits, but a few weeks later he was back in New York, this time accompanied by Chris. While working with Bobby O at Unique Studios, Sugar Hill, and Bobby O's own studio, they recorded several of their newer songs: West End Girls, Opportunities and One More Chance. It was also apparently around this time that Chris and Neil decided to change the name of their duo to Pet Shop Boys. Inspired by some friends who indeed owned a pet shop, it sounded to them like something that a "British hip-hop group" might call themselves.

Although these initial recordings with Bobby O achieved only limited success, it was enough to get their career rolling. Of course, it was a rearrangement and re-recording of "West End Girls" roughly two years later for EMI that proved their true breakthrough. The rest is history...

I used as a source for this post, for more accurate info about Pet Shop Boys.

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