Tears for Fears are a British pop rock duo formed in the early 1980s by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith.
Founded after the dissolution of their first band, the mod-influenced Graduate, they were initially associated with the New Wave synthesizer bands of the early 1980s but later branched out into mainstream rock and pop, which led to international chart success.
The band have sold more than 22 million albums worldwide (including over 8 million in the United States alone).
Orzabal and Smith met as teenagers in their home city of Bath, England. The duo became session musicians for the band Neon, where they first met future Tears For Fears drummer Manny Elias. Neon also featured Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher who went on to become Naked Eyes. Smith and Orzabal's professional debut came with the band Graduate, a Mod Revival/New Wave act. In 1980, Graduate released an album, Acting My Age, and a single "Elvis Should Play Ska" (referring to Elvis Costello, not Presley). The single just missed the Top 100 in the UK, though it performed well in Spain and in Switzerland.
By 1981, Orzabal and Smith were becoming more influenced by artists such as Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Brian Eno. They departed from Graduate and formed a band called History of Headaches, a moniker which was then changed to Tears for Fears. The plan was for Orzabal and Smith to form the nucleus of the group and bring in surrounding musicians to help them complete the picture.
The band's name was inspired by Primal Therapy, developed by the American psychologist Arthur Janov, which gained tremendous publicity after John Lennon became Janov's patient in 1970. In a 2004 interview with VH1 UK, Orzabal and Smith said that when they finally met Janov in the mid-80s, they were disillusioned to find that he had become quite "Hollywood" and wanted the band to write a musical.
Tears for Fears were signed to Phonogram Records, UK in 1981 by A&R manager Dave Bates. Their first single as Tears for Fears, "Suffer the Children" (produced by David Lord), was released on that label in November 1981, followed by the first edition of "Pale Shelter" (produced by Mike Howlett) in March 1982.
A change of direction was initially instigated as they began working with a new producer, Jeremy Green, on their new single "Mothers Talk" in early 1984, but the band were ultimately unhappy with the results and so producer Chris Hughes was brought back into the fold and the "Mothers Talk" single reproduced for release in August 1984. A distinct departure from their earlier works, the single became a top 20 hit in the UK, but it was the follow-up single "Shout" (released in the UK in November 1984) that was the real beginning of the band's international fame.
This top 5 hit paved the way for the second album Songs from the Big Chair (released in February 1985), which entered the UK album chart at no.2 and remained in the upper reaches of the chart for the next 12 months. They did away with the predominantly synth-pop feel of the first album, instead expanding into a more sophisticated sound that would become the band's stylistic hallmark. Anchored around the creative hub of producer Hughes, Stanley and Orzabal, the new Tears for Fears sound helped to propel Songs from the Big Chair into becoming one of the year's biggest global sellers, eventually being certified triple-platinum in the UK and quintuple-platinum in the U.S. (where it remained the #1 album for five weeks in the summer of 1985)
The album's success was in conjunction to the array of hit singles it yielded: "Mothers Talk" (the first to be released in the UK, but the last to be released in the US in a completely re-recorded form), "Shout" (#4 UK, #1 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, etc., and a huge hit in other territories, in fact one of the biggest of the 1980s), "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", (their biggest UK and Irish hit at #2 and another #1 in the U.S. and in Canada), "Head over Heels" (UK #12, US #3, Ireland #5, Canada #8) and "I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)" (UK #23 and Ireland #10). Some territories even saw the release of limited edition 10" singles for these hits, in addition to the regular 7" and 12" formats.
Following the album's release, the band went on a world tour that lasted most of the year. During this tour, Orzabal and Smith discovered an American female singer/pianist, Oleta Adams, who was performing in a Kansas City, Missouri hotel bar, and whom they invited to collaborate on their next album.
The album's title was inspired by the book and television miniseries Sybil, the chronicle of a woman with multiple personality disorder who sought refuge in her analyst's "big chair", Orzabal and Smith stating that they felt each of the album's songs had a distinctive personality of its own. The band had a song entitled "The Big Chair" which they had put on the B-side to "Shout" but decided not to include on the album. They also released a video collection/documentary entitled "Scenes from the Big Chair" the same year, while their first two earliest singles were re-released, both reaching the UK Top 75. In 1986, upon completion of the lengthy and exhausting Big Chair world tour, Manny Elias left the group.
In 1986, Orzabal and Stanley collaborated together on a side project named "Mancrab". They released one single, "Fish for Life", which was written for the soundtrack of the film The Karate Kid, Part II. The track was written and produced by Orzabal and Stanley, and featured vocals by US singer/dancer Eddie Thomas.
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