Bow Wow Wow

Not to be confused with Bow Wow (band) or Bow Wow (rapper).
Bow Wow Wow

Bow Wow Wow, 1982, West Berlin
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres New wave, pop, worldbeat
Years active 1980–1983, 1997–1998, 2003–2006, 2010-present
Associated acts
Website Facebook page
Members Leigh Gorman
Chloe Demetria
Zachary Throne
Les Warner
Past members Annabella Lwin
Matthew Ashman
David Barbarossa
Lieutenant Lush
Dave Calhoun
Eshan Khadaroo
Phil Gough
Adrian Young
Devin Beaman
Jimmy Magoon
Dylan Thomas
Matthew Fuller
Sean Winchester

Bow Wow Wow are an English 1980s new wave band, created by Malcolm McLaren. The group's music has been described as new wave, pop and worldbeat,[1] characterized by an "African-derived drum sound".[2]


In 1980, McLaren persuaded guitarist Matthew Ashman, drummer David Barbarossa (also known as Dave Barbe) and bassist Leigh Gorman, all then members of Adam and the Ants, to leave the founder of the band, Adam Ant, and form a new group.[3] After a six-month audition process for a lead singer, the band enlisted Annabella Lwin. David Fishel, an acquaintance of McLaren's, discovered 13-year-old Lwin while she was working a Saturday job at her local dry cleaners.

The group's sound was a mix of her "girlish squeal," chants, surf instrumentals, pop melodies and Barbarossa's Burundi ritual music-influenced tom-tom drum beats.[4]

They released their debut single, "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go", in July 1980 on record label EMI, originally solely as a cassette single and then also as a 7". A cassette-only album, Your Cassette Pet, followed in November.

In 1981, after splitting with EMI after a dispute, Bow Wow Wow signed with new A&R head Bill Kimber at RCA Records, where they had their first UK top 10 hit with "Go Wild in the Country" in early 1982.

Around the same time, Bow Wow Wow opened US dates for the Pretenders,[5] and in spring of that year, the band were set to open a European tour for Queen (who were supporting their dance-oriented Hot Space album), but dropped off the tour before the dates were completed.[6]

The band's biggest US hit was "I Want Candy", produced by Kenny Laguna,[7] (originally a 1965 hit by the Strangeloves) which was featured in an early music video on MTV. Bow Wow Wow's recording of "I Want Candy" also appeared in film soundtracks and media and advertising events such as the 2005 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

Their most notorious recording was "Sexy Eiffel Tower," with excitedly heavy breathing and moans; this was a song that went far beyond the slightly later Cyndi Lauper hit "She Bop", about the subject matter of female masturbation.[8]

Annabella Lwin, 1982

By 1983, the group had released three full-length albums, and were due to embark on a world tour, but tensions in the group were rising, as the members were suffering from illness and exhaustion after intense US touring. After a rest, the band ousted Lwin to form a new group, Chiefs of Relief, with guitarist Ashman as its lead singer.


Ashman later played with other groups such as Max, Rams and Agent Provocateur. He died in 1995, at age 35, from diabetes complications.

Barbe later worked on other musical projects such as Beats International, Republica, dance band Chicane, the London-based Faith music collective and Amber Gate. He also performed live with Adam Ant in 1995, and wrote a novel titled We Were Looking Up.[9]

Gorman continued to perform and had success as a record producer and composer for films and advertising. He joined the rave band Electric Skychurch in 2006.[9]


In 1997, Lwin and Gorman reformed Bow Wow Wow, adding guitarist Dave Calhoun (from The Vapors) and drummer Eshan Khadaroo.[10] They embarked on the "Barking Mad" tour in 1997-1998,[2] which produced a compilation CD, Wild in the USA (Cleopatra Records), that included live material and remixes of previous Bow Wow Wow tracks.

In 1998, they collaborated with DJ Swedish Egil on the track "Eastern Promise", released as part of Egil's Groove Radio Presents: Alternative Mix CD by Priority Records. They contributed the song "A Thousand Tears" to the 1999 film Desperate But Not Serious (retitled Reckless + Wild in the US), starring Christine Taylor and Claudia Schiffer, and appeared in the film.

Bow Wow Wow performed at the KROQ Inland Invasion festival in September 2003, with a lineup including Los Angeles guitarist Phil Gough (of Novacaine) and drummer Adrian Young (of No Doubt). In September 2005, Philadelphia native Devin Beaman was brought in as the new drummer.

Bow Wow Wow songs "Aphrodisiac", "I Want Candy" and "Fools Rush In" (the latter two remixed by Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine) were included on the soundtrack of the 2006 Sofia Coppola film Marie Antoinette. The band performed on 2 November 2006 at the Maritime Hotel's Hiro Lounge in New York City to promote the film.

In 2006, Bow Wow Wow recorded a cover of The Smiths' song "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish", which appeared on three 2007 releases: a new three-track I Want Candy EP (Cleopatra), compilation album Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before: A Tribute to the Smiths (Cleopatra) and the soundtrack to the film Blood & Chocolate: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Lakeshore Records).

On the 15th anniversary of Ashman's death, the band, featuring original drummer Barbarossa, performed at a tribute concert for Ashman on 21 November 2010 at the Scala in London. The show was headlined by Adam Ant and also featured Ashman's other bands Chiefs of Relief and Agent Provocateur.[11]

With a new guitarist (Jimmy Magoon) and drummer (Dylan Thomas), Bow Wow Wow played shows in California and toured the UK during 2011-2012.[12]

In December 2012, Gorman began performing under the name "Bow Wow Wow" without original lead singer Lwin's consent,[13][14] and launched a new Bow Wow Wow Facebook page. This version of the band included new singer Chloe Demetria of the band Vigilant [15][16] as well as guitarist Matthew Fuller and drummer Sean Winchester.[17] In 2014, actor/musician Zachary Throne (Sin City Sinners) took over on guitar, and Les Warner replaced Winchester. Lwin has continued to perform billed as "Annabella Lwin of the original Bow Wow Wow".[14]


In 1980, their label at the time, EMI, refused to promote the cassingle "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go" because it allegedly promoted home taping,[8] as Side B was blank. EMI dropped the group after releasing their second single, "W.O.R.K. (N.O. Nah, No No My Daddy Don't)".[8]

Bow Wow Wow's take on Le déjeuner sur l'herbe

Coinciding with Lwin's posing nude for a proposed album cover, her mother alleged exploitation of a minor for immoral purposes, and instigated a Scotland Yard investigation. As a result, the band was only allowed to leave the UK after McLaren promised not to promote Lwin as a "sex kitten". This included an agreement to not use the nude photograph depicting Lwin as the woman in Manet's Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe, though the picture was used as the cover of the band's 1982 RCA EP The Last of the Mohicans, which became their best-selling record in the US[8] (The photo was originally intended to be used for 1981's See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy album, and the cover was used as planned in some European countries – such as the Netherlands – though not for the US versions of the album.) Lwin was almost made to quit the band by the controversy over the publication of the photo, particularly as she was only 15 when the photo was taken.

The degree to which Bow Wow Wow were influenced by—rather than plagiarised—the music of native African nations and tribes such as the Royal Drummers of Burundi and the Zulus has been a matter of debate. It is thought that when McLaren started to advise Adam and the Ants on the direction they should take after Dirk Wears White Sox, he gave the band (the instrumentalists who would eventually become Bow Wow Wow) a variety of recordings of world music from which to draw inspiration. When the Ants dropped out to form Bow Wow Wow, Adam Ant took the recordings from the band's early work in this new direction to start his new incarnation of the Ants. This is how it ended up that both bands made music influenced by the recordings offered by McLaren. Among the recordings was one titled "Burundi Black". The story of "Burundi Black" and the origin of the "Burundi Beat" and the associated controversy is told in the following excerpt from a 1981 New York Times article by Robert Palmer:

The original source of this tribal rhythm is a recording of 25 drummers, made in a village in the east African nation of Burundi by a team of French anthropologists. The recording was included in an album, Musique du Burundi, issued by the French Ocora label in 1968. It is impressively kinetic, but the rhythm patterns are not as complex as most African drumming; they are a relatively easy mark for pop pirates in search of plunder. During the early 1970s, a British pop musician named Mike Steiphenson grafted an arrangement for guitars and keyboards onto the original recording from Burundi, and the result was Burundi Black, an album that sold more than 125,000 copies and made the British best-seller charts... Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow, and several other bands have notched up an impressive string of British hits using the Burundi beat as a rhythmic foundation. But the Burundian drummers who made the original recording are not sharing in the profits. Nobody told them to copyright their traditional music, and trying to obtain copyright for a rhythm would be a difficult proposition in any case.[18]

It was also charged that Bow Wow Wow plagiarised melodies from Zulu jive songs and Zulu pop songs and turned the original Zulu lyrics into English mondegreens. This is the charge made for the origin of the lines "See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah! City All over Go Ape Crazy!", "Golly! Golly! Go Buddy!" and "Hey i-yai-yo". In answer to this issue, the 1981 Times article offered the following statement in Bow Wow Wow's defence:

It's [The 'Burundi Beat'] the driving force and most distinctive ingredient in much of Adam Ant's music and has been equally valuable to other British rockers. The fact that Adam and the Ants have used it to power fatuous celebrations of tribalism makes their borrowing even more distasteful. Pirates, indeed!

Again, Bow Wow Wow is another matter. The group's rhythms are still influenced by the Burundian recording, but they are varied and flexible rather than slavishly imitative. And the Bow Wows have absorbed other rhythmic usages, including West African high life, Brazilian pop and conventional rock and roll. They seem to be able to synthesize their influences into appealing trash-pop as easily as they subvert Malcolm McLaren's image manipulation.[18]

In an RCA radio promo vinyl recording, guitarist Ashman responded:

Well, they do a lot of that sort of chanting in Africa, but it's not a direct rip-off. It's just our interpretation of it, really. A lot of the ideas are ours, and they're brand-new, a lot of those chants. You know what I mean? They're not stolen from some poor tribe in Africa. It's just like the influence is there, and we'll use it. Yeah, it's just a good noise, isn't it? It's a good sound.


The Red Hot Chili Peppers namechecked the band on their 1992 single "Suck My Kiss", which included the lyric "Swimming in the sound of Bow Wow Wow",[19] and ex-Peppers guitarist John Frusciante has listed Ashman as an influence.[20]

No Doubt's Young said of the opportunity to play drums for Bow Wow Wow from 2003–2005, "It is a dream come true to play with a band I grew up idolising. I feel like a kid back in the sand box".[21]

Film director Sofia Coppola drew inspiration from Lwin when conceiving the style for her film, Marie Antoinette. Said Bow Wow Wow's tour manager in 2006, "They actually based Marie Antoinette, from a styling point of view, on Annabella Lwin. They drew parallels from the fact that they were both young girls who found fame and fortune at a ridiculously early age."[21]


Current members[22]
Former members


Studio albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Your Cassette Pet
  • Released: 1980
  • Label: EMI
See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your
Gang Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!
  • Released: 1981
  • Label: RCA
26 192
When the Going Gets Tough,
The Tough Get Going
  • Released: 1983
  • Label: RCA
24 24 82
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Compilation albums

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Original Recordings
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: EMI
I Want Candy
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: RCA
26 88 123
Girl Bites Dog —
Your Compact Disc Pet
  • Released: 1993
  • Label: EMI
Go Wild, The Best of
  • Released: 1993
  • Label: BMG
Aphrodisiac... Best of
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: Camden
The Best of Bow Wow Wow
  • Released: 1996
  • Label: RCA
Wild in the USA
I Want Candy — Anthology
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Castle Music
Love, Peace & Harmony —
The Best of Bow Wow Wow
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Live albums

Title Album details
Live in Japan
  • Released: 1997
  • Label: Receiver
Mile High Club Live
  • Released: 2009
  • Label: Pegasus


Title Album details Peaks
The Last of the Mohicans
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: RCA
Teenage Queen
  • Released: 1982
  • Label: RCA
I Want Candy
  • Released: 2007
  • Label: Cleopatra
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album


1980 "C·30 C·60 C·90 Go" 34 Original Recordings
1981 "W.O.R.K. (N.O. Nah, No No My Daddy Don't)" 62 83
"Prince of Darkness" 58 (Single release only)
"Chihuahua" 81 48 See Jungle! See Jungle!
Go Join Your Gang Yeah,
City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!
1982 "Go Wild in the Country" 7 11
"See Jungle! (Jungle Boy)"/"TV Savage" 45
"I Want Candy" 9 39 30 7 23 30 62 36 22 I Want Candy
"Baby, Oh No" 103 58
"Louis Quatorze" Your Cassette Pet
"Fools Rush In"
1983 "Do You Wanna Hold Me?" 47 95 4 3 77 When the Going Gets Tough,
The Tough Get Going
"The Man Mountain" 5 8
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. Ed. Anthony DeCurtis, James Henke, Holly George-Warren, eds. (1992). The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music. Random House. p. 668.
  2. 1 2
  4. "THE POP LIFE; LATEST BRITISH INVASION: 'THE NEW TRIBALISM". The New York Times. 25 November 1981. Retrieved 26 June 2013.
  7. Discogs
  8. 1 2 3 4
    • Holly George-Warren, Patricia Romanowski, and Jon Pareles (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Revised and Updated for the 21st Century), p.107-108. ISBN 0-7432-0120-5.
  9. 1 2
  10. MTV
  11. "Matthew Ashman tribute show". 21 November 2010. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  12. "Bow Wow Wow Full Concert Listings on". Songkick. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  13. LA Weekly
  14. 1 2
  16. "Bow Wow Wow". Facebook. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  17. Thefatal80s
  18. 1 2 Palmer, Robert (25 November 1981). "The Pop Life; Latest British Invasion: 'The New Tribalism'". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  21. 1 2 Ken Phillips Publicity Group – Bow Wow Wow
  22. "Bow Wow Wow band". Facebook. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  23. 1 2 "UK Albums". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  24. "Netherlands Albums". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  25. "Swedish Albums". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  26. 1 2 3 "US Albums". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  27. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  28. "UK Singles". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  29. Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (doc). Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  30. "Belgian Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  31. "Irish Singles". Archived from the original on 1 February 2010. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  32. "Netherlands Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  33. "New Zealand Singles". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  34. 1 2 3 "US Billboard Singles Charts". Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  35. "BPI Certification". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 6 February 2013. Retrieved 2016-06-19.

External links

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