Madness were a British ska band of the 1980s.
Ska music became popular in the United Kingdom at the end of the 1970s, and one of its most popular proponents was the band Madness. The band was formed by Mike Barson (Monsieur Barson), Chris Foreman (Chrissy Boy) and Lee Thompson (Kix) in 1976, under the name The North London Invaders. They were joined in 1978 by front-man Graham McPherson (Suggs), Mark Bedford (Bedders), Karl (Chas Smash) and Danniel Woodgate (Woody), and after performing for a while as the Invaders changed their name to Madness.
Their first single, released on The Specials 2 Tone label, was “The Prince”, a tribute to the ska musician Prince Buster, whose single “Madness” the band had named themselves after. This was followed by the album One Step Beyond in 1979, which stayed in the British charts for over a year, peaking at number 2.
The band’s first 20 singles all made it into the UK top 20, making them by this measure more successful than acts such as The Beatles and Elvis Presley, although the latter two had many more chart toppers. They had limited success in the USA, with one single (“Our House”) and a compilation album (Madness) having significant sales. This was perhaps a result of their quirky style, and the limited marketplace for ska in the US.
The group split in 1986, following the departure of the main songwriter Mike Barson. The band has reformed with various members at various points since then to perform at concerts such as Glastonbury, and their own series of reunion concerts, christened “Madstock”, the first of which featured an imfamous performance by Morrissey as well as Ian Dury and The Blockheads.
A side project as The Madness also released an album. Many of the bands recordings were produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.
Madness reformed in 1999 (this time including Mike Barson), releasing a new single, “Lovestruck” (which entered the UK Top Ten) and a new album, “Wonderful”, which reached the Top 20 UK albums. Since then, rumours have been spreading of a Madness cover album, and possibly even another new studio album.
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