Eurythmics (often incorrectly referred to as "The Eurythmics") is a British musical duo, formed in 1980 by Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.
The pair have achieved significant global, commercial and critical success, selling 80 million records worldwide, winning numerous awards, and have undertaken several successful world tours. They are noted for their intelligent pop songs, which showcase Lennox's powerful and expressive alto voice, and Stewart's innovative production techniques. They are also acclaimed for their promotional videos and visual presentation.
The pair had first worked together in the mid-1970s. During this time, they were also romantic partners. This band achieved modest commercial success, but the experience was reportedly an unhappy one. Personal and musical tensions existed within the group, whose main songwriter was Pete Coombes, the band often received very negative critical press in the UK, and there were legal wranglings with the band's management, publishers and record labels. Lennox and Stewart felt the fixed band line-up was not a good vehicle to explore their experimental creative leanings.
Lennox and Stewart decided their next project should be much more flexible and free from artistic compromise. They were interested in creating 'pop music', but wanted freedom to experiment with electronics and the avant-garde as well. Calling themselves "Eurythmics" after a dance technique (Eurythmy; see also Eurhythmics) Lennox had encountered as a child at her school, they decided to keep themselves as the only permanent members and songwriters, and involve others in the collaboration as they saw fit "on the basis of mutual compatibility and availability". RCA Records decided to retain the pair from their Tourists recording contract. Wanting to concentrate on their musical relationship, Lennox and Stewart decided to discontinue their romantic liaison in 1980 (see 1980 in music).
Their first album saw them continue to work in Cologne with the legendary Conny Plank (who had produced the later Tourists sessions). This resulted in the album In the Garden, released October 1981), including contributions from Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of Can, drummer Clem Burke of Blondie, Robert Görl of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, and flautist Tim Wheater. A couple of the songs were co-written by guitarist Roger Pomphrey (now a TV director). The album featured rather cold and melancholy songs, mixing psychedelic, krautrock and electropop influences. It received a lukewarm critical reception and poor sales. Two singles from the album also flopped, though "Never Gonna Cry Again" made the UK charts. Lennox and Stewart then put their new Eurythmics mode of operation into action by touring the record as a duo, accompanied by backing tracks and electronics, carted around the country themselves in a horse-box.
Stewart and Lennox retreated to Chalk Farm in London, and used a bank loan to set up a tiny 8-track studio above a picture framing factory, giving them freedom to record without having to pay expensive studio fees. They began to employ much more electronics in their music, collaborating with Raynard Faulkner and Adam Williams. They continued to record many tracks and play live using various line-up permutations. However, the three singles RCA released for them that year ("This is the House," "The Walk," and "Love Is a Stranger") all flopped on initial release in the UK. The band's state of affairs was becoming critical — although their mode of operation had given them the creative freedom they desired, commercial success was still eluding them, and the responsibility of running so many of their affairs personally (down to roadying their own equipment) was exhausting. Apparently Lennox suffered at least one nervous breakdown during this period, while Stewart was hospitalized with a collapsed lung.
Eurythmics' commercial breakthrough came with Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983 in music), whose hit single of the same name featured a dark, powerfully sequenced synth bass line and a striking video that introduced the orange crew cut Lennox sported to fame. The band's fortunes changed immensely from this moment on. The album became a huge British hit due to the title track, which quickly topped the American charts as well. Lennox was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Stewart recently revealed that the famous synth bass line in the song was discovered by accident when he inadvertently played a track backwards. "Love Is A Stranger" was re-released and became a hit in its own right. The "Love Is A Stranger" video saw Lennox in many different character guises, which she later became known for in subsequent videos ("Beethoven" and "The King & Queen of America" among them). The album's working title was Invisible Hands (as was a track left off the album), inspiring the name of UK indie label Invisible Hands Music - known for releasing music by Hugh Cornwell, Mick Karn and Hazel O'Connor. In January 1985 both Lennox and Stewart, plus their manager Kenny Smith, was featured on the cover of the inside-business world distributed magazine Music Management & International Promotion.
Touch, the rapid follow-up to Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), was released in late 1983 and spawned three major hits. Here Comes the Rain Again (number four in the U.S.) was an orchestral/synth ballad (with orchestrations by Michael Kamen) that led the album. The video went into heavy rotation on MTV. "Who's That Girl?" was also a massive hit, the video seeing Lennox as a blonde chanteuse and featured cameos by Hazel O'Connor, Bananarama (including Stewart's future wife, Irish born singer Siobhan Fahey), Kate Garner of Haysi Fantayzee, Thereza Bazar of Dollar, Jay Aston and Cheryl Baker of Bucks Fizz, Kiki Dee, Jacquie O'Sullivan and "gender-bending" pop singer Marilyn, among others. The upbeat, calypso-flavored "Right By Your Side" showed a different side of Eurythmics altogether, and Touch solidified the duo's reputation as being major talents and cutting edge musicians.
In 1984, RCA released Touch Dance, a mini-album of remixes of four tracks from Touch, aimed at the 'club market'. The remixes were by prominent New York name producers François Kevorkian and John "Jellybean" Benitez.
Also released in 1984, the Eurythmics soundtrack album 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother). Virgin Films had contracted the band to provide a soundtrack for Michael Radford's modern film adaptation of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. Radford later said that the music had been "foisted" on his film against his wishes, and that Virgin had replaced most of Dominic Muldowney's original orchestral score with the Eurythmics soundtrack (including the song "Julia", which was heard during the end credits). However, the record was presented as "music derived from the original score of Eurythmics for the Michael Radford film version of Orwell's 1984". Eurythmics charged that they had been misled by the film's producers as well, and the album was withdrawn from the market for a period while matters were litigated. The album's hit single, "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)", was huge in the UK, Australia and in Europe, and a major dance hit in the United States, but its supposedly suggestive title (actually taken from the "Newspeak" phrase used in Orwell's book) resulted in many U.S. pop radio stations refusing to play the track.
Their fourth studio album proper, Be Yourself Tonight, was produced in a week in Paris. It showcased much more of a "band" and a centred sound (with an R&B influence), with real drums, brass, and much more guitar from Stewart. Almost a dozen other musicians were enlisted, including members of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers, guest harmonica from Stevie Wonder, bass guitar from Dean Garcia, string arrangements by Michael Kamen, and Lennox singing duets with Aretha Franklin and Elvis Costello. It continued the duo's transatlantic chart domination in 1985, and contained four hit singles: "Would I Lie to You?" was a U.S. Billboard top five hit, while "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" (featuring Wonder's harmonica contribution) became their first and only UK number one single. "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)" and the Franklin duet (originally intended for Tina Turner) "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves" also rode high in the charts.
Eurythmics released their Revenge album in 1986, which continued their move towards a band sound, verging on an AOR-pop/rock sound. Sales continued to be strong in the UK, but sales were somewhat slower in the U.S., though "Missionary Man" reached number 14 on the U.S. Hot 100 chart and would be regarded as something of a Eurythmics classic. Revenge would eventually certify Gold in the U.S. Eurythmics went on a massive worldwide tour in support of this album, and a live concert video from the tour was released. The folk-tinged "Thorn in My Side" powered the UK success of Revenge, which remains Eurythmics' best selling album to date. Around this time, Stewart began producing, for Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, among others, while Lennox did some acting.
Lennox and Stewart reunited in 1987 (see 1987 in music) for the album, Savage. This saw a fairly radical change within the group's sound, being based mainly around drum loops, with synth and guitar parts fairly low in the mix (Lennox would later say that where Revenge was more of a Stewart album in sound, Savage was more of a Lennox one). Lyrically the songs showed an even darker, more obsessive side to Lennox's writing. The entire record was also released as a video album, directed by Sophie Müller, with a film for each song. These largely followed Lennox's character of a frustrated housewife-turned-vamp (as exemplified in the bizarre "Beethoven (I Love to Listen to)", a UK hit and fan favourite). The brazen, sexually charged rocker "I Need a Man" remains a Eurythmics staple, as does the delicate "You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart". "Shame" reads as an indictment of the side of pop culture that had made the duo famous, and its theme would be reprised on the later-day Eurythmics single "17 Again" when Lennox sang "Sweet Dreams are made of anything that gets you in the scene".
Much less commercial than the two previous albums, Savage was mostly ignored in the U.S., although rock radio in more progressive markets supported "I Need a Man", and sales in the UK were fair.
In 1989, Eurythmics released the solid We Too Are One, a UK number one hit that did rather poorly in the United States, although "Don't Ask Me Why" grazed the Billboard top 40. Overall the album performed better in the U.S. than Savage had, indicating that America wasn't ready to dismiss Eurythmics. Other singles from the set include "Revival", "The King and Queen of America", "Angel" (where Lennox eulogized the loss of a much-wanted child and the death of her own father) and "(My My) Baby's Gonna Cry", the latter of which featured Stewart in his first prominent vocal role with Lennox.
After strenuous years of touring and recording (Eurythmics released eight albums — not including the remix "Touch Dance" — in eight years), Lennox needed a break and took time off to have a baby and to consider a new direction after Eurythmics. Years of being constantly together had created a rift in the relationship between the duo; the two had virtually no communication with each other from 1990 to 1998. In 1991, Eurythmics' Greatest Hits collection was released, entering the UK album chart at #1 and becoming a massive seller. New remixes of "Sweet Dreams" and "Love Is A Stranger" were also released as singles at this time. In 1993, a live album featuring recordings from various years throughout Eurythmics' career was also released.
In 1992 (see 1992 in music), Lennox released a solo album, Diva, which was a critical and popular sensation, while Stewart began writing film soundtracks and formed a band called "The Spiritual Cowboys", releasing two albums with this group.
Stewart released proper solo albums in 1995 (see 1995 in music), Greetings from the Gutter, and 1998 (see 1998 in music), Sly-Fi; neither of these albums were as well-received as his 1990 duet with saxophonist Candy Dulfer, "Lily Was Here." Lennox's Medusa, a cover album, fared much better, reaching number one in the UK.
Eurythmics reunited in 1999 (see 1999 in music) and released Peace. Peace highlighted the duo's enduring musical bond and creativity. "I Saved the World Today" reached number 11 in the UK singles charts and a remix of "17 Again" gave the duo their first chart-topper on the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. The band also embarked on a world tour, dubbed Peacetour, to support the album. The tour started on September 18, 1999 at Cologne's Kölnarena and ended on December 6, 1999 at the London Docklands Arena. All proceeds from the tour went to Greenpeace and Amnesty International. The year 2000 saw numerous European festival appearances by Eurythmics (at Germany's Rock am Ring, among others). These mark the last concert appearances of Eurythmics.
In 2001, Stewart performed with U2 for the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" benefit concert.
In June 2003, Lennox released her third solo album, entitled Bare, which was a good hit, with three singles at the top of Hot Dance Music/Club Play in 2003 and 2004. She also recorded the song "Into the West" for Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, where it appeared as the closing theme and earned Lennox the 2004 Academy Award for Best Song. Stewart collaborated with Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger on the soundtrack to the movie Alfie, released in 2004, including the critically acclaimed "Old Habits Die Hard", which won a Golden Globe award for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture.
In November 2003 Eurythmics played three songs at the 46664 (concerts) in Cape Town. David Stewart was a big part in the organisation of this show. They played an unplugged version of "Here Comes the Rain Again", "Seven Seconds" with Youssou N'Dour and "Sweet Dreams".
On November 7, 2005, Eurythmics released Ultimate Collection, a remastered greatest hits package with two new songs. One of them, "I've Got a Life," was released as a single and went Top 20 on the UK singles chart, as well as spending three consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Music/Club Play in the U.S.. On November 14, RCA re-released their eight studio albums in remastered and expanded editions featuring rare b-sides, remixes and unreleased songs. The remasters are available separately as digipaks with expanded artwork and together in a collector's box set, Boxed. However, the 1984 soundtrack album 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) was not included in this re-release campaign because Virgin Records holds the rights to that album.
Lennox and Stewart also performed together on a number of TV shows (such as Top of the Pops) to promote the greatest hits album as well as the single.
In March 2006, the Steve Angello remix of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", entered the top 10 on French internet retailer FNAC's sales chart.