It seemed like just another typically busy morning on that day back in August 1983 when the infamous telephone call came, “hello” I said – unaware of the drama that was about to unfold. As the words rang in my ear, I remember my jaw almost hit the floor as the manager said “Limahl we are all here, we have just had a meeting and we have decided to carry on without you”
I was totally gob smacked and whatever he might have said immediately after that became somewhat of a blur as I tried to take it all in. I simply couldn’t believe it. My diary was literally rammed with anything and everything to do with Kajagoogoo for at least the next year ahead, after all I was their lead singer and there were tours, recordings, songwriting, hell my complete existence. In a split second, all that I had worked so hard for and been so instrumental in putting together was being annihilated. My heart raced, for some peculiar reason I pictured my empty diary, I guess I had derived so much pleasure from proudly filling up its empty pages.
My mind whirled frantically, I was in utter disbelief but the overwhelming emotion was anger, mainly toward the manager at first but later as I mulled over the ‘betrayal’ I was especially angry at my four professional colleagues who I had viewed not only as friends but almost as family. I had such respect for them as musicians so I couldn’t help wondering where were their feelings and respect for me ? Together we had achieved so much, from rehearsing at the printing factory in Leighton Buzzard to performing for thousands of enthusiastic and dedicated fans all over the world, whilst selling records by the millions.
What the hell was going on ? Surely as human beings, this life changing journey we had come through together must have created unfaltering, strong bonds between us ?
Well I can honestly say that in my heart it definitely had. I was proud of Kajagoogoo and there was no other way to see this…..they stabbed me in the back and for what ? Vanity and greed, ego and money, some have said ? These reasons have been constantly suggested to me over the years but I have always looked for other excuses for them.
I could almost see the managers face smirking as he said the words to me, for some strange reason there had been an element of rivalry between us and I can only think he must have seen me as some sort of threat after I had spoken to the band members regarding some of his business decisions. Well why shouldn’t I ? His decisions directly affected my immediate and long term future but he seemed to have the attitude that we just worked for him regardless.
In reality a manager usually works for the band and earns a percentage, around 20% is the norm but of course it is a team effort and I was definitely a team player, I always have been, I learned it years before in theatre. A group of people put their energies and talents together which hopefully culminates in a successful performance for an audience, the stage performers are also very much supported by another group of skilled people behind the scenes, the production crew……it really is a team effort.
The manager had really only got the job (I’m purposely not naming him) by default when the need for one arose, before that he was basically the band’s rodie. He had no previous management or music business experience and of course I couldn’t help but shake my head many years later when I learned that he had eventually ripped off the other band members, something to do with a pension scheme apparently.
But I don’t think the band members were totally innocent either, after all they could have said ‘no’ to the manager right ? (I have since learned that the drummer Jez was very much against the idea of firing me).
So there you have it, that was the demise of ‘Kajagoogoo’.
Often lead singers leave groups to pursue solo careers which could perhaps be construed as egotistical or indeed selfish so I’m really glad the recently broadcast VH1 program Bands Reunited did actually focus on my being fired from the group and let people know the truth. In the VH1 program one of them actually said “we made a mistake, we should have fired the manager”
I am not bitter about it though, god life’s too short.
I went on to have a great solo career and I’m still performing as Limahl with my six piece band all over the world and thankfully seem to be in more demand than ever. I joke with friends that in many ways I’m now like an antique……enough time has now gone by where my value has actually gone up. In some countries I have even been referred to as a ‘pop icon’.
But the sad, untimely ending aside, ultimately for me the whole ‘Kajagoogoo’period was tremendous fun, exciting and literally life changing, which I wouldn’t have missed for the world. I am of course frequently asked the sixty four thousand dollar question……is there any chance of a reunion ?
Well you might be surprised to hear that the answer is YES, but Jez (the drummer who was fired a year after me) and I, have certain unresolved business issues with the other three members which up until now, have not been resolved and until they are, it’s definitely never gonna happen. The ball is very much in their court, although I am dutifully informed that they have the exact same wording on their website ‘the ball is in their court’ so you can draw you’re own conclusions.
In summarising, I do feel slightly cheated that I never got the chance to work on the follow up album to our hugely successful debut that contained the all important work ‘Too Shy’ which has now stood the test of time and is very much considered a pop classic. A true follow-up can only be achieved with the same meeting of creative minds which resulted in that elusive, musical chemistry, in the first place. Alas, I feel it’s now probably twenty years too late.
They say “its better to have loved and lost than never loved at all” and they’re absolutely right……over the years I have worked with countless, talented musicians, performers, song writers and singers, where chart and mainstream success has somehow eluded them therefore I consider myself very lucky and I am continually grateful.