Adam & the Ants was a new wave band during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was one of the bands at the time that marked the transition from the 70s punk rock era to the new-wave post punk-music era. Although the band started off with a punk-influenced sound, it soon moved on to New Wave motivated by new sources such as the drum-heavy “Burundi Beat” heard on “Dog Eat Dog”.
Led by Adam Ant (real name Stuart Goddard), the band formed in 1977 in london, england, consisting of Lester Square (guitar), Andy Warren (bass guitar) and Paul Flanagan (drums). Square was replaced by Mark Gaumont early in the band’s career, before the release of their debut album Dirk Wears White Sox (1979, do it records). The album was somewhat dark, with post punk riffs and some vestiges of glam rock. The album was not a success, so Adam & the Ants hired Malcolm McLaren (manager of the Sex Pistols) to help with their image.
While preparing for their second album, McLaren convinced the Ants to leave Adam and form Bow Wow Wow. A new version of the Ants was formed by Marco Pirroni (guitar), Kevin Mooney (bass guitar) and two drummers, Terry Lee Miall and Merrick. Pirroni would go on to become an influential member of the group, and cowrite many of their songs with Adam Ant.
The band signed a major label deal with CBS Records and began recording Kings of the Wild Frontier. That album was an enormous hit in the United Kingdom and put the band at the forefront of the New Romantic moment. The album reached #1 on the UK album charts on January 24, 1981.
There were several hit singles from this LP, including Dog Eat Dog (reaching #4 on the UK singles charts in October 1980), Ant Music (#2 in January 1981) and Kings of the Wild Frontier (#2 in March 1981). In addition, Antmusic made it to No.1 in Australia for five weeks.
Bassist Kevin Mooney left the band in 1981, and was replaced with Gary Tibbs who joined just in time to record the hit single “Stand & Deliver”.
In November 1981 Adam & the Ants released another highly successful album, Prince Charming. The band had two United Kingdom #1 singles. “Stand and Deliver” was the #1 single in the UK for 5 weeks in May 1981, followed by “Prince Charming”, which topped the UK charts, for 4 weeks in September 1981. “Antrap” reached #3 in January, 1982.
The band seized the opportunities provided by music videos on the new MTV channel to develop a theatrical, charismatic onscreen persona. With romantic costumes and heavy make-up, the band was an early example of the New Romantic movement, with contemporaries such as Duran Duran dressing similarly. Lavish videos were produced for the Prince Charming singles, including Stand and Deliver, Prince Charming, and Antrap. In the Stand and Deliver video, Adam Ant is dressed as a “dandy highwayman” and generally indulges his exhibitionist tendencies. These videos helped break the band in the United States when MTV began airing them.
In early 1982 the band received a Grammy Award nomination for Best New Artist.