It’s almost crazy how society can distill a whole decade’s worth of pop culture into one iconic image. For what reason, the images of the “hippies” at Woodstock are that image of the Sixties, while the Seventies are all bottled up into John Travolta’s white leisure suit from Saturday Night Fever. When we all think of the Nineties, many memories are wrapped up into images from Lollapalooza. But, with the Eighties, when much serious crap was occurring such as Iran-Contra, the Iranian Hostage situation, gang wars, the Crack and AIDS epidemics and Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman’s initial influence upon society, we have wrapped up the whole Eighties in one image: the silly haircut of A Flock of Seagulls lead singer Score. We all know that haircut. Shoot, even Millennials think that haircut must have been worn by everyone (for the record, it was not). Still, for a very short moment, the band, A Flock of Seagulls, were hit with the youth of America.
From the beginning, A Flock of Seagulls never really made much of an inroad in their native UK. However, they did have two videos from their 1982 self-titled debut album ready to run on MTV here in the States. And, that first single, “I Ran”, became the band’s only Top 10 hit song, while their album, a watered-down version of the New Romantic sound popular across the pond, also rose into the Top 10 on the Album Chart. It was a heady time for these four ambitious lads from England. Ironically, in the “I Ran” video, Mike Score did not wear his famous hair design. Instead, he was sporting a somewhat normal punk rock tussled coif. Additionally, that famous hair design was not in sight in the publicity photo on the back of the album cover.
But, when the band’s second single, “Space Age Love Song” was released, the haircut was in the video in all of its glory. And, although the second single was a great slice of pop heaven, for some reason it never hit with radio programmers. So, “Space Age Love Song” stalled in the twenties on Billboard‘s Hot 100 and faded from our memories save for one thing: The Haircut.
By the time the band recorded there follow-up album, the public was in the midst of Michael Jackson mania, a fascination with Duran Duran, a beginning obsession with Prince, a love of a cross-dressing queen in Culture Club and the sophisticated rock music of The Police. Unfortunately, A Flock of Seagulls one great single from that sophomore album, “Wishing (A Photograph of You)” was never really given a chance and quickly fade from our collective memory, which is a shame since that song was by far their best musical statement.
But, before the band’s music faded from our memory leaving us with one of the strangest hair cuts of all time, the band did take part in a major MTV-backed concert that took place in Chicago at old Comiskey Park, during the Summer of 1983. I was working in Wisconsin that summer but could not take time off to go to a New Wave blow-out that marked the beginning of the Synchronicity Tour for The Police. The opening bands that day included a who’s who of early MTV New Wave artists such as Ministry, The Fixx, A Flock of Seagulls and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. It’s as if that haircut took on a life of its own and pushed the band’s music to the sidelines. Unfortunately, the band recorded one more extremely weak album in 1984, then faded from the scene.
Yet, the haircut lives on. It pops up from time to time in documentaries about that crazy decade of plastic and decadence. Maybe if Score had not gone with the crazy hair, their music would be what lives on in our memories. The band had some potential to combine AOR with new wave for a modern sound that would have been successful in the States, as “I Ran” proved. However, A Flock of Seagulls simply ended up as a haircut band with three good songs and one iconic haircut to the name.