The perfect man to tell us why the Eighties remains so popular

Few names scream the Eighties like Mike Read. The evergreen DJ and presenter became a household name during the decade of decadence – long before the uncomfortable viewing of his time in the jungle during the 2004 version of I’m A celebrity (Get Me Out Of Here!).
It is, therefore, no surprise to discover him fronting a stage show called 80s Mania which is touring the UK.
Mike is the video host of the show – appearing on the big screen surrounded by girls (Top Of The Pops style) and introducing the various chart acts from back in the day.
He also slips in impersonations of former colleagues such as David ‘Kid’ Jensen and late greats such as John Peel OBE.
I caught up with Mike when the 80s Mania show called in at Hanley’s Victoria Hall.
His CV is extraordinary and spans more than 30 years in the entertainment industry as a DJ, TV presenter, songwriter, author, actor and writer of no less than eight stage musicals.
Through his time hosting the Radio 1 Breakfast Show and as a presenter of the station’s legendary Roadshow Mike rubbed shoulders with everyone who was anyone in music and regularly drew 17 million listeners.
As the host of Saturday Superstore he was a household name to youngsters while his Saturday night Pop Quiz – featuring many of his showbiz friends – attracted more than 10 million viewers at the peak of its powers.
To my mind, this breadth of knowledge and experience should make Mike Read the perfect man to explain why the Eighties enjoys such an enduring popularity in the UK.
“It’s actually a really difficult question to answer,” said the 64-year-old. “However, what I would say is that the Eighties is to many people what the Sixties was and is to many others.
“You have to understand I am biased but I would say the Eighties was stronger musically than the Seventies, the Nineties or the Noughties.
“It also coincided with the advent of music videos which were hugely important and innovative and basically changed the face of the industry overnight.
“Back then the top acts could afford to jet off two Mauritius for a couple of weeks to work on a wacky video to accompany their song.
“They had the money to do it. There was plenty of cash around at the time and we all thought it would last forever.”
Mike’s time at Radio 1 coincided with a golden era in pop music and he helped launch some of the biggest names – as well as famously taking the decision on-air in 1984 not to play the Frankie Goes To Hollywood single Relax because of its ‘obscene’ lyrics.
Mike said: “It’s hard to choose a favourite artist from the period. There were so many quality acts like Duran Duran, the Spandaus (Spandau Ballet), Paul Young, Adam And The Ants – the list is endless.
“I was privileged to be a part of this scene and it is something that, at the time, I’m not sure we all appreciated.
“Simply being able to work on a show like Top Of The Pops was a dream and so much fun.
“At the same time the Radio 1 roadshow was a juggernaut – just so popular all over the country.”
Of course, even the bespectacled, always smiley advocate of the Eighties has to admit that some of the fashions from the time were somewhat regrettable.
He said: “I distinctly remember thinking at the time that, compared to the Sixties and Seventies the clothes we we wearing weren’t in any way unusual.
“I thought that people would look back at the Eighties and think ‘blimey, they wore normal clothes back then’.
“However, nowadays I see how wrong I was because some of the fashions were absolutely horrendous!”’

Heaven knows what my top 10 says about me…

They reckon you can tell a lot about someone by the music they listen to. That being the case, heaven knows what my vinyl says about me.

This week’s eagerly anticipated reunion of The Stone Roses had me fondly trawling through my record collection looking for their debut album.

The Stone Roses, released in 1989, is widely regarded as a seminal album and is my personal favourite of all time.

Many bands who enjoyed their halcyon days are now back together but, for many people my age – if you’ll pardon the pun – This Is The One (we’ve waited for).

Thus the Stone Roses are number one in my top 10 of Eighties bands – listed here in no particular order.

In truth, I could have gone for any of a number of other indie outfits whose tunes were heard at my beloved Ritzy nightclub in Newcastle from 1988 onwards.

Indeed, I feel duty bound to give honourable mentions (in no particular order) to: The Happy Mondays: The Charlatans: Carter USM; Ned’s Atomic Dustbin; Northside; The Wedding Present: Thousand Yard Stare: The Farm: The Mock Turtles; The La’s and James.

But in at number 2 are Oldham’s finest – The Inspiral Carpets. Formed in 1983, they also got back together earlier this year and are working on new material and planning a tour.

Infamous for their squiggly-eyed cow T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Cool as ****’, the band’s hit This Is How It Feels has to be their best track.

If ever a tune summed up how so many people must be feeling in the current economic climate, this has to be it. As relevant today as it was 21 years ago.

Third in my list is a Black Country band formed in 1986 which went on to record numerous catchy tunes.

I had the pleasure of watching The Wonder Stuff perform in the open air in Nottingham and again at Keele University a couple of years ago.

It’s 20 years since what was arguably the band’s finest moment – the album Never Loved Elvis – but I’m happy to say they are still touring with the irrepressible Miles Hunt as their frontman.

My musical tastes are nothing if not eclectic and so I’m going to veer from UK garage, baggy and indie music to perennially unfashionable rock.

Mentions in despatches here for Sheffield boys Def Leppard and U.S. giants Whitesnake, Aerosmith, Poison and Mötley Crüe.

However, fourth in my list is something of a no-brainer.

They are an American rock band, formed in 1983, who take up roughly a quarter of my entire vinyl collection.

I first saw the mighty Bon Jovi perform in front of 65,000 people at the Milton Keynes Bowl on August 19, 1989.

After witnessing that sea of leather, denim and ripped T-shirts and soaking up the smell of hot dogs, burgers, warm beer and sweat nothing would ever be the same for me again.

I have now seen the New Joisey syndicate 35 times and was fortunate enough to have tea backstage with guitarist Richie Sambora when they played the Britannia Stadium in 2000. Wanted Dead Or Alive is my favourite track and my Jovi collection includes autographs and limited picture discs from all over the world.

They are still touring and selling out stadiums across the globe. Enough said.

In at number five are another U.S. rock band which I adored – partly because of their tenuous connection to the Potteries.

Founded in the Sunshine State in 1985, Guns ’N Roses took the world by storm with their major label debut album Appetite For Destruction.

So vital that even non-rock fans loved them, the ‘Most dangerous band in the world’ fell apart after years of heavy drinking and drug-taking.

Being one of the fortunate few who witnessed Stoke-on-Trent’s prodigal son Slash wring the life out of his Gibson Les Paul guitar at Hanley’s Victoria Hall earlier this year reminded me just why I loved this band so much.

G ’N R are still touring but are a poor reflection of their former selves – despite what Axl Rose would have us believe.

At number six is an American icon and proper working class hero who I had the pleasure of watching in the most English of surroundings.

Bruce Springsteen had been performing for 20 years before he really made an impression on the UK consciousness with his 1984 album Born In The USA.

I saw The Boss and the E Street Band perform at Old Trafford Cricket Ground a couple of years and can honestly say that he remains the consummate showman.

Straddling that ground between rock and pop and with another astonishingly-charismatic frontman are my seventh choice – Queen.

My favourite UK band of the Eighties, their performance at Live Aid in 1985 cemented their place as one of the best live acts in the world.

In terms of Eighties pop, I have to give honourable mentions to a number of bands which feature in my record collection including: The Pet Shop Boys; Erasure: Spandau Ballet and The Human League.

But at number eight I offer up an Australian band which gained worldwide popularity thanks to their 1987 album Kick.

In July 1993 INXS were up ’Anley and played to a sell-out audience at the Vicki Hall. Sadly, yours truly was working that night.

The tragic death of lead singer Michael Hutchence robbed the band of their heart but with tracks like Never Tear Us Apart and Need You Tonight their legacy is assured.

From the sublime to the ridiculous now, novelty band Adam And The Ants have sneaked in at number nine thanks to two memorable songs and their madcap videos.

Stand And Deliver is a great tune but Prince Charming has to be my favourite. Go on – tell me you don’t do the arms-crossed-in-front-of-your-face routine every time you hear it.

Last, but by no means least, I am not embarrassed to say that Princess Diana’s favourite band are also in my list of Eighties music icons.

Duran Duran earned their spot with some cracking tunes including The Reflex and The Wild Boys which, alongside Aha’s Take On Me remains one of my favourite videos.

I never saw them live but I’m certainly not ruling it out…