Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are a new wave group formed in Liverpool in 1978 by core-members Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys.
Originally an experimental outfit featuring home-made keyboards, electronic sound effects recorded with the help of their reel-to-reel tape recorder Winston, some bass guitar and voice, the duo gradually moved towards more melodic compositions, releasing their first single 'Electricity' b/w 'Almost' on Manchester's Factory label. The pair were soon snapped up by Virgin subsidiary Dindisc and 1980 singles Messages and even more prominently Enola Gay made Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, by now OMD, a household name with two albums (their eponymous debut and Organisation) to their name within the year.
Greater success came almost 12 months later with top 10 singles Souvenir and two songs about the French saint Joan of Arc, all featured on the million-selling album Architecture & Morality, which took the electronic experimental zeitgeist of 1981, mixing strong melodies and unusual subject matter, to the upper ranges of the album charts. By now the group had also become a consolidated four-piece with Humphreys and McCluskey joined on stage and in the studio by Malcolm Holmes on drums and Martin Cooper on keyboards and other instruments.
Their success was however quick to diminish with the follow up Dazzle Ships in 1983 when pop music was already less in favour of experimentalism, albeit still in symbiosis with catchy melodies. Songs about genetic engineering and the demise of the telegraphic system were no longer chart fodder. Some ground was regained in 1984 with Junk Culture and a series of strong singles, followed by Crush in 1985 and The Pacific Age in 1986, although the latter two suffered too much from an over zealous effort to break the US market. A first Greatest Hits collection followed in 1988 although the duo of Humphreys and McCluskey had already called it a day.
In 1991 Andy McCluskey exhumed the cumbersome group name and despite grunge and the return of rock, managed to break the charts again with the album Sugar Tax and the electro-heavy yet catchy singles Sailing on the Seven Seas and Pandora's Box. McCluskey, aided mainly by Stuart Kershaw, tried again with Liberator (1993) and Universal (1995) but things were brought to a grinding halt in the Brit-pop years.
Nostalgia eventually won through in 2006 when McCluskey and Humphreys got back together again to perform some live dates as a duo, later touring the Architecture & Morality album in its entirety with former band mates Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes. A brand new album History of Modern emerged in 2010 followed by more touring, and another new album English Electric was released to critical acclaim in 2013. A third album of the new OMD-era, with relative tour, is set for release in September 2017.
- 28 September 1978 - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark is born (first live performance?).
- 12 October 1978: first (advertised) gig at Eric's Club in Liverpool (?)
- 20 October 1978: first gig at The Factory, Manchester. Support to Joy Division and Cabaret Voltaire. Tracks included on the 'DEP2' EP released free with early copies of Organisation were recorded here.
- 21 May 1979: OMD's first single Electricity released on Factory records (FAC6)
- 09 June 1979: Radio One DJ John Peel plays debut single 'Electricity'. He has been given the single by a Factory records representative during a trip to Manchester.
- 27 July 1979: at a benefit concert in Blackpool (supporting Joy Division) Carol Wilson of Virgin subsidiary DinDisc presents the group with a draft record contract.
- 20 August 1979: The group record their first session for John Peel.
- 27 August 1979: OMITD play the Leigh Valley festival, on the 'Zoo meets Factory half-way' Bank Holiday Monday third day, also featuring Joy Division, Teardrop Explodes and A Certain Ratio.
- 03 September 1979 - first broadcast of debut John Peel session.
- 08 September 1979: OMITD play the Futurama festival in Leeds.
- 20 September 1979: first major UK tour begins, as support act to Gary Numan.
- 28 September 1979: first re.issue of Electricity on DinDisc. Version produced by Martin Hannet and labelled as "A Factory Records Product".
- 08 October 1979: Final night of 16-date Gary Numan tour at Sheffield City Hall.
- 11 October 1979: John Peel plays DinDisc release of Electricity (Peel remarks that they get "richly slagged off every time they do a gig - must go and see them!".)
- 15 February 1980: The band begin an extensive tour of the UK starting at Eric's Club in Liverpool. Touring will continue throughout February, March and April moving on to Europe and the US in late May/early June.
- 21 February 1980: RF/WL lyrics in Smash Hits
- 22 February 1980: debut album Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark released.
- 06 March 1980: album reviewed by Red Starr in Smash Hits (7.5/10)
- 14 April 1980: Second session for John Peel recorded, broadcast on 21 April 1980. New tracks Enola Gay and Motion and Heart are heard for the first time.
- 15 April 1980: live performance of Messages and Dancing on OGWT.
- 02 May 1980: re-recorded version of album track Messages released as a single
- 08 May 1980: first appearance on TOTP with Messages at no. 53
- 29 May 1980: Smash Hits feature 'The Acceptable Face of Synthesisers' and second performance of Messages on TOTP.
- 28 July 1980: Live gig at Nottingham Playhouse, filmed for the ITV's Rockstage programme. The performance will eventually be released in 2015 on CD and DVD as part of the 'Access All Areas' series.
- 19 September 1980: live performance of Enola Gay at Portsmouth Guildhall, UK, included on Urgh! A Music War compilation album, released in 1981.
- 26 September 1980: new single Enola Gay b/w Annex released on Dindisc.
- 29 September 1980: Third John Peel session recorded, Peel plays Enola Gay single on his show.
- 06 October 1980: Third Peel session first broadcast, repeated 03 November 1980.
- 09 October 1980: Enola Gay performed for the first time on TOTP when the single is at no. 35 in the charts.
- 23 October 1980: repeat studio perfomance of Enola Gay on TOTP.
- 24 October 1980: Organisation album released.
- 28 October 1980: Enola Gay reached peak position of no.8 (for the first time).
- 01 November 1980: Organisation tour begins.
- 11 November 1980: After falling back one place, Enola Gay goes back up to no.8 in the UK charts.
- 24 November 1980: Live date in Monmartre, Paris.
- 1981-01 / 04: the group continue to tour the USA, Canada and France. Setlists are a mixture of the first two albums although a new track 'She's Leaving' is also performed.
- 21 February 1981: BBC Radio One broadcast a short set recorded live at the Paris Theatre on 04 February 1981. Some of the group's equipment was stolen before the gig.
- 19 March 1981: Smash Hits cover photo. The issue carried a free flexi-disc featuring a live version of Pretending To See The Future for which the lyrics are also printed.
- 06 August 1981: Smash Hits carries the story that the group have been recording demos for their third album expected in October, and that a new single Souvenir 'should be' out on August 14. It is also reported that Enola Gay is "a monster in Italy as is the Organisation LP in France". 
- 25 August 1981: new single Souvenir enters the UK charts at no. 41, going up to no. 23 the following week.
- 03 September 1981: OMD perform Souvenir on Top of the Pops for the first time. Apart from Paul Humphreys singing (miming) lead vocals for the first time on the show, the line-up also features new member Mike Douglas (playing xylophone!) as well as Martin Cooper (sax), Malcolm Holmes (drums) and Andy McCluskey on double bass.
- 03 September 1981: Smash Hits interview and feature. A group photo features the McCluskey/Hunphreys/Holmes/Douglas "new line-up". The single is reviewed as "ethereal but rather hollow".
- 17 September 1981: Souvenir is featured again on TOTP although in a repeat of the 1981-09-03 performance. The single is at its peak position of no.3. Smash Hits also give details of a new tour starting in November "assuming they've completed the new LP they're currently labouring over". It is also reported that Martin Cooper has re-joined the band and that Mike Douglas has formed his own band Godot. (Douglas will be playing live with The Human League within the year).
- 15 October 1981: new single Joan of Arc (released 09 October 1981?) advertised in Smash Hits as being "from the forthcoming Dindisc album Architecture & Morality".
- 20 October 1981: Joan of Arc enters UK charts at no.36.
- 29 October 1981: OMD appear on TOTP to perform Joan of Arc, now at no.21.
- 29 October 1981. Smash Hits album review (9/10), advertisment and competition to win Architecture & Morality LPs.
- 07 November 1981: Architecture & Morality tour begins at Lancaster University.
- 08 November 1981: (possibly 06 November) Architecture & Morality album released .
- 12 November 1981: Repeat showing of TOTP perfomance of Joan of Arc. The single is at its peak position of no.5 and will remain there for one more week.
- 14 November 1981: Architecture & Morality enters the UK album charts at no. 5, climbing to no. 3 a week later (kept off the top spot by Adam & the Ants and Queen).
- 04 December 1981: concert at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London filmed and recorded and later released on VHS.
- 25 December 1981: New performance of Souvenir on TOTP Christmas Day show featuring the "classic" four-piece line-up for the first time.