Sparks are an American pop and rock band formed in 1972 by brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals). Usually considered a duo, they started as a group and have featured various supporting musicians over their long career. The two brothers are characterized not only by contrasting physical appearances and stage performances (Ron sinister and static, Russell flamboyant and animated) but also by an eccentric approach to songwriting, subject material and lyrics.
Commercial success has been just as eclectic. Their first UK hit was This Town Ain't Big Enough For The Both Of Us, which got to no. 2 in 1974, followed by a string of hits, although just as many "misses" before making the charts again in 1979 with the Giorgio Moroder produced The Number One Song In Heaven and Beat the Clock, aimed at the disco market but still retaining intelligent lyrics and creative songwriting with a fashionable electronic sound.
Sparks continued to write and record throughout the eighties and nineties, despite a lack of any great commercial success, making them into a kind of 'cult' band. Their latest album, their 25th, entitled Hippopotamus is to be released in September 2017.
- 09 May 1974: first TOTP appearance with This Town..at no.29 in the UK charts. (repeated 23 May 1974)
- 06 June 1974: This Town on TOTP again, single now at peak no.2.
- 10 May 1979: The Number One Song In Heaven first time on TOTP
- 19 July 1979: Beat the Clock first time on TOTP.
- 18 January 1980: new single When I'm With You released
- 24 January 1980: Smash Hits cover and feature. (Russell Mael mentions his love of The Human League whose concert in London they had attended the previous night).
- fan since 1975. Wrote to their US fan club and got material back through the post.
- The No.1 Song In Heaven (7")
- Beat the Clock (7")
- Tryouts for the Human Race (7")
- When I'm With You (7")
- Whomp That Sucker (cassette)