The Myth Factory – Myth 1: SAW’s earliest success

Welcome to The Myth Factory, where we’ll digging deeper into the stories behind the trio’s production history, beginning with…’Pete Waterman was the catalyst for SAW’s earliest success.’

 

When Mike Stock and Matt Aitken started to tout their idea of a female Frankie Goes To Hollywood-inspired dance single around the record companies during the early weeks of 1984, Pete Waterman came to their aid. Having worked with Mike on a novelty record a few years earlier, Waterman seized on this idea and bundled the songwriters into the studio to complete the track after other executives had rejected them.

The Upstroke, billed to Agents Aren’t Aeroplanes, brushed the charts and even secured a spin on John Peel’s late-night Radio One show, but more significantly it was released on Proto Records, and Mike used this connection to exploit some of the songs he had already been working on.

The label released one of them – Mike’s composition Anna Maria Lena – for UK-based Greek-Cypriot singer Andy Paul, representing Cyprus in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest. It finished 15th on 31 points in the competition, but the track (credited to the singer to comply with competition rules at that time but later registered to Stock Aitken Waterman for copyright reasons) had been written the previous year and demoed at Mike’s Abbey Wood home studio in 1983 before being “glammed up” for Eurovision with strings at Hollywood Studios in March.

Barry Evangeli, who ran Proto Records, had signed cult dance act Divine, and asked Mike to work on some new material. “It was an amalgamation of events – Andy Paul and Agents Aren’t Aeroplanes – that led us to working with Divine,” recalls Mike. “Pete had very little to do with this early connection coming together with Barry, but he suddenly realised it was all going on without him. The way we got started with Proto was entirely down to Matt and me, which was odd because we really didn’t normally do that sort of [business] thing.”

Though over time Pete would emerge as the natural frontman for the trio, it’s likely little would have developed without Mike’s drive to make the most of the connections the partnership was exposing. Divine gave the trio their first production hit when You Think You’re A Man made the UK Top 20 in the summer of 1984.

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