As a British New Wave musical group, Wang Chung found their greatest success in the North America, with five Top 40 hits in the U.S., all charting between 1984 and 1987 (including the Number Two hit “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”). In the UK, their home country, their only Top 40 hit was “Dance Hall Days” (Number 21, 1984). The band went on two major tours in America, opening for The Cars in 1984 and for Tina Turner in 1986.
The name Huang Chung literally translates from Chinese as “yellow bell” but, in this case, refers to the standardized bass pitch of ancient China. Early on the band summarized the definition as “perfect pitch” and later, on American Bandstand, they claimed it was the sound a guitar made.
Jeremy Ryder, known professionally as “Jack Hues” (vocalist/guitarist) and Nick Feldman (bassist) would eventually form the core duo of Wang Chung. They first met when Hues answered Feldman’s ad for a musician in the classifieds section of the weekly British music magazine Melody Maker in 1977. Soon afterwards, Hues and Feldman joined up with Marek Budzynski (Bud Weiser) and Paul Hammond (Carl S Berg) in late 1977/early 1978 to form The Intellektuals.
In less than a year, the band split up. Hues and Feldman then joined up with future Wang Chung drummer Darren Costin, bassist Leigh Gorman, keyboardist Simon Campbell and vocalist Glenn Gregory, to form 57 Men. This band lasted for about 18 months before breaking up.
Gregory went on to become the vocalist for Heaven 17, and Gorman later played in Bow Wow Wow. Meanwhile Hues, Feldman and Costin stayed together and rechristened themselves Huang Chung. Campbell went back to the day job.
At the beginning of Huang Chung’s career, all the members performed under pseudonyms. Jeremy Ryder was “Jack Hues”, Nick Feldman was “Nick DeSpig”, and Darren Costin was “Darren Darwin” (and later, just “Darwin”).
While gigging regularly, the band was signed to 101 Records. The first Huang Chung release, “Baby I’m Hu-man”, appeared on a 101 compilation album in 1980. Three live tracks were subsequently released on another 101 Records compilation in 1981.
Later in 1980, the independent record company Rewind Records signed the band up for a two-single deal. Huang Chung’s debut single for Rewind Records was “Isn’t It About Time We Were on TV”. It was followed up by “Stand Still”. Neither single charted, but the group had begun to attract the attention of Arista Records, who signed them to a two-album deal in early 1981.
Around this same time, the group expanded to a quartet, with the addition of sax player Dave Burnand. In keeping with the all-pseudonymous nature of the band, Burnand was known as “Hogg Robinson” for the first Arista single, and later, simply as “Hogg”.
Under the direction of producer Rhett Davies, Huang Chung issued two singles on Arista in 1981, neither of which charted. A third single, produced by Roger Bechirian, appeared in early 1982. It too failed to chart.
The band’s first album was issued in 1982. Self-titled, it compiled the three non-charting Arista A-sides, one of the Arista B-sides, and six other new tracks. Like the associated singles, the Huang Chung album failed to chart.
Around the same time, Hues, Feldman (as “Nick De Spig”) and Burnand (as “Hogg”) were involved in the writing and performing of the lone LP by the mysterious pseudonymous group Blanket of Secrecy. Though rumors would swirl for years, it was eventually revealed that while they did participate in the creation of the Blanket of Secrecy record, none of the members of Huang Chung were actual members of Blanket of Secrecy.
In early 1982, Burnand left Huang Chung amicably, citing “musical differences”.
In late 1982, Huang Chung returned to the studio to start work on their second album for Arista Records. However, their manager David Massey convinced Arista to close their contract with Huang Chung, and instead placed the band with American label Geffen Records, making the group the second UK-based act to be signed to Geffen worldwide after Asia (not counting then-New York-based John Lennon in 1980).
At this juncture, and at Geffen’s suggestion, the band changed their name to Wang Chung, allegedly to make pronunciation easier for English-speakers. (This explanation of the group’s name change is consistent with the claim by VH1’s Pop Up Video that they changed it because people kept calling them “Hung Chung”.) At the same time, Nick Feldman and Darren Costin opted to be billed under their real names; only Jack Hues would keep his pseudonym.
The band spent most of 1983 recording their second album Points on the Curve. Released in January 1984, the album yielded two moderately successful hits, “Don’t Let Go” (Number 38 US) and “Dance Hall Days” (Number 16 US, Number 21 UK).
In late 1983, Hues and Feldman collaborated in a one-off project with vocalist David Van Day. A demo of the track “Ringing the Bell” was submitted to David by their publisher as one of many songs for consideration by David as a possible follow up to his hit “Young Americans Talking”. It was recorded in November 1983 but remained unreleased for some time before eventually surfacing under the band name Music Academy in 1985. Another track “Don’t Drop That Bomb” was submitted on the same demo reel for David but was not recorded by him.
Wang Chung then followed up the release of Points on The Curve with a spate of soundtrack work. Director William Friedkin specifically sought out Wang Chung to score his 1985 film “To Live and Die in L.A”. The resulting soundtrack became the group’s third album, and is recognizable as their work, although it largely eschews conventional pop song formulae for a more atmospheric and textured approach. The title track barely missed the US Top 40 chart peaking at Number 41 for two weeks.
The band also recorded “Fire in the Twilight” for the 1985 John Hughes film “The Breakfast Club”; it is used in the scene where the kids are led by John Bender down the halls trying to escape Mr. Vernon.
In the summer of 1985, Costin left the band. Hues and Feldman continued to record new material, employing producer Peter Wolf as their new drummer (although he never became an official member of the band).
Wang Chung released their fourth album, Mosaic, in 1986. This album spun off their biggest hits: “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” (Number Two US) and “Let’s Go!” (Number Nine US). “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” features the oft-quoted lyric “Everybody Wang Chung tonight”, and also has a well-remembered music video (directed by Godley and Creme) where virtually every frame featured a jump cut. Their final US Top 40 single, “Hypnotize Me” (Number 36) was also from the same album, as well as being featured on the soundtrack of the 1987 film “Innerspace”.
Wang Chung released their final album, The Warmer Side of Cool, in 1989. The album featured a minor hit in “Praying to A New God” (Number 67 US), but was considered a commercial disappointment. With Hues and Feldman then going on to other projects, Wang Chung effectively disbanded in 1990.
During the 1990s, Feldman joined up with Jon Moss of Culture Club to form the band Promised Land, and subsequently released their self-titled debut album, Promised Land, in 1992.
Also in the 1990s, Hues worked on various film soundtracks, including 1990s “The Guardian”. He was signed to a solo deal by Sony Records in the early 1990s, but his intended debut solo album, The Anatomy Lesson, was shelved by the label and remains unreleased.
Hues later teamed up with Tony Banks of Genesis to form the one-off group Strictly Inc, which released a self-titled album in 1995.
In 1997 Wang Chung, still consisting of Hues and Feldman, returned with a greatest hits collection entitled Everybody Wang Chung Tonight: Wang Chung’s Greatest Hits. Included on this CD was a new single, “Space Junk”. The group also toured America around this time.
A 2000 edition of Wang Chung played several dates in America. Hues was the only original member of this iteration of the band, as Feldman bowed out due to other commitments.
In March 2005, Wang Chung (once again consisting of Hues and Feldman) contributed “Akasha”, a previously unreleased song, to the Of Hands and Hearts compilation, in response to the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami crisis.
In June 2005, Hues and Feldman reunited as Wang Chung on the reality TV series Hit Me Baby One More Time, performing “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” and a cover of “Hot in Herre” by Nelly.
Wang Chung was part of the Regeneration 80’s tour in June 2009, along with ABC, Berlin, Cutting Crew, and Missing Persons. The tour was used by the band as a promotion for their album, Abducted by the 80s.
Abducted By The 80’s is comprised of a double CD package. CD One, also known as “Wang,” consists of the band’s biggest hits, including re-recorded versions of “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” “Dance Hall Days,” “Let’s Go” and an acoustic version of “To Live and Die in LA,”
CD Two, or “Chung,” features brand new material. The lead track, “Rent Free” is an homage to the band’s history of catchy pop tunes with “Stargazing” and “London Orbital” also connecting to that legacy.
The LP has been in the works for a few years, and singer Jack Hues promises it is “very recognizably Wang Chung” though it “also sounds modern, contemporary.” No word yet on whether, in keeping with tradition, it introduces all-new uses of the term “Wang Chung.”