Malcolm McLaren, who was a British manager/impresario/fashion designer/promoter, formed Bow Wow Wow in 1980 (partly to cross-promote his and business partner Vivienne Westwood's New Romantic fashion lines). His initial claim to fame was managing the Sex Pistols (and recruiting Johnny Rotten to front the group). From the ashes of the band's implosion (for numerous reasons that will be left for another blog :-), he was approached to managed Adam and the Ants. Shortly after this encounter, McLaren encouraged guitarist Matthew Ashman, bassist Leigh Gorman, and drummer David Barbarossa to leave Adam Ant and form a new group. The new band embarked on a six-month audition process to find a lead singer. A mutual friend of McLaren's had stumbled across a 13 year old girl singing while she was working at a local dry cleaner. Her name was Annabella Lwin. Liking what he heard, he brought her in to try out for the band. McLaren loved it, and Bow Wow Wow was born. Initially, Boy George (then known as Lieutenant Lush) was going to join as a second lead singer. However, he was deemed 'too wild' for the band. Of course, Boy George would move on to Culture Club and other various escapades. The band's sound was an eclectic mix of New Wave, African Tribal, surf instrumentals, and girlie pop vocals. This blend created a unique, explosive vibe that resonated through the 'hey day' of New Wave.
Unfortunately, the band was short-lived. Their influence, however, is far-reaching (most notably with bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and No Doubt). They released a couple of records in the early 80s. By 1983, Annabella Lwin was ousted from the band. The remaining members formed a new group called Chiefs of Relief with Ashman taking over lead vocals. Lwin moved on to a solo career. In 1995, Matthew Ashman died of complications from diabetes. There have been various incarnations of Bow Wow Wow since their split. However, they never featured the original line-up (with the exception of a 2010 reunion tribute concert on the anniversary of Ashman's death). As of today, Leigh Gorman owns the name Bow Wow Wow and has reformed an entirely new band.
Stateside, they were known for their hit 'I Want Candy' (which is a cover of the 1965 hit performed by The Strangeloves - which, in my opinion, is a far better version). The song I always felt exemplified the group, however, is 'Baby Oh No.' The lead guitar work layered over the huge, tribal drums is enough to get anyone going. Sprinkle Lwin's exquisite vocal work glued together by Gorman's slap bass, and you've got yourself a stew going!