Toyah

Toyah Ann Willcox was born in Kings Heath (an inspiration for the fictional town of Kings Oak where Crossroads was set) in Birmingham and trained as an actress at the Old Rep. She appeared in some punk-rock films in the late seventies, then shot to fame as a mad-haired, anti-establishment pop siren in the early eighties, initially recording demos of tracks like "Israel", "Problem Child" and "Neon Womb".

 

Toyah's musical bandwagon got underway with the "Sheep Farming in Barnet" EP. This was followed by a full album, "The Blue Meaning", while Toyah appeared on TV in "Shoestring". Her musical rise was secured by a hit documentary and accompanying live album "Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!". The documentary was seen by 10 million viewers.

Toyah's most iconic song arrived on the "Four from Toyah EP" in 1981, and was called "It's a Mystery". It was actually a cover, originally recorded by lost band Blood Donor, by Toyah's version reached number 4 in the UK charts. It's parent album "Anthem", later soared to number 2.

More hits followed in the form of "Thunder in the Mountains", "I Want To Be Free" and "Good Morning Universe". Meanwhile Toyah became a frequent presence in "Smash Hits", and was said to be forever "in the lobby" - always ready to step in for a photo shoot if someone else pulled out.

 

 

Toyah envisaged a much darker follow-up to "Anthem" and made the goth-like "Changeling" album. It spawned a hit - "Brave New World", but the album died and second single "Dawn Chorus" was never released. Another live album, "Warrior Rock: Toyah on Tour" appeared instead.

"Love Is The Law" was the final Toyah album (at least with her band), final single "The Vow" only just scraping the Top 50.

Without her band, Toyah began to make solo albums, the first of which was "Minx" in 1984, with a pop direction (it featured a cover of Alice Cooper's "School's Out"). Alas the chart heights of her band years never returned.

 

In 1986, Toyah married Robert Fripp, a crusty old musician bloke, who might be enormous.

She later became a media whore, presenting "Songs Of Praise", "Holiday" and "The Good Sex Guide". In 1999 she played the lead in CBBC's "Army Aunty Boomerang" series which we surely need to explore.

There is no reality TV show she isn't afraid to be on, from "I'm A Celebrity" to "I'm Famous and I'm Frightened!". In 2005 she wrote a book about a highly publicised facelift, the mad old bint.

Her albums continued post-band relentlessly, from the "Prostitute" concept album (containing the tracks "Vale of Evesham" and "Jazz Singers in the Trees") to "The Acoustic Album", which contained nine different versions of "It's A Mystery" on it.

The "Orphelia's Shadow" album (above) from the post-musical success years.

 

All sorts of crap. "Mayhem" was an eighties rarities album which nobody told Toyah about - she spotted it on import in an American record shop. There was a cassette-only tour album in 1993 which must annoy you if you get into her. Why was she still using cassettes in 1993?

There's a re-release of "Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!" due in the winter of 2006, featuring extra tracks, and in fact all her albums have been released with bonus material. Her fans are the sort to get the moon on a stick.