Tony Ogden

Frontman of World of Twist


Anthony William Ogden, singer and drummer: born Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire 30 May 1962; died Bramhall, Cheshire 26 July 2006.

Tony Ogden was the charismatic frontman of the early Nineties band World of Twist. If World of Twist never became as big as many of their contemporaries on the Manchester music scene, their influence has been massive. Noel Gallagher of Oasis was one of many who were enamoured with the band - he nearly called Oasis "Sons of the Stage" after a World of Twist song and was always at their gigs around the city.

World of Twist's bubblegum pop was the perfect bookend to the Manchester baggy scene which was drawing to a close in the early Nineties. But, although they came out of the tail-end of "Madchester", the band's true roots were in Sheffield.

Born in Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, in 1962, Ogden had moved to Sheffield and formed the band in 1985 with Jamie Fry (brother of the ABC frontman Martin Fry) on vocals and himself on drums. Pulp were also struggling in Sheffield at the time and the two bands shared a kitchen-sink glamour and an esoteric love for great pop and Northern Soul atmospherics.

With the explosion of interest in Manchester's music in the late 1980s, Ogden moved back from Sheffield. Changing the band's line-up, he switched to vocals, with his long-term creative partner Gordon King (they had met at Stockport College) remaining on guitar. World of Twist emerged from the city's southern bedsit land in 1989 with a sound all their own, a sleek combination of the sass of Roxy Music, the speed-driven dance-floor stomp of Northern Soul, the English eccentricity and soundscapes of Joe Meek and even a dash of the Stooges with a touch of prime-time English psychedelia. In short, they were magnificent.

Their first demo, featuring the classic song "The Storm" was the best demo I had heard for a long time and it was quickly passed round town. World of Twist were swiftly signed by a record industry still picking over the crumbs of the Manchester scene and there was a big press buzz around the band.

"The Storm" stalled at 42 in the charts and their brilliant updating of the Rolling Stones' "She's a Rainbow" (incidentally one of Martin Hannett's last ever productions before his death in 1991) also just missed the Top Forty. World of Twist's début album, Quality Street (1991), although marred by a too-slick production, sold strongly and the accompanying tour was a sell-out. Many still get misty-eyed over their date at the packed Manchester Ritz, one of the best live gigs ever in the city. Ogden went on stage completely wrapped in tinfoil and spent the first song getting unravelled. This sort of fantastic art-school japery was the mark of the man - Ogden had the innate cool and nervous charm to pull it off.

With expectations still high, World of Twist started work on a follow-up album but it all ground to a halt when Ogden decided he didn't want to be the singer any more. Although auditions were held for a new singer, the band imploded and the second album was never released. The demos for it are brilliant and point to their potential. Not only Pulp but St Etienne, Intastella and a whole raft of shiny new pop bands were influenced by them, whilst bands like Air and more recently Goldfrapp have proved how successful World of Twist might have been.

Tony Ogden disappeared. Burnt out, he retreated back home to live with his parents in Stockport. There was talk of occasional projects, but also long silences. There were occasional sightings of him in Manchester - I last saw him a couple of years ago, almost unrecognisable, with a beard, driving through town - and he still had that spark about him, that twitchy charisma and fiery enthusiasm.

At the time of his death, he was working on demos for a new band, the Bubblegum Secret Pop Explosion. They are great songs, and proof that Ogden's unique pop vision still remained intact.

John Robb

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