They're making their minds up: civil servants to rule who's real Bucks Fizz

Click to follow
The Independent Online

For some music fans, one Bucks Fizz is more than enough. But now the original band members are locked in a legal battle to decide which of two rival acts are the real Eurovision winners.

Thirty years after the skirt-ripping four-piece topped the charts with "Making Your Mind Up", Bucks Fizz, who sold 15 million records, remain a valuable music "brand".

Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston performed this month at a packed London Palladium under the name The Original Bucks Fizz.

But the fourth member of the original line-up, Bobby G, recruited three new members, including his wife Heidi Manton, who now owns the copyright to the name. G's website says any other groups performing under the name are infringing their trademark. Both sides object to the other's name.

Fans who booked tickets to see Bobby G's version of the band were "disappointed" to discover the line-up featured only one original band member, a hearing yesterday at the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in London was told.

Baker, Aston and Nolan's solicitor Dean Dunham said the use of the name Bucks Fizz by G, real name Robert Gubby, "mislead" the public.

Baker's agent David Hahn has received emails and phone calls from fans who booked tickets for Mr Gubby's band expecting to see the original members, the hearing was told. Ian Stocker, who runs a fan website, heard similar complaints. Mr Dunham gave examples of adverts with a strapline mentioning the 1981 Eurovision win, and using a photo of the original band, for appearances by Bobby G's act. He said: "The public perception of the words Bucks Fizz is simply the band that consisted of my three clients as well."

The name Bucks Fizz was applied for in 1997 and registered in 2001 after a legal dispute. Mr Dunham said Nolan signed an agreement not to contest the registration of the trademark in the wake of a 1984 coach crash which which left him in a coma.

Mr Gubby, speaking via a videolink from an IPO centre in Wales, said confusion had been caused since Aston had started performing again with Baker and Nolan in 2009 and their profile had risen. He said he felt entitled to claim his band was the "original" act because it had performed continuously since 1981 and had a "direct connection" to the original group. Comparing the situation with acts like The Drifters and The Supremes, he said bands often had line-up changes throughout the years and this did not mean the public was being deceived.

Bucks Fizz won the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest after charming the judges with their famous skirt-ripping routine. The band enjoyed further success in the early Eighties but the first of many line-up changes occurred when Aston quit in 1985.

After the hearing, Ms Baker said of Mr Gubby: "He has no right to stop us from working. We don't want it all but we do want our share." She accused Gubby of "trading off their success".

Allan James, principal hearing officer at the IPO said it would take six weeks before he could make his mind up on a verdict.

What's in a name?

Pink Floyd

After Roger Waters left the prog-rock group in 1985, he declared the act defunct and set about suing his former bandmates to ensure they could no longer perform or release new material under the name. The case went to the High Court, where Waters lost, leaving guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason free to produce two more albums with a returning member, Richard Wright.


This pop act have changed their line-up so many times that none of the founding members remain, but last year Mutya Buena applied to own the name personally as a trademark. Her attempt has not been successful, however, as the current Sugababes are currently working on a new album.

The Doors

The two members of The Doors often forgotten thanks to the enduring fame of Jim Morrison, who died in 1971, were still working under the band's old name as recently as 2005. But guitarist Robby Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek were instead forced to adopt the name Riders of the Storm – a variation on the name of one of their most famous songs – after drummer John Densmore and Morrison's parents took legal action against them.

Rob Hastings