Toyah Willcox could never be described as boring. Born in 1958, and a native of my home city Birmingham she is a TV presenter, Film and TV Actress, Author, but mainly known as a producer, writer and performer of music. Her acting career was carved out locally in the mid 1970’s as the punk revolution was taking place. Her dyed hair as a young teenager made her a focus of attention. In 1984 she started with the late Sir Lawrence Olivier in a TV Film “The Ebony Tower”
Toyah wanted to add another string to her bow with her acting career in full flow. Having moved to London towards the later 1970’s she began asking around if anyone needed a singer and eventually was introduced to Joel Bogan, other musicians were auditioned and the band were collectively named Toyah.
In 1979 they began recording what they described as an alternative play otherwise known as a 6 track EP called Sheep Farming In Barnet. After releasing studio albums, live recordings, and EP’s this Alternative Play with 4 tracks started to climb the UK chart, and appearances on Top of the Pops catapulted Toyah into the top ten for the first time reaching #4 in a 14 week run. Unusually this single plays at 33 ⅓ rather than 45 rpm.
The main track played on radio was “It’s A Mystery”. The delivery in parts highlighted a slight lisp, however this doesn’t detract from this excellent recording of punk/new wave/gothic rock.
This was so different from earlier single releases and written by a friend Keith Hale and Toyah didn’t feel the song was right for her or her growing army of fans but the record company asked to record it.
Its success may have come down to being more commercial as the other tracks featured on this AP are more non mainstream avant-garde “Revelations”, “War Boys” and “Angels and Demons”.
It’s A Mystery is included on Toyah’s most successful album “Anthem” which made #2 in the UK.
The line up at the time was Toyah Willcox – vocals, Joel Bogen – guitar, Phil Spalding – bass, Nigel Glockler – drums, and Adrian Lee – keyboards. Another two top ten hits came in quick succession. This was followed by “Four More From Toyah” the title track being “Good Morning Universe” reaching #14
Toyah Willcox is still active today recording albums and colaborating with other artists. She has been married for 30 years to Robert Fripp who is a musician, writer and guitarist. His Rock background has had him collaborate with dozens of well-known artists and was a member of the band King Crimson.