The Human League were formed in their home town of Sheffield, England as “The Future” in 1977 at a time when British music was moving away from Glam Rock and Punk into a new type of electronic/new wave style of music. In the early years original members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh lost band member Adi Newton, they tried to recruit a singer and turned to old school friend Phil Oakey. Keyboard player Philip Wright was also added. To get a chance of a commercial record deal they changed their name and began making demo’s and playing live.
They released an independent EP of instrumental tracks and soon record companies began to take notice and in 1979 they signed to Virgin Records. During this early period musical direction of both the record company and individual band members caused problems. Singles struggled to make a big impact on the chart, ultimately causing Ware and Marsh to leave.
Oakey and Wright continued with the band and its name and recruited two school girls for vocals, Susan Sulley and Joanne Catherall, Ian Burden and lastly Jo Callis creating a new sound.
1981 became the international breakout year for The Human League. “Open Your Heart” was released in September and became their second top ten single in the UK reaching #6 with a run of 9 weeks on the chart, helping to catapult the sales of the album Dare from which this single is lifted when it was released in October. It’s follow-up single “Don’t You Want Me” was to become their signature song when it reached #1 all over the world.
The single was produced by Martin Rushent who at the time was known as both an Engineer and Producer of many Punk/Alternative singles and albums. He died in 2011 whilst preparing for a 30th anniversary version of the album Dare.
The B-Side “Non-Stop” is a pulsating synthpop instrumental clearly identifying their sound at the time.
The group have continued to successfully release singles and albums and despite other line up changes over the years, the band are still touring as a three-piece with Oakey, Sulley and Catherall,