Right Said Fred are one of the UK’s most enduring pop exports. Despite being known for their 90s hit I’m Too Sexy, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and Taylor Swift have a connection to the band as well.
Formed in 1989 by brothers Fred and Richard Fairbrass, the pair have achieved over 25 million sales globally, have reached number one in 30 countries and were the first band to achieve a number one in the US with a debut single since The Beatles. The multi-platinum brothers went on to win two Ivor Novello Awards and one BMI Award for their hits I’m Too Sexy (1991) and Deeply Dippy (1992). They released nine albums, shared stages with big names all over the world, achieved a Brit award nomination, played in front of the Queen and released a track for Comic Relief. Their success is global, having attracted fans all over the UK, Europe, the US, and beyond, and it all started in a basement studio in Acton, London.
Back in 1990, together with guitarist Rob Manzoli, the band wrote I’m Too Sexy. Fred and Richard borrowed the money to demo the song and to keep the costs down they recorded at night in a studio in Ealing that had gone into receivership. The final session was at Red Bus Studios in London in early 1991. I’m Too Sexy along with the song ‘Swan’, which also made it onto their debut album Up was rejected by every record label the guys took it to but they knew this was special and followed their gut. Opening with Richard’s acapella vocal with the (now) iconic lines, “I’m Too Sexy for my love, too sexy for my love, love’s going to leave me”, the single stood apart from many of the chart toppers of that year. I’m Too Sexy was tongue-in-cheek, it was fun, and it brimmed with the band’s independent spirit, uninterested in following the trends at the time. Fred recalls, “we knew we had recorded something new and very different, we just didn’t know how successful it would prove to be”.
Like the best success stories, when it felt like the chips were down, fate was on their side. The band’s then teenage manager, Tamzin Aronowitz, who shared the band’s belief, managed to get the track to DJ Gary Crowley and also to the producer of the Simon Bates Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1. Simon played the track and the rest is history. I’m Too Sexy spent 6-weeks at the No. 2 spot in the UK charts and 4-months in the UK top 10. On the US Billboard Charts it was No. 1 for 3 weeks and 10 weeks on the sale charts, hitting the top of the charts internationally in 32 countries.
Their lives would never be the same again. The single Don’t Talk Just Kiss was next; it hit No. 3 in the UK charts at Christmas. Their second single reached No. 1 in the US dance chart and enjoyed international success worldwide from Japan to South America. However, it wasn’t until their third single, DeeplyDippy, that Right Said Fred finally scored their first UK No. 1, just 9-months after I’m Too Sexy had secured its place in the annals of pop history. The guys launched themselves into a world tour, spending much of 1992 on the road, promoting their debut album Up, which was released that year.
The album hit 7 million sales worldwide and was No. 1 on the UK Album Chart and top 10 around the world. Second album Sex and Travel received critical acclaim and as they reached almost a million sales, they found themselves on the road again. That same year, the guys wrote and recorded Stick It Out, a single for Comic Relief, which was another top 5 hit for the boys. After two albums with Tug Records, they parted ways and released their third album Smashing on their own label Happy Valley. The success continued with Living on a Dream
and Big Time becoming chart topping hits, and a slew of tours that took them around the world. Right Said Fred had decided to declare their own state of independence, a spirit that would continue to the present day. Fred recalls that being an independent and self-funding act is what stood them apart from the rest, that and “being stubborn and sounding different.” Right Said Fred try to avoid compromises.
The pair found themselves regularly hitting the top spot all over Europe as their chart success continued; fourth album Fredhead reached No. 2 in Germany and single You’re My Mate hit the No. 4 spot. Both the single and album reached gold status, with You’re My Mate being chosen as the official song for the South African Rugby Team. It wasn’t until fifth album Stand Up that the guys achieved their first No. 1 in Japan with the single Stand Up (For The Champions) and the song has proved to be a huge hit with sports fans. The Cincinnati Wild Cats adopted the song after winning the NFL in 2003 and the track became a massive sports anthem regularly used by Borussia Dortmund, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Saracens and has been featured in successive FIFA World Cup companions. The success of Stand Up and Fredhead put the brothers back on the map in Europe and this enabled them to go back on the road performing at arenas and shows all around the world and they even appeared as special guests at the Bollywood Awards in Mumbai, shaking off the ‘one hit wonder’ tag, proving there is a lot more to the band than I’m Too Sexy.
As Fred says, “our songs were now reaching a brand new audience taking us to global sporting events including Formula 1, NFL, The Premiership and the World Cup”. Subsequent albums For Sale and I’m A Celebrity found success in unexpected areas. I Love My Car from the For Sale album has been synchronised for movies, and songs from the I’m A Celebrity album began to dominate the US Dance Chart with successive top 10 remixes by DJ Paul Rincon, DJ Reza and Klub-Jumpers.
In 2016, Right Said Fred celebrated the 25th Anniversary of I’m Too Sexy. Although the guys never stopped making music, it felt like a ‘return’ to the UK scene with TV, radio and festival appearances. Gay Times, Q Magazine, Gigwise, and Shortlist were amongst those who chased to the boys in 2016 about the anniversary, and people were surprised by the boy’s musical
pedigree. Fred has played guitar with Bob Dylan, Richard has performed with David Bowie, and both have worked with Mick Jagger. With the 25th Anniversary, the boys found themselves not only reconnecting to their UK fan base but also appealing to a much younger audience. Right Said Fred have always been a band that continue to surprise and it’s the reason why they’re all being asked to appear on radio, TV and in magazines with recent appearances on This Morning, The Wright Stuff, BBC Radio 2 and ITV’s Lorraine Kelly, and they have also performed special acoustic sets for Sofar Sounds and continue to play all over the UK and Europe.
2017 was quite a ride for Right Said Fred. They released their 9th studio album Exactly!, two years in the making, featuring an array of special guests including Marcella Detroit (Shakespears Sister). After the release of the album and single Sweet Treats, the boys were back on the road throughout the UK and Europe.
In August 2017, Taylor Swift’s Look What You Made Me Do was released, the first single from the much-planned album Reputation. The single was co-written by Right Said Fred and inspired
by the boys’ iconic 90s hit I’m Too Sexy, welcoming in a new generation of fans more than 26 years after it debuted. The single earned over eight million streams within 24-hours of its Spotify release, breaking the record for the highest first day streaming for a single track, topping the charts in over 15 countries including the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. In 2018, the guys began the year with the track Bring The House Down, commissioned by Paddy Power for the CONIFA Football tournament. The event celebrated the independent side of football, championing smaller nations and teams that fans wouldn’t see in the FIFA World Cup.
The boys were also happy to announce another co-write in 2018, this timeme with New York based duo Sofi Tukker for their track Batshit also known as That It (I’m Crazy). The track
went on to be used by Apple to launch the iPhone 8 Red. They were also honoured at the 2018 BMI Awards for Outstanding US Radio AirPlay and Streaming. Fred said of the award, “it was great to represent the independent side of the industry in a world that is dominated by big business.” Right Said Fred are living proof that an independent approach to both the creation and promotion of new music can survive and thrive in an industry dominated by major record labels and big money.