Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?! – Tony Hadley

In Does Rock ‘N’ Roll Kill Braincells?!, we quiz an artist on their own career to see how much they can remember – and find out if the booze, loud music and/or tour sweeties has knocked the knowledge out of them. This week: the former Spandau Ballet frontman goes for 'Gold'

Which song did you duet with Freddie Mercury in 1985?

“‘Jailhouse Rock’.”


Freddie was one of my heroes. Spandau were touring Australia and some of the band had got ill, so our New Zealand tour was cancelled. I had weeks to kill so popped over to see Freddie and the gang who were playing in New Zealand. Me and Freddie ended up in the bar drinking a bottle of Stolichnaya vodka, then had a bottle of port in his room. We were both absolutely pissed. He’s got to go onstage that night and he said: ‘Darling, do you want to come onstage and sing a song? Let’s do ‘Jailhouse Rock’’. Neither of us knew the words properly, so it was a very interesting rendition!  At one point, I was stood at the side of the stage and Freddie came over and dramatically laid over the piano and went (adopts theatrical flourish), ‘Hadley you bastard, I’m so pissed!’, and flounced back onstage again.”

Which Manchester band went to see Spandau Ballet in Paris, stole all your booze and trashed your dressing room before one of their members urinated off the auditorium balcony onto the band below?

“Flippin’ hell! Well, the Duranies were from Birmingham so – no, I can’t remember!”

WRONG. According to their former bassist Peter Hook, it was New Order in 1985 – with singer Bernard Sumner, upset by Spandau’s apparel, performing the golden shower.

“Was it? All I can say is I must have been so drunk because I can’t remember that! (Laughs) I love Peter Hook – brilliant bass player – but I must have been several sheets as well then! It’s just the sort of thing we did in those days, wasn’t it? If I was New Order, I would have pissed on Spandau Ballet as well! (laughs)”

Which actor played a fictional Spandau Ballet bassist in a 2009 episode of the sitcom Modern Family?

“It’s not Ben Stiller is it? I’ve seen the clip as well! He’s got a quirky face, and normally has a moustache. Skinny, slightly bulging eyes – no, sorry I can’t remember his name!”

WRONG. Though a sterling Crimestoppers description! It was Edward Norton who played fictional Spandau bassist Izzy LaFontaine

“I like those tributes.  It’s like [Steve Buscemi singing ‘True’] in the film The Wedding Singer – Tony Hadley is now The Wedding Singer! Anything that’s fun and takes the mickey, I’m all for that.”

Who’s the most unexpected person who’s turned out to be a fan?

“We shared a doctor in Harley Street, and it turned out Axl Rose was a huge fan of mine, which was cool because I’m a bit of a rocker – I should have worn spandex and grown my hair long but instead I joined a pop band. When CeeLo Green said ‘I love Tony Hadley’s voice’ on The Masked Singer, that was a lovely endorsement.”


When Spandau Ballet faced off against your arch nemesis Duran Duran on BBC1’s Pop Quiz in 1984, what was the final score?

“I can’t remember what the final score was, but I have it on good authority that they [Duran Duran] managed to get the answers before they went on!”

WRONG. Duran Duran won by 52 points to Spandau’s 40.

“They must have definitely had the answers then! (Laughs) That was a real moment in TV pop history. I’ve been friends with the Duran boys for many years, since we were both unsigned. In fact, when I covered their song ‘Save A Prayer’ for my 1997 self-titled solo album, I phoned up [Duran Duran frontman] Simon Le Bon and he came over and did all the backing vocals for it, and we once had a few sherbets and sang ‘Rio’ live together with my Fab TH Band. People want there to be a Blur/Oasis battle story, but we were only ever rivals in terms of the press.”

You were trending during Eurovision this year after which country’s entry bore a striking resemblance to a young Tony Hadley?


GOLD!  People such as comedian Jack Whitehall were pointing out that act Gjon’s Tears, who sang ‘Tout l’univers’ was the “Swiss Tony Hadley.”

“I love Eurovision, and I saw whole trail of things saying, ‘He’s the son of Tone’. People were posting pictures of me when I was his age, and I thought there was a slight resemblance. But no, I don’t have a secret love child in Switzerland! (Laughs) When I saw the UK’s nil points Eurovision score this year, I thought: ‘Bloody hell! I’m not having this! They hate us all over Europe, maybe I should just fly the flag for Britain and do it myself!”

Any chance of you throwing your hat in the ring then?

“There’s a part of me that says ‘Yes’ just out of sheer bloody-mindedness. I’ve not been asked yet, but I’d be really intrigued to do Eurovision and see if someone entering with an absolutely amazing song and half-decent voice would override all the political nonsense.”

Which notoriously bitchy frontman once said of Spandau Ballet’s reunion in 2009: “Spandau Ballet? I’ve seen Tony Hadley, and it’s more like Spandau Belly”?

“Oh shoot I remember this! Was it Morrissey?”

WRONG. It was Liam Gallagher.

“Bless him! (Laughs) That boy loves making a comment! I love his gobbiness and thought it was funny. He was probably right at that point. I look a certain pictures of me from certain points and think: ‘Bloody hell, you fat bastard!’. I’m not going to live life like a monk and I love going down the pub, but I’ve lost a lot of weight during lockdown and I’m on a fitness kick at the moment. Apart from Noel Gallagher on The One Show recently, I only met Oasis once – at The Leadmill in Sheffield – when I was managing the band Big Wide World. I said hello to them and Liam – in his typical style – went (affects an exaggerated Manc accent ): ‘’Aw, Mr Spandau! Mr Spandau! Ey, ey, ey, ey!’ (laughs).”

You might have mixed him up with Morrissey because his The Smiths bandmate Johnny Marr once remarked in 2009: “‘Somebody should pay Spandau Ballet £20 million not to reform’’.

(Laughs) He probably thinks he’s too cool for school. But it probably would have been a good idea as well because it [the reunion] all went pear-shaped in the end!”

Which two artists covered Spandau Ballet’s 1983 chart-topper ‘True’ for the 2004 Adam Sandler film 50 First Dates?

Snoop Dogg?”

WRONG. It was Black Eyed and Fergie.

“Did they?! I knew P.M. Dawn sampled it for a rap track [‘Set Adrift On Memory Bliss’] because they flew me out to Miami to be in the video, but I haven’t heard and Fergie’s version. I’m going to check it out right now! I’m intrigued. (Tony listens to it on his phone). It’s a bit different! (Laughs)”


In the sitcom I’m Alan Partridge, which character is a friend of yours?

“Arghh, I know that one! He’s the rival DJ to Alan Partridge and he keeps mentioning, ‘Ah yeah, I’m going out and having a drink with Tony Hadley’. David?”

GOLD! It’s Breakfast host Dave Clifton, who went on archery weekends with you. Ever been asked to cameo in it?

“No, but I saw it and loved it. Apart from playing Billy Flynn in Chicago in the West End, I’ve not done much acting. One day I’d like to try my hand at doing a gritty cop drama.”

You won the 2003 reality show Reborn In The USA – where ITV sent a veteran pop idols to travel the states on a tour bus playing bars and clubs to win a recording contract. But which act was the first to be voted off the show?

“Bloody hell! These are really racking my brains! OK, so Mark Shaw from Then Jerico went home first , but wasn’t voted out. Was it Gina G?”

WRONG. It was Dollar – who got into an ultra-camp reality TV show altercation with ‘80s pop star Sonia.

“TV can edit things to make anyone look good or bad. With Dollar, I think they started to believe the hype. And also, Dollar’s David Van Day – who I’ve known for many years – is an absolute wind-up merchant and probably had the producers in his ear saying: ‘Can you wind her up for good TV?’ I had brilliant fun doing that show. We didn’t have much filming to do, so me, Peter Cox from Go West and Leee John from Imagination would just head to nicest restaurants in town and drink the finest wines. It was a laugh.”

In your former Spandau Ballet bandmates Martin and Gary Kemp’s 2020 mockumentary The Kemps: All True, what have they added to a panting of you?

“Devil horns and fangs.”


“I wanted to laugh a lot at that mockumentary, but didn’t. Some of it was quite tragic, but that bit – and also the bit where Rag ‘n’ Bone Man [played by an actor] joined them in the studio and got out a copy of my solo album ‘Talking to The Moon’ was very funny! I just thought the whole thing could have been a lot funnier. It’s difficult to take the piss out of yourself. It’s much better when other people do it. It would have been better if it had been played by two lookalikes rather than both Martin and Gary – maybe a couple of comedians who could have had better comic timing. But I certainly laughed at the bit with the devil horns!”

You quit as Spandau Ballet’s lead singer in 2017, citing circumstances beyond your control. Ladbrokes recently gave 5/1 odds for the band reuniting in the next 12 months. Have you drawn a line under it?

“I’ll never say what happened and it’s up to them [the rest of Spandau] to tell the real story and tell the truth. Resigning from the band wasn’t something I wanted to do and we could have been looking at an anniversary show which would have been great. It’s terribly sad that I was forced into a position where I resigned from a band which we formed when I was 16. We should have ended on a better legacy. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got my band, we’re doing an anniversary tour next year, I’m making a new album and just want to enjoy music. With Spandau, there’s been some amazing moments but there’s also been some tense moments that I don’t want to even remotely venture into again, so as they say on Dragon’s Den: ‘I’m out!’”

The verdict: 4/10

“You’ve gotta remember that a lot of time, it was just mad! I was probably too excited and had too many drinks to know what was going on!”

– Tony Hadley’s 40th Anniversary Tour 2022 is on-sale now,. He presents Pop Meets Classical on Scala Radio throughout June