Led by longtime members Ian Wilson, Dave Irving, Ashley Mulford and Des Tong and augmented by new lead vocalist, Steve Whalley (ex-Slade), this is the band that brought you the great hits Everyday Hurts (#3 on the UK charts), My Oh My, Strange Little Girl, Nothing Left Toulouse and I’m in Love Again along with the big U.S. hits La-Di-Da and Run Home Girl.
Never able to replace their late lead vocalist Paul Young (also Mike and the Mechanics), they now press on to a new era with a great show which brings together the great hits of the past with the matured musicianship of the present and a new vocal sound.
Sad Café formed in 1976 when Ian Wilson and Paul Young decided to join forces after working in separate projects in their home city of Manchester. They were signed in 1977 by RCA and released their debut album Fanx Tara that year. Giving them a top 50 album in the UK, they were asked to become one of the first bands to make a long-form video of one of their concerts for commercial release. The release “An Evening with Sad Café” showcased songs from their debut album with new material that they were preparing for their second release. In addition, a high profile appearance on the “Old Grey Whistle Test” brought them to a wider audience.
That second album “Misplaced Ideals” followed its predecessor into the top 50 of the UK albums chart. It also gave them their first U.S. hit as Run Home Girl shot up the Billboard charts.
However, it was the third album “Facades” which concreted their position as one of the top UK bands. Produced by 10cc’s Eric Stewart, it gave the band 4 hits in the UK and a top 10 album place. Everyday Hurts was awarded a gold disc for sales in the UK as was the album. Another huge hit came with the Stones-flavoured “My Oh My” whilst the Ashley Mulford composition “Strange Little Girl” made the top 40.
By this time, the classic Sad Café live line up was falling into place with most importantly Dave Irving being added on drums. Dave gave the band the full drum sound which would power them around the key venues of the UK for the next five years.
The 1980 album “Sad Café” and its partner “Sad Café Live” gave the band two more top 40 albums and returned the band to the singles chart with the hits La-Di-Da and I’m in Love Again. La-Di-Da became another huge American hit for the band and their 1980 tour saw the band at the peak of its powers.
1981 saw Des Tong added on bass in time for the band’s first Polydor release “Ole”. This classic album remains a fan favourite and has recently been remastered for release around the world.
The band made two more albums in their original tenure – 1985’s “Politics of Existing” and 1989’s “Whatever it Takes”. Ashley Mulford who had taken leave of absence from the band after Ole returned for their 1986 tour which culminated in the band playing to a packed house at Manchester Apollo to their hometown crowd.
The band went their separate ways after the tour as Paul Young and Ashley Mulford concentrated on their roles in Mike and the Mechanics with Genesis’ Mike Rutherford.
The band reunited to work on the album “Paul Young – Chronicles” which marked the passing of their original lead singer by completing recordings that he had been working on at the time he was taken ill.
Rediscovering old friendships led the band to reform with a new vocalist and to tour the UK in 2012 before developing new projects.
Sad Cafe’s line-up is:
Ian Wilson – rhythm guitar and backing vocals
Ashley Mulford -lead guitar and backing vocals
Dave Irving – drums
Des Tong – bass and backing vocals
Steve Whalley – lead vocals and guitar
Sue Quin – additional vocals and keyboards
Ian has been the heart and soul of every Sad Café lineup since their inception in 1977. Now bringing the band together for a new era, his unique sound on acoustic and rhythm guitar is a foundational mark which marks the link between the new band and the classic Sad Café line-up of the past. Ian is composer or co-composer of 38 songs in the Sad Café canon. Since Sad Café folded he has worked with Barclay James Harvest but is glad to be back on his old stamping ground.
Ashley is another founder member of Sad Café and his lead guitar riffs made the band one of the most recognisable live sounds of the late Seventies and early eighties. He left the group in 1981 to work overseas but returned to the line-up for the 1986 Politics of Existing tour. During this period he also joined Paul Young in Mike and the Mechanics. He is the composer of Sad Café’s 1980 hit “Strange Little Girl”.
The thunder drummed up at the back of that Sad Café sound is provided by Dave Irving. Dave joined the band in time to be the drummer on all their hits including My Oh My and Everyday Hurts. He left the band in 1984 but now returns to the drum-stool in time for the new tour and following on from his excellent work on the “Paul Young – Chronicles” album.
Des joined Sad Café after the retirement of their original bassist in time for the 1981 “Ole” album. He then became Dave Irving’s partner in providing a solid bass and drums combination on many of the great Sad Café recordings. He remained with Sad Café through their 1989 “Whatever it Takes” album. In subsequent years he has provided the bass lines on many great recordings and for a time was resident bass-man in Alvin Stardust’s touring band. After working again with Dave on the Chronicles album, they now become once more the heart of the rhythm section that powers Sad Café.
Steve Whalley is the new lead vocalist in Sad Café. Sad Café could never replace Paul Young and in appointing Steve they have gone in a new direction whilst retaining the sheer quality that was the heart of Paul’s performance. Steve has an eclectic resumé. He has appeared on the mainstage at Glastonbury four times, he was Slade’s choice to take over as lead vocalist when Noddy Holder retired and he was the choice to be lead vocalist in the promotion for the “James Burton signature” series of the Fender Telecaster in a band that had Sir Cliff Richard on backing vocals. Both Slade and Sad Café had hits with songs called “My Oh My” but there should be no confusion: Steve Whalley is the new lead vocalist with Sad Café.
Sue Quin is the composer of the Sad Café single “Why Do You Love Me Like You Do (Heart)” but this is the first time she has joined the live line-up of the band.