Shakespears Sister is a British-based pop-rock act formed by Irish-born singer–songwriter Siobhan Fahey in 1988. Initially, Shakespears Sister was essentially Fahey by herself but, from 1989, the act became a duo of Fahey and the American musician Marcella Detroit. Together they released two Top 10 albums and a string of Top 40 hits, including the 1992 hit "Stay" which peaked at #1 in the UK for 8 consecutive weeks. Detroit left the band in 1993, leaving Fahey as the sole member again until she ended the project in 1996. After working under her own name for some years, Fahey revived the Shakespears Sister name in 2009.
1988–1992: Sacred Heart and Hormonally Yours
Shakespears Sister was conceived as a solo project by Siobhan Fahey, who left the successful girl-group Bananarama in 1988 due to disillusionment with the group's musical direction. The name was adapted from the title of the song "Shakespeare's Sister" by The Smiths, which was in turn a reference to Virginia Woolf's work A Room of One's Own. According to Fahey, the misspelling was accidental, however she decided to keep it, because "It made it sort of my thing, as opposed to the song by The Smiths". Fahey has described the meaning of the name being "Siobhan Fahey is the mother, the sister, the daughter, it's not the artist. The artist is Shakespeare's sister."
Whilst working on the project with Richard Feldman, he invited Marcella Detroit as a songwriting aid. Detroit continued to work with Fahey as a "hired hand" until Fahey's husband David A. Stewart suggested the two form a band, which was backed by Feldman, Fahey's management and her record company, London Records. Detroit officially became a member of the band after the release of the first Shakespears Sister single, "Break My Heart (You Really) / Heroine". Their second single "You're History" reached the top 10 in the UK in summer 1989, as did their debut album Sacred Heart, which was certified Gold by the BPI. Two further singles were released from the album, "Run Silent" and "Dirty Mind", though both failed to peak within the UK top 50.
In October 1991, Shakespears Sister released the first single from their second album Hormonally Yours, "Goodbye Cruel World", which peaked at #59. The second single however, "Stay", marked Shakespears Sister's first and only #1, staying at the top of the UK charts for 8 full weeks, and also found similar success in international charts, and won "Best British Video" at the 1993 BRIT Awards. Hormonally Yours was released the following month, and was certified 2× Platinum by the BPI. The duo continued to enjoy success with further singles from Hormonally Yours; "I Don't Care" peaked at #7, "Hello (Turn Your Radio On)" at #14, and a re-release of "Goodbye Cruel World" at #32. A fifth single, "My 16th Apology", was released in early 1993, reaching #61.
1993-2005: Detroit's departure and #3
By early 1993, tensions began to arise between the two. A concert at The Royal Albert Hall was cancelled due to Fahey's own personal issues at the time. The duo decided to put the band on hiatus, during which time Detroit began working on a solo album. Ultimately, Fahey decided to end her partnership with Detroit, which she did not actually tell her herself; Detroit attended the 1993 Ivor Novello Awards ceremony without Fahey. She found out about the split through Fahey's publisher when Hormonally Yours won "Best Contemporary Collection of Songs". Neither have spoken nor seen each other since.
In June 1996, with Fahey now Shakespears Sister by herself again, a new single "I Can Drive" was released. The single met with a lukewarm commercial reception, peaking at #30 on the UK charts. It was not released at all outside of the UK. Intended as the first single from Shakespears Sister's third album, #3, the relative failure of the single prompted London Records to cancel the release of the album. Disagreements between the company and Fahey resulted in her leaving the company with whom she had been signed for 15 years since being with Bananarama.
In 2002, Fahey released "Bitter Pill" under her own name, followed by "Pulsatron". In 2004, she obtained the full rights to the cancelled #3 album by London Records, and it was finally released that same year independently through her own website. She later claimed the act was dropped not because of "I Can Drive"'s commercial performance, but due to her label thinking the album was "too alternative for a woman of my age".
2005–2010: Compilation albums, re-launch, and Songs from the Red Room
In 2004-05, two retrospective compilation albums were released; The Best of Shakespear's Sister, compiled of the group's hits and B-sides, and Long Live the Queens!, compiled of rarities, remixes and unreleased tracks. Originally, Fahey's solo album was intended to be released under the title Bad Blood, yet this release was cancelled. The album was eventually released in 2009, when Fahey opted to relaunch the Shakespears Sister name. Now titled Songs from the Red Room, the album was released on Fahey's own label, SF Records. The fourth and final single "It's a Trip" was released in April 2010.
Shakespears Sister opened their Two Thousand and Ten UK Tour in Liverpool on April 16th 2010. The band also performed at the Isle of Wight Festivalin 2010.
2011-12: Cosmic Dancer and other projects
In February 2011, Shakespears Sister announced the release of Live, a recording from their Two Thousand and Ten Tour, consisting of a CD and DVD set. To date, the album has not been released, but in June 2012, it was announced on Shakespears Sister’s official Facebook page that Live was due for release in 2013. Three singles were released in March and April 2011, "Dancing Barefoot", originally by Patti Smith, an acoustic re-working of "Someone Else's Girl", and "Really Saying Something", released in celebration of 30 years since Bananarama recorded their first single. Also in March 2011, an EP consisting of demos, The Red Room Sessions was released.
The band's first live album, originally broadcast on BBC Radio, Live 1992 was released exclusively on digital format through Shakespears Sister's website in June 2011. Their fifth studio album, Cosmic Dancer, was released in December 2011, consisting entirely of acoustic tracks, including several re-recordings of older songs, most notably "Goodbye Cruel World". Fahey had announced as early as April 2010 that she was working on an acoustic album featuring original songs and re-workings of older songs, for the purpose of it "being a nice thing to do for the fans". She also worked on the album with her son, Sam.
2012-present: Re-releases and Cherchez La Femme
In January 2012, Shakespears Sister released their third compilation album Rarities exclusively through their website. On June 10 2012, Fahey posted a photo on her official Facebook simply saying "Seek the Woman" in red font against a black backdrop. It was confirmed on June 28 that this was the working title of Shakespears Sister's sixth studio album, scheduled for release in 2013 amongst several other new releases, including a 20th Anniversary edition of Hormonally Yours. Although originally scheduled for release in Autumn 2012, it was pushed back into early 2013 along with a Deluxe Edition of Sacred Heart. Both albums are to consist of a 2CD and DVD set, with liner notes from both Fahey and Detroit. In November 2012, Cosmic Dancer, a new expanded edition of #3, and a new album Remixes were released for the first time through major retailers, including HMV, Amazon. Also scheduled for release in 2013 is the Live album, and a DVD entitled History: 1988 - 2010.
On 20 December 2012, it was announced Seek the Woman was to be released under the name Cherchez La Femme, set for release in early 2013. The artwork was revealed the same day. In May 2013, Fahey re-opened the act's digital store on their website, and released two new EPs, The Other Side... Demos and Rarities, and The Other Side... Demos and Rarities Part II.
- Sacred Heart (1989)
- Hormonally Yours (1992)
- #3 (2005)
- Songs from the Red Room (2009)
- Cosmic Dancer (2011)
- Official website
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Image from Discogs