Fatal Charm - Biography







Paul Arnall (vocals, guitar, keyboard) formed the original line-up of Fatal Charm in 1978, that also featured Dave Barker (keyboards), Kev Davies (Bass), and Bob Fawcett (Drums).

They recorded three tracks for the legendary East Midlands compilation album "EAST" (Dead Good Records, based in Lincoln) in 1979/80 which also featured such luminaries as B-Movie and The Cigarettes.

Following the underground success of the album and the airplay which Fatal Charm had attracted on the Radio 1 John Peel show it was decided to release a newly recorded track, "Paris" as a single.

However the single bombed and Paul had the realisation that the band really needed a front person, as he was unhappy with his position as both lead vocalist and guitarist.

Sarah Simmonds (lead vocals) was discovered by Paul working in an insurance office opposite the Selectadisc record shop in which he worked in downtown Nottingham. He knew she had a voice because he would seen her perform on backing vocals for another local band but he also thought she had the right look to front Fatal Charm.

With Sarah installed the band set about playing some London dates and they soon signed to Double D Records. Double D was owned by Dave Dee (formerly of sixties band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick, & Tich!!) and with his contacts, support slots with OMD and Ultravox followed. This ultimately exposed the band to a much wider audience and in a shrewd marketing move a special flexi single, "Western Laughter" (now quite a rarity) was given away each night at these gigs. The band received further exposure through the transmission of an Ultravox gig as part of the Radio 1 "In Concert" series broadcast in early 1981 which was followed by the band recording a session for Richard Skinner!

The Ultravox connection continued when Midge Ure was enlisted to produce the first single for Double D "Christine", which again despite plenty of radio airplay failed to make the chart. Unhappy with the production job Paul decided to produce the follow-up single "Lucille" himself. However Double D went bust, the recording sessions went uncompleted and the band found themselves without a label!

It was the end of the first chapter of the Fatal Charm story as the band disintegrated leaving just Paul and Sarah. They vowed to carry on as a two-piece using backing tapes, which at the time was quite revolutionary as other electronic pop duos had yet to score any hits. Many gigs were played supporting amongst others Fad Gadget , A Flock of Seagulls and Echo and the Bunnymen , new demos were recorded and they were featured twice on the tv music show 'The Tube', on the very first transmission and again a few months later in a new band slot.

Despite all the exposure there were still no signs of record company interest but then in 1984 this all changed when Chappell Music Publishers agreed to fund the recording of a single. "Summer Spies" was released on Carrere in August which received massive support on the Janice Long Radio 1 evening show and three more Radio 1 sessions (Janice Long, Andy Peebles & Ian Brass) and another 'In Concert' followed!

Following yet another appearance on 'The Tube' the single entered the lower reaches of the chart (no. 122), but due to more record shenanigans it failed to reach the heights it deserved and dropped out of the chart after two weeks.

A long term deal was signed with Carrere and in early 1985, now augmented by drummer Paul Richards, they began to record an album at Fairview Studios in Hull. Carrere released the singles "King of Comedy", and "You know (you'll never believe)" but they once again failed to promote them and they flopped. The album "Endangered Species" came out in October 1985 to much critical acclaim in the British music press which took the band by surprise following their string of earlier failures! However it came as no surprise when Carrere dropped Fatal Charm in December and once again they were homeless.

Despite all the media attention there seemed to be very little record company interest but eventually a deal was signed with Native Records. Paul and Sarah recorded the single "Images of Fire" on an 8 track at home; it was released in August 1986 and reached No. 16 in the Independent charts.

All their old fans loved it (apart from Janice Long!) and it also won them many new admirers and earned them two more Radio 1 sessions (Andy Peebles, and Simon Mayo). Two more musicians were brought in to augment live sound - Carl Owen (Bass) and Martin Howells (Keyboards). For the follow-up single it was decided to re-record "Lucille" which again was recorded at home on 8 track and was released in February 1987, hitting the Independent chart once again.

With everything going so well there had to be a hitch and there was! Record company problems reared their head once again as Native ran into trouble and not for the first time Fatal Charm were label-less.

Now down to a duo again, Paul and Sarah continued to write, record and play gigs all over the country. With no trust in record companies they decided to put out their second album themselves on their very own 'Really Great' Records!!! "This Strange Attraction" was a really great record and again critical acclaim came in from all quarters with a final session being recorded for the Bob Harris Show on Radio 1.

After 12 years under the auspicious of Fatal Charm, Paul and Sarah decided it was time for a change of direction so they put out the fire that was Fatal Charm but from the ashes rose State of Grace but that's another story ... !

The bulk of this biography was written by Andrew Woods. Many thanks to him, and everyone else who helped.