We are approaching Britain’s main holiday season but it’s party time all year round for British group Black Lace, entertaining holiday makers on the Canarian island of Tenerife. Colin Gibb and Gordon King have been resident here for a number of years, performing Black Lace’s brand of party hits, including Agadoo and Superman, in the hotels and bars around the popular resorts of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos.
Colin, from Leeds, joined Black Lace in 1976 and first took the Black Lace show to Tenerife in 2002 joining a host of other British entertainers on the island. Over that period Colin has had a number of different partners in the pop duo and has also been involved with a number of other acts on the island. His current partner of 4 years is Gordon King from Gilmerton, near Edinburgh.
“We’ve known each other for several years,” Colin told me recently, “after doing a number of charity shows together.”
“I said ‘Do you fancy getting together?’ and Colin said ’No!’” Gordon laughed, “but we became half-pals and I joined Black Lace in 2015.”
“We both live here, now,” said Colin. “I came out at the end of a divorce. It was time for a change and my ex-wife suggested I come to Tenerife. We used to holiday here every year and I had friends out here. I thought it might be good to try it and if I could stay for 2 years it would become home. The time just flew by!”
Black Lace were formed as a four-piece harmony soft-rock group in Yorkshire, Colin joining the group as they turned professional in 1976. “I started rocking things up a bit, re-arranging the numbers with a bigger production,” he said.
Their first big break came when they won BBC Television’s A Song For Europe in 1979, representing the United Kingdom in The Eurovision Song Contest in Israel. Black Lace came a creditable seventh with their song Mary Ann, although the single peaked just outside the Top 40.
It would be another 4 years before Black Lace, now a duo of Colin and founder member Alan Barton, would have a hit single with the novelty song Superman but, initially, it was not a popular choice with them.
“Our record label wanted us to do Superman,” Colin explained, “I said ‘No’ but they insisted. We just did it and handed over the recording. Then our management wanted us to put it into our show. It wasn’t something we wanted to do but then we saw what Superman was doing – filling the space on dance floors!
“It was the label that also suggested that we do Agadoo.”
Agadoo is the ultimate party anthem and went on to reach No 2 in the UK charts, earning Black Lace a gold disc, and becoming a massive hit across Europe, South Africa and Australia in 1984.
In the Black Lace show, Colin cheerfully reminds his audience that Agadoo sold a million copies and yet was still named as The Worst Record Of The Year!
“We do around 6 to 9 shows a week,” says Colin. “Back in England they are large gigs with lots of gear and set-up time. Then you have to take it all down before you move on. Here we can set up in 10 minutes, it’s just more intimate here.”
“Sometimes a little too intimate!” laughs Gordon.
A typical set includes tracks Black Lace have covered on their Party albums together with some 70s hits by bands like Sweet and Mud, something that gets everyone in a good holiday mood. They finish with more hits from their own catalogue, Music Man and Do The Conga, all with audience participation, actions and smiles everywhere.
Colin adds a tasty guitar solo in the middle of Mud’s Tiger Feet and it is clear, watching them perform, that despite the fun atmosphere they create for the holiday makers, here are two serious rock musicians still trying to get out.
“Rock music is what I love,” admits Colin. “At one point I used to be in an Eagles tribute band while Gordon was in a Quo tribute. We just love playing. When I’m at home I’m always tinkering with my guitars, trying out different pickups and things.”
“We also do an acoustic gig, probably once a week,” says Gordon, “more for the love of music than the cash.”
After taking part in the Edinburgh Evening News Search For A Star competition in the 70s, Gordon moved abroad and recorded a solo album in Lisbon under his real name of Gordon Quinn. “I was a footballing surfer, camper vans with surfboards on the roof and my guitar and gear in the back.”
Much of his time over the past 40 years has been spent working in radio in Portugal and, now, Tenerife where Gordon hosts his own late night rock music show a couple of times a week on Oasis FM, the island’s official British radio station.
“Black Lace is great fun and everyone knows all the songs,” Gordon smiles as he gets his breath back after another great evening. “Their reactions are what make it worthwhile.”