Part two of my two-part “Where Are They Now?” series is Right Said Fred. As with the Spin Doctors, this is up-to-date as of 2004.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: RIGHT SAID FRED
By Gavin Edwards
A detailed yet incomplete list of the things Right Said Fred were too sexy for: their shirt, their car, their hat, your party, Milan, New York, Japan, their cat–poor pussycat. The campy number-one hit “I’m Too Sexy” was 1992’s most buoyant novelty song: over a club groove, Fred Fairbrass expostulated the point of view of a model who was cursed with an excess of sexiness: it was Zoolander in two minutes and fifty seconds.
Before “I’m Too Sexy” took off, Fairbrass and his brother Richard had been working as managers at a London gym, the Dance Attic, and scrabbling on the fringes of the music industry. Once the song hit, they became famous for their shaved heads and the brief sensation caused when Richard outed himself as bi (“I’m too sexy for just girls,” he said). Profoundly silly dance acts have longer shelf lives in Europe than the United States: although Right Said Fred had other hits in the UK (such as “Deeply Dippy”), none of their three followup albums (Sex and Travel, Smashing!, Fredhead) even received American distribution.
“We made the mistake of starting our own record label,” says Richard Fairbrass of Right Said Fred, who hit #1 in 1992 with the novelty song “I’m Too Sexy.” “If you don’t want to own a luxury yacht, it’s a good way of spending lots of money.” None of their three followup albums were even released in the United States.
So after Smashing! flopped in 1996, the group took some time off. Third member Rob Manzoli quit, disappointed that the group wasn’t pursuing a harder sound in the vein of Funkadelic. Richard turned to hosting British television shows, including Gaytime TV, Britain Behaving Badly, a car program called Pulling Power, and a game show filmed in the Jordanian dunes, Desert Forges.
Meanwhile, Fred “didn’t do anything very much. I drunk a lot and went to a lot of parties for about eighteen months. I went to Ibiza and stayed up far too late and hung out with people maybe I shouldn’t have been hanging out with.” Then the eternally scrappy group signed another deal with Ministry of Sound in Germany, where they’ve had success with the song “Stand Up,” and have served as the opening band on a stadium tour by Nena (famous in the States for 1984’s “99 Luftballoons”). As ever, the Fairbrass brothers are enjoying themselves, and sound irrepressibly optimistic. Speaking of “Stand Up,” Fred says, “It was turned into this anthemic sports song. I think with the interest we’re getting out of the States, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a college-radio sort of hit. It sounds a bit like the Hives, quite edgy.”
(It wasn’t a sort of hit. Since then, they’ve released two more albums, For Sale and I’m a Celebrity. They still play live, and are planning a greatest-hits disc (perhaps less superfluous in territories other than States).)