Behind the Band Name: Fine Young Cannibals

Formed in Birmingham, England, in 1984, the British trio the Fine Young Cannibals left a mark within the mid-to-late-’80s pop scene during their brief rotation together.

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Despite the initial perception of their band name, Fine Young Cannibals was less anthropophagus than it was cinematic.

Natalie Wood

In the 1960 film All the Fine Young Cannibals, starring Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner, a teenage couple find themselves pregnant. They go their separate ways and are later reunited.

The film, directed by Michael Anderon (Logan’s Run, Around the World in 80 Days) left an impression on the band as they were forming the Fine Young Cannibals nearly 25 years later. The group was made up of singer, actor and model Roland Gift, guitarist Andy Cox and bassist David Steele — the latter two previously members of The English Beat.

Fine Young Cannibals

The trio released their eponymous debut album in 1985 with two hits, a cover of Elvis Presley’s 1969 song “Suspicious Minds,” featuring additional vocals by Scottish singer Jimmy Somerville, and “Johnny Come Home,” which was written by the three band members and peaked at No. 8 on the U.K. charts.

Good Things

By 1989, Fine Young Cannibals hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with their sophomore release The Raw and the Cooked, and hits “Good Thing,” and “She Drives Me Crazy,” which both topped the Hot 100 chart.

A number of the songs featured on The Raw and the Cooked were previewed years earlier when the band performed them in the 1987 comedy film, Tin Men, where they starred as the house band at a nightclub. Before the album release, the group’s cover of the Buzzcocks’ punk classic “Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)” — which closed The Raw and the Cooked — also appeared in the 1986 Jonathan Demme comedy Something Wild.

Before disbanding in 1992, the Fine Young Cannibals recorded a cover of Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale,” which was originally featured in the 1930 Broadway musical The New Yorkers. The trio’s rendition was included in the Red Hot Organization’s 1990 compilation album Red Hot + Blue. The organization is a not-for-profit dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture.

Several years after parting ways, Fine Young Cannibals briefly reunited in 1996 to record a new track, “The Flame,” for their compilation The Finest.

Gift later toured as Roland Gift and the Fine Young Cannibals in the 2000s, while Cox and Steele recorded under the moniker Two Men A Drum Machine and a Trumpet.

(Photo by Graham Tucker/Redferns)

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