Formed in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1979, Elizabeth Fraser, Robin Guthrie, Simon Raymonde, and Will Heggie called themselves Cocteau Twins. The name derived from the song “Cocteau Twins” by fellow Scottish band Johnny and the Self-Abusers, which later became Simple Minds.
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The song, written by Jim Kerr, was linked to two men in Glasgow who were known for their fondness for film and the French poet Jean Cocteau.
I see them walking
You know they’re walking at night
Ohh in the dark you know
They’re shining out so bright
Your sarky voices are gonna come on so near
As every picture becomes so clear
Simple Minds later reimagined the song “No Cure,” and released it on their 1979 debut Life in a Day.
1979 – 1997
Along with early 4AD label mates Bauhaus, Throwing Muses, Modern English, Dead Can Dance, Pixies, Clan of Xymox, the Cocteau Twins collected a cult following throughout the 1980s and ’90s, from the 1988 hit “Carolyn’s Fingers,” and “Blue Bell Knoll,” “Heaven or Las Vegas,” to “Iceblink Luck,” “Four-Calendar Café,” among other songs.
Before leaving 4AD in 1990, Fraser also collaborated on label co-founder Ivo Watts-Russell’s own musical project, This Mortal Coil, with her cover of Tim Buckley‘s 1970 poem-inspired “Song to the Siren.”
Cocteau Twins released their eighth and final album together, Milk & Kisses, in 1996, which also includes an ode to her former partner Jeff Buckley, “Rilkean Heart,” and his deep admiration of Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke. Fraser also recorded the duet “All Flowers in Time Bend Towards the Sun,” with Buckley before his death in 1997, which has never been officially released.
Cocteau Twins: 2022
In 2022, Fraser, Guthrie, and Raymonde were awarded the Visionary Award by The Ivors Academy. The trio made a rare appearance together to attend the award ceremony since they disbanded in 1997.
“If the key to being visionary is to see things that others can’t,” read a statement by the Ivors Academy, “then Cocteau Twins certainly understood the assignment.”
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