Terence Trent D'Arby seemed to come out of nowhere and dropped, "Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby" which became a critical and commercial smash selling more than eight million copies worldwide before just as quickly falling off the radar. With his striking good looks, slick dance moves and musical gifts which had him also writing, producing and playing multiple instruments on the record, D'Arby appeared on his way to becoming a major act yet his follow-up work failed to generate much wide appeal.
It would seem obvious to compare him to Prince, who had just entered superstar status around this time, but D'Arby is a performer with a grittier edge, closer in style to James Brown than the Purple One. The album, celebrating it's thirtieth birthday next year, is frenzied collection of glossy soul that still holds up very well today.
He was born in New York and his family moved frequently around the country before settling in Florida. As a teen, he had some success as a lightweight boxer but decided to go to college. After dropping out of school, D'Arby joined the army but was dishonorably discharged for desertion while stationed near Frankfurt, West Germany. He decided to stay in Europe and joined a band called The Touch and recorded an album in 1984.
If You Let Me Stay" reaching number seven on the pop chart there. His home country was slower to pick up on the artist, with the first single not even cracking the top forty, but the next single, "Wishing Well" would hit number one on the U.S. pop and r&b charts. With additional singles, "Dance Little Sister" and "Sign Your Name" reaching the charts, D'Arby had one of the biggest albums of the year.
However during this time of his new found fame, D'Arby's behavior became erratic and difficult. Long before Kanye West made arrogance an art form, he boldly announced that "Hardline" "was the most important album since the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper". The relationship between the singer with his record label and management team also became seriously strained by his antics. His next three albums, which were far less commercial in sound than his first, did not impress the buying public or critics and by 2000, he left behind his record company and the name "Terence Trent D'Arby".
The Rise Of The Zugebrian Time Lords" was released last year.
Have a listen to two of my favorite songs by the artist formerly known as "Terence Trent D'Arby":
"Dance Little Sister" - Terence Trent D'Arby (1987) mp3
"Let's Go Forward" - Terence Trent D'Arby (1987) mp3
If you are unfamiliar with the former Mr. D'Arby, then you probably should have a visual introduction as well. Here is a bonus of the video for one of his biggest hits, "Wishing Well":