Most pop groups meet at school. Or at the local unemployment office. Or at the laundromat. But Simon Climie and Rob Fisher weren't washing their dirty undies when fate lured them together. They were already successful and respected figures in the music world when they bumped into one another in the Abbey Road Studios.
Born in Fulham, London on April 7, 1960, Simon's family later moved to a farm near Hastings on Sussex, before separating. Simon lived with his comedy-writing father (he edited Mad magazine for a time) in London while attending Holland Park Comprehensive. It was there that he was introduced to the twin joys of Stevie Wonder and football. Consequently he left at 16 ("after the match") with one 'O' level -- in music.
By the age of 20, Simon was using his innate songwriting talents (plus the odd turn at the piano) to seduce the ears of the music biz bigwigs. A publishing deal with Chrysalis saw his work recorded by Roger Daltrey, Leo Sayer and Jeff Beck among others. It was while working on Scritti Politti's Cupid & Psyche LP that he met Rob.
Shortly afterwards, Simon penned a song that was excluded from the Climie Fisher repertoire and ended up #1 all over the world. It was "I Knew You Were Waiting," sung by Aretha Franklin and George Michael. "Being a successful songwriter is a very mysterious thing, because you're still incredibly unknown. You have to have an unbelievably great song for anyone to want to record it." And Simon has plenty!
Rob was born in New Cheltenham in Gloucestershire on November 5th, 1959 ("I used to think that everyone had fireworks on their birthday"). Like his partner he grew up on a farm, and by coincidence his parents also separated while he was still young. He had already made headlines by the age of 11, if only in the local rag. "11-Year old Hero" ran the story, Rob having survived a near-disaster while out sailing with his father. "Of course they misquoted me!"
Educationally speaking, Rob and Simon could hardly have been further apart. Rob was packed off to boarding school, where he learned piano and classical organ, and from there went on to study electronics at Bath University. "I didn't go to get a degree, but is was a good opportunity to play in bands," he recalls. With singer Pete Byrne, Rob formed Neon, a duo who worked for a while with local hero Peter Gabriel, and also performed live with Curt and Roland from Tears For Fears.
"That didn't really work out, so we went back to being a duo, and under the name Naked Eyes got a deal with EMI in 1982. Naked Eyes went on to have two Top 10 hits in America, but failed to crack the British market. Pete married and settled in L.A., but Rob returned to London to get session work with Billy Ocean, The Communards and The Cult, to name but a few.
According to Simon, "Climie Fisher has a lot to do with teamwork. There's a nucleus of me and Rob, with other people coming in at different levels..."
It took a while, but chart success was never going to be hard to come by for artists with the track records of these two.
Eventually, "Rise To The Occasion" became a Top 10 British hit, followed by "Love Changes (Everything)" which went to #2. The debut LP, Everything, produced by Steve Lillywhite and Stephen Hague, met with similar success. Simon's voice was described by Andy Gill in The Independent as "a marvellous instrument... that simultaneously soothes and suggests heartbreak," and ends, "is really the 'Dream Topping' on the sponge cake."
And the hallmark of all great music is inspiration.
Simon: "As a person,
I need to write songs -- it's like my own self-psychiatry. It really sorts
me out -- I feel much better once I've written a song." Simon and
Rob have just finished producing a song written by them called "When Love
Turns To Blue" for the next Dusty Springfield album. They start rehearsals
in September to tour the U.K. and Europe in October and November.