Fancy, the singer of hits including “Angel Eyes,” “Bolero,” “China Blue,” “Cold as Ice,” “Flames of Blue,” “Lady of Ice,” “Latin Fire,” “Slice me Nice” and more is coming to the US for the first time ever in January, 2014. He’ll be playing at R3 Social Lounge in Stanton (North Orange County/Little Saigon) on the 17th of that month. The event will be DJed by Ian “DJ BPM” Nguyen and hosted by TQ. Get your tickets by clicking here. For all you Los Angeles Italo-heads who think driving to OC is harder than crossing the Sahara — it’s only about 40 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles to Stanton. It’s also served by several OCTA lines so quit making excuses.
For those unfamiliar with Fancy, he’s also written material for other artists, most notably, Grant Miller (who was introduced to Fancy by none other than Divine!), and produced notable Italo-disco hits for artists including Linda Jo Rizzo (formerly of Bobby Orlando‘s act, The Flirts), and Mozzart. Scoring his friends Siegfried & Roy‘s stage shows has exposed him to an audience who’s nonetheless unaware of his identity but his greatest stuff is his solo work so here’s a brief history…
Manfred Alois Segieth (or is it Manfred Aulhausen — details about Eurodisco performers are often quite hazy) was born on July 7, 1946 in München, Germany. The son of a practically-minded craftsmen, he was enrolled in a Capuchin school where he trained to become a monk. However, a change of plans became necessary after the twelve-year-old heard schlager star Ted Harold’s “Moonlight” and subsequently picked up the guitar.
After high school, Manfred formed a Cliff Richard & the Shadows-influenced band, Mountain Shadows. At the same time, he began shopping around his own compositions which he occasionally recorded under the name “Tess Teiges,” beginning in 1971.
1983 was the year that KISS took off their make-up, McDonald’s introduced the McNugget, and I first started actively listening to music on my own after realizing that all of my classmates were obsessed with some fellow named Michael Jackson with whom I was wholly unfamiliar. If there was a “Year that Italo Broke,” then 1983 was probably it too.
In 1983 Manfred adopted the suitably Italian alias, “Manfred Perilano” but more importantly, the nom de discque of “Fancy.” After Fancy asked Todd Canedy to write a song for him, he recorded a demo of “Slice Me Nice” which he submitted to composer/producer Anthony Monn, who’d previously achieved world-wide successes with husky-voiced diva, Amanda Lear.
Usually collaborating, Segieth and Monn embraced a brand of dance music which, thanks to its elevated sense of melody and songcraft, was as at home in and out of the dance clubs where it was most popular. Though largely unknown outside the dance scene in the Anglosphere, Fancy performed very well commercially and, along with his Eurodisco peers, he undeniably helped prepare the world for similar-sounding English musicians and producers, like Stock, Aitken & Waterman and Eurobeat acts like Dead or Alive, who achieved both club and mainstream success with a similar formula.
In 1984, Fancy scored a hat trick with the infectious “Chinese Eyes,” “Get Lost Tonight” and “Slice Me Nice.” All three are absolute masterpieces of tuneful, melodramatic dance fluff that added an undeniable and irresistible Hi-NRG influence to the comparatively relaxed Italo-disco sound epitomized the previous year by Gazebo‘s “I Like Chopin.” There was also a strong visual element to Fancy, who seemed to shop at the same stores as ABC‘s Martin Fry but rock loads of make-up in the New Romantic style.
In 1985, Fancy released his first full-length album, Get Your Kicks (1985 Metronome), which included allthe previous year’s singles. He made his first appearance on French TV and performed his first shows in North America, mostly at gay clubs. His sophomore release, Contact (1986 Metronome), spawned “Bolero (Hold Me in Your Arms Again),” which was reportedly number one in Spain for nearly six months.
That same year, Fancy extensively toured clubs in Germany, Sweden and North America. The video for another single off the album, “Lady of Ice,” featured the (as always) tarted up, shiny-clothed Fancy prancing on a laser grid dance floor in outer space and I challenge anyone reading this to come up with anythingmore ’80s. “Lady of Ice” went gold in Scandinavia.
Fancy’s third album, Flames of Love (1988 Metronome) featured both Monn/Fancy collaborations as wellas some of Fancy’s first solo compositions and its title track was huge in Poland. He closed out the decade that he seemed so indelibly tied to with All My Loving (1989 Metronome), whose title track was a hit in Europe. Like most of Fancy’s Eurodisco peer, for most of the ‘90s he released little-or-no new music,instead mostly repackaging, remixing and revisiting his former glories, often clothed in the trappings of fleetingly popular styles like Eurodance, Hip-House and (more lastingly popular), Trance.
Fancy pursued the emerging Eurodance style with releases like Five (1990 Metronome) and with Steve D5 & Grandmaster Tess’s hip-house re-make of his “When Guardian Angels Cry,” called “When Guardian Angels… Rap,” featured on (1991 ZYX Music), which mixed some new material and with old. Attributed to “Fancy and Band,” Blue Planet Zikastar (1995 Koch International) saw Fancy moved into more straightforward pop territory and includes “Saramoti,” a piece Fancy composed for his friends Siegfried and Roy’s show, Master of the Impossible. Colours of Life (1996 G.I.B. Music & Distribution GmbH) and D.I.S.C.O. (1999 Disco Records) followed. In the 2000s, Fancy’s musical output slowedconsiderably and his only new material was the release, Voices from Heaven (2004 ZYX Music) and Forever Magic (2008 Happy Vibes).
Do not miss this opportunity to see Fancy live! And if you’re an Italo/Euro-disco fan, follow Keep on Music on Facebook as they’ve thus far brought Fred Ventura, Gazebo, Gina T, Ken Laszlo, Lian Ross, Linda Jo Rizzo, and Tom Hooker & Miki Chieregato (Den Harrow) to Southern California and additionally thrown many other New Wave (in the Asian New Wave/Vietnamese New Wave sense of the term) events that you should stop sleeping on! See you there and…
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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