A decade-defining hit with a background of above deaths, secret movements, and Oscar-winning failures.

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In 1981, Soft cell’s “Tainted Love” was around to set brand-new records and carry out the soundtrack that the decade. The song is a genre-defining track which is the pinnacle the the electro-pop sound of the ’80s. That is instantly recognisable native the first second as result of its unmissable hefty synth beat.

It would height the charts the world over, setting new records top top both political parties of the Atlantic. Yet, even before its release, that would watch the bear of an underground movement and the death of an icon.

A top-selling failure

In 1964, whilst releasing family-friendly doo-wop documents with The 4 Preps, Ed Cobb was writing and producing R&B and soul documents on the side. He is responsible for composing “Every tiny Bit Hurts” because that a sixteen-year-old Brenda Hollaway, which would certainly go on to become a smash because that Small Faces and the Spencer Davis Group.

Cobb had one more potential hit in his back-pocket however he was looking for a youthful singer that could complement the uptempo win of the track.

At the same time, Gloria Jones had actually been do a surname for herself since the period of fourteen, once she started performing in the gospel group The COGIC Singers together Billy Preston.

Knowing of Jones through her father’s occupational as a pastor, he invite her in to document his brand-new track, “Tainted Love”.

The eighteen-year-old Jones turned as much as the session with her mother and also put under her version of “Tainted Love”, in addition to “Heartbeats Pt 1&2”.

The last song would certainly go ~ above to chart success, eventually being made famous by Dusty Springfield but “Tainted Love” would certainly struggle. Without much airplay, it was conveniently dropped and Cobb would certainly blame the uptempo beat for the failure.


The tune would put dormant for the following ten years prior to that uptempo beat would define an underground scene and then a entirety decade.

The failure the would specify a new scene

In the late 1960s, a brand-new music step in the uk (UK) started to emerge. Together young people across the north of England to be at the head of a social awakening, they to be looking for brand-new music to express us to.

The phibìc of England had actually been the epicentre that the world’s an initial industrial revolution in the 1900s and by the late-1960s to be filled with commercial towns, billowing out smoke from your factories. These communities would be the scene of another change — a musical one.

The grey backdrop would certainly be soundtracked by the uptempo, stomping to win of the Motown sound from across the shore. See a hard-working kindred spirit in the engine city the Detroit, local DJs would spin the access time of Motown because that the young civilization of these communities who were flocking to all-night clubs to run to the tunes.

As the step progressed, DJs began to find and also play more and more obscure records from the mid-60s, regularly picking up rare tracks that originally hadn’t offered on your release and giving them brand-new life.

A unique genre in that nobody ever before actually ‘recorded’ a north Soul song, the term would be retrospectively added to the 60s R&B or soul sound that was well-known in these clubs. It to be the heavy beats and fast tempos the made these song ‘Northern Soul’.

Without new recordings, the scene to be reliant on DJs looking for old, distinct records. Among these DJs, Richard Searling, whilst ~ above a expedition to the United states (US), came across an unknown single called “Tainted Love” by a then-unknown singer, Gloria Jones.

He took the record back to the UK and also the rapid beat of the track which had actually been the initial trouble served to be its success together it quickly ended up being a staple of the scene.

It would end up being most associated with Wigan Casino, a northern Soul society which was at some point voted by Billboard newspaper the best club in the human being in 1978.


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Wigan Casino. Source: Manchester evening News

When the owners of legendary nightclub Studio 54 referred to as Russ Winstanley, that was to run the north soul all-nighters in ~ Wigan Casino, come ask them your secret, he asked that were the celebrities that were offering the society its reputation.

Winstanley told him it wasn’t about celebrities yet it was simply the music that civilization wanted to hear.

This wasn’t completely true as 2 Wigan Casino regulars would certainly take what they heard and put it at the peak of the charts in seventeen different countries.

The second taste the disappointment

Disappointed by the absence of success of her own recordings, Gloria Jones turned come writing and also producing for others. After a chance meeting through Pam Sawyer in the so late ’60s, she secured a function at Motown producing hits for other artists.

Over the next few years, Jones would write songs for the height Motown artist of the day including Marvin Gaye and also Diana Ross as well the grammy-nominated “If i Were your Woman” for Gladys Knight.

Throughout this time, Jones had actually been performing with musical productions and also it was in 1969 whilst on tour through Hair that she very first met brothers glam-rock pioneer, Marc Bolan.

In 1972, Bolan and his band T-Rex were on tourism in the US as soon as he inquiry Jones to sing backing vocals. Quickly after authorized the band, Jones and also Bolan struck increase a romantic relationship and they would have actually a child, Roland Bolan, three years later.


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Gloria Jones performing v T-Rex in 1976. Source: Wikicommons

At the exact same time, Jones’ original recording the “Tainted Love” was making waves in the northern Soul scene and also Marc Bolan recognised this. He encouraged Jones to document an update version and also capitalise on its popularity.

Jones hit the recording studio as soon as again in 1976 through Bolan producing and also created her Vixen album, containing a new recording of “Tainted Love”.

Once again, the tune failed come chart for Jones.

Gloria Jones would never see the success that her song achieved and her name would end up being a footnote in that is history. The song would become substantial just 5 years later, however not before Jones going through unimaginable tragedy.

The fatality of one icon

Marc Bolan to be on course to end up being one of the greatest selling artists ever before in the UK, yet it was his unique style and also charisma that collection him apart. Often contrasted to David Bowie, Bolan never had the opportunity to fulfil his potential as aged simply twenty-nine, he would die in a vehicle crash.

Due come a fear of dice early, Bolan never learned to drive so, tragically, it to be his girlfriend, Gloria Jones, that was behind the wheel that the purple Mini that he infamously died in.

Driving residence from a power in London, Jones lost manage of the auto whilst coming over a bridge, hitting a stole fence short article on Bolan’s passenger side, death him practically instantly. Jones herself endured a damaged jaw and also was lucky to leaving the destructive alive.


Marc Bolan and also Gloria Jones. Source: Ultimate classic Rock

Marc Bolan’s tradition lives ~ above today. At his peak, he was outselling Jimi Hendrix and also The Who. with his flamboyant personality, he would be attributed with developing glam-rock.

Top that the Pops, finally

Around the exact same time in the mid-70s, 2 young guys from the seaside towns of northern England to be finding their identification in the north Soul scene. David Ball and also Marc Almond to be simultaneously soaking up the sounds of us R&B and also the German synths the Kraftwerk.

They would satisfy later at Leeds college to kind Soft Cell.

Bringing together their two major influences, by 1981 Soft cabinet had already had a usually hit v “Memorabilia” and also were aiming to document their following underground success. Lock turned to their northern Soul days and, in simply forty-eight hours, taped their electro-synth variation of the tune they flourished up with, “Tainted Love”.


Soft cell performing “Tainted Love” on peak of the Pops, 1981. Source: Sound of the Crowd

Their version would be the fastest-selling single of 1981 in the UK, eventually hitting number one in seventeen various countries and also sitting in the US’ Billboard optimal 100 for forty-three weeks, a Guinness civilization Record in ~ the time.

It would certainly be Soft Cell, no Gloria Jones, that would be credited as Marilyn Manson covered the track in 2001 and also Rihanna sampled that for her 2006 hit, “SOS”.

Soft cell would have actually a difficult relationship with the song, even refusing to play it at times, as, similar to Gloria Jones, the track would be bigger than them.

An Oscar-winning ending

Gloria Jones returned to the US complying with the fatality of Marc Bolan. Although Bolan’s death was at some point ruled accidental, she left the UK in spite of being reserved to appear in court on charges of dangerous driving.

She would certainly release one album in tribute of Bolan’s life before eventually going back to she 1960s roots. She released an album v “Tainted Love” writer Ed Cobb and worked as soon as again v Billy reputation on a COGIC Singers reunion which developed an album in 1984.

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Most recently, she poignantly featured in the oscar-winning 2013 documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom, i beg your pardon shone a irradiate on the troubles and hard occupational of the life that backing singers who virtually made it on your own.