1994 Deuce : the pop years

The band was formed in 1994 by Tom Watkins (who had managed the Pet Shop Boys, 2wo Third3, Bros and East 17) and Kelly O’Keefe (born in 1977 in England), who was doing work experience in his office at Massive Management. He admired her distinctive vocals, style and kitsch sensibility, and they decided to put together a boy/girl band with O’Keefe as lead vocalist. They aimed to create a group that was fun and colourful, mixing pop music and art in a kitsch way – their catch phrase was “kitsch goes classic“.

O’Keefe was a student of The BRIT School, studying music, and recruited her school friend Lisa Armstrong (born in 978 in England), a dancer. Watkins did a casting anddiscovered Craig Robert Young (born in 1976 in Nottingham) and Paul Holmes (born in 1979 in Liverpool), to complete the line-up and the group was formed.

Their debut single, “Call It Love“, entered the UK Singles Chart at number 21, on 21 January 1995 and climbed to a peak of number 11. The follow-up “I Need You” was entered into the UK’s pre-selection show for the Eurovision Song Contest, but came third (the selected entry was by Love City Groove). It did, however, go on to finish 2nd in the OGAE 2nd Chance contest. The single went straight to number 10 on release in April 1995.

One further single, “On The Bible“, reached number 13 in August, and the album “On The Loose” charted at number 18 in the UK Albums Chart. A fourth single, “Let’s Call It A Day“, was scheduled for release in November, but was cancelled after O’Keefe decided to leave the group, although a live performance of the song was screened as part of CITV’s 50 years of TV celebration in December 1995, with the band dressed in black evening wear.

In 1995 they toured all over Europe, doing gigs in France, Belgium, Sweden and Denmark. Deuce also sang on the Coronation Street anniversary album, performing a track called “Life On the Street“, featuring actress Sherrie Hewson (Maureen Holdsworth).

The band also featured on the single “A Gift Of Christmas” as part of The Childliners, which also featured Peter Andre, MN8, Ultimate Kaos, East 17, Dannii Minogue, C.J. Lewis, Boyzone, and Michelle Gayle. The single reached number 9 and profits went to the British charity Childline.

In 1996, Deuce signed to Mike Stock’s Love This label, four months after splitting from London Records. At this time, the lead singer Kelly was replaced by dancer Amanda Perkins. A new single called “No Surrender” was released in July 1996, charting at number 29. The band was then launched in Australia, minus Craig who decided to focuse on his career as an actor. TV performances of this track saw another male replace Craig.

The next single “Rock the Disco” (after “Let’s Call It A Day“) was planned to be the first to be taken from the otherwise unreleased second album. Anyway, they released later a “best of” album in 1998. It contained all their hits, plus a bonus CD with a megamix including I Need You (Red Man City Vocal Mix), On The Bible (Kenny C Remix), On The Bible (Wand 12″ Remix), Call It Love (JX Kissy Kissy Mix) and No Surrender (Down to Earth Mix).

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