Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Bobby O

Bobby O on the right.

Bobby Orlando is an enigma. He appeared on the music scene at the start of the 80s and seemingly from nowhere crafted an incredible run of hit records that swept through the amyl-soaked netherworld of Hi-NRG disco. He produced tracks for the actor Divine, the pop act The Pet Shop Boys and hundreds (if not thousands) of others. Then he faded away as quickly as he had arrived.

There's not much anyone knows about his personal life and over the years this has lent him a degree of mythic status. Although most of his music seems aimed squarely at a gay audience, Orlando himself is said to have held very homophobic attitudes. One widespread rumour has it that he refused to move into an apartment whose previous tenants included a gay couple, though as far as I'm aware this has never been verified anywhere.

Even a brief glance through his list of aliases reveals an arch wit. From his Wikipedia entry, the names include...
"This is House, Joy Toy, Dressed To Kill, Band Of South, Dynasty featuring Dexter D, Darlene Down, The Fem-Spies, Gangsters of House, Girls Have Fun, Zwei Maenner, Something Anything, Gomez Presley, Gringo Lopez, Patty Phillipe, Malibu, Lilly & the Pink, Miss Tammi Dee, New Breed, Mc Fritz and the P-Rockers, Charlene Davis, Claus V, Ronnie Goes to Liverpool, The Bang Gang, Bubba and The Jack Attack, Fascination, Free Enterprise, Sandra Ford, Future Generation, Citrus, The College Boys, Condo, The Bigalows, Free Expression, Lola, Lifestyle, I Spies, Johny Bankcheck, Latin 1, Kinski Music, Gina Desire, and Beachfront..."

When acting svengali for his manufactured girl group The Flirts he would simply change the band's lineup for each record, which to me shows the sensibility of a conceptual artist at work.

Today Bobby Orlando's sound can be heard through an array of second-rate imitators, and a select few who have found new ways to interpret his legacy. As for the man himself, one imagines he earns a respectable lving from sample royalties (Felix Da Housecat, Soulwax and an avalanche more) while he studies to become a teacher (?)... though that could just be a rumour.

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