Andy Bell is best known as the frontman for the enduring electropop duo Erasure. In addition he has released two solo albums under his own name, a further two as offshoots of his one-man theatre project Torsten The Bareback Saint, and has collaborated with artists as diverse as British Electric Foundation, Jake Shears, Claudia Brücken, Perry Farrell, Shelter and Dave Audé.
Born Andrew Ivan Bell in Peterborough in April 1964 Andy was the first of six children. He developed a love for music at a young age, joining the school choir at the Dogsthorpe Infants and Junior School before going on to dedicate a large amount of time listening to a wide range of musical influences including Japan, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Yazoo and Blondie.
As a young adult, Andy moved to London to pursue a career in music. After brief stints with The Void, Baume and Dinger, he auditioned for former Depeche Mode and Yazoo mainman Vince Clarke. Together, they formed the synthpop duo Erasure, which quickly became an equal songwriting partnership, featuring Clarke on keyboards and Bell on lead vocals. They released their debut single, Who Needs Love Like That, in 1985, followed by their debut album, Wonderland. Their fourth single, Sometimes, became their first big hit, peaking at number two on the UK charts, and in the top five of America’s Billboard Hot Dance Music chart.
Although Andy’s long-running partnership with Vince Clarke in Erasure (recipients of Best British Group at The Brit Awards) remains very much a going concern – since the release of Wonderland the duo have gone on to sell over 20 million albums, 5 of them hitting the UK number one spot and have enjoyed 17 Top 10 UK singles – he has subsequently embarked on a parallel solo career, writing and recording two solo albums Electric Blue (2005), Non-Stop (2010).
Bell sang the role of Montresor in the opera The Fall of the House of Usher by Peter Hammill and Judge Smith, released in 1991 and reissued with a new recording in 1999.
The first Andy Bell solo album, Electric Blue, was released on 3 October 2005 and featured fourteen tracks, including duets with Claudia Brücken of Propaganda and Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters. The album was preceded by a single, Crazy, which was released on 26 September 2005, and included club remixes from his Erasure partner Vince Clarke, plus Cicada, MHC and King Roc. Electric Blue was co-written and recorded with Manhattan Clique (Philip Larsen and Chris Smith) who have also worked with Erasure, Moby, the B-52s, Stereophonics and Goldfrapp.
Using the pseudonym Mimó, Bell released two singles on Mute Records: Running Out in 2009 and Will You Be There? in 2010 prior to the release of his second solo album. The name Mimó, chosen in “tribute to good friend Tomeau Mimó”, was not used on any subsequent solo releases, as a legal block was issued against Bell by another artist already using the Mimó name. Bell released his second solo album, Non-Stop, under his own name on 7 June 2010. It was co-written and co-produced in collaboration with producer Pascal Gabriel and features a collaboration with Jane’s Addiction singer Perry Farrell.
In June 2011, he appeared on the second season of ITV series Popstar to Operastar.
In 2014 he took the title role in the critically acclaimed one-man theatre show Torsten The Bareback Saint at London’s St James Theatre and the Edinburgh Festival, releasing an album of songs from the show the same year followed by a remix album, Variance, in 2015. Bell reprised the role of Torsten in a second one-man show, Torsten The Beautiful Libertine, in March 2016, and that production was also supported by an album release (Torsten The Beautiful Libertine) and a remix album (Variance 2).
Andy topped the US Billboard Dance Charts in 2014 with the dance track Aftermath (Here We Go), a collaboration with US producer and remixer Dave Audé and the duo performed the same feat with a second track, True Original in early 2016 and more material from the collaboration is planned.
Andy Bell is also a respected remixer and has remixed a variety of artists including Erasure, Yazoo, Goldfrapp and Sandra Bernhardt.
An openly gay man, Andy has become an icon within the LGBT community for his honesty, compassion and support. Among his tireless support of various LGBT causes Andy has served as an ambassador for New York’s Hetrick-Martin Institute and is currently a patron of the Cambridge-based charity Dhiverse, and for Above The Stag, London’s only LGBTQ theatre.
Bell has always been very active in his support of a variety of charities, including Ferry Aid’s 1987 cover of Let It Be; a cover of Cole Porter’s Too Darn Hot for 1990s Red Hot & Blue album to raise funds for AIDS and HIV research; a collaboration with Lene Lovich’s on a remake of her track Rage for PETA’s 1991 album in support of their wildlife campaigning; and performing twice on Big Spender’s Red Hot & Dance events to support various AIDS projects (in both December 1994 and November 2004). Bell also performed with Erasure on Cyndi Lauper’s True Colours Tour in 2008.