Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, commonly known as OMD, was one of those 80’s bands that is mostly forgotten nowadays. If anyone remembers them, it is for the song “If You Leave”, which was on the “Pretty In Pink” soundtrack, and is not one of their best songs.
Back in the 80’s, OMD was huge. I mean, hugely huge. MTV heavy-rotation huge. And of course, one of the band members sported a mullet. And of course, the guy with the mullet was the one I set my sights on.
Andy McCluskey was the wiry, dark-haired guy who sang most of their songs, and Paul Humphreys was the blonde, pudgy, shy guy who played keyboards and sang a few ballads. As usual, I ignored the front man and fell for the keyboard player, Paul.
I first became aware of OMD when I saw them open for The Power Station in 1985. (I will post about that hellish concert experience at a later date.) I was instantly smitten by Paul’s wispy blonde locks and buck teeth. When he sweetly sang “Secret”, it was over. I went out and bought the newest OMD record as soon as I had the money.
What did obsessed teenagers do to keep their obsession fresh and exciting back in the 1980’s? Well, as for me, I listened to records over and over while staring at the liner notes like it was the Word of God; I taped every second of the band’s appearances on MTV; and I made up stories with my friends.
Since we didn’t have the internet, we had our own way of doing what you might call “fanfiction” nowadays. My friends and I would write letters …ACTUAL LETTERS THAT WE SENT IN THE MAIL THROUGH THE POST OFFICE. Even though my friends and I only lived a few miles away, we wrote each other letters, pretending we were on the road touring with our rock star sweethearts.
I had one set of letters going where I was Mrs. Paul Humphreys and my friend was Mrs. Morten Harket. In another set , it was the 1960’s and I was Mrs. Davy Jones…and in another set, I was Mrs. Nick Rhodes (and of course, fucked around with any other guy in Duran Duran that took my fancy at the time…the Duran Duran letters were very much a soap opera).
Sadly, I didn’t save these letters. They would provide much hilarity now if I were to see them. We stuck to the usual soap tropes – cheating spouses, illness, miscarriages, evil twins, etc. There was nothing better for me than to open the mailbox and see a letter from Tiffany Harket.
This probably sounds insane to kids who have grown up with the internet, but we had to make do with what resources were available. It was fun to draw on the envelopes with Crayola markers, and plaster them with stickers. There were businesses that relied on crazy fans like me to keep them going by purchasing stickers and customized address labels.
To be perfectly honest, there was a real Mrs. Paul Humphreys at the time, but I just pretended she didn’t exist. They got divorced many years later, and now Claudia from Propaganda is Mrs. Paul Humphreys. In the clip below, Claudia is the girl in white that sings at the end of the song, not the girl in black does the monologue.
During the 1990’s, OMD split up, and Andy McCluskey continued to record solo records under the band’s name. They were actually pretty fun dance records, but I was very happy when OMD reunited a few years ago. Their latest record, “History of Modern”, was actually on par with the older stuff. They are recording a new record and I am very excited to hear it!
I got the chance to see OMD about a year ago in a tiny club in Austin, and it was fantastic. I was right up front, squished against the stage. The most incredible moment of the show was when Paul sang “Secret”. I cried like a little baby.
Never change, Paul Humphreys. Never change.