English pop group Bananarama are best known in the US for their chart-topping cover of “Venus” in 1986. But in Britain, Bananarama sent 28 singles into the Top 50—a UK record for the most songs to chart by an all-female group.
• Childhood friends Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward formed Bananarama with Siobhan Fahey after meeting her in London in 1980. The trio started out in London’s vibrant punk scene, where they sometimes sang backing vocals for other acts, including post-punk groups Department S and Fun Boy Three.
• Bananarama released their first single, “Aie a Mwana,” in 1981. Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook coproduced the song, which was a cover based on a version by the Belgian band Black Blood. It features lyrics in Swahili, which Bananarama learned phonetically.
• A remixed version of “Aie a Mwana” appeared on Bananarama’s first album, 1983’s Deep Sea Skiving, which reached No. 8 on the UK albums chart. Three singles from the album made the UK Top 5: “Really Sayin’ Something,” “Shy Boy,” and a cover of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.”
• Bananarama’s 1983 single “Cruel Summer” peaked at No. 8 in the UK and was the trio’s first Top 10 hit in the US, where it reached No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
• Their second album, a self-titled 1984 LP that went Top 20 in the UK, also included the UK No. 3 hit “Robert DeNiro’s Waiting …”
• Bananarama reached their commercial peak with “Venus” in 1986. The song, a cover of Shocking Blue’s chart-topping 1969 hit, was a global smash that reached No. 1 in the US and No. 8 in the UK.
• Growing tension among the members spilled over after their fourth album, 1987’s Wow!, resulting in Fahey’s acrimonious departure from Bananarama. She later started the alt-pop project Shakespears Sister, which released four albums between 1989 and 2009.
• Dallin and Woodward brought in Jacquie O'Sullivan in 1988 to replace Fahey, and the refashioned trio had a No. 5 hit with “I Want You Back,” which they rerecorded to include O’Sullivan’s vocals. With O’Sullivan, Bananarama embarked on their first-ever world tour.
• O’Sullivan left after Bananarama’s 1991 album Pop Life, and Dallin and Woodward carried on as a duo until Fahey rejoined them in 2017 for a world tour. Despite the rapprochement, Bananarama’s 11th studio album, 2019’s In Stereo, featured only Dallin and Woodward.