As always in the world of pop, stars are allowed a certain amount of success before the backlash starts. For Five Star, it began with controversy over the choice of sponsor for their ’86 tour, which was the Cadbury/Fry chocolate bar Crunchie: should they be encouraging their predominately young fans to be eating sweets? Criticism turned to ridicule when it emerged that Ultrabrite toothpaste would be sponsoring their ’87 tour. Regardless, both tours sold out, and in between they took Best British Group at the BPI Awards in February ’87 and had two further Top 10 singles, these being the fifth and sixth singles from the Silk And Steel album which itself had sold over a million copies in the UK alone and been certified four times platinum by the BPI on 30 June 1987.
This was a significant date, as thereafter Five Star’s career went into decline. It was barely noticeable at first, but it was telling that their first single in the second half of 1987, Whenever You’re Ready, peaked at #11: being unable to put the lead single from their third album in the Top 10 was a significant failure, given that they had just taken five Top 10 singles off their previous album. In fact, they never had a Top 10 single again. Just two more tracks from the Between The Lines album were issued as singles, with the album itself – a rushed, patchy affair, released in September – barely managing a chart run that lasted until Christmas.
There were no releases from the group at all in the first half of 1988. When they came back, it was with an unfortunate change of image (all black leather and studs, with abundant hair extensions for the girls) and a new musical direction, away from pop and R&B and towards rock and funk, as indicated by the title of their fourth album Rock The World. The album restored the quality demonstrated on the first two albums but the new image was not well received. Singles three and four from the album, There’s A Brand New World and Let Me Be Yours (both written by Deniece Pearson), made #61 and #51 respectively. In the spring of 1989, standalone single With Every Heartbeat was released and it too failed to make the Top 40. Buster Pearson blamed RCA for the poor chart placings and the ensuing dispute led to Tent ending up without a distributor. The last release under Tent’s contract with RCA, a Five Star greatest hits collection, barely charted. Meanwhile, their lavish lifestyle of the past few years caught up with them and they were forced to move from Stone Court to a more affordable home in Hertfordshire.
☛ What happened next
Buster Pearson arranged a new distribution deal with Epic for Tent in 1990, but the first album Five Star (entirely written by the group) was only released in America. Its two singles were only minor hits in the UK and so a British release was shelved, as were plans for a third single. The family relocated to the US but 1991’s album Shine flopped both there and here, Epic pulled out of distribution, and the Pearsons were in serious financial trouble. Buster Pearson bankrupted all five of his children to save Tent and the Five Star brand. At this stage, the family would have been well advised to wind Five Star up and concentrate on launching Denise (as she now spelled her name) as a solo artist; the group’s sixth album Heart And Soul would have made a credible solo debut for her. But as a Five Star album it failed to chart, and despite its two singles almost making the Top 75 the group began to break up. Buster Pearson cobbled together a ‘new’ album Eclipse in 2001, comprising remixed cuts from Heart and Soul and some new tracks, but Doris and Delroy had retired from performing by this stage and it was left to the remaining three to promote it and its attendant single. Fans would be disappointed when later live shows, promoted as featuring the original line-up, used stand-ins instead. Occasional partial reunions for live work have taken place over the past ten years, along with reissues of Five Star’s back catalogue. Buster Pearson died in 2012, and in the same year Denise signed with management company Baronet and finally began her solo career. Her album Imprint was released last year.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Nov. 23
BIG COUNTRY (Stuart Adamson) Where The Rose Is Sown (Mercury MER185)
BRONSKI BEAT It Ain’t Necessarily So (Forbidden Fruit BITE3)
TEARS FOR FEARS Shout (Mercury IDEA8)
FIVE STAR Somewhere Somebody (Tent PB41661)
The POGUES featuring Kirsty MacCOLL Fairytale Of New York (Pogue Mahone NY7)
WET WET WET Angel Eyes (Precious Organization JEWEL6)
Kim WILDE Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree (10 Records TEN2)