Eurovision 1981 – Bucks Fizz – Making your mind up
“Then the choreographer said, that’s it… on the line ‘if you want to see some more’ we take the top skirt off and the little one will be underneath.
“I think we won the competition by four points because of the skirts coming off.”
READ MORE: Roxette: The incredible life and tragic death of singer Marie
Bucks Fizz Eurovision 40th Anniversary
The Fizz today: Jay, Mike and Cheryl
Staged in Dublin after Irish entry Johnny Logan’s win in 1980 with What’s Another Year, there was a fear of violent anti-British demonstrations and attacks from the IRA.
Bucks Fizz had to stay at a separate hotel from all the other contestants with constant armed guards and travel separately to the RDS Stadium for rehearsals and the main show.
Happily, nothing marred the contest apart from one bomb scare at a different hotel.
Cheryl told Dublin Live: “To be perfectly honest when you’re young, you don’t see the danger, you just see the excitement.
“Apart from that, we did get together with the other contestants, the Irish organisers made sure we had lots of events where we got to know each other! There was lots of laughter, lots of champagne!”
With the rare exception of acts like Abba and Celine Dion, very few acts who make their debut at the Contest go on to any lasting success.
Bucks Fizz went on to sell more than 50 million records, including three UK numbers ones – Making Your Mind Up, My Camera Never Lies and The Land of Make Believe – and another four top ten hits.
But the chart-toppers had begun to dry up by 1984 and then the band was involved in a horrific accident.
Cheryl Baker on Bucks Fizz ‘We were like four puppets’
Bucks Fizz’s Jay Aston cancer-free after gruelling surgery
Eurovision 2018: Remember THESE winners from previous years?
Bucks Fizz posed for unusual publicity shots
Bobby was treated for whiplash and Jay was admitted to hospital for back injuries, bruising on the brain and broken ribs, while Cheryl broke three vertebrae in her spine.
Jay later admitted: “We were all lucky to walk away with our lives that night.”
Mike almost didn’t. He suffered major head injuries and fell into a coma. He was reported to have died on the operating table and was placed on life support machines for three days before he regained consciousness. He still suffers from impaired vision, epilepsy and short-term memory loss.
It was the beginning of the end for the band in its original form.
Bucks Fizz Jay in 1982 – Jay often wore skimpy clothes on stage
She was still under contract and found herself being sued. She said later: “Life got very difficult after that too as I was involved in several lawsuits because the management weren’t happy with my decision to leave.”
Jay’s affair with the band’s songwriter Andy Hill, who was also the husband of the band’s creator Nichola Martin, was made public and she sold her own story to the press with the headline “The hateful, bitchy world of Bucks Fizz.”
Bucks Fizz Bobby, Cheryl and Mike in 2003
As a manufactured band with no song-writing revenue they might have been topping charts across Europe but they were paid as employees on a fixed contract.
Jay said in 2016: “On one 45-date, sell-out tour, the band members only got £1,600 (per show) each while musicians walked away with £7,000 each. You would be amazed at how little we received.”
The other three members, however, stayed put and a new replacement was brought in, 21-year-old Shelley Preston.
Bucks Fizz Cheryl, Mike and Jay in 2011
The rather ominously titled album Writing On The Wall only made it to number 89 on the UK charts.
After a greatest hits compilation, The Story So Far, failed to chart in 1988, there were no plans to record any new material and Shelley officially left at the end of the following year.
Bucks Fizz: Cheryl, Jay and Mike with new member Bobby McVay in 2017
The next decade was a revolving door of new line-ups that even included Dollar star David Van Day when Mike left in 1986. After that Mike and Bobby formed competing versions of Bucks Fizz until Bobby legally established his right to exclusively use the name.
By 2004 some hatchets had been buried and Shelley, Cheryl, Bobby and Mike briefly reunited as The Original Bucks Fizz, performing shows that year, before Bobby left again.
Shelley left in April 2009 and shortly after Jay rejoined her old bandmates under a variety of names from OBF to the truly terrible Cheryl, Mike and Jay – Formerly of Bucks Fizz.
Bucks Fizz: Cheryl, Jay and Mike today
But there was still one last line-up change and a final challenge to face.
Bobby left the group amicably in February 2018 to focus on his life in Italy.
In June that year, Jay was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth and had surgery the following month to remove part of her tongue.
Now fully recovered, she is back with the band and they released Christmas With the Fizz later in 2018. Their third album Smoke & Mirrors followed in March 2020 and the trio is planning on recording new material once the lockdown is lifted.