1990 – Singer Mel Appleby died of Pneumonia aged 23. Had

Mel and Kim

Mel and Kim

1990 – Singer Mel Appleby died of Pneumonia aged 23. Had been one half of the duo Mel and Kim.

Mel and Kim were an British musical act that achieved success in the late 1980s.

Sisters Melanie (July 11, 1966 – January 18, 1990) and Kimberly (born August 28, 1961) to British and Jamaican parents, were noticed dancing in a nightclub in their native London UK and signed to a recording contract with Supreme Records under the guidance of production team Stock Aitken Waterman in 1986, and began releasing records under the name of Mel & Kim.

“System” was intended as their first single, but they and the producers were unhappy with it, and it became the “B-side” of their first single “Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)” which reached number three on the British charts and got the no #1 status in the Dance charts of USA. Their next single “Respectable” reached number one in Britain and became one of the year’s biggest hits. They became well known celebrities, particularly in Britain, and were known for their visual style which combined urban street wear with high fashion; prior to their music career Mel had worked as a fashion model. Their single “FLM” reached #7 in the UK, while “That’s the Way It Is” reached #10, giving them their last two Top Ten singles.

During a promotional visit to Japan in June 1987, Mel became ill with a suspected spinal disc herniation, after complaining of a back problem for several months. Upon returning to the UK, Mel was diagnosed with secondary cancer of the spine, after previously being treated for liver cancer when she was 18, prior to the duo’s rise to fame  . The cancer was reported to be paraganglioma by The Sun. The sisters withdrew from publicity while Mel underwent treatment, and footage from their Montreux Festival performance was used to compile the “FLM” music video. While the media speculated that Mel was terminally ill, both sisters categorically denied this, stating that Mel had suffered a debilitating back injury.

Eventually, it was confirmed that Mel had been diagnosed with cancer, following the release of a new single, “That’s the Way It Is”, in February 1988. Mel discharged herself from a cancer hospital to record the vocals for the track. She died of pneumonia on January 18, 1990, after contracting a cold; her immune system weakened by chemotherapy.

With the aid of her boyfriend, ex-Bros bassist Craig Logan, Kim launched a solo career with much of her debut solo album composed of songs cowritten with Mel, for what was intended to be the next “Mel and Kim” album. The album, “Kim Appleby”, contained her debut solo single “Don’t Worry” which reached number two on the British charts in November 1990. A follow up single “G.L.A.D was also a UK Top 10 hit. Subsequent singles from her debut album were “Mama” . A download only single called “High” was released in 2007.

Discography

Albums

* 1987 F.L.M. (#3 UK, #2 Australia, #16 Germany) (Sales: 3mil.)

Tracklisting:

1. F.L.M. (3:55)
2. Showing Out (5:11)
3. Respectable (5:41)
4. Feel A Whole Lot Better (4:24)
5. I’m The One Who Really Loves You (3:40)
6. More Than Words Can Say (4:08)
7. System (4:08)
8. From A Whisper To A Scream (3:24)
9. Who’s Gonna Catch You (3:34)
10. Showing Out (Freehold Mix) (4:36) (Does not appear on Vinyl LP)
11. Respectable (Extra Beats Version) (6:11) (Does not appear on Vinyl LP)

Year Title Chart positions
UK
[4]
IRE U.S U.S Dance GER AUS
[5]
NZ
1986 “Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)” 3 78 1 1 12 8
1987 “Respectable” 1 2 1 1 1 1
“F.L.M” 7 4 17 19 7
1988 “That’s the Way It Is” 10 11 18 28 10
“More Than Words Can Say” (Swedish Release Only)
“I’m the One Who Really Loves You” (US Release Only) 11
1990 “Megamix ’90” (German Release Only)

Compilations

* 1988 The 12″ Tape (Australian only 5-track cassette of mixes)
* 1989 Something Special
* 1989 Mixed (Japanese promo LP & CD)
* 1996 The Best Of
* 2001 Thats the Way It Is – The Best Of
* 2002 F.L.M. (Re-issue in Holland including some of Kim’s solo tracks)

Songs recorded by Mel & Kim

* Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend) (single)
* Respectable (single)
* F.L.M. (single)
* That’s the Way It Is (single)
* Feel a Whole Lot Better (called “Whatever It Is” in USA)
* I’m the One Who Really Loves You (US promo DJ single)
* More Than Words Can Say (Scandinavian single)
* System
* From a Whisper to a Scream
* Who’s Gonna Catch You? (When You Fall)
* You Changed My Life (b-side/bonus track)

Certification

* Showing Out – Silver
* Respectable – Gold
* FLM (Album) – Platinum

Trivia
* The sisters were discovered dancing in a London club by producer Steve Rowland. They auditioned outside on the pavement.
* Mel used to be a glamour/fashion model often doing topless photoshoots for magazines.
* Mel was expelled from one of her schools for hitting the headmaster.
* The sisters used to work at a clothing factory when they left school.
* Their parents split up in 1976 and the girls and their mother shared a mattress in a room at a hostel on the Old Kent Road of London.
* “System” was intended as the first single. It was the first track the sisters recorded at PWL but Pete Waterman didn’t consider it funky enough so they recorded “Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)”. This was released as the first single and “System” appeared as the b-side with a remix on the 12″ format.
* “F.L.M” actually means “fuckin’ lovely mate!!”. The track refers to the initials of the songs title as “fun, love and money” but this was for censorship’s sake. Whilst recording the track the girls and the engineers and producers in the studio had a favourite saying of “fuckin’ lovely mate!!”, which is where the term “F.L.M.” came from and how the song was born.
* Early editions of the “F.L.M.” album include a different version of “I’m The One Who Really Loves You” with backing vocals by some session singers whereas later editions use a version which replaces those vocals with Mel and Kim’s own backing vocals.
* On the US edition of the “F.L.M.” album the song “Feel a Whole Lot Better” is retitled to “Whatever It Is” and “Who’s Gonna Catch You?” has its title lengthened to “Who’s Gonna Catch You (When You Fall)?”.
* The trademark hats that the girls were so famous for wearing came about by accident. During the launch party for the duo by Supreme Records the girls decided to wear hats. Everybody loved the look so it was kept and became their trademark.
* The video clips for the girls final two singles didn’t feature new footage of the girls, due to Mel’s illness. F.L.M. used some puppets of the girls dancing in the office of an actor playing a journalist and featuring shots of the sisters performing live before Mel became ill being projected on the wall of the office in the video. The video for the final single That’s The Way it Is featured a group of dancers with no footage of the girls.
* The majority of the tracks on Kim’s first solo album Kim Appleby (released on Parlophone Records in 1990) were co-written with Mel and originally intended for the second Mel and Kim album, which was never recorded due to the death of Mel.
* A Christmas single of Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree was released by ‘Mel and Kim’ – Mel Smith and Kim Wilde under the name “Mel & Kim” (kimwildetv.com).

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