Lest you think Paris Hilton or any of the various Kardashians invented “Famous for Being Famous,” let me point you to Peter Robinson, better known to UK tabloid readers as Marilyn.
Born in Jamaica but raised in England, Marilyn made a name for himself as one of the Blitz Kids, an outrageous group of kids who worshiped Bowie, dressed to the nines in all sorts of drag, and hung out at the Blitz nightclub – other Blitz Kids included Boy George and Steven Strange from Visage.Á‚ Marilyn’s trademark was his gender-twisting take on Marilyn Monroe – once made up from the neck up, he bore an uncanny resemblance to the dead movie star, hence his nickname.Á‚ Marilyn wasn’t content to just make the scene, however.Á‚ He hobnobbed with pop stars (his one-time boyfriend was none other than future Bush frontman, now Mr. Stefani Gavin Rossdale), making a notable appearance in the video for Eurythmics’ “Who’s That Girl?” and famously crashing the Band Aid recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”Á‚ Proximity to pop royalty probably fanned the desire to become a pop star himself – enter songwriter/producer/Haysi Fantayzee member Paul Chaplin.
Marilyn and Chaplin teamed to create a single, “Calling Your Name,” that sounded just enough like Culture Club to get Marilyn on the charts in the UK, Japan and other territories.Á‚ Marilyn also got some import airplay on stations like KROQ Stateside, but couldn’t quite score an American record deal.Á‚ The fact that his next two singles flopped didn’t help.
By the time 1985 rolled around, Marilyn’s label gave him an ultimatum.Á‚ Go to America and write a hit, or else.Á‚ Working with famed producer Don Was of all people, Marilyn recorded a great single, “Baby U Left Me (In The Cold)” (download).Á‚ With a touch of Motown and a dash of Scritti Politti, the record should have been a smash.Á‚ In fact, it beats anything Culture Club were releasing at the time, since they’d hit the downslide of “The War Song,” et al.Á‚ “Baby U Left Me” even had a snazzy video featuring a newer, butcher Marilyn (Look!Á‚ He’s kissing a GIRL!):
Unfortunately, Marilyn had become too much of a punchline by this time to have another hit, and despite a fine extended version (download) being worked to the clubs, “Baby U Left Me” was left in the cold.Á‚ Maz’s debut album, Despite Straight Lines quickly followed the single down the drain and he was soon left with no label, no money, and a bit of a drug problem.
These days Marilyn isn’t so pretty a sight.Á‚ A rambling, nearly incoherent interview for a UK Blitz Kids documentary sent Maz packing to his mother’s house where he writes blog entries on his MySpace page begging his fans for money to buy a new computer (I’d link to it but [A] it’s too sad and [B] he’s deleted it).Á‚ Á‚ But things are looking up – Despite Straight Lines was just released on CD for the first time and it’s not half bad.Á‚ Marilyn is also threatening to release some new music soon … let’s hope it’s decent.Á‚ I’d love to see him come back and show Paris how a proper lady works the press.
“Baby U Left Me (In The Cold)” did not chart.
Get Marilyn music at Amazon.