The New Recruit

1979 seemed like an auspicious year for OMD. With the release of their debut single ‘Electricity’ and their support slot for Gary Numan, the band were on the way to becoming an established part of the UK music scene.

But Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys were also aware of their limitations as purely a two-piece band performing to a backing tape. Their trusty tape recorder had become part of the band – and had even been christened ‘Winston’ in the process. Unfortunately While Winston was an inspired technical short-cut, the band found that they were tired of having to rely on backing tapes that could (and often did) break down during performances.

Winston was finally given a send-off at a special concert at Eric’s Club in December 1979. Typically, Winston also broke down during that performance! Dalek I Love You had featured in the line-up of bands on the night, a band that had ties to OMD already (Andy had done a short stint as vocalist). Dalek member Dave Hughes was offered the position of keyboard player for OMD ahead of the band’s forthcoming tour to promote their new album. Hughes had been part of the Liverpool music scene for many years and was familiar with Andy and Paul since the days of The Id. Although technically still a member of Dalek I Love You, Hughes could hardly turn down the offer of becoming part of OMD for their live shows.

Dave Hughes’ time in the band was relatively brief. He was keen to pursue his own style of music and did so, leaving OMD in the Autumn of 1980 to focus on the baroque electronica of his musical project Godot. His position was filled by Martin Cooper, who would become a permanent member of OMD from that point on.

Hughes had developed an interest in the use of choral music which could be manipulated in tape loops – an idea that he demonstrated to Paul and Martin, who were both inspired by the ethereal sounds that could be created. Pursuing this concept in depth, Paul and Martin wrote a new composition. When this song was released in August 1981, ‘Souvenir’ became OMD’s biggest hit to date reaching No. 3 in the UK charts. Dave Hughes would later carve out a career as a soundtrack composer, but his brief time with OMD had left its influence.