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Flying Pickets


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The Flying Pickets was a British vocal group, known for a surprise number one hit in 1983 on the U.K. singles chart with their of the Yazoo’s track “Only You”. Their version, having peaked around Christmastime, is remembered fondly by many radio stations during the season. The name ‘Flying Pickets’ refers to mobile strikers who travel in order to join a picket. The group of six was founded by Brian Hibbard in 1982 based off of a group of actors called the “7:84 Theatre group”, a fringe theatre group who had sung in their production of ‘One Big Blow.

Said production was based on a previous U.K. miners’ strike. “Only You”, their debut single, was the British Christmas number one in 1983, spending a total of five weeks at the top, and it also did well around Europe. Ironically enough, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, fighting an acrimonious political battle with unions at the time, said that the single was one of her favorite songs. A second single, a cover of the classic “When You’re Young and in Love” by Van McCoy, reached number seven, but their third, a cover of the Eurythmics’ track “Who’s That Girl?”, barely charted at all.

Joining Hibbard in the Flying Pickets were Rick Lloyd, Gareth Williams, David Brett, Ken Gregson, and Red Stripe (real name David Gittins). They were internationally renowned for their appearances: Hibbard’s huge sideburns, Stripes thick eyeliner, and four others showing off flamboyant suits and large hats. A group like the Pickets were very lucky to get into the charts at all, let alone a Christmas number one and a pleasing number seven afterwards.


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