Where Are They Now? 1982's Biggest Pop Acts - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music Lists

Where Are They Now? 1982’s Biggest Pop Acts

Catch up with A Flock of Seagulls, Toni Basil, Tommy Tutone and more

A Flock of Seagulls, Toni Basil and Tommy Tutone

Fin Costello/Redferns/Ron Galella/WireImage/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

1982 was a very weird time for the music industry. MTV had just gone on the air, and the new station was hungry for content. But many established stars still hadn't quite figured out the power of this new medium – so MTV filled long stretches of airtime with bizarre bands from Europe. Suddenly, heavily accented singers with names like Taco and Falco were scoring massive singles in America. Beauty standards for pop stars were changing quickly, too: As recently as the late 1970s, it had still been possible for a bunch of mustached dudes with huge beer bellies to rule the charts, but now guys like that were competing with fashion-forward trendsetters like A Flock of Seagulls. Here's a look back at some of the biggest acts of that strange year – from Tommy Tutone and Toni Basil to Asia and the Alan Parsons Project – and an update on what they're doing these days.

By Andy Greene


Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Kevin Nixon/Classic Rock Magazine via Getty Images


Then: In 1981, Yes guitarist Steve Howe; Emerson, Lake & Palmer drummer Carl Palmer; King Crimson bassist John Wetton; and Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes formed the prog-rock supergroup Asia. It was an instant hit. Their 1982 debut LP, Asia, featured the successful singles "Heat of The Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell." But follow-up albums with the alliterative titles Alpha, Astra and Aqua sold fewer and fewer copies, and the supergroup was no more by the late 1980s.

Now: A new line-up of Asia featuring original members John Wetton and Geoff Downes resurfaced and began touring in the early 1990s. Members came and went at an astonishing rate, and the group was largely relegated to casinos and fairs. But in 2006, the original members got back together for a tour. This left latter-day singer John Payne out in the cold, so he hit the road as "Asia featuring John Payne." The real Asia, meanwhile, toured under the name "All Four Original Members of Asia," just to make sure everyone knew what they were getting. Even so, the concurrent existence of multiple Asias remained a little confusing.

Tony Basil

Ron Galella/WireImage/Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage

Toni Basil

Then: Toni Basil was a well-respected choreographer who tried her hand at music in 1982, hitting it big with her super-catchy cheerleading chant "Mickey." Even Basil herself must have realized that this was a one-time thing: she retired from music after releasing just one more album in 1983. 

Now: Basil bounced right back to her career as a choreographer and has worked on countless major movies, including That Thing You Do, My Best Friend's Wedding and Legally Blonde. "Mickey," of course, has had a huge afterlife. It's been on just about every VH1 countdown show in history, and it will surely be annoying and/or delighting people many decades from now.

Tommy Tutone

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images/Kelly A. Swift /Retna

Tommy Tutone

Then: Tommy Tutone isn't actually a person. It was a power pop band led by a guy named Tommy Heath that scored a a huge hit in 1982 with "867-5309." Apparently no lawyer vetted the song very closely, because its title and chorus happened to be the actual phone number of random people all over the country, who then had to endure countless phone calls from dudes looking for "Jenny." Needless to say, the group never had anything resembling a hit after "867-5309" – though some people heard similarities between that song and Bruce Springsteen's 2007 tune "Radio Nowhere." 

Now: Tommy Heath has worked for years as a computer analyst, though he's always willing to play some oldies gigs when he has the time. You can see him September 23rd in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on a double will with John Waite. It's a great chance to hear "Missing You" and "867-5309" in one night. 

Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.