Eurythmics’ ‘Dreams’ Well-Timed For MTV Success

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Lennox and Stewart on the cover of Eurythmics’ 1986 Revenge album

Shortly after Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox met in London in the mid-1970s, they were members of a band that ultimately became The Tourists. They recorded three studio albums, the second of which, 1979’s Reality Effect, yielded two U.K. hits, including a cover of a Dusty Springfield signature song, “I Only Want to Be With You.”

Expectations for the follow-up were naturally high but when Luminous Basement was released in 1980, it essentially fell on deaf ears. The Tourists broke up later that year, following a tour.

Their U.K. label saw something in Stewart and Lennox and, though they had recently ended a romantic relationship, recognized a musical chemistry was there. The pair formed Eurythmics and were promptly signed by RCA Records U.K.’s Don Ellis. (More on him later…)

Watch The Tourists perform their biggest hit on Top of the Pops in 1979

Eurythmics’ 1981 debut, In the Garden, featured the electropop sound that the group ultimately became known for. Though the album was a commercial failure, RCA U.K. remained committed and in January 1983 released their second album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), which featured an inset photo on its cover of a masked Lennox in profile sporting a bright orange crew cut. The title cut was released as a single that month; it started slowly but ultimately reached #2.

By then, Don Ellis had moved to RCA’s U.S. operations, where he oversaw all of the label’s creative areas. At the label’s weekly strategy meetings (of which I was an attendee as a member of the Communications department), Ellis made it clear that the single was going to be a huge priority.

The combination of a great song sung by the photogenic Lennox was ideal. MTV was less than two years old at the time and the still-fledgling network was feeling its oats and going out of its way to support recording artists whose looks would stand out and help the network get noticed. Eurythmics fit right in alongside other new MTV favorites like Madonna, Culture Club, Duran Duran and the Police.

The photogenic Lennox and Boy George appeared on the cover of Newsweek on January 23, 1984

“Sweet Dreams” was sent to U.S. Top 40 stations in May 1983 and quickly hit the lower reaches of the Hot 100. It rose throughout the summer and appeared to have stalled at #2, where it was blocked for weeks by the Police’s monster hit, “Every Breath You Take.” Finally, in September, “Sweet Dreams” was #1.

Throughout the ’80s, Eurythmics remained a constant on radio and MTV with songs like “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Would I Lie to You,” “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)” and “Missionary Man,” among others.

The duo disbanded in 1990, though they have reunited on occasion. Stewart became an acclaimed producer for several classic rock stars including Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1983’s Southern Accents, for which he co-wrote “Don’t Come Around Here No More”) and Jon Bon Jovi. Stewart won Best British Producer on three occasions at the annual Brit Awards.

The Scottish-born Lennox began a successful solo career in 1992 and her first two releases–1992’s Diva and 1995’s Medusa–each hit #1 in the U.K. and were double platinum in the U.S. She is well known for her support of numerous humanitarian causes and as recently as September 2017 received the George Harrison Global Citizen Award.

She was born on Christmas Day 1954. Stewart was born Sept. 9, 1952. The pair reunited in December 2019 for a Rainforest benefit concert in New York.

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Greg Brodsky
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