Eurythmics: A Look Back At The Pop Duo's Career

The 1980s were an especially fascinating decade for the music industry. Rock was still relatively young at the time and still shooting off into several different directions, from metal bands like Mötley Crüe to the more traditional heartland sound of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Other genres were also forming rapidly as groups experimented with electronic instruments at an increasing rate. Even amidst the multitude of stars that rose during the period, Eurythmics still managed to leave an impressive mark by combining the best of these many genres to make something that was completely their own.

But the solid partnership of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart did not stand out just because of the great music they released. Lennox inspired generations with her powerful voice and presence on stage, while their use of highly entertaining music videos displayed both their incredible creativity and savviness with the business aspect of things. Unfortunately, the duo did not bless the world with more of their work past 1990 after they unofficially disbanded, but the many hit songs they did release are more than enough to rank them with the other most successful musicians of all time.

The duo was originally in The Tourists

Before Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart became Eurythmics, the two played a less central role in another band called Catch. As the singer, songwriter, and guitarist of the group, Peet Coombes was the star of this act, which performed as a trio until 1978, says AllMusic. Then, the band grew to include bassist Eddie Chin and drummer Jim Toomey and were renamed The Tourists.

The group was mildly successful and released three albums up until 1980, which were the self-titled "Tourists," "Reality Effect," and "Luminous Basement." Yet, the only hit the group managed to produce was a cover of the song, "I Only Want to Be With You," originally by Dusty Springfield. For their last album, the band attempted to switch things up and adopt a more electronic sound, as opposed to their usual guitar pop focus. The new approach still did not work to gain traction, and they split up shortly after.

The couple broke up before creating Eurythmics

When Dave Stewart brought Annie Lennox into the mix of what would become The Tourists, the two were not only collaborating musicians, but lovers as well (per AllMusic). In "Annie Lennox: The Biography" by Lucy Ellis, the singer recalled the strange circumstances of the first time she met Stewart through a mutual friend during one of her shifts as a waitress. Lennox said, "He had all these plastic carrier bags, and he was a real mess. Blood dripping down the front of his overcoat because he'd just had his ear pierced." But even more shocking than the poor piercing attempt and his overall scruffy appearance was what came next, as she continued, "The first words Dave said were, 'Will you marry me?' I thought he was a serious nutter!"

Although the couple never tied the knot, their relationship lasted until around the time that The Tourists split up. But even then, the pair remained very close. Stewart explained to The Guardian, "Our idea of a breakup was Annie living upstairs and me downstairs. We were still meeting for tea." It was then as friends that the duo formed Eurythmics.

Eurythmics started in Wagga Wagga, Australia

Even though Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart came to the mutual decision to stop seeing each other romantically, the break-up did not affect their friendship or working relationship as members of The Tourists. On the other hand, another member of the band, Peet Coombes, became so ill from his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction that he was forced to leave the band mid-tour.

The chaos of that trip did not end there as the group was unexpectedly forced to spend some time in the town of Wagga Wagga, Australia. Lennox explained the situation to The Sydney Morning Herald and said, "There was a strike in Sydney, and we couldn't land so they had to take all the passengers off and house them in hotels for a few days until the strike was over. It was an odd place to be stuck, wonderful in a way but extreme if you had never been there before."

It was in this unforeseen setting that the two discussed their readiness to truly move on from The Tourists and take the next step in their careers. Stewart recalled the moment Eurythmics was born and said, "We were in a hotel late at night with a little portable mini-synthesizer and playing around. We were interested in doing something, just the two of us" (via The Sydney Morning Herald).

Annie Lennox's androgynous style began as armor

Eurythmics were certainly a band ahead of their time, especially when it comes to Annie Lennox's extraordinarily creative fashion sense throughout the 1980s. When talking with Rolling Stone in a more recent interview, the two discussed how the singer had a gender fluid approach long before that idea became mainstream in society. And in as early as 1985, the Los Angeles Times was already pointing out how her unique style and presence on stage were greatly increasing the group's popularity. 

Yet, Lennox did not adopt what would become her signature look as an attempt to stand out as a fashion revolutionary. In the beginning, wearing suits was simply a way for the lead singer to avoid unwanted attention, as Stewart explained to The Guardian, "During the punk period, being a woman at the front wearing a skirt was pretty wild. Lots of people were leering and sexist." 

However, over time, Lennox began to greatly appreciate the look because people viewed her and Stewart on the same footing. She told The Washington Post, "Finally, it came to, 'oh, wow, this is a way to show who I am, what I am.' And then I'm equal with David. We're together in this. And it was such a good feeling. It was very empowering."

The group made their biggest hit at the lowest moment

Early on, the two Eurythmics members were struggling greatly, both financially and emotionally. In 1981, their debut album, "In the Garden," was liked by critics but failed to reach a large audience, according to AllMusic. But the pair did not give up and managed to secure £5,000 for a studio to work on their next record.

When talking with The Guardian, Dave Stewart described the desperate situation the two found themselves in, which suddenly all changed in one magic moment. He recalled, "I couldn't get any of the new equipment to work. By this point, Annie was totally depressed. She was curled up on the floor in the foetal position when I managed to produce this beat and riff. She suddenly went: 'What the hell is that?' and leapt up and started playing the other synthesizer. Between the two dueling synths we had the beginnings of 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).'" The song would quickly become the hit that made the group famous and dramatically altered their lives.

MTV helped Eurythmics invade the U.S.

MTV premiered in August 1981 and would quickly make significant changes to the music industry. But months before the network generated massive interest in music videos, Eurythmics was ahead of the game and had already put together footage for a promo that accompanied the release of their first album, "In the Garden," in May, according to Lucy Ellis in her book, "Annie Lennox: The Biography."

Using the creative technique to promote themselves was a very smart business move because it allowed them to become a major part of the Second British Invasion when several music acts crossed the pond to become mainstream entertainment in the U.S., says Rolling Stone. Along with Eurythmics, these stars from the U.K. included Duran Duran, Def Leppard, Billy Idol, and The Police.

For Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" exploded in popularity, due in large part to the exposure the network gave the song. Dave Stewart told The Guardian, "People went bonkers for the video, which was constantly on MTV. I wanted to make a commentary on the music business but also make something a bit performance art — weird and dreamlike."

Eurythmics recorded a soundtrack to 1984

Eurythmics was left in shock when they were asked by producer Simon Perry to record the soundtrack for the film "1984," only to find out that someone else had already done so. Annie Lennox explained to The Chicago Tribune, "We then suddenly discovered that there'd been a whole other score written by Dominic Muldowney — and no one had told us anything about it. It was shocking to us, and Dave and I wouldn't have wasted our time doing our score if we'd known beforehand."

Since Perry, along with the director, Michael Radford, were incredibly insulting to the group, there was more venom in Stewart's words when he described the situation from their point of view and said, "Basically, the producer is a two-faced rat. He'd already got Muldowney to do the music before they asked us — but they didn't tell us that." The guitarist also thought it was ridiculous that the producer would be so critical of their work, but then allow clips of the film to be used in the music video of the band's popular single from the soundtrack, "Sexcime." To Stewart, all of the controversy just seemed to be a ploy to gain more publicity for the movie.

In the end, parts of both works, from Eurythmics and Muldowney, were included in the movie, which changed depending on where the film was released around the world. Yet, while the duo definitely did not enjoy having their music dragged through the mud, they did admit that they had fun recording the album.

There was a band-focused approach for their fifth and sixth albums

The Eurythmics' fifth album, "Be Yourself Tonight," was not only their most successful overall, but it also featured major stars in the music industry, according to AllMusic. The impressive collaborators included Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Elvis Costello, along with several other musicians like the members of Tom Petty's band, The Heartbreakers. 

Then for "Revenge," their sixth record, the duo switched things up a bit but retained their focus on performing with several other musicians. This time around, they recruited semi-permanent members such as Clem Burke, Patrick Seymour, Joniece Jamison, John McKenzie, and former Tom Petty performer, Jimmy 'Z' Zavala (via Discogs).

In "Annie Lennox: The Biography," the lead singer explained the pair's approach and said, "We had guest artists on 'Be Yourself Tonight' ... but we haven't done the same thing on this album because we never like to retread what we've done before. We wanted to show Eurythmics as being a live band, sounding like a live band, a real unit, and we've hand-picked a group of musicians who we're going to play with — not just because of their musicianship but because of their enthusiasm and their attitude towards work."

The Eurythmics members were honored separately in the U.K.

Even though Annie Lennox was still teamed up with Dave Stewart in Eurythmics during all of the 1980s, the duo did not receive recognition as the partnership they were in their home country of the U.K. While both members of the group were given an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist in 1984 and the Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a group in 1987, the two received several Brit Awards as individuals, but not as Eurythmics (via IMDb).

According to the official website of the awards ceremony, Lennox won her first Brit Award for Best British Female in 1984. The singer then received the honor again in 1986, 1989, and 1990. On the other hand, Stewart was given the award for Best British Producer in 1986, 1987, and 1990. Although there was one exception to this in 1990 when both members of the Eurythmics duo were nominated together for British Video of the Year, the group, ultimately, did not win in that occasion.

Dave Stewart wrote songs for many other artists

In as early as 1984, Eurythmics became so successful that multiple other artists wanted to collaborate with Dave Stewart as a producer. In Lucy Ellis' book, "Annie Lennox: The Biography," Stewart said, "I've also been asked to write songs for Tina Turner's next album with Her. I do tend to get a lot of offers from girl singers because they tend to be unsure about asserting themselves with male musicians — it's the way rock-'n'roll's been structured. And I'm fascinated by female singing voices anyway."

According to Stewart, his willingness to work outside of their group upset his partner, but he continued to collaborate with others. The musician told The Guardian, "I couldn't help it. Annie was more reclusive, and I was out in the field." Since the team did not remain together past the decade, this may have been one of the issues that began to form a rift between the pair.

The band broke up without an official announcement

Even though neither felt the need to explain their reasons to the world at the time, Annie Lennox said that she and Dave Stewart reached a point in 1990 where they wanted to move beyond Eurythmics for a time. The singer explained to The Washington Post, "We realized both of us were just tired, tired of it. And we needed a break. We never said we were breaking up. It wasn't like that. But we just thought, 'Look, we'll just do our own thing, and we don't have to make a big announcement.' And at the end of the day, we kind of did break up, but we never said we did, if that makes sense."

Although unintentional, the decision did become permanent for the most part as the two gradually drifted apart. It was not an end to their relationship at all, but they never were as close as they had been while in the band.

Dave Stewart formed The Spiritual Cowboys

After Eurythmics broke up in 1990, Annie Lennox went on to become even more famous as a solo act, but Dave Stewart remained very successful in the music industry as well, especially as a producer and collaborator with other artists. Yet right away, the guitarist also teamed up with the former drummer of Pretenders, Martin Chambers, to form the band called The Spiritual Cowboys, says AllMusic.

However, the new project was short-lived. The Spiritual Cowboys released their first, self-titled record almost immediately in 1990, followed by "Honest" shortly after in 1991. Neither of these works gained much in sales though, so Stewart shifted his focus almost entirely on producing for the next few years. It was not until 1995 that the musician returned to performing and created his first solo album, "Greetings from the Gutter," his most successful record since leaving Eurythmics.

Eurythmics briefly reunited a few times

Even though Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart never reformed Eurythmics for an extended period, they did get back together for some performances over the following decades. Most notably, the duo toured after recording the reunion album, "Peace," in 1999 and then performed at several concerts all for charity, according to The Washington Post.

Yet, the pair also grew much further apart once they were no longer collaborating. The distance between them eventually became so great that when Lennox got married, Stewart was not even invited. The guitarist admitted to The Independent, "I don't even know where the wedding was. I live here with four children and Annie lives between South Africa and London. I'll have to ask her: 'Why not? Why wasn't I invited? Why wasn't I there?' I certainly would have gone if she'd asked me." He also added, "It's weird isn't it? People always still think of us as a couple and yet we barely ever talk now."

Later on, their relationship improved considerably over recent years as the two make sure to keep in touch by phone and occasionally visit the other when they get the chance. If it were up to Stewart, the two would reunite more often, though Lennox has remained more hesitant to that prospect.

The group is in both the U.K. and U.S. Hall of Fames

In 2022, the Eurythmics was finally inducted into the U.S. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with their third nomination. While it may have taken some time to be included in the American institution, the group had already been added to the U.K. Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2020 (via Billboard). Even though the duo were never truly invested in any of these accomplishments, they have certainly been grateful for the acknowledgements once given. 

Upon learning they would become Hall of Famers in the States, Dave Stewart told Rolling Stone, "It's always nice to be recognized for all the hard work and the amount of songs that we put out and recorded and the amount of places we played. You tend to sort of forget as your life goes on, but then when something like this comes up you're like, 'Wow, I nearly killed myself.'" Annie Lennox also commented on how the achievement became more important to them once it began to sink in. She said, "We both feel like some kind of circle has been completed. It's a strange thing. I hadn't expected to feel that way. But things made some sense in a weird kind of way."