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Flying Pickets

The Flying Pickets was a British a cappella vocal group, known for a surprise number one hit in 1983 on the U.K. singles chart with their cover 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 a capella 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 soul 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. Hibbard and Gittins tried desperately to stay in the music business, and they formed their own act called 'Brian and Stripe'. Unfortunately, their first and only single failed, and they returned to their separate acting careers. Other group members drifted into various careers. Since the original Flying Pickets split, a new team of five ambitious men have tried to follow in the original's footsteps. Yet they have had no chart success. Still, they've toured around Europe in lots of small venues all year round, trying to at least touch the giddy heights of their predecessors.

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