Of all the oddball characters in the music business
- and there are certainly some strange eccentrics, let's face it - Toyah
Willcox must come out as one of the strangest of the lot. As far as Toyah
is concerned, controversy and being shocking is all part of her game.
But beneath that mop of bright orange hair (today
it's orange, tomorrow it could be purple, bright yellow or sea green and
silver, whichever way the mood takes her) lies a tough little nut. She's
nobody's fool, our little Miss Toyah.
Born in Birmingham of middle class parents, she
was public school educated. But ended up at 18 with no school qualifications
except an O-level in music.
She then went briefly to Birmingham Old Rep Drama
School. Two months later she was offered a part alongside DJ Noel Edmonds
in a BBC play called Glitter, and then a year later, somewhat surprisingly,
was acting with the National Theatre, spent nine months with them, and
never went back to drama school.
In 1978 she got together her own band and went
out simply as Toyah. Since then, she's done an assortment of things - been
out on the road as a rock star, has hosted TV shows, been a subject of
a TV documentary, and had parts in films like Quadrophenia and Jubilee.
Toyah does exactly what she wants to do. She has
created the 'Toyah look', offbeat fashion gear, and bright coloured hair,
done in different styles every month.
On stage, she really comes alive. She sings those
mystical-sounding songs in a strong, gritty but sometimes haunting voice,
and she dances around as though in a trance. She became the darling of
the 'in-crowd' and was looked upon as one of the pop fashion trendsetters.
At one time, she even formed a band with Adam
Ant and his wife Eve Goddard. "I formed an all-girl band called The Maneaters,
with Eve Goddard and Adam Ant. Adam and I were going to write the music,
but that split up after a big row between the two of us. Our egos just
She has a confidence about her which is almost
frightening. "I've always had a lot of confidence in my own ability," she
says. "A lot of kids go to an audition and they are so frightened that
they blow it. I go up there on stage and tell them I want to do this and
I am going to do it that way - all right? And usually it is."
Top Of The Pops Annual, 1983