Are you ready to take a journey? Get ready to shake your body just a little bit more, it’s 911!
Jimmy Constable (b.1971) and Spike Dawbarn (b.1974) made friends in 1990 and successfully auditioned for the late night television music show The Hit Man And Her with Pete Waterman. By 1995, both lads had got the urge to go into the music business and it was through a connection with manager Steve Gilmour, that they met Lee Brennan (b.1973) and 911 was born. The boys took to the road doing shows and clubs until Virgin Records picked them up and signed them. They quickly recorded what would become their debut single, a cover of Shalamar‘s “A Night To Remember”, and this was put out in April 1996, although for a cover, the 911 version was not as big a hit as you might think. The track only just broke the UK top 40 and peaked at No.38.
It was, however, all uphill from this moment on as 911 became poster stars in many of the teenage music magazines and two months later they released an original follow up with “Love Sensation”, which did much better in getting to No.21 and going even further was their third and final release of 1996, “Don’t Make Me Wait”, which went top ten as the 911 boys completed recording of their debut album, working predominantly with writers and producers Eliot Kennedy, Mike Percy and Tim Lever and popping in another cover version, this time “Rhythm Of The Night”, a track written by Diane Warren and previously recorded by DeBarge in 1985. 911 released “The Day We Find Love” in time for Valentine’s 1997 and it took them into the top five this time with their album, “The Journey”, released two weeks later. Two further top five hits would come from “The Journey” with “Bodyshakin’” selling over 200,000 copies while the album would gain a Gold certification.
911 took to the road in 1997 to sellout crowds in the UK, Australia and in the Far East, where their popularity was such that they sold out 35 nights within hours of the tickets going on sale! 911 also began to prepare for album number two and released “Party People…Friday Night” at the end of the year, giving them a fourth successive top five hit in the UK. Jimmy, Lee and Spike now began to take more control of their work and appeared as songwriters on most of the tracks that would form “Moving On”. Two further top ten hits would precede the album, “All I Want Is You” in March (UK No.4) and “How Do You Want Me To Love You?” in June (UK No.10) while “Moving On” followed a month later peaking in the top ten and gaining a Silver certification. But that was it for the album as the boys played live once more during the Summer of 1998 and pumped out a collection of cover versions less than a year later with their take on the Bee Gees “More Than A Woman” coming in October.
The song gave 911 their highest charting single yet, reaching No.2 in the UK. But it didn’t stop there. 911 went one further at the beginning of 1999 as they topped the chart with “A Little Bit More”, a hit for Dr. Hook in 1973, which had stopped at No.2 in the UK! The album, “There It Is”, featured covers of Rick Astley‘s “Never Gonna Give You Up“, Style Council’s “You’re The Best Thing” and “Private Number”, by Judy Clay and William Bell, which 911 took to No.3 giving them ten UK top ten hits in a row, while the album also went top ten, peaking at No.8 and reeling in another Silver award. But as so often happens with pop groups, the cracks began to appear and with personal issues and tensions at fever pitch, 911 decided to quit when they were on top. A greatest hits album with a new track, “Wonderland”, was released at the end of 1999 and that was that for 911. But not quite…Lee and Spike pursued musical ambitions of their own while Jimmy slipped out of sight for a few years.
911 reformed in 2005 for the TV series Hit Me Baby One More Time alongside other reunited pop acts of the 1990’s. The boys went on tour in 2008 and reformed again in 2012 for another reality contest, The Big Reunion. The subsequent tour that went into 2013 saw interest in 911 back to where it has been fifteen years earlier and encouraged by this, the ‘boys’ put out a new best of album, “Illuminate…The Hits And More)”, which featured two brand new tracks, “2 Hearts, 1 Love” and “I Do”, both of which were released as singles. 911, together with Blue, 5ive and A1, went on another Big Reunion tour throughout 2014 and they ‘boys’ have not stopped since. 2019 found them back in the Far East for more sellout shows, just as they had done 20 years earlier, while 2022 and 2023 will see 911 back on home soil for some new shows across the UK…and there could be some new tunes as well!