02 September 2020

Mel and Kim

Fun, love, money and hair. The 1980s loved them all. And the sparkling new hair products, mousse, gel and extensions. Kim recalls that Mel washed her extended hairdo and phoned her with an urgent warning: 'Kim! Don't wash it! It goes like a mattress!'

Mel and Kim Appleby were two young English sisters - cockneys to be precise. They scaled the heights of pop stardom in the late 1980s and we loved them. They were celebrated not just for their talent but for being two English black women (or women of colour or whatever the current politically correct saying is) who'd scaled those heights, but I'd long ago learned that English was not a colour, and I was simply bowled over by their music, dance moves and sparkling sense of fun.

I remember seeing them being interviewed by Andrea Arnold (Dawn of kids' show No 73) and they were so natural, down-to-earth and downright likeable I could have grabbed a mug of tea and joined them for a natter without feeling even remotely star-struck - not like when I met Percy Sugden from Coronation Street and was absolutely gobsmacked.

Mel and Kim made it big as part of the Stock/Aitken/Waterman starburst, although Mel was already a model.

The news that Mel had cancer was stunning. I associated the sisters with fun and dance and wonderful nights out, me splashing on the latest swanky aftershave, dolloping on mousse or hair gel, and my latest Miami Vice inspired finery.

And not tragedy.

The meeting of the two extremes seemed incomprehensible to me at the time. I struggled to get my head round it.

Now I still listen to their music at times, and dance and smile and remember the good times, but not without more than a hint of sadness. 

And I say...

God bless, Mel - and all the best, Kim. Thanks for providing the soundtrack to some lovely times. x

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