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Arts & Music

'80s icon Adam Ant bringing energy, charisma to St. Petersburg


Published:   |   Updated: August 8, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Before girls went gaga over One Direction and Justin Bieber, there was “Antmania,” which dwarfs the response contemporary pop stars receive. Antmania was all about Adam Ant, a.k.a. Stuart Goddard, who amassed an astounding 22 hits from 1980 to 1985. He became the biggest star in Britain and was very popular in much of the rest of the world. Goddard was absolutely ubiquitious, particularly in the UK.

“It was as if I was everywhere,” Goddard said while calling from his London home. “It was an incredible ride. I was on MTV all of the time and selling out halls everywhere. It was amazing.”

The charismatic Goddard never received enough credit as a recording artist. Goddard has morphed more than most of his peers, who came of age during the '80s.

Goddard, 58, who grew up in London during the '60s, evolved from theatrical punk artist who, with “Ant Music,” led Adam and the Ants to new wave pioneer.

He then became a pop artist courtesy of clever and catchy tunes such as “Strip” and “Stand and Deliver” and amusing music videos, which exploited his good looks,

Goddard, who will appear tonight at the Palladium Theater, continued to evolve. When the new wave bubble burst, he released albums that were filed under alternative rock. “You have to keep moving as a recording artist,” Goddard said. “My inspiration didn't end once the '80s came to a close.”

But when the mid-'90s arrived, Goddard finally fell out of favor courtesy of the disappointing 1994 release “Wonderful.”

“It was about time,” Goddard said. “I needed a break from the industry. I needed some time away.”

The hiatus was rather extensive. Goddard, who is touring behind the unwieldly title “Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter,” which dropped in January, needed the break.

Mental health issues kept Goddard from the studio. “It's been a lifelong battle,” Goddard said.

As a child, Goddard tried to commit suicide. After a few well-publicized incidents in 2002 and 2003, Ant became as well known for his personal issues as his music.

“It's bipolar disorder,” Goddard said. “You shouldn't be ashamed about it. I've been dealing with it.”

Goddard is apparently handling it well with medication. His comeback album is among his most varied and adventurous. The campy, dramatic pop-rock is ambitious and surprising.

Goddard is still an entertaining and engaging live performer. During a performance at a sold-out 800 capacity theater in Philadelphia last autumn, Goddard impressed with his energy and charisma. He no longer sports the stripe on his face, which marked him throughout his salad days. At the moment, Goddard looks like a friend of Jack Sparrow, an aging wayward pirate.

“I'm still having fun,” Goddard said. “I like to dress up when I go to work. I'm still doing what I love. Music has always been everything to me. I was always exposed to it.”

As a child, he walked Paul McCartney's dog. “My mother worked for him,” Goddard said. “It was incredible being around his house as a kid.”

However, Goddard didn't meet McCartney until he was recording in a London studio during the early '80s. “I called my mom and she came down and they had a reunion,” Goddard said. “It was one of the nicest things. I have so many great memories from when things went really well for me. I'm making some new memories now.”

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Palladium Theater, 253 Fifth Ave., N., St. Petersburg

Tickets: $345, $45, $35, $25; (727) 791-7400 and www.rutheckerdhall.com

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