Friday, March 25, 2011

That's the way it is - remembering Mel Appleby

When Dutch ska/punk/pop band Doe Maar split I was in shock. I was about 8 years old but I was devastated, as I've written numerous times before in this blog. I also mentioned that there's a hole in my music-memory after they split, not knowing all the popular bands that were round at that time. Duran Duran? Wham? Dolly Dots? Spandau Ballet? I had no idea. Up until I found a new band I loved.

This band, or duo more likely, was Mel & Kim. They were two sisters from London who had their first hit in 1986/1987, depending on where you lived. They were discovered by Stock Aitken & Waterman who would be the ones to launch Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Big Fun, Sinita, The Reynold Girls and many more upon us. Mel & Kim have released one album, four singles and released a total of 11 songs all together.

I loved this band so much. My barbies (I was about 10) were dressed like them, I bought the magazines they were in, I bought every version of their album (I own 3), every single I found, every 12". Same track listing but different cover? The item was mine. You could say that Mel & Kim were the first band I got record collecting about. With Doe Maar I depended on my parents buying me the albums, but now I devoted my pocket money to Mel & Kim. I even dared to amateuristic do my hair like them. I played their album, a 9-track affair, constantly. It was pop, dancable pop with a r'n'b basis. I was massively into Mel & Kim.

Mel fell down the stairs. She was down with a serious back injury. This was a set back but she would return right? It was only a back injury. Right?

They hadn't actually lied, she was down with metastatic paraganglioma, cancer. It was denied for a long time but when pictures emerged of a very swollen Melanie trying her first steps again, they confirmed that she had in fact cancer. It wasn't the first time she had suffered from cancer, she had liver cancer at the age of 18. She would be okay. And she wasn't thinking of dying. In a German magazine they spoke about death but I cut it out of the article prior to sticking it into my scrap book.

They released a new single in 1988. Things would be okay. They had to be. It became quiet about the girls again. Until January 1990. It rained that morning. I met with a friend at the traffic light, like every morning, as we drove to school together. She told me Mel had died. Liar, I said at first but then I cried. I cried on my bicycle in the rain all the way to school. At school people came to me telling me they were sorry for me. Back home I sat under my desk unable to look at my posters, looking at Mel smiling on these images. She had died of pneumonia, she was weakened by the chemotherapy. It was said she had beat cancer.

Mel was only 23 when she died. It's nor her birthday today either, but I had to think of her today, as I do every now and then. She was such a bright spirit, her laughter features in their UK number 1 'Respectable'. She was the first musician who died while I was being a fan. I hope other people remember her as well. Even if it's as part of 'that annoying Stock Aitken & Waterman production'. For this 11-year-old, she was cool. And, as questionable as it may seem now, a fashion icon.