The Romantics is an American power pop and new wave band from Detroit, Michigan, formed in 1977. The band adopted the name "The Romantics" because they formed on Valentine's Day. The Romantics achieved popularity in the United States, Canada, parts of Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America during the first half of the 1980s on the strength of the band's songs and music videos. They were influenced by 1950s American rock and roll and 1960s American garage rock as well as British Invasion music.
The Romantics' original lineup consisted of lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, and harmonicist Wally Palmar, lead guitarist and backing vocalist Mike Skill, bassist and backing vocalist Rich Cole, and drummer and lead vocalist Jimmy Marinos. All four band members made songwriting contributions to the group, but Palmar and Skill were considered the band's primary tunesmiths. After a few years of playing local and regional gigs in Detroit and the Midwest, this lineup of the Romantics recorded the band's self-titled debut album for Nemperor Records in 1980 with British producer Pete Solley. The group's true record debut was the 1978 single on Spider Records, "Little White Lies" / "I Can't Tell You Anything", followed that year by the Bomp single "Tell It to Carrie" / "First in Line" (on the Bomp! Records label). All of these were re-recorded later for the first LP.
The album yielded the hit "What I Like About You," which reached No. 49 in the US, No. 12 in the Netherlands, and No. 2 in Australia, where the band was especially popular.
Mike Skill left the band after the release of its second album, National Breakout, in 1981. He was replaced by lead guitarist Coz Canler. This lineup of the band recorded the album Strictly Personal in 1982, before Rich Cole left the band that year and was replaced by a returning Skill, who then became the band's bassist.
The Romantics achieved their greatest commercial success in 1983/84 with the release of the album In Heat. The first single taken from In Heat, "Talking In Your Sleep", rose to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart. It was also a hit in several other countries (No. 2 Canada, No. 14 Australia, No. 18 Germany, No. 20 Netherlands, No. 15 South Africa, No. 5 Sweden, No. 20 Switzerland, etc.). A second single, "One In A Million", peaked at No. 37 during the following year. The Romantics' music videos were frequently shown on the cable television network MTV during this period, solidifying the band's popularity. Also during 1983, the Romantics played U.S. and international concert tours in support of In Heat, and appeared on such pop music-themed television shows as Solid Gold, American Bandstand, and Soul Train.
In 1984, drummer Jimmy Marinos left the Romantics, and he was replaced by David Petratos, who would serve as the band's drummer until 1990. This lineup recorded one album, Rhythm Romance, in 1985. Detroit keyboardist Barry Warner was also added to the band for the following 1985–1986 tour.
In the late 1980s, the Romantics discovered that their managers had been misappropriating the profits earned by the band from its records and live performances. Additionally, one of their releases (the aforementioned "What I Like About You") had been licensed for use in television commercials without the band's knowledge or approval. Consequently, the Romantics filed a lawsuit against their management in 1987, and the legalities involved prevented the band from recording new music until the mid-1990s.
Former Blondie drummer Clem Burke replaced David Petratos as the Romantics' drummer in 1990. For much of the 1990s, the Romantics played obscure performances in small venues, largely forgotten and out of the public spotlight.
The Romantics' fortunes began to rise again in the middle of the 1990s, as the band's success in its lawsuit against its former management freed the band to record again (and ensured that future earnings from the licensing of Romantics songs would go to the band). The first fruit of the band's new recording activity was the 1993 EP Made In Detroit. Several Romantics greatest hits packages were issued during the 1990s, as was the live album The King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents: The Romantics Live In Concert, a 1996 release of an October 1983 recording of a Romantics concert in San Antonio, Texas at the height of the band's popularity.
Jimmy Marinos, the Romantics' original drummer, temporarily returned to the band for a series of performances in 1996-1997 (with Clem Burke returning to the Romantics' drumstool after Marinos departed again), and late 1990s nostalgia for 1980s pop culture caused a minor resurgence of interest in the band. In 2003, twenty years after the release of their most commercially successful album, In Heat, the Romantics released 61/49 – a more roots rock and blues-oriented record than the band's previous efforts. Although Clem Burke performed as the band's primary drummer on the release, original drummer Jimmy Marinos is featured on half of the tracks. The album was not a great commercial success, but won the Romantics a newfound critical respect that they had not enjoyed during their popular and commercial heyday in the early 1980s. 61/49 also offered proof that despite the band's years out of the public spotlight, the Romantics remain a potent musical unit.
A fourth drummer, Brad Elvis, replaced Clem Burke as the Romantics' regular drummer in 2004 after Burke returned full-time to a reactivated Blondie. Clem Burke continues to perform with The Romantics when Brad Elvis is not available. Most recently, Burke played with The Romantics on March 6, 2010 at the Frisco Art Festival. During the encore, The Romantics were joined by students from The Paul Green School of Rock Music, which was the basis for School of Rock, the 2003 American comedy film from Paramount Pictures, starring Jack Black.
The Romantics continue to play live concerts today (with occasional guest performances by previous members Jimmy Marinos, Rich Cole, Clem Burke and David Petratos). The band is said to currently be working on a follow up to 61/49.
Sony was rumored to have had plans for the release of a special 12-song CD/DVD during February, 2006 that would feature the Romantics' best songs, with the flip side of the CD/DVD featuring videos, recent interviews, and other clips. To date, this CD/DVD has not been issued and additional information about its release has not been publicized.
Rich Cole returned to the band after a long absence in 2010. Longtime lead guitarist Coz Canler left the band in 2011, allowing Skill to return to the original lead guitarist role he held in the band.
On November 21, 2007, The Romantics filed a lawsuit against Activision, RedOctane, Harmonix, and Wavegroup Sound over the cover of the song "What I Like About You" used in Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s. While the game developers did secure appropriate rights to cover the song in the game, The Romantics claim that the cover is "virtually indistinguishable from the authentic version" and thus would "[confuse] consumers into believing that the band actually recorded the music and endorsed the product". The lawsuit requested the cessation of sales of the game and monetary damage.
A summary judgment hearing was held on July 9, 2008, and the case was dismissed the next month, with U.S. District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds stating that Activision had obtained the proper licensing for the works and that the band itself no longer held the copyright on the work.
|"—" denotes releases that failed to chart|
|1979||Tell it to Carrie/Runnin' Away//First in Line/Let's Swing|
|1993||Made in Detroit|
|1996||The King Biscuit Flour Hour Presents: The Romantics Live in Concert|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US||US Main Rock||US Dance||SWE|
|1977||"Little White Lies"||—||—||—||—||Single only|
|1978||"Tell It to Carrie"||—||—||—||—|
|1979||"What I Like About You"||49||—||—||—||The Romantics|
|1980||"When I Look in Your Eyes"||—||—||—||—|
|"Tell It to Carrie" (re-release)||—||—||—||—|
|"Forever Yours"||—||—||—||—||National Breakout|
|1981||"A Night Like This"||—||—||—||—|
|"No One Like You"||—||—||—||—||Strictly Personal|
|1983||"Talking in Your Sleep"||3||2||1||5||In Heat|
|"Rock You Up"||—||49||—||—|
|1984||"One in a Million"||37||22||—||—|
|1985||"Test of Time"||71||44||—||—||Rhythm Romance|
|"—" denotes releases that failed to chart|
- on In Our Time at the BBC. ()