Tony Hadley ‘bullied’ by Spandau Ballet bandmates and Martin Kemp feels ‘guilty’: ‘It would’ve been too much for me’

Tony quit the band in 2017

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Music star Tony Hadley, who appears on James Martin’s Saturday Morning today (February 17), rose to fame in the 1980s group Spandau Ballet and had a feud with his band members, including Martin Kemp.

The hitmaking group consisted of brothers Martin and Gary Kemp, frontman Tony, saxophonist Steve Norman, and drummer John Keeble. At the height of their fame, they achieved 10 top 10 hits, including the No. 1 hit True.

Despite their huge success, the band put on a united front as behind the scenes, however, not everything was as it seemed.

Spandau Ballet smiling
Spandau Ballet reunited in 2009 (Credit:

Tensions had been ‘brewing’ for years

In 1990, the band announced a break, which resulted in the members pursuing solo careers. However, the hiatus ended up in the band splitting after Tony, John and Steve attempted to sue Gary in a High Court Battle over loyalties.

Years later, in 2009, the band seemingly put everything behind them and reunited for a world tour and a new album. However, it wasn’t long until they had another fallout.

In 2017, Tony quit the band after claiming the other members “made his life impossible”.

During this time, the band was still in demand and was being offered new opportunities. Tony, on the other hand, was not interested and wanted to keep pursuing a solo career.

“Tony has been billed as being ‘formerly of’ Spandau Ballet on several tour posters,” an inside source told the Mirror.

“There had been tensions brewing between Tony and the rest of the group for almost two years since he decided he did not want to perform with them. This was the final straw, and Tony had an ultimatum – take part in Spandau or quit entirely.”

Standing by his decision to never join Spandau Ballet again, Tony once said: “You could offer me all the tea in China and I wouldn’t get back with them. There’s no way.”

Tony was the ‘brunt of the jokes’

In his book, Ticket to the World: My 80s Story, Martin admitted that he was guilty of ‘bullying’ Tony.

“If you imagine five boys in the playground, there’s always going to be one guy that’s going to take the brunt of the jokes,” he told The Guardian.

“Now, I’m not saying that Tony was bullied, as such… but he took all the banter. I can look back at it now with space. And I don’t like the way that we used to group up on Tony, and I feel guilty about that… If it was me, I think it would have been too much for me.”

Martin insisted his feud with Tony stemmed from “singer envy”.

Gary and Martin Kemp smiling
Gary and Martin Kemp didn’t have a friendship with Tony (Credit:

Gary said he and Tony had a ‘working relationship’

Despite their chemistry on stage, Gary insisted that he and Tony’s relationship never blossomed outside of work.

“Tony and I never hung out other than working together, even at school. Steve Norman and I were friends for sure, John Keeble and I were friends,” he revealed to the Daily Star. “But there was nothing with Tony. It’s not like, ‘Oh, I need to regain our friendship’. Mine and Tony’s relationship was a working relationship, always was.”

In March 2023, Tony continued to express no interest in a Spandau Ballet reunion. “I’m pretty easy-going, it takes a lot to get to that point but once you’ve pushed me and crossed that line, that’s it. I’m done,” he said.

Read more: Martin Kemp recalls son’s near-drowning at George Michael’s pool

Catch Tony on James Martin’s Saturday Morning on ITV1 on February 17 at 9.30am.

Martin Kemp reveals his biggest regret with Spandau Ballet | Jeremy Vine On 5

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Fabio Magnocavallo
Freelance Writer