Do you still have “One Love” for these boys? “All Rise”, it’s Blue”
The story goes that Lee Ryan (b.1983) and Antony Costa (b.1981) met in 1999 when they both auditioned for a band being put together by Simon Cowell. Ryan won but Costa did not. The planned boy band did not happen but Lee and Antony stayed in touch and with one of his friends, Duncan James (b.1978), approached manager Daniel Glatman with a view to putting the three together for their own project. Glatman felt four was better than three and so Lee’s flatmate, Simon Webbe (b.1978), was roped in. They called themselves Blue and in May 2001, they released their debut single, “All Rise”.
Right from the word go, Blue found success with the song going top five in the UK, all around Europe and top three in Australia. They followed this with “Too Close”, which took them to the very top and repeated this with the follow up, the slushy ballad, “If You Come Back”, released in November, just before their debut album, “All Rise”. The album would also peak at the top in the UK, being quad-Platinum certified. It featured a further UK top ten hit, “Fly By II” and the New Zealand only release, “Best In Me”, which gave them five top ten hits there from a Platinum certified album.
Not ones for hanging around too long, Blue released a new single, “One Love”, in October 2002, which went top three in the UK and was a top ten hit everywhere else. The album of the same name followed soon after, joining “All Rise” in earning four Platinum discs at home and more from abroad. Blue were back on top at the end of 2002, this time with a cover of Elton John’s 1976 hit, “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”, which featured the man himself, although “One Love” brought just one more chart hit single, “U Make Me Wanna” in early 2003, as the boys moved on to yet more new material, but not before a potential court case threatened their name. Hugh and David Nicholson of Scottish band Blue, took them to court in the Summer of 2003 for use of the Blue name, although a ruling was made that allowed both sides to retain the title.
Our Blue came back straight away with a new single, “Guilty”, in October 2003, which peaked at No.2 in the UK and was the lead single from their third album of the same name, which, yes you’ve guessed it, went to number one and brought in yet more Platinum discs than you would know where to store! They teamed up with another legendary performer for this album, Stevie Wonder, for a cover of his 1970 single, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours” and notched up two more global top ten hits with “Breathe Easy” and “Bubblin'”. Another new Blue song was released before 2004 was out, “Curtain Falls”, which was taken from a best of compilation released in time for Christmas. The “Best Of Blue” earned more Platinum and double Platinum awards as the boys took to the road in 2005 on a world tour. But it was more of a finale as they announced just after, they were taking a break.
Duncan James kept himself busy becoming an actor and television presenter as well as releasing his top two debut solo hit, “I Believe My Heart”, in 2004. Costa also hit the small screen as well as releasing a single, “Do You Ever Think Of Me”, in 2006 – make sure you catch his hilarious appearance on music quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks from 2008! Lee Ryan also launched his own solo career and achieved a big hit with “Army Of Lovers” in 2005 while Simon Webbe scored two top five hits on his own in 2005 with “Lay Your Hands” and “No Worries”. But Blue were not done yet…
They not only reformed in 2011 but represented the UK at that year’s Eurovision Song Contest with their comeback single, “I Can”. It came 11th overall, the best placing for two year, while the song peaked at No.16 in the charts while making the top ten in Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Spending the next twelve months writing, Blue launched their fourth album with the single “Hurt Lovers” in 2012, while the album itself, “Roulette”, came the following Spring. The album featured a number of digital released singles, most notably “Without You”, which charted in Germany and Switzerland through and into 2014, while “Break My Heart” featured on the additional “Roulette” Summer 2013 EP as a bonus to the album.
Blue recorded their fifth album, “Colours”, in late 2015-early 2015, releasing the album in March lead by the single, “King Of The World”. But when the album sold just 4,000 copies in its first week and then sank, they were dropped by their record label, Sony. Blue ‘attempted’ recording an album in 2017 and again in 2019, but due to financial difficulties, neither happened and have yet to happen. Blue remain together and are hopeful something will happen “very soon”, meanwhile the individuals continue to pursue their own external activities, James continuing his TV career as a presenter, although he has largely abandoned his own music career. Lee Ryan joined the cast of Eastenders in 2017 for a year as Harry Woodward and guested on the 2018 series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Ryan reignited his music career in 2019 with the single “Ghost” and in 2020, has released two further new compositions, “Mockingbirds” and “Swayed”. Simon Webbe released his third solo album, “Smile”, in 2017 and in 2020, also returned with the track “Casino Royale” with Malaysian duo BATE. The Blue dream continues with the hope of new material, one day…
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