Iconic 80s pop star unrecognisable 30 years after hit Young At Heart from a TV ad – and he’s now a lecturer in Glasgow

They achieved chart success in the 80s and were ‘mentored’ by Elvis Costello.

But it wasn’t until one of their singles was used in a televised Volkswagen advert that The Bluebells became a household name.

Ken McCluskey is working as a lecturer these days

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Ken McCluskey is working as a lecturer these daysCredit: Getty
The Bluebells released a new album this year

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The Bluebells released a new album this yearCredit: Getty

Their memorable track Young At Heart reached an impressive number eight in the charts when it was first released in 1983, but nine years later it truly became a smash hit when it soared to the top spot.

Frontman Ken McCluskey looks very different these days and plies his trade as a music business lecturer at Glasgow Kelvin College.

But he’s never shied away from performing and The Bluebells had a second-coming this year with the release of their long-awaited second studio album In The 21st Century, nearly four decades after debut Sisters.

In a chat with Discovery Music, Ken was nothing but humble in his overview of the band’s success and early career.

He said: “The first real big single was I’m Falling which reached no.11 in the charts and then our biggest hit Young at Heart which got to no.8 first time around. Ten years later it was used in a Volkswagen advert and on the back of that it got to no.1.

“So we had a few singles and we released an album Sisters in 1984 which we worked with people like Elvis Costello who produced some of it – he was a bit of a mentor to us. We went on tour with him and also a band called Haircut 100 who were really big at the time. We kind of got two audiences, the younger from Haircut 100 and the slightly older audiences from Elvis Costello.”

While the band relished being in the studio with Elvis and his commitment to their work, they were disappointed when their label shelved the tracks in favour of more commercial options.

Fortunately the songs – Aim in Life and Some Sweet Day – have now seen the light of day as bonus additions.

Ken told The Music Files in 2020: “I don’t think the London records executives really knew what to do with us and were a bit unsure what to do with the Elvis Costello produced sessions.

“They tried to bland us out a bit, as everything was being pushed towards ‘Smash Hits’ as opposed to the NME or Sounds, but at that time everything was turning from black and white to colour, and videos were more important for the newly established MTV and even the Record Mirror went from black and white broadsheet to colourful magazine targeting mostly teenage girls.”

The band’s latest release proved the magic is very much still there and was met with critical warmth.

The reflective, infectious collection picks up where the band left off decades earlier but with a modern sheen.

The Bluebells in their 80s pomp

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The Bluebells in their 80s pomp

 

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