Tears For Fears Biography

The Story of a Pop Rock Band

Tears for Fears is one of the most influential bands of the 80s, with the first album, Songs from the Big Chair, which went platinum in the U.S.

Tears For Fears is a British alternative rock band formed in Sheffield, England, in 1981. The group was known for its emotional songs about love and loss and is considered by some critics as one of the most influential alternative bands. They are best known for their 1982 hit single “Shout,” which reached No. 2 on the UK charts.

Tears for Fears had a pretty exciting career. From their beginnings as a synth-pop band in the early 1980s, to their major-label debut album The Hurting (1982), to the iconic 1985 hit single “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Tears for Fears have always been ahead of the curve.

From their debut album Songs from the Big Chair to their recent greatest hits compilation, The Road to Nowhere, Tears For Fears were synonymous with music in the 1980s.


Well, it all started in 1981 in Sheffield, England. The members were Roland Orzabal (vocals, keyboards), Curt Smith (guitar, backing vocals), and Ian Stanley (bass, backing vocals).

The band was initially formed by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, who met at the University of Reading. While Curt was studying business at university, Roland had been writing songs in his spare time. They became friends, started writing songs together, and decided to form a band. After hearing their demo tape, they recruited keyboard player Geoff Downes and bassist Mark Jordan. 

They named themselves Tears for Fears. The band’s name comes from a lyric in Orzabal’s early song “Everybody Wants To Rule The World.” He was inspired by a visit to a museum in London, where he saw a sculpture of a woman weeping. The band began performing in the area around Sheffield, and at the same time, they were getting more and more gigs in London.

In 1982, they released their debut album, Songs from the Big Chair. It was a synth-pop record, but it also featured some rock songs. The album was a big success in Europe and was certified Gold in the U.S.

Studio Albums

In 1981, the band released their first single, “The Hurting,” a Top 10 hit in the UK. Their debut album, Songs from the Big Chair, was released in 1982 and became a massive success, going platinum in the U.S.

Orzabal and Smith left the band in 1983, leaving Stanley and keyboardist/vocalist David Bryne as the remaining members. In 1984, the band released their another album, Songs From The Big Chair, which also went platinum in the U.S.

Hence, the band was signed to a major label. After their third album, 1985’s The Seeds of Love, the band experienced a significant shift in direction and released the critically acclaimed, top-selling album Everybody Loved a Happy Ending in 1986.

Further, the band released their fourth album, Talk About Life, in 1987, which featured the singles “Head Over Heels” and “Mad World.” The latter song peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the album sold more than three million copies worldwide.

Later on, they released their fifth album, Songs from the Big Chair, in 1988. To summarize, the album was a huge success, selling more than two million copies worldwide, and going platinum in the U.S.

Undeniably, it was a turning point in the band’s career. So with the continue effort to work with producer Chris Hughes and released their sixth studio album, Strange Town, in 1989. It was a concept album that dealt with issues such as the AIDS epidemic and the Gulf War. It was also their first album to reach gold status in the U.S.

In 1990, the band released their seventh album, Songs from the Big Chair Part II. This album was the last one to feature David Bryne, who left the band in 1991.

Bryne was replaced by Mark E. Smith of The Fall, who had previously worked with Orzabal and Smith on their solo projects.

Solo Career

Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith both released solo albums in the late 1980s. The band released several albums, as given below:

  • The Last Temptation
  •  Head Over Heels.
  • The Wilder Side of Life
  • The Way It Is
  • The Wildest Dream
  • The Promise
  • Don’t Lose Your Head
  • Tears in the Rain
  • We’re Not Alone
  • Don’t Leave Me

Awards and Recognition

  • In 1990, the band won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group for “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”
  • They also won a Brit Award for Best British Single in 1989 for “Head Over Heels.”
  • The band also received a Brit Award nomination for Best British Group in 1992.
  • The band has been nominated for four Grammys, including a nomination for Album of the Year in 1994.
  • In 1996, the band received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Music Awards.
  • Their eighth studio album, Talk About Life, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997. The band received a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1998.
  • The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Final Words

In the end, the story of Tears for Fears isn’t quite so simple. After signing with EMI, they had to wait five years to release a new album because the label was concerned about the band’s commercial potential. Finally, they released Songs From the Big Chair, which became a hit in Europe, but not in the US. Then, They dropped them from the label and struggled to find a new home for years. Finally, they signed with Island Records and released two more albums, Roland the Head and The Seeds of Love.