|Height:||155 cm (5' 2'')|
|Birth Day:||May 18, 1958|
|Birth Place:||Kings Heath, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom|
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
|155 cm (5' 2'')||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
In 1977, while playing Emma in Tales from the Vienna Woods at the National Theatre, Willcox, inspired by her role as a musician in Glitter, fronted a band called Toyah which featured Joel Bogen on guitar, Mark Henry on bass, Steve Bray on drums, Peter Bush on keyboards, and herself on vocals. Having never considered herself a musician, she found herself fronting a successful band, although still uncertain about her own sexuality and repelled by her bandmates' antics with groupies.
Introduced by actor Ian Charleson to director Derek Jarman, Willcox was offered 'any part you want' in Jubilee (called Down with the Queen at the time). Plagued by budgetary issues, the film featured Willcox as the murderous 'Mad', as well as a number of other prominent figures from the punk scene. She went on to play 'Monkey' in the 1979 film of The Who's Quadrophenia, having been introduced to director Franc Roddam through an association with John Lydon. Willcox demanded the part of Monkey from Roddam. She completed filming despite requiring medical attention for pneumonia.
The possibility of a role in the Sex Pistols' film, The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle under director Russ Meyer having fallen through, Willcox went on to play Miranda in Derek Jarman's version of The Tempest, which won her a nomination as Best Newcomer at the 1980 Evening Standard Awards. Continuing a stage career alongside film work, in 1979, on London's Royal Court Theatre stage, Willcox played Sharon in Nigel Williams' Sugar and Spice, Tallulah in Stephen Poliakoff's American Days at the ICA, playing alongside Mel Smith, Antony Sher and Phil Daniels and taking a film role opposite Katharine Hepburn in the made-for-television film The Corn Is Green, directed by George Cukor.
In London, Willcox lived in a place called "Mayhem", a converted British Rail warehouse serving as a studio. It was here the band Toyah recorded their first demos. For the lack of proper bed she slept for a while in a "second-hand" coffin, reportedly used by the French Red Cross to transport victims of fatal accidents. Citing her role in Quadrophenia as a boost to her musical career, with growing audiences Toyah signed to Safari Records, releasing a debut single "Victims of the Riddle", which topped the UK Indie Charts. This was followed by the Sheep Farming in Barnet EP, produced by Steve James and Keith Hale. Initially released in Germany, in 1979 it was re-released as an LP, comprising the original six tracks, "Victims of the Riddle" A and B sides and three tracks that were previously unavailable on vinyl. Willcox's second album, The Blue Meaning, went up to no. 40 in the UK Albums Chart in June 1980. By this time she is reported as announcing she had severed all ties with punk aesthetics.
In January 1981, the live album Toyah! Toyah! Toyah!, recorded at the Lafayette Club in Wolverhampton the previous June, made it to the Top 30, backed up by a TV documentary Toyah. By now the original band had broken up and a new lineup was in place, consisting of Phil Spalding, Nigel Glocker and Adrian Lee, only Joel Bogen remaining and Toyah. 1981 saw Willcox's strengthened presence in the charts with hits such as Four from Toyah EP (no. 4, February 1981, including "It's a Mystery"), the third album Anthem that went to no. 2 in May 1981 to be later certified platinum, "I Want to Be Free" (no. 8, June 1981), "Thunder in the Mountains" (no. 4, October 1981) and Four More from Toyah EP (no. 14, November 1981). She became one of the first acts to score regularly in the UK Singles Chart with EPs, which were also successful on an international level. At the end of the year Willcox won the Smash Hits' reader's poll in two categories: Best Female Singer and Most Fanciable Female (beating Kim Wilde to the second place). In 1981 she alone, according to Safari, sold in the UK more units than the whole of the Warner Bros. put together.
In 1982 The Changeling album was released, produced by Steve Lillywhite, marking a turn for a more goth-tinged sound, it went up to no. 6 in the UK. The Changeling was followed in the same year by a double live album Warrior Rock: Toyah on Tour. Also in 1982, Willcox appeared in Urgh! A Music War, a British film released in 1982 featuring performances by punk rock, new wave, and post-punk acts, filmed in 1980, in which she performed "Danced". Three more of her singles, "Brave New World", "Ieya" and "Be Proud Be Loud (Be Heard)" charted in the Top 50.
Toyah Willcox disbanded her group, signed to Portrait Records, and in 1985 released the solo album Minx which contained several cover versions including Alice Cooper's "School's Out" as well as her own hit "Don't Fall in Love".
In 1986 Willcox married UK guitarist Robert Fripp, formerly of King Crimson, in Poole, Dorset and formed with him a new band Sunday All Over The World which released critically acclaimed Kneeling at the Shrine album. She referred to Fripp as her 'soul mate'. The same year she also sang lead on the Tony Banks' track "Lion of Symmetry". Her next solo album Desire (1987) was less successful although the single with her version of "Echo Beach" made it Top 50. Then in 1988 Prostitute came out, an album through which Willcox vented her frustrations which started to accumulate as a result of having made the transformation "from all-powerful artist to invisible woman" in the course of just one year of marriage. This experimental concept album, marking a considerable divergence from previous works, was released on E.G. Records. The attitude to Prostitute, according to Willcox, in the UK and the US was radically different: "In the UK, when my management tried to sell it to the music reps, an awful lot got up and walked out of meetings; all male I hasten to add. In America, Billboard magazine said it was the dawning of a new era for me as a producer and that it was an antidote to Madonna. I started to receive mail from professors at eminent universities telling me they played the album at their lectures as an example of the new way of thinking coming from contemporary women." Robert Fripp joined his wife on her 1991 album Ophelia's Shadow (1991) which, along with Dreamchild (1994), received good reviews. In 1996 Willcox released The Acoustic Album on Aardvark Records, featuring strings from Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and produced by Oliver Davis.
In 1987 Willcox was invited to make a speech at Women of the Year ceremony in presence of H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, expressing her views on the subject of how being disabled incites creativity and craving for fuller life experience.
Willcox played Calamity Jane at the Shaftesbury Theatre and was a guest vocalist in the anniversary concert of The Rocky Horror Show at the Royal Court Theatre. She had many television roles, including series such as Quatermass (1979) and Minder. She starred opposite Laurence Olivier in The Ebony Tower (1984) and also appeared on Kavanagh QC and Secret Diary of a Call Girl. During the late 1980s and 1990s, Willcox forged ahead with a career as a stage performer. Notable credits include Trafford Tanzi (at the Mermaid Theatre, leading role), Cabaret (Sally Bowles), Three Men and a Horse (winner of an Olivier Award for Best New Comedy), and the UK tour of Arthur Smith's Live Bed Show. In 1990, she played Costanza in the national tour of Amadeus.
Although she had presented the magazine series Look! Here! for BBC Birmingham between 1979–1981, it was in the 1990s that Toyah's career as a TV presenter took off. She began by presenting arts programmes First Night and Time Off in 1993. By the mid to late 1990s, Toyah could be seen presenting items on shows such as Watchdog:healthcheck, This Morning and The Heaven and Earth Show. She also worked on VH1 for three years, presenting Toyah and Toyah and Chase for the cable music station. Viewers could accompany Toyah to various locations worldwide during her tenure as a reporter on BBC travel shows such as Holiday and Holiday- Fasten Your Seatbelts. In 1996, Toyah had the unique honour of simultaneously hosting both Songs Of Praise on the BBC and Good Sex Guide Late on ITV. At the turn of the millennium, Toyah continued to work on The Heaven And Earth Show as a newspaper reviewer and also presented a series of Whose Recipe Is It Anyway on the Carlton Food channel and 40 episodes of Beyond Medicine on the Discovery Health Channel. As the noughties progressed, Toyah had stints presenting Head2Head and Destination Lunch on the Overseas Property Channel, was a newspaper reviewer on Sky News, hosted various music programmes for Vintage TV and was a guest presenter on Loose Women in 2007.
In 1999, she took the lead in the children's television series Barmy Aunt Boomerang. She also provided the voices for the children's television programmes Teletubbies and Brum. She has also appeared in the reality television series I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! and I'm Famous and Frightened!. In December 2018, she won her heat of Celebrity Mastermind.
In 2001 Willcox was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Central England in recognition of her achievements in performing arts, media and broadcasting. The 2001 May issue of Q magazine named Willcox number 48 in their top 100 Greatest Women in Music poll, as voted for by readers of the magazine. She returned to music in 2002 with new material for a limited edition Little Tears of Love EP and a one-off preview concert at Ronnie Scotts. The same year she sold out eleven stadium gigs for the Here and Now tour. She continued to perform with her band, releasing a mini-album Velvet Lined Shell in 2003 on her own record label, Vertical Species Records, showcasing a darker, edgier direction. In 2004 she performed as part of The Best of the 80s tour in the UK alongside Nick Heyward, Curiosity Killed the Cat and Altered Images. A live DVD followed in 2005, the year that also saw two parts of The Safari Records Singles Collection being issued.
In 2002 Willcox became a prominent opponent of planned accommodation centres for asylum seekers near the Worcestershire village, Throckmorton, protesting together with more than one thousand villagers.
In the 2000s, Willcox had a busy schedule with theatre commitments, including appearing on stage in London's West End performing the title role of Calamity Jane (nominated for an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical) at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 2003. In June 2008, Willcox appeared on Living with the Dead on Living to share her experiences of living in her haunted home. On 24 July 2008, Willcox appeared on UK ITV1's This Morning to discuss her role as a vampire in the rock musical Vampires Rock. Toyah has also appeared in shows looking back on popular culture, including the I'm a Celebrity series, and various 'Top 100 favourite' shows. More recently, Willcox played Queen Ivannah in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the Lyceum in Sheffield for the 2009 Christmas season. In October 2009, she made a guest appearance in the BBC drama series Casualty. Willcox has also been heard on radio, including the 2002 BBC Radio 4 series The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. She is also played the widow Fantine in Focus on the Family radio theatre's version of Les Misérables. In December 2006, she joined the radio drama series Silver Street on the BBC Asian Network as Siobhan Brady. In November 2017, she played Queen Elizabeth in a theatre adaptation of Derek Jarman's film Jubilee at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre. This production transferred to the Lyric Hammersmith for a London run in March 2018.
In May 2007 she collaborated with Bill Rieflin as the Humans for live dates in Estonia where she had been invited by the Estonian president. According to The Northern Echo, that resulted "from reading one of her husband's emails". The invitation was for him to go, but he wasn't keen, so Willcox accepted. Also in 2007, Willcox signed a new worldwide publishing deal with Zomba Music Group. She continued to write and record solo material with long-term collaborator Simon Darlow. On 29 October 2007 a new single "Latex Messiah (Viva la Rebel in You)" came out, followed by the In the Court of the Crimson Queen album, written and produced in collaboration with Darlow and released by Willow Recordings Ltd. on 15 September 2008. As part of Liverpool's European Capital of Culture year, she performed for the first time ever at the newly opened Liverpool Echo Arena and Conference Centre.
In November 2007 Willcox took on the role of sponsoring the Black Country Urban Park for the People's £50 million Big Lottery Fund. In April 2008 she took part in the Great Walk to Beijing alongside other celebrities to raise money for Olivia Newton-John's cancer charity.
In 2009 a new version of Vampires Rock was created, called Vampires Rock Christmas, and Willcox was back in her role as the Killer Queen, alongside the writer and one of the stars of the show, Steve Steinman. Willcox continued to perform with The Humans, featuring Bill Reiflin, Chris Wong and occasionally husband Robert Fripp. Described as "European experimental meets West Coast American grunge", The Humans recorded their debut album We Are the Humans in Seattle in 2008, released in Estonia in May 2009 to coincide with the band's return to play in front of the country's president. The album received a UK digital release in September 2009, along with a single "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". At the end of the year Willcox came seventh in a BBC series naming the "Queens of British Pop", as voted for by the British public. In 2010 Willcox with The Humans performed at the London's Roundhouse Haiti earthquake fundraiser concert. On 17 June 2011, Willcox commenced on a special From Sheep Farming to Anthem tour, celebrating the 30th anniversary of her breakthrough hit "It's a Mystery" and the platinum-selling album Anthem, starting at the London's Leicester Square Theatre. The set included selections drawn exclusively from Toyah's first three albums, Sheep Farming in Barnet (1979), The Blue Meaning (1980) and Anthem (1981). Andi Fraggs, a British electronic musician, supported her on chosen dates.
On 14 April 2012, Willcox launched the Changeling Resurrection 2012 tour at the Concorde 2 in Brighton to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her album The Changeling (1982). On 16 July 2012, Willcox performed a concert in her birthplace of Kings Heath, Birmingham, to celebrate being the first artist with a star on the King's Heath Walk of Fame. Andi Fraggs made a surprise appearance, duetting Willcox's 1981 hit single "Thunder in the Mountains". In 2013, Willcox released a deluxe edition of her 2008 album In the Court of the Crimson Queen and embarked on the tour revisiting the Love Is the Law (1983) -era material.
In 2018 Willcox toured her #Toyah60 show, which marked her sixtieth birthday and fortieth year in music. This was accompanied by the release of her Four From Toyah- Birthday Edition EP of new material, which charted highly in the digital charts.
In 2019 Willcox charted at #74 in the UK album charts with a re-issue of her 2008 album In The Court Of The Crimson Queen. It also peaked at #22 on the Official Charts Company's sales chart and #7 in the independent chart. This was Willcox' first appearance in the British album charts since 'Minx' in 1985.
Currently, Toyah Willcox is 64 years, 8 months and 20 days old. Toyah Willcox will celebrate 65th birthday on a Thursday 18th of May 2023.
Find out about Toyah Willcox birthday activities in timeline view here.