Stand and deliver!

The story behind Stand & Deliver.

Paul Nichols headshot
  • By Paul Nichols
  • 25 Jul 2011
  • min read
It's hard to believe that it's 30 years since Stand and Deliver was released and Adam and the Ants were dominating the charts. Behind the costumes, face paint and New Romantic flamboyance, Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni were one of the most successful songwriting partnerships of the 1980s. They talked to M about Stand and Deliver.

It’s not many bands who can attribute a No.1 hit record to the death of John Lennon, but when Imagine was propelled to the top of the charts following Lennon’s assassination, it relegated Ant Music to the No.2 spot. A fact that was to provide the impetus for their next single getting to No.1.

Marco Pirroni explains: ‘We wrote Stand and Deliver and Prince Charming after Ant Music. That was a song that would have gone to number one if John Lennon hadn’t been shot. This time we were like “no one is going to get shot – this time we will get to number one.”’

‘We wrote Stand and Deliver and Prince Charming at the same time,’ says Pirroni. ‘Before I even picked up the guitar, I knew they were going to be No.1. That wasn’t me being arrogant. In my head it was just a fact.’

He recalls going round to Adam’s house in Kensington to write Stand and Deliver.

‘Adam already had this idea about a highwayman. He’d gone off in the kitchen to make some tea and by the time he’d come back I’d come up with the “galloping” verse. The verse is the same as the chorus, but there is a little descending bit which he came up with. And then there’s the verse and different key for the guitar solo. Adam came up with the “Da diddley qa qa” lyric. He’d had that line knocking about for ages.’

Adam picks up the conversation: ‘Marco and I wrote the music together and I wrote the lyrics and top line. My inspiration for the song came from the idea of the heroic English antihero highwayman holding up a stagecoach, but stealing people’s attention instead of their valuables.

‘We had a very traditional and stripped down approach to writing songs. We would go in a room, with two acoustic guitars at the ready and a small dictaphone recorder. Then we’d take it into a 16- track demo studio in Denmark Street to lay down a loose but solid structure. We never wrote in the studio. Time was money and we didn’t have any to waste. This discipline has stayed with me to the present day.’

It was Adam who also came up with the concept and imagery for the band’s videos, as well as their lyrics, both of which would complement Marco’s idiosyncratic riffs.

‘I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.’ Adam explains. ‘A revolution took place in the early 80s. Music suddenly had to look as provocative as it sounded.’

Stand and Deliver duly shot to the number one spot in the charts. Once there, Prince Charming was released on the back of it, also hitting the top spot. Adam recalls how things went stratospheric for them at that point, culminating with an invitation from Berry Gordy to perform at The Motown 25th Anniversary Special in 1983, which included a finale with Diana Ross.

He explains: ‘As I came offstage, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson were there to greet me. I can never follow that…’

Stand and Deliver earned Adam and Marco an Ivor Novello award in 1982. It is published by SONY/ATV Music Publishing and Universal Music Publishing.

Adam Ant is touring the UK again for the first time in 25 years with a new band, The Good the Mad and the Lovely Posse. See the list of tour dates here.