“I started playing on the scene simply because I was going to raves a lot…” Adamski on breaking the pop charts with ‘Killer’ [1990]

This coming week marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Adamski‘s Killer [released on 21 March 1990], arguably one of the most successful crossover singles of all time, which topped the charts for four weeks during May of that year – only finally being displaced by England New Order’s World In Motion.

As the duo told The Guardian in 2013, the success of the single proved a surprise for both Adamski (aka Adam Tinley) and vocalist Seal, who made the decision to work together on New Years Eve 1989, “when we were in a haze on the dancefloor”.

“That era was the most exciting time,” Seal told the paper’s Dave Simpson. “We’d just got a handle on the technology; we were coming out of a Thatcher-era depression; and of course there was this huge explosion in recreational pharmaceuticals.

“Everything just seemed to click. The ‘live your life the way you want to be’ lyric spoke to a generation.”


The fact that the lyrics were reportedly recorded on 21 January 1990, the day that the Freedom to Party march took over London’s Trafalgar Square, only added to the track’s significance.

A few months on from Killer’s release (and in the wake of the Elvis-themed The Space Jungle), author Simon Reynolds interviewed Adamski for The Observer, and met an individual eager to embrace the musical possibilities presented by new technology – he is fascinated by “all the great new machines for making music the Japanese come up with”, Reynolds writes.

Even the video for Killer paints him as a mad scientist of sorts: “When I was messing about with all the test tubes and buttons it was meant to look like I’d somehow made Seal’s head,” Adamski explains.

Adamski’s blonde hair and irreverent fashion sense also leads the author to suggest that the Hampshire native is ‘the first teenybopper pin-up to emerge from the rave scene’, an accusation the artist rejects – along with the term ‘keyboard wizard’, which he finds ‘nauseating’.

“When I used to play raves, I never appeared onstage with lights, I was more like a DJ. When the album came out, it didn’t even have my picture on it,” Adamski explains.

“I started playing on the scene simply because I was going to raves a lot. I wanted to contribute something. It’s true that I’ve always wanted to be a pop star, but I also just chanced to get into the scene, like a lot of others. A lot of pop stars have emerged from it.”


The article also discusses Adamski in his pre-raving days, as a member of Dadaist pop group Diskord Datkord – “Our show was an extravaganza of visual and aural chaos. Most of our gigs culminated with the promoter pulling the plug, and us trashing the venue as a reprisal.”

We reckon his rave-era output has probably stood the test of time better. 🙂

The full article can be found here: Adamski: The Adamant Alchemist, by Simon Reynolds for The Observer, 23 September 1990.

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