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Bradley Snelling Retrofest and Reunions

April 21, 2011

Bradley Snelling, Retrofest, and Reunions
by theraggedtiger

Bradley Snelling was born in London.

KajaGooGoo

He became a professional actor from his mid teens and by 1998 had co-founded the ‘Threadbare Theatre Company’.  By The mid-noughties, Snelling had made the move into live music, becoming festival director of a festival that for Kajagoogoo fans would soon take on great significance…

KajaGooGoo

Described as “Europe’s largest Eighties music festival”, Retrofest was a two-day event that pulled in huge crowds – over 10,000 per day.  So what brought this festival into being?  A wave of 80’s nostalgia? An eighties revival? Maybe sheer demand?  After all, the ‘Here and Now’ tours have been a huge success for some years now.

“Basically I wanted to see a bunch of bands who were big in my youth, but who I never got the chance to see,” explains Snelling. “I left school in 1983, so for me there’s a warm, cozy, nostalgic feeling about this. The Eighties was a great time for music. You had colorful characters like Boy George, MTV poster boys like Duran Duran, and doom and gloom merchants like the Cure and Depeche Mode. It was very diverse.”

The inaugural Retrofest was held at Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.  Creating the event was essentially, an effort to tailor-make the ultimate 80’s dream gig that Snelling himself would have loved to have seen. Snelling and former circus ringmaster Malcolm Cannon were the machine that made it all happen, investing £500,000 of their own cash in order to make it a success.

“We decided to get back to basics, by putting on all the acts on one stage, and it all evolved from that”

In 2007, a part of that dream gig was Kajagoogoo…almost…as the band was booked as a partly reformed three piece group.

Video courtesy of SenorSenor:


It is thanks to Bradley Snelling that Kajagoogoo exist as a 5 piece outfit today.  He was the catalyst that ended a 25-year-old feud within the group, and thanks to his intervention, Kajagoogoo fans were given back the band that was so prematurely taken from them all those years ago.

The first job on Snelling’s 2008’s festival hit list was to call Limahl, as well as the other band members, to discuss the possibility of a full reunion:

“I initially got an e-mail from a mystery guy in the US suggesting I get Kajagoogoo together to perform at the festival,” says Snelling. “He gave me the contact details for the band, and eventually I got them all together”

Limahl was interviewed back in 2008 about the reunion process.  He explains:

“Basically, we spent the last ten years talking through lawyers really… then…..my mobile phone rang and this guy said ‘Hi, my name’s Bradley Snelling…I’m the new manager of Kajagoogoo and they want to get back together with you…and I laughed and wished him luck….and then me met in Windsor a week later for a coffee, talked about it all, and about a month later I was in the same room as the original line-up of Kajagoogoo talking about the future”

The Kajagoogoo reunion goes back as far as 2004 and an approach by VH-1 television, which although bringing short term reunion, left the band only able to progress as a three piece.  Snelling however, achieved what most fans thought to be the impossible.  Full reunion.

Video courtesy of Kajagoogoomusic:


The final word on the reunion tale comes from Nick Beggs:

“To have those guys back in the band again….like nothing happened…that means more to me than anything…”

KajaGooGoo

Unfortunately, for Snelling, the Retrofest story did not have a happy ending. 2010’s festival was cancelled after the parent company for which Snelling and Malcolm Cannon were directors hit financial difficulty, and the festival looks likely never to return.

2011 KajaFax

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. JustM permalink
    April 21, 2011 2:16 pm

    Mr. Snelling turned into reality a dream that many had. It is sad that he hadn’t luck, he planned a great festival that now others are copying. He deserves recognition.

    • illusions80snights permalink
      September 3, 2012 8:10 pm

      I totally agree!! Top man!!

  2. April 21, 2011 5:11 pm

    wow! what a wonderful thing to be able to provide for fans of 80s music lovers. I personally would love to be able to do something like that in the US, but I can imagine it would be a huge undertaking. Its always in the back of my mind though, maybe I could start small, like here in Washington.

    Kudos to you for bringing the guys back together to Mr. Snelling, speaking from a fan point of view it was greatly appreciated.

  3. TheRaggedTiger permalink
    April 21, 2011 5:41 pm

    Brad Snelling is a genius, both organisationally and in his people management skills.

    A very important guy, both for music and for, more specifically, Kajagoogoo.

    He brought the good times back.

    😉

  4. Danny Gerrard permalink
    September 29, 2013 1:08 am

    Retrofest 1 was fantastic, just been back to Culzean Castle this week to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary. A place we discovered thanks to retrofest. I think the downfall of the fest was the contant changing of venues.

    • September 29, 2013 8:12 am

      Its such a shame that the festival was unable to continue. It’s also a shame that Bradley Snelling had to resign as band manager too as a result of his problems with Retrofest. He did more for Kajagoogoo than anybody before him, and all fans are grateful to him for what he achieved.

      I hope you had a great anniversary 🙂 Congratulations!

  5. July 25, 2015 10:37 pm

    We supplied steel poles to the Culzean retrofest for lightning supports and got to know some of the team. Living fifteen mins away meant a short walk to the venue. What a wonderful weekend seeing real stars on stage again and speaking to them afterwards. Takes me back. Pity Brad couldn’t keep it going. What a great idea.

    • July 26, 2015 11:47 am

      You are not alone on that one Bob. Bradley Snelling worked wonders with both the festival and also with Kajagoogoo. An important figure in the history of the band…. Many fans wish he would come back and work his magic again!

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