The group was first formed in 1982 by members of the 7:84 Theatre group, a socialist fringe theatre group who used acappella singing in a 1981 production called One Big Blow, the story of the 1972/74 UK miner's strikes, from the miner's point of view. They enjoyed the singing so much that they started to work around the pubs and clubs of London, at a time when nobody else in the UK was performing pop/rock based acappella, and found immediate success.
The first recording was a live show, 'Live at the Albany Empire' on the group's own label, which sold so well that they soon came to the attention of Virgin Records, who signed the group in 1983.
The very first single with Virgin, "Only You", a cover of a song by Yazoo, went straight to Number 1 in the UK charts and was to remain there for five weeks over the Christmas of 1983, before going on to repeat the success throughout almost every country in Europe. Over 30 years later, 'Only You' remains the only acappella track to stay at Number 1 in the mainstream singles charts for more than one week.
This was soon followed by the Lost Boys album (1984).
More albums followed - Flying Pickets Live (1986) and Waiting For Trains (1988).
In 1989 the group were commissioned to write a musical theatre production for the Theatre Royal Stratford in London, a whole show based on songs about the working life, which they performed for a highly
successful season. Around the same time, the group also performed the musical score on the BBC TV series Porterhouse Blue, which won a BAFTA TV award for Best Original Music.
In 1991 the group recorded the 'Blue Money' album, which had huge success throughout Europe, and continued through the nineties with the albums The Warning (1994), Politics Of Need (1996) and Vox Pop (1998).
The group continued to tour throughout the first years of the new millenium, and in 2003 the album 'Live in Hamburg' was released, and the group made their first visit to Asia with two tours of Taiwan. 2005 saw the release of the album 'Everyday', produced by the band's then current bass singer Andrea Figallo, and which was nominated in the U.S. for a prestigious CARA award (the acappella equivalent of the Grammies).
The Flying Pickets celebrated their 25th anniversary with an entirely new show entitled CHANGING TIMES, which toured from October 2006 to December 2007.
In 2008 the album 'Big Mouth' was released and accompanied the Big Mouth Tour.
In 2010 the group went to America
and recorded their album of Christmas songs, 'Only Yule', with legendary acappella producer Bill Hare. Included in the 12 tracks was a newly imagined recording of their famous hit "Only You", as well as eleven other classic and original Christmas tracks.
2015 saw the release of the Flying Pickets album 'Strike Again', a project which by contrast only featured songs from the previous ten or so years, showing that the Pickets are far from satisfied with living purely in the 80's!
The album was the group's 11th studio album of new material, and was produced by band members Andy Laycock and Simon Foster. The band toured the 'Strike Again' live show throughout 2016 & 2017, and then an updated version in 2018.
In 2013 the Pickets were invited to participate in the UK's Rewind Festival, (the band's first 80's festival), and discovered that thouands of people still remember all the words to 'Only You'.
At the end of 2019, the Pickets released their new album, 'Only Human', just in time for the Covid19 pandemic to cancel all 2020 touring. This is the first time since the band's formation in 1982 that they haven't been on the road. Their 12th studio album, once again produced by band members Andy Laycock, Simon Foster and Henrik Wager, 'Only Human' is packed with a broad variety of material, covers and original, and the band are very proud of their new baby!
As soon as it becomes possible- hopefully in the first part of 2021- the Pickets will be touring the 'Only Human' show throughout 2021 and into 2022... and then... well, who knows..?!