Imagination were a three piece British soul and funk band, who came to prominence in the early 1980s. They had chart hits in 28 countries, earning four platinum discs, nine gold discs and more than a dozen silver discs around the world between 1981 and 1983.

Band members

Singer Leee John was working as a backing vocalist for The Delfonics, Chairmen of the Board, The Velvelettes and The Elgins when he met Ashley Ingram, a guitarist/bassist (born 27 November 1960, Northampton). John and Ingram formed a songwriting partnership, resolving to start their own 'slinky, sexy and erotic' group, working in a short-lived band called Fizzz. Whilst auditioning for another short-lived band, Midnight Express, they met drummer Errol Kennedy (born 9 June 1953, Montego Bay) who had learned to drum in the Boys' Brigade and Air Training Corps.

Career

Formed in 1981, the trio took a demo tape of a track called "Body Talk" to producers Jolley & Swain. It was released as a single in April 1981 under the group name Imagination, a name that the group chose as a tribute to John Lennon. The track reached number 4 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1981, selling 250,000 copies in the UK and spending eighteen weeks in the Top 50. They had two more hit singles that year, "In and Out of Love" (September) and "Flashback" (November), both of which peaked at number 16, all from their debut album, also called Body Talk.

Their biggest hit, "Just an Illusion", peaked at number two in March 1982 ("Just an Illusion" would later be used as the end title song to the 1986 movie, F/X); followed by "Music and Lights" (number five in June), "In the Heat of the Night" (number 22 in September, also the name of their second album) and "Changes" (number 31 in December). This was accompanied by a sell-out concert tour of Europe, with 22 dates in the UK. The trio frequently appeared on BBC Television's Top of the Pops, and other pop music TV programmes, with a distinctive exotic style, reminiscent of Roman senators, harem orderlies and slaves. John made a guest appearance on Doctor Who in 1983. They were also known for their esoteric album sleeve notes.

Following this the success of the group in the UK waned, but they continued to perform, tour and record. In 1987, they were signed to RCA Records and recorded two albums and seven more singles. Their last album Fascination Of The Physical, recorded in 1990, was a commercial failure. This caused the band to split in 1992.

John went back to acting, but re-surfaced as a singer in the reality television show, Reborn in the USA. Ingram also enjoyed success as a songwriter for Des'ree. John is currently working on a project documenting British black music.

Sampling in later songs

88-Keys sampled Imagination's song, "All Night Loving", for his hit song, "Stay Up! (Viagra)", from 88-Keys' debut album, The Death of Adam (2008).,

The hit song "Get Your Number", co-written by Mariah Carey, Jermaine Dupri, Johntá Austin and Bryan-Michael Cox, and recorded by Carey for her album The Emancipation of Mimi (2005), is built around a sample of "Just an Illusion" by Imagination.,

British band VS sampled Imagination's song, "Body Talk" in their song "Call U Sexy" taken from their debut album All Kinds of Trouble (2004).