Gary Kemp of Spandau Ballet will be named a BMI Icon at the 2023 BMI London Awards, to be held Oct. 2 at The Savoy Hotel. The private event will be hosted by BMI president & CEO Mike O’Neill.
Kemp is best-known for writing Spandau Ballet’s swoon-inducing 1983 smash “True.” The song topped the Official U.K. Singles Chart for four weeks and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Eight years later, it was sampled in PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” a No. 1 hit on the Hot 100.
In addition, producer Richard Isong, better known as P2J, will receive the BMI Impact Award, which recognizes ground-breaking artistry, creative vision and impact on the future of music. This marks the first time a producer has received this honor.
“We’re in for an exciting night celebrating our BMI family of U.K. and European songwriters, composers and music publishers,” O’Neill said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to pay tribute to the legendary Gary Kemp in recognition of his incredible creative accomplishments. His timeless songs have reached multiple generations, leaving a lasting impression on the world of entertainment and inspired many to follow in his footsteps. We’re also honoured to present P2J with the BMI Impact Award. His work is a testament to the unifying power of music in bridging cultures and captivating audiences worldwide.”
The ceremony will also honor the U.K. and European songwriters and publishers of the previous year’s most-performed songs on U.S. streaming, radio and television from BMI’s repertoire. The Million-Air Awards, song of the year, and awards for pop, film, television and cable television music will also be presented throughout the evening.
Kemp is one of the most successful songwriters to come out of the New Romantic era in British pop music. As a founding member and guitarist for Spandau Ballet, Kemp wrote the lyrics and music for all of the band’s hits. “True” has received more than 5 million airplays in North America alone. “Gold,” “Communication” and “Only When You Leave” also made the Hot 100.
Kemp’s songs have been sampled by many artists, including Backstreet Boys, PM Dawn, Nelly, Paul Anka, Rui da Silva and Lloyd. As a solo artist, Kemp has released two albums for Columbia Records, Little Bruises (1995) and Insolo (2021). He’s also written two musicals with Guy Pratt, with whom he currently co-hosts a podcast called the Rockonteurs. For the last five years, Kemp has toured with Nick Mason’s band Saucerful of Secrets as co-lead singer and guitarist.
Kemp is also an accomplished actor and author. He has appeared in several films, including the 1992 blockbuster The Bodyguard and the British crime thriller The Krays. In 2009, he authored his autobiography, I Know This Much: From Soho to Spandau.
Kemp has received a Q Award, a BRIT Award, an IVOR Novello for outstanding song collection and five BMI Awards. As a BMI Icon, he joins an elite group of recipients including Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Ray Davies, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Sting and Van Morrison.
P2J will be recognized with the BMI Impact Award for the influence he’s had on the future of music. Previous winners are Tems, RAYE and Arlo Parks.
For the past decade, P2J has established himself as an in-demand producer through his work with chart-topping artists such as Beyoncé, Burna Boy, Doja Cat, Gorillaz, Ed Sheeran and WizKid. His work spans multiple genres, including pop, grime, rap and Afrobeats. P2J received his first Grammy nomination late last year – album of the year – for his work on Beyoncé’s Renaissance. His music has amassed more than a billion streams.