Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Meet Sparks: LA's Undersung Rock Royalty

Before you
Dear reader, we're asking you to help us keep local news available for all. Your tax-deductible financial support keeps our stories free to read, instead of hidden behind paywalls. We believe when reliable local reporting is widely available, the entire community benefits. Thank you for investing in your neighborhood.

It's been said that Sparks are the best British band to come out of America.

They hit the scene in the early 1970s and were hugely influential on the likes of Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Erasure, Franz Ferdinand and countless electronic dance musicians.

Lead singer Russell Mael sported big hair and bigger stage theatrics. His brother, Ron, at keyboards, was far more subdued but in a sort of eerie way. He's known for his mustache, which at first looked vaguely Hitler-ian and now resembles a David Niven-esqe pencil drawing.

In the decades since, Sparks has recorded more than 250 songs over some 20 albums. The brothers have been performing music for more than 50 years, and they’re still at it today. But they remain a largely underground band, and even people who know them make a common mistake.

Support for LAist comes from

As much as people are convinced they're from the UK, they actually grew up right here — in Pacific Palisades.

Now their story is being told by superfan Edgar Wright, the director of "Shaun of the Dead" and "Baby Driver." Wright, known for the use of pop music in his films, told us despite his love for the band, he's never used one of their songs:

"Sparks cannot be audio wallpaper. The songs are too epic. And the lyrics are too evocative. They're not easy songs to just have on in the background."


Our news is free on LAist. To make sure you get our coverage: Sign up for our daily newsletters. To support our non-profit public service journalism: Donate Now.