Born Fionan Hanvey on 8 October, 1959 in Dublin, Ireland, Gavin Friday met and became close friends with future U2 singer Bono and future fellow Virgin Prunes member Guggi. Bono has described Friday as a "friend for life, drinking buddy on weekdays and some sort of a musical diviner"1 and said that people think he's over-the-top until they meet Gavin Friday. Together, the three of them, with their similiar views of the world, formed Lypton Village; an imaginary world of sorts. It is within this group that the three each would obtain their nicknames: Fionan Hanvey to Gavin Friday; Derek Rowan to Guggi; and Paul Hewson to Bono.
In 1977, Gavin, Guggi, Richard Evans (nicknamed "Dik" and brother to U2's The Edge), Trevor Rowan (nicknamed "Strongman" and brother to Guggi), Dave-id Busaras Scott, and Pod, all members of Lypton Village, formed the Virgin Prunes. The Virgin Prunes combined the over·the·top antics of glam rock and dada and Irish culture and humour with the sort of DIY (usually without skill) style of punk for both their music and their memorably shocking live performances.
Live, the Virgin Prunes (especially Gavin Friday) could be described as going near completely nuts (that's a technical term) on stage, appearing to have only enough sanity to remember to sing (or speak or scream or whatever suited the moment) and play to the audience. Cross-dressing, wearing costumes with big heads, splattering cake and mud over themselves, mock abortions, and other typically unpopular and unexpected antics were not uncommon during a performance. As experimental musicians and performance artists, they are comparable to such early industrial acts as Throbbing Gristle, though lacked the electronic influence in their music to be a part of that genre. Of course, there were connections between such artists (ex-Throbbing Gristle/current Coil member Peter Christopherson appears in the credits of 1997's Virgin Prunes live video release, Sons Find Devils and Gavin Friday does the vocals on the Coil song "Tenderness of Wolves").
In November of 1986, Gavin Friday left the Virgin Prunes (several other members had come and gone since the band's formation as well). A small comment in the album sleeve of The Hidden Lie (a Virgin Prunes live album released in 1987) officially stated the band was kaputt. After leaving the band, Gavin began to work more on painting. In 1987, Gavin held an exhibition of his paintings titled "I Didn't Come Up The Liffey In A Bubble" at the Hendricks Gallery. Also that year, Gavin organised a Friday night cabaret called "Blue Jaysus" with classically trained pianist Maurice Seezer.
Gavin and Maurice together produced a demo tape, which caught the eye of Island Records. Their first performance was at a Dublin AIDS benefit in October of 1987. The following year, the two were signed to Island Records and recorded their first album, released simply under Gavin Friday (rather than another band name or Gavin Friday and Maurice Seezer), titled Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves. The dark and introspective2 album was released in 1989 and touring in support of it continued until April of the following year.
In 1992, Gavin's second album, Adam 'n' Eve, was released. Adam 'n' Eve has a very upbeat yet widely varying sound. Touring for this album went on from May, 1992 to August, 1993. On these releases, Gavin was no longer screaming into the microphone like the madman at the front of the Virgin Prunes but singing with a sort of 'devious deep voiced lounge singer' style: Suave with a hint of nefariousness.
In 1993, Gavin Friday, Maurice Seezer, Tim Simenon (who would later produce Gavin Friday's next album), and Bono created three songs for the soundtrack to In The Name Of The Father. Gavin and Maurice also made a song for the film Short Cuts. Between working on soundtracks and when the next Gavin Friday album was released (1995), Gavin, Bono and Jim Sheridan opened a restaurant in Dublin called Mr. Pussy's Cafe De Lux. The song "Mr. Pussy" on Gavin's third album, Shag Tobacco, is in honour of the middle-aged drag queen host of the restaurant, Alan Amsby (AKA: Mr. Pussy). Shag Tobacco combines Gavin Friday's dark, charming vocal style with more danceable (but still dark in some cases) music. Once again, Gavin worked with Maurice Seezer on the album. Touring for Shag Tobacco happened between August, 1995 and October, 1996.
Following the Shag Tobacco tours, Gavin and Maurice decided to leave Island Records. A remix of their song "Angel" (stripped of its cool bass heavy sound) appeared on the soundtrack to William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet. Also in 1996, the two worked on the soundtrack to Angel Baby and recorded and arranged Michael Hutchence's contribution to the Batman Forever soundtrack: "The Passenger." Gavin sang "Blue Blue Moon" on No Talking, Just Heads (a Talking Heads tribute album featuring many members of Talking Heads but not singer David Bryne). In 1997, Friday and Seezer created the score for The Boxer.
Since then, the two have been working on various other projects, including radioplays and another soundtrack, in addition to a fourth Gavin Friday album. News on Gavin Friday can be found at his official website (among other places): http://www.gavinfriday.com/
1Source: The Official U2 FAQ (http://www.u2faq.com/)
2So says Gavin Friday's official website. At this time, I have yet to hear this album for myself but will update this write up when I have.
Other helpful sources: Virgin Prunes - True Life Story (http://www.virginprunes.com/), The World According to Gavin Friday (http://www.gavinfriday.com/)