The British Sigue Sigue Sputnik

Who came first, Sigue-sigue Sputnik or Sigue Sigue Sputnik?

Sigue Sigue Sputnik was a British New Wave band founded in 1982 in London

Back in the 80s, as a teenager I fell in love with the Post-Punk beat particularly of British origin. The sound was the newest alternative to the danceable disco music which you often hear from FM stations. Though the Post-Punk genre did not immediately flow along the mainstream current it became one of my listening habits. The Cure, Joy Division, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Smiths, The Clash, The Police, The Wild Swans, and The Psychedelic Furs. That was the list. And yes, no Sex Pistols.

Image of the British Band

Then there was this another British band called Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I found them rather more interesting. Not because of their 1986 hit Love Missile F1-11 but because of what they called themselves.

Well you see, we have a local gang here named Sigue-sigue Sputnik. There’s a dash between the sigues. And from what I’ve read the group was an offshoot of Sigue-sigue Gang of the 60s. The word sigue is a Spanish word which means ‘follow’ or also used as an interjection ‘Go ahead!’ Thus we get our own local word sige which may always mean ‘Come on, let’s do it.’ Pronounced ‘zig’ by the band and ‘siggy’ by the gang (sounds like Bowie’s Ziggy).

The ‘sigue’ in the band’s name however had a different meaning. It was said that the band’s name was adapted from a Russian street gang which means ‘Burn, burn satellite.’ But you won’t find any Russian word sigue. Definitely Sputnik is Russian, and was extremely popular during the height of the Cold War. It was understandable that a gang or a band may use it.

They also differ with their use of Sputnik. According to a Filipino prison officer Supt. Ven J. Tesoro:

The “Sputnik” group came about during the time when the famous outer space exploration featured the jet propelled satellite called Sputnik. The members were those prisoners tasked to throw out sackful of rejected or left-over prison food ration over the fence where prison guards await for its delivery for maintenance of their small scale swine production project. The sight of sacks being tossed out over the fence pejoratively reminds one of the Sputnik satellite on space cruise!

Perhaps the technoir-looking band used Sputnik for sci-fi effect, hi-tech sex, and whatever it may mean to them. This is what Laura Sanderson Healy had to say about them:

Sigue Sigue Sputnik may look like a band and, to a few tin-eared fans, it may even sound like one. In fact, it’s an over-hyped clique of no-talents who care more about the color of their lip gloss than about their music. Thanks to their skillful media manipulation, they were famous before they’d ever played a note…

I used to think that the gang borrowed the name. But after doing a bit of digging, could it be possible that it was the band who borrowed it? Or was it also possible that it was purely by chance? Just raising the question.

By the way, the band’s slogan was ‘Fleece the World.’ They actually did. Amazing.

If you’re curious enough you may watch their music video:


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