The ’80s new wave movement wasn’t known for its teen idols. Yet Annabella Lwin was only 14 when she was recruited to lead Bow Wow Wow – the English new wave group put together by punk impresario/Sex Pistols’ manager Malcolm McLaren with Adam Ant’s former Ants.
“I wanted to be an air stewardess,” Lwin says, calling from her home in L.A. “That was my aspiration at school.”
Fate stepped in and soon Lwin was opening for Queen, bouncing on the beach on MTV, and stirring up controversy striking an implied-nude pose for an album cover. At 50, she’ll still likely be the baby of the tour when she performs Saturday at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre as part of the Retro Futura show, which also features the English Beat, Modern English, Men Without Hats, Katerina and Howard Jones.
“I don’t know if you could use that phrase ‘high school reunion,’ ” she says of the tour. “They’re old friends in a funny sort of way. We’ve crossed paths over the years, but not where we have had time to hang out.”
Lwin replaces Paul Young on the tour for a handful of dates, including Charlotte.
“It’s not until you get in front of people that you know whether you’re on the right path,” she says of the unexpected path her life took after meeting McLaren. “I absolutely love singing and writing. I know nothing else that I’m good at and it’s thanks to Malcolm McLaren.”
The band broke up when she was 17, but its (and in-turn Lwin’s) legacy – from ’80s staple “I Want Candy” to native-inspired fashion – would span decades, influencing No Doubt and Red Hot Chili Peppers and featuring prominently on the soundtrack for Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film “Marie Antoinette.”
“I love all aspects of the music industry except for sometimes the attitudes and unnecessary egos that come out of certain people’s being because they think they’re more important,” she says, possibly alluding to former band mate Leigh Gorman, who is touring under the band’s name without its original singer.
“I don’t really want to acknowledge a band pretending to be in a band I’m in,” she says.
“It’s not relevant in historical (terms) of what Bow Wow Wow was as a band or a sound. It took a lot of hard work to become the brand name it became, even in the short time the original members were together,” she says. “I wish the lead guitarist was still here to play with me on stage. It’s sad he passed away in 1995. When I went to work with one of the other musicians, he was very, very much missed.”
Lwin’s Bow Wow Wow is part of the Retro Futura lineup, which includes Katrina of Katrina and the Waves, Men Without Hats, Howard Jones, the English Beat, and Modern English.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 800-745-3000; www.livenation.com