Formed by Rose Carlotti (b. Rosemarie DeFreitas, 16 December 1963, Barbados; guitar, vocals) and Stephen Ward (b. 19 April 1963, Chelmsford, Essex, England; guitar, vocals) from an idea conceived at college in Birmingham and developed in Reading in 1986, when Rose’s sister, Rachael (b. 25 May 1966, Oxfordshire, England; bass, vocals), and Mark Side (b. 24 June 1969, Oxfordshire, England; drums) completed the line-up. Within a year the Heart Throbs had made inroads towards infamy, supporting the Jesus And Mary Chain on tour and releasing ‘Bang’ in a controversial ‘car crash’ record sleeve. Further publicity followed at the close of the decade when the band started up their own Profumo label, named after the political sex scandal that shocked Britain in the early 60s, and which prompted tastefully ‘saucy’ pictures of singer Rose posing as the notorious Christine Keeler had done 20 years earlier (added to which one of the main scandal protagonists shared the same name as guitarist Ward). In spite of these tactics and several waves of acclaim for their harshly bittersweet pop songs, commercial success remained out of reach. A contract with the One Little Indian Records label in the UK coincided with the band signing to Elektra Records in the USA. Now joined by guitarist Alan Barclay (b. 4 April 1968, Singapore), they achieved moderate success on both sides of the Atlantic with the long-awaited debut album Cleopatra Grip, which included the superb ‘Dreamtime’; the band embarked on a tense tour towards the end of 1990 which resulted in the departures of both bass player Rachael Carlotti and drummer Mark Side.
They were dropped by Elektra and a subsequent contract with A&M Records for the USA also collapsed, while the line-up struggles were compounded by a change of management. Colleen Browne took over on bass for the disjointed but largely ignored Jubilee Twist. The follow-up, Vertical Smile, was another strong album, but the Heart Throbs struggled to regain the ground they had lost in the intervening period, and the band ground to a halt the following year.