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Baltimora were an Italian new wave outfit active in the mid to late 1980s. The group comprised Jimmy McShane (frontman/vocals), Maurizio Bassi (keyboards, vocals), Giorgio Cocilovo (lead guitar), Claudio Bazzari (rhythm guitar), Pier Michelatti (bass guitar) and Gabriele Melotti (drums). They are best known for their 1985 hit single "Tarzan Boy".Jimmy McShane, of Derry, Northern Ireland, was the frontman of the group. Some sources state lead vocals were performed by Maurizio Bassi (with Jimmy actually providing the backing vocals), including lead vocals on their biggest hit "Tarzan Boy" despite the fact that McShane lip-synched while appearing in the "Tarzan Boy" music video and not Bassi, who was also the group's keyboardist although this remains uncertain. Both the music and the lyrics of Baltimora were written mostly by Bassi and Naimy Hackett, though McShane wrote the lyrics to some of their songs, such as the single "Survivor in Love".Baltimora are often considered a one-hit wonder in the United Kingdom and the United States due to the success they experienced with "Tarzan Boy" compared to their other singles. In other European countries such as Italy, the group had more success.Early yearsIn early 1984, Maurizio Bassi, a music producer and musician from Italy, was looking for a new art project. He met Jimmy McShane, an emergency medical technician (EMT) who worked for the Red Cross in Ireland.McShane proposed the project and recorded some voices in order to be the visual leader of the group, due to his emaciated appearance and his talent as a dancer. McShane was characterized by extravagant and loose clothing, and all the group members appeared on stage with various hairstyles and wearing large red-rimmed glasses.Bassi also recruited other musicians to record songs that would eventually appear on both Baltimora albums: Living in the Background and Survivor in Love.

Success with "Tarzan Boy"

"Tarzan Boy", released in Europe in the summer of 1985, was a huge success, peaking at No.6 on the Italian single chart as well as entering the top-5 in numerous European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, France, the Netherlands, and Norway. Soon afterwards, Baltimora found similar success in the United Kingdom with "Tarzan Boy", where it reached No.3 in August 1985.The "Tarzan Boy" single was released in Canada in October, 1985, and peaked on the Canadian charts at No.5 by the end of the year. However, it took a while for the single to enter the Hot 100 single chart in the United States (where it was released on EMI). When it eventually did, it remained on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six months, ultimately peaking at No.13 in the early spring of 1986. Baltimora performed on the American TV show Solid Gold, which helped further their success in America. The second single, "Woody Boogie", which also gained notable success, entered the top-20 in Germany, Switzerland and Sweden.Baltimora's first album, Living in the Background, was released in Europe at the end of 1985, and was released in United States in 1986. Despite the enormous success that Baltimora achieved with the single "Tarzan Boy", Living in the Background only charted moderately, entering the Top-20 album charts in only a few countries in Europe including Sweden. The album managed to reach only position No.49 in the US.Baltimora attempted a comeback in 1987 with a second album, Survivor in Love, but the single "Key Key Karimba" was the only one that managed to enter the Top 100 charts anywhere, and charted in only a few countries.

Break-up and aftermath

After the release of Survivor in Love, with no label support of a follow up album and due to its poor success, Bassi decided it was time to move onto other projects, and Baltimora disbanded.The single "Tarzan Boy" bounced back into the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March 1993 as a remix, climbing to No.51, at the time of its appearance in a Listerine commercial. The song was also featured in the films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993) and Beverly Hills Ninja (1997).

Jimmy McShane

James McShane was born on 23 May 1957, in Derry, Northern Ireland. He learned at a young age to play bass and guitar, and showed talent for dancing. He made his d├ębut playing in small clubs in his hometown and was presented to various audiences, without success. In view of his low artistic success, McShane decided to work as an emergency medical technician for the Red Cross in Northern Ireland until he met Bassi with whom he created Baltimora.In America, he was overwhelmed with the success of "Tarzan Boy", however their inability to provide a successful follow-up led Bassi to disband Baltimora. This drove McShane away from the music scene. In 1994 he settled in Milan, where he was diagnosed with AIDS. A few months later he returned to Northern Ireland, where he decided to spend the last years of his life. He died in his native Derry on 29 March 1995 at the age of 37. A family spokesman issued the following statement after his death: "He faced his illness with courage and died with great dignity." In the centre of Derry, McShane and his father received a commemorative plaque.

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