How Bizarre: From Rags to Riches…and Quickly Back to Rags

December 19, 2013 2:00 pm

Everyone loves a good ‘rags to riches’ story. From Oprah Winfrey to Sir Richard Branson, these often incredible fairy tales of self-made success (despite a modest or difficult start in life) have the ability to inspire hope in the hearts of even the most hardened of cynics. But they don’t all end with a happily ever after…

For better and for worse, the 90’s was a pivotal time for popular music. With anything from Take That and The Spice Girls to Oasis and Babylon Zoo topping the charts, it was, let’s say, a very exciting time! Among the several ‘Girl Power’ pop anthems and edgy omc2Brit Pop guitar offerings of the decade, came an unlikely hit song from a little known band from New Zealand.

 Released in December 1995, How Bizarre propelled the Otara Millionaires Club (aka OMC) into a seemingly overnight success, topping the charts in a whopping six countries including the US in the space of just two years. The song’s other accolades include being awarded ‘Single of The Year’ at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards, as well as featuring in a string of popular films and television shows.

Now, obviously the music industry is a very lucrative business and you don’t get peanuts for selling almost 4 million records and as OMC’s lead singer and co-writer of How Bizarre, Pauly Fuemana earned a lot of cash from this stroke of melodic genius. In a few short years, this one hit wonder turned Pauly Fuemana from a struggling musician from a poor Auckland suburb into to a bonafide superstar millionaire – his band’s name was no longer ironic and he was living the dream…

With the fame, success and wealth came the big properties, flash cars and extravagant levels of excess and Pauly was living the life of a rock star, spending his royalties as quickly as a small child in an arcade – and who could blame him, this was his pay off for years of struggle, sacrifice and hard work.

But after touring and promoting How Bizarre tirelessly it all became a bit too much and following a dispute over the royalties of the song, the band split in 1998 after it was agreed in court that Pauly would continue the band’s name alone.

As much as he tried, Pauly was unable to ever top the success of How Bizarre and despite writing and releasing some fairly popular songs, he simply couldn’t progress his musical career. As the song’s ‘flavour of the month’ status began to dwindle, his royalties began to diminish and that’s when things took a sour turn.

In 2006, Pauly officially declared bankruptcy following the liquidation of his company (originally named OMC Ltd). Due to his overly lavish lifestyle, poor investments and the mishandling of his career, he ended up owing his creditors the sum $91,440.94 and the ride was over, turning him from a bonafide superstar millionaire into a poor and bitter recluse.

The band did reunite in 2007 and released the single ‘4 All of Us’ which featured a guest vocal by Lucy Lawless, but the comeback was short-lived.

Sadly, Pauly Fuemana passed away in 2010 after a battle with a chronic degenerative disease but although his tale is somewhat melancholy, it’s fair to say that by daring to pursue his dreams, he left a proud musical legacy for himself, his country and his family.

lifeI guess the moral of the story is, life is short and you should do what makes you happy. Dream big, the sky’s the limit – but if you do end up making a fortune from the very thing you love, be sure to make some sound investments.

Whatever your thoughts may be of OMC, I defy you to listen to How Bizarre on the radio and not raise a smile!


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