The Story of... 'Stay' by Shakespears Sister

28 January 2022, 18:15 | Updated: 8 January 2024, 00:17

Shakespeares Sister - Stay
Shakespeares Sister - Stay. Picture: London/YouTube

By Tom Eames

In 1992, Shakespears Sister scored one of that year's biggest hits with a power ballad that wouldn't go away for weeks and weeks.

The UK duo sold millions of records around the world with the song, but what was it about and who wrote it?

Let's look back at one of the biggest hits of the 1990s:

  1. Who were Shakespears Sister?

    Shakespears Sister in 1992
    Shakespears Sister in 1992. Picture: Getty

    The duo were formed in 1988 by singer–songwriter Siobhan Fahey, a former member of Bananarama.

    Shakespears Sister was initially a solo act, but a year later it had become a duo with the addition of American artist Marcella Detroit.

    Together, they released two top 10 albums and various top 40 hits.

    Detroit was sacked from the band in 1993, leaving Fahey as its only member, until she ended the project in 1996.

    Fahey then revived the Shakespears Sister name in 2009, and 10 years later, Fahey and Detroit reunited as Shakespears Sister for a tour and the single, 'All the Queen's Horses'.

    The group's name was adapted from the song title 'Shakespeare's Sister' by The Smiths. According to Fahey, the spelling was due to an accidental misspelling on a woodcut sign. She decided to keep it as "It made it sort of my thing, as opposed to the song by The Smiths".

  2. Who wrote 'Stay'?

    Siobhan Fahey And Dave Stewart in 1988
    Siobhan Fahey And Dave Stewart in 1988. Picture: Getty

    The song was written by Fahey and Detroit, alongside Fahey's then-husband, Eurythmics star Dave Stewart.

    It was recorded at Friar Park, George Harrison's studio in Henley-on-Thames.

  3. What is 'Stay' about?

    Cat Women of the Moon Trailer

    It was apparently Dave Stewart who came up with the idea for 'Stay'.

    Speaking about the story of the song in Songwriting magazine, Marcella Detroit said it has "very unusual, conflicting lyrics," explaining: "It starts out all sweet, the subject is about this unrequited love and then it gets a little bit nasty.

    "There was a great dichotomy between Siobhan and my characters."

    In 'Stay', the duo take on different characters. Detroit opens the song by singing sweetly to her lover. She tells them that she wants to be with them no matter where they go, but then Fahey enters the song as some kind of scary force trying to destroy them.

    Shakespears Sister - Stay (Top Of The Pops 1992)

    It's then that it is revealed that the love story is not set on Earth.

    It was apparently inspired by the 1953 sci-fi movie Cat-Women Of The Moon, about a group of astronauts who land and discover beautiful women with bad intentions.

    Fahey and Detroit planned to buy the rights to the film, and use it to create a video album, but this never came to fruition.

  4. How did it perform in the charts?

    'Stay' had an apt title, as it stayed at number one in the UK for eight weeks in 1992.

    It was also a chart-topper in Ireland, Fahey's home country. It reached number four in the US.

  5. What happens in the video?

    Shakespears Sister - Stay (Official Video)

    Directed by Sophie Muller, the music video shows Marcella Detroit on a spaceship caring for a dying man.

    Siobhan Fahey plays the Angel of Death and comes to take him away, but awkwardly walks down the steps.

    Fahey later claimed she was in character, telling Melody Maker: "I play a sort of camp, drunken, guzzling sort of... thing."

    The video won the 1993 BRIT Award for Best Video.

  6. Who else has covered it?

    Cher Lloyd sings Stay - The X Factor Live show 4 (Full Version)

    The video was spoofed by Mr Blobby for his infamous 1993 Christmas number one single music video.

    It was also famously spoofed by Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders as parody in 1993.

    Covers include:

    • Sweetbox
    • Cher Lloyd (on The X Factor in 2010, leading to the original re-entering the UK top 20)
    • Bananarama (on the reunion tour with Fahey in 2017)