What happened to 'Would I Lie To You' singers Charles and Eddie?

29 April 2022, 14:50 | Updated: 11 May 2022, 10:22

Charles & Eddie on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
Charles & Eddie on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Picture: Getty

By Mayer Nissim

Three decades ago, two unknown soul singers set the charts alight with an absolute classic.

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Everyone once in a while, a hit song comes from absolutely nowhere that not only dominates the charts of the time, but also sticks around in the public consciousness forever.

One such classic is 'Would I Lie To You?' by Charles & Eddie, which was first released on August 4, 1992.

It was the neo-soul duo's debut single and standout track from their first album Duophonic.

After four weeks in the charts, it rose all the way to number one on November 15, 1992, eventually going platinum with sales of over 600,000.

It was a global hit, rocketing up the charts around Europe, and even went as high as number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

'Would I Lie To You?' even won Ivor Novello Awards for Best Contemporary Song, Best Selling Song and International Hit of the Year.

But who were Charles and Eddie, and what happened to them after the success of their global smash?

Charles was Charles Pettigrew, born on May 12, 1963. He grew up in Philadelphia and studied jazz singing at the esteemed Berklee College of Music in Boston, before going on to front the band Down Avenue.

Eddie was Eddie Chacon, born on August 22, 1963. He grew up in Hayward and Castro Valley, California. An early starter, he formed a band when he was just 12 with future Metallica bassist Cliff Burton and future Faith No More drummer Mike Bordin.

He went on to work as a songwriter for CBS, before recording an unreleased album with the illustrious Dust Brothers.

Charles & Eddie - Would I Lie To You?
Charles & Eddie - Would I Lie To You? Picture: Capitol

But how did Charles and Eddie become Charles & Eddie?

The story goes that the pair met in 1990 on the New York Subway's C train and that one of them (it's not clear who) was wielding a copy of Marvin Gaye's 1972 blaxploitation movie soundtrack album Trouble Man.

They didn't know it, but at that time both men were already signed to the same executive – Capitol's Josh Deutsch, and they soon hit it off.

Charles & Eddie
Charles & Eddie. Picture: Getty

"We started writing songs at lightning speed — in the back of taxi cabs, laying on the floor in apartments, in bars on napkins," Eddie told the New York Times years later.

One of their songs was 'Would I Lie To You?', the smash hit that would secure their legacy forever.

Charles & Eddie are unfairly remembered as one-hit wonders, but they actually had a trio of other Top 40 UK hits.

Follow-up 'NYC (Can You Believe This City?)' immortalised their first fateful meeting, and reached number 33, and Duophonic's third single 'House Is Not a Home' scraped into the top 30 at number 29.

The band were tapped up to provide a song for Tony Scott's cult movie True Romance, and recorded 'Wounded Bird', which was also included on their second album Chocolate Milk in 1995.

But while their first album went top 20 in the UK, the follow-up flopped, and Charles & Eddie amicably parted a couple of years later in 1997.

So what happened next for Charles Pettigrew and Eddie Chacon?

Well, Charles went straight from one partnership to another, joining forces with Tom Tom Club – Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz's Talking Heads side-project.

He didn't just perform with the group, but even picked up a trio of songwriting credits on their 2000 album The Good, the Bad, and the Funky.

Tragically, after getting his career very much back on track, Charles died of cancer on April 6, 2001. He was only 37.

"He never told me he was sick," Eddie told The Guardian in 2020.

"We'd started mailing demos to each other again. I was lost. Suddenly the phone isn't ringing, you start partying a little too much.

"I joke about it now but it took me 10 years to recover from being a one-hit wonder."

Charlies & Eddie in concert
Charlies & Eddie in concert. Picture: Getty

Eddie struggled after the split from Charles in the mid-1990s, but he didn't stop creating.

His first major project after the break-up was as half of electropop duo The Polyamorous Affair with singer (and his wife) Sissy Sainte-Marie. They released the album Bolshevik Disco in summer 2009.

"I just do music," he told LA Record of his continued efforts.

"It sounds kind of trivial, but I just have a passion for music and just continue doing it no matter what. I just kind of follow whatever I’m obsessed and into at the time."

He made a bigger splash with another comeback, and his Eddie's first solo album Pleasure, Joy and Happiness was released on July 31, 2020.

It was recorded with cutting edge names like Solange and Frank Ocean collaborator John Carroll Kirby.

"I was on a morning walk recently and listening back to it" he told The Guardian about the album a couple of months after its release.

“I was moved to tears. Honestly. Up until that point, I didn’t feel I'd ever done anything real or great in my life. I finally felt like I'd done something good."