Saturday, December 7, 1985

Mr. Mister “Broken Wings” hit #1

Broken Wings

Mr. Mister

Writer(s): Richard Page, Steve George, John Lang (see lyrics here)

Released: June 1985

First Charted: August 24, 1985

Peak: 12 US, 12 CB, 2 GR, 11 RR, 3 AC, 4 AR, 1 CO, 4 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 176.0 video, 227.34 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“If you’re looking for reasons to make fun of ’80s pop music – the fashion, the keyboards, the blaring guitar leads, the almost disarmingly terrible band names – then [Richard] Page’s band Mr. Mister makes for a great target. Mr. Mister didn’t rock. They made ultra-produced, vaguely worded expensive-digital-studio music, and they embodied a moment when that was what pop radio wanted.” SG

The group emerged after Richard Page and high school friend Steve George worked together in Andy Gibb’s backing band. They formed the band Pages, releasing three albums and charting with the the song “I Do Believe in You,” (#84, 1979). After they split, Page did backing vocals with DeBarge, Neil Diamond, Amy Grant, Al Jarreau, Mötley Crüe, John Parr, REO Speedwagon, and Twisted Sister. He said he was even asked to replace Bobby Kimball in Toto and Peter Cetera in Chicago. Instead, he and George reunited to form Mr. Mister. Their 1984 album I Wear the Face gave them a #57 hit with “Hunters of the Night.”

Their sophomore album, Welcome to the Real World, was a much bigger success. Page, George, and their old Pages bandmate John Lang wrote “Broken Wings” for that album in about 20 minutes. As Page says, “The drum machine was going. I started with the bass line. Before I knew it, the song was done.” FB Lang wrote the lyrics, basing them on the 1912 philosophical novel Broken Wings by Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. SG

The record company balked at releasing “Broken Wings” as the third single, favoring something more upbeat. The band, however, thought it was the strongest track and fought for it. Initially it looked like they were going to be proven wrong. It was several months after the song’s release before it charted, which is usually a death knell for a song. Then it started to catch on in Minneapolis and Denver and the record company jumped on it. FB

“The song’s level of drama is absurd, almost fantastical, and it pulls it off.” SG It is about trying to “keep a relationship together through the magic of flowery language.” SG The song “captures a state of sustained anticipation. The synths drone and sigh. The guitars whine and howl. The bassline mutters dejectedly to itself. Little funk-guitar ripples glide across the surface…It’s like the whole song is holding its breath, waiting to see if the whole “take these broken wings” line is going to save this relationship.” SG


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Mr. Mister
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 625.
  • SG Stereogum (11/13/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan

First posted 12/29/2022; last updated 1/15/2023.

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