Tracey Thorn was born in Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire (UK) on 26 September 1962, The youngest of three children, she grew up in nearby Hatfield and studied English at the University of Hull, where she graduated in 1984 with First Class Honours. She later took an MA degree at Birkbeck, University of London.

Thorn began her musical career in the punk-pop hybrid group Stern Bops playing guitar and providing some vocal backing. She then formed Marine Girls as primary songwriter, playing guitar and sharing vocals. The band released two albums (Beach Party in 1981 and Lazy Ways in 1983) and three singles. The group disbanded in 1983.

Thorn met Ben Watt at the University of Hull where they were both students, and both signed as solo artists to Cherry Red Records. Their first album together was Eden, released in 1984. Everything but the Girl released a body of work that spanned two decades. Their biggest chart success came in 1995, when DJ Todd Terry remixed a song from their album Amplified Heart. ‘Missing’ peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart; topped the charts in Canada, Denmark, Germany, and Italy and made the top ten in many countries, including Australia, France, Ireland, Sweden, and the United States.

When Everything but the Girl became inactive in 2000, Thorn picked up her solo career. Back in 1982 she’d released the solo album A Distant Shore. In 2007, the album Out Of The Woods became her second solo effort. It was followed by the albums Love And Its Opposite (2010) and the Christmas album Tinsel And Lights (2012).

In 2015, the compilation Solo: Songs and Collaborations 1982–2015 was released. The collection brought together solo work and collaborations with other artists, such as The Unbending Trees (‘Overture’), Massive Attack (‘Protection’) and The Style Council (‘The Paris Match’). The album also included a newly recorded cover version of Under The Ivy.

A fifth solo album was released in 2018: Record. Meanwhile, Tracey Thorn had also started a career as a writer. In 2013, Virago published Thorn’s memoir Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star. In 2014, she began a regular column (‘Off the Record’) for the New Statesman. The column ran until spring of 2022. In 2015 Virago published her second book, Naked at the Albert Hall, about singers and singing. She published a third memoir in 2019: Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia (2019). 2021 saw the publication of a fourth book, My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend, focused on her friendship with Lindy Morrison of the Go-Betweens, and on the experiences of female musicians in the male-dominated music scene.

In November 2022 Watt and Thorn announced on social media that they had recorded a new album as Everything but the Girl. The album, titled Fuse, was released in April 2023.

Tracey Thorn about Kate Bush

Kate Bush seems to me like someone who has hit upon a work-life balance that works brilliantly for her. She’s had a family life where she clearly adores her child, and she’s carried on making music – she’s never stopped as far as I know. OK, she didn’t play live for 35 years, but big deal! There is a tendency to think of women artists as being a bit weird and witchy, unpredictable and mysterious. It’s daft.

Jude Rogers, ‘Tracey Thorn: ‘I’d kill to be able to sing like Adele’’. The Guardian, 12 April 2015