Fry, White and Singleton started out as Vice Versa, who released an EP "Music 4" in 1979 and contributed the track "Genetic Warfare" to a compilation, "1980: The First Fifteen Minutes" before mutating into ABC.
During the late '70s, Fry ran his own fanzine, Modern Drugs, while he attended Sheffield University. ABC formed in 1980, after Fry interviewed Vice Versa members Mark White (guitar) and Stephen Singleton (saxophone) for his fanzine. The two musicians asked Fry to join their band as a vocalist, and he soon became part of the group; the lineup also featured drummer David Robinson and bassist Mark Lickley.
Soon, Fry had taken control of the electronic band, he recruited Trevor Horn as producer to steer them in a more pop-oriented direction and renamed the group ABC. By the fall of 1981, the band had signed a record contract with Phonogram Records, which agreed to distribute ABC's own label, Neutron. ABC released their first single, "Tears Are Not Enough," in November; it peaked at number 19 on the U.K. charts.