Siouxsie and The Banshees released their long-awaited debut album on Monday 13th November 1978. ‘The Scream’ consisted of 10 previously unreleased tracks but most already live favourites with a growing fan base. It proved an instant chart success in the UK, peaking at No.12 and going on to be regarded as a watershed in the transformation from the ‘punk’ musical genre to what would soon be branded ‘post-punk’. 40 years after its release is still sounds as fresh and stark as the day it was released.
The Banshees had played High Wycombe on three previous occasions. Their most recent had been a riotous affair at The Town Hall in April 1978. Prior to that they had appeared twice at The Nag’s Head in early incarnations of their line-up. In March 1977, they played what was their fourth ever gig (not third as widely documented) when they supported Johnny Thunders. They returned as headliners in May 1977 – both appearances including Peter Fenton on guitar.
Both those early appearances at The Nag’s Head were sparsely attended and it was only when John McKay replaced Fenton on guitar later in 1977 that the now iconic Banshees sound would develop. Two John Peel sessions would follow and a ‘sign the Banshees’ campaign would culminate in a deal signed with Polydor in June 1978 for a rumoured advance of £400,000.
A debut single, ‘Hong Kong Garden’, followed in August 1978 and the tracks for the debut album were recorded the same month and produced by Steve Lilywhite. Commenting on the album, bassist Steve Severin has said: “None of the songs were about current affairs. That was deliberate, as I saw that as a downfall of a lot of the so-called ‘punk’ bands.”
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Metal Postcard/Jigsaw Feeling – Old Grey Whistle Test – 7 November 1978 – BBC TV
I was back on Andy Chalk’s Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound on Friday 2nd November 2018 for another guest appearance. I can’t believe this was two years since my nervous outing on the debut show in November 2016!
This show featured more of my ramblings of the 40th anniversary of gigs in High Wycombe – this time looking back at appearances and playing music by Motorhead, 999, The Cure, Eddie and The Hot Rods and Pere Ubu. Plus, this time around, as an alternative to playing the back catalogue of The Fall, I delved into current breaking music influenced by punk and came up with tracks by Idles, Shame, Sleaford Mods and Cabbage. Plus, of course, Andy’s usual selection of underground punk music, including Black Bullets, The Accused. Ambition Demolition, DC Spectres, Healthy Junkies, Yur Mum and PollyPickPocketz. Plus an exclusive track by local band, Public Service Announcement – look out for their show at The Phoenix Bar on Friday 7th December 2018.
A reminder that it is possible to listen live in the High Wycombe area via 106.6 FM, via the internet and mobile app. Shows are also available to ‘Listen Again’ for four weeks via www.wycombesound.org.uk
The direct link to the Punkarolla ‘Listen Again’ page is:
999 returned to High Wycombe on Wednesday 4th October 1978 to make their debut at the Town Hall. The band had formed out of the London punk scene in late 1976 and had played an infamous gig at The Nag’s Head in September 1977 that was marred by violence and resulted in a ‘punk’ ban for the London Road venue.
A year later 999 were heading back to High Wycombe on the back of a well-publicised tour promoting their album ‘Separates’ album released on United Artists record label. Support at the Town Hall were Razar.
A preview and review of the gig appeared in the local High Wycombe papers. The review of the gig published in the Bucks Free Press Midweek said:
New wave pop group 999 gave an exciting and energetic performance at the eighth date in a nation-wide tour at High Wycombe Town Hall on Wednesday night.
The group has just returned from a European tour with The Stranglers and at the moments its following is mainly limited to punk rockers.
The group hopes that this tour will launch it to greater things and if this gig is anything to go by, that should be a long way.
Numbers like ‘Nasty, Nasty’ got the audience up on the stage and all through the show, rockers dressed in anything from leopard skin body stockings to leather drain-pipe trousers, jumped up and down, incessantly, near the stage.
‘Feeling Alright With The Crew’, a single taken off 999’s new album ‘Separates’, sees singer Nick Cash’s voice, plus echo, used to great effect over hypnotic boogie backing. With ‘Subterfuge’ and ‘No Pity’, the group buried any attacks that it is nothing but a two-chord wonder.
There was no safety pins and no violence. 999 responded well and the audience lapped it up.
The success of the gig led to promoter Ron Watts bringing the band back to the Town Hall for another appearance in December 1978.
Heavy Metal legends in the making, Motorhead, turned up the decibels at High Wycombe Town Hall on Friday 29th September 1978. The date was arranged to promote their new single ‘Louie Louie’, released as one-off for Bronze Records. A John Peel session had also been recorded for BBC Radio 1 on 18th September 1978 and popularity for the band was very much on the rise at the time of their Town Hall appearance – much of this also credited to their cross-over with the punk scene.
A quick look at their history reveals that lead singer and bassist Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, had formed Motorhead in the summer of 1975 following his departure from Hawkwind. The name of the group had been taken from the final song he had written with Hawkwind. By the time of the Town Hall gig, the Motorhead line-up and settled to a three piece with 32 year old ‘Lemmy’ on bass, Phil Taylor (24) on drums and ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke (27) on guitar.
Going back to Lemmy’s time with Hawkwind, the group played High Wycombe Town Hall at least three times during the earlier 1970’s, however, their latter of these appearances, on 14 August 1971, is the only date that would coincide with Lemmy’s arrival in their line-up. A few months later he took lead vocals on the Hawkwind classic ‘Silver Machine’.
Several Hawkwind covers appeared in the early Motorhead set-lists, including the inspiration for the name of the group, ‘Motorhead’. At the time of publication of this article, there was no confirmation of the set-list at the Town Hall but a recording of the gig at Wolverhampton on 23rd September 1978 exists with the following tracks:
Motorhead (Hawkwind cover)
I’ll Be Your Sister
Leaving Here (Edward Holland, Jr. cover)
Lost Johnny (Hawkwind cover)
The Watcher (Hawkwind cover)
Keep Us on the Road
Louie Louie (Richard Berry cover)
Tear Ya Down
Iron Horse/Born to Lose
White Line Fever
By the time this article was published to mark the 40th anniversary of Motorhead’s appearance in High Wycombe, all three of the original band members had passed away.
‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor passed away on 11th November 2015 (aged 61)
‘Lemmy’ passed away on 28th December 2015 (aged 70)
‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke passed away on 10th January 1978 (aged 67)
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Louie Louie – Motorhead – BBC Top of the Pops – October 1978
Glen Matlock’s Rich Kids made a long awaited appearance in High Wycombe on Friday 8th September 1978. The former Sex Pistols bassist had formed the band in 1977 and by the time of the September 1978 date at the Town Hall, interest was high to see what his new band would deliver. Local band Four Daughters were support for a gig independently promoted by Ron Watts.
Matlock had been fired by Pistols Manager Malcom McClaren in early 1977 having played High Wycombe on two previous occasions with the punk originals – February 1976 and the College and September 1976 at The Nag’s Head. Matlock, aged 22 at the time of the Town Hall gig, had spent the previous year refining the line-up of The Rich Kids which now included Midge Ure on vocals (aged 24), Steve New on guitar (aged 18) and Rusty Egan on drums (just shy of his 21st birthday). Ure had previously performed with Slik – best known for their single ’Forever and Ever’ – No.1 in the UK charts at the time The Sex Pistols played High Wycombe college in February 1976.
They had signed to EMI records in December 1977 and released their first single, ‘Rich Kids’ in January 1978 – earning them an appearance on BBC’s Top of the Pops and the trailing of ITV alternative music show, ‘Revolver’. A date of 30 January 1978 had been pencilled in by Ron Watts for an appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall but arrangements fell through.
Local live music punters keeping an eye of the national music press would also have been excited with reports of a date of 30 July 1978 at High Wycombe Town Hall with The Slits as support. However, despite this date since appearing in gig archive listings, it never took place. Indeed, promoter Ron Watts was busy that evening with a gig at The Nag’s Head.
What we can be sure of is that the 8th September 1978 gig did take place. Three of my friends recall the gig and I was also pleased to find a flyer for the gig in my own archives – probably obtained from Scorpion Records and now appearing on the internet for the first time in this article.
My fellow music friends who attended this gig were ‘Buzz’, Martin63’ and ‘Tapps’. The latter recalls that: “The Rich Kids were a bit of disappointment. Their brilliant single ‘Ghosts of Princes in Towers’ was easily the highlight of the night but the crowd expected something more from Glen Matlock, having reputedly penned most of ‘Never Mind The Bollo*ks.”
All three also recall local support band ‘Four Daughters’ – they included former Deathwish, Party, Pretty and Ventilators guitarist Kris Jojvatis. ‘Tapps’ remembers that their drummer was Dave ‘Dudge’ Williams. Does anybody else reading this have more information on this band?
Based on a set-list from a Rich Kids gig at Birmingham Barbarellas a few weeks earlier in 1978, the songs played that night at High Wycombe Town Hall would most likely have included:
Sound Of Marching Men
Put You In The Picture
Here Comes The Nice
Bullet Proof Lover
Lovers And Fools
Twelve Miles High
Hung On You
Ghosts Of Princes In Towers
The band eventually split-up at the end of 1978, with Matlock going-on to perform in several other bands and return to High Wycombe and many occasions. Midge Ure and Rusty Egan went on to form an early incarnation of new-romantic band Visage. Ure later gained commercial success with Ultravox. Matlock’s time in Visage was short but he returned to live performing with several bands and returned to High Wycombe on several occasions, including Jimmy Norton’s Explosion, Spectres, London Cowboys, Dead Men Walking and reformed Faces.
Steve New later played in Public Image Limited, Generation X and with Iggy Pop. He also helped out Matlock on his solo projects but sadly passed away in May 2010 from cancer. He played with Rich Kids in January 2010 in an one-off benefit concert for his needs.
In 2016, Matlock reformed Rich Kids again for a show at Shepherds Bush and then went back to solo touring. His was embarking on a solo tour of small venues on Europe at the time of publication of this article.
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Rich Kids – Rich Kids + Ghosts of Princes in Towers – Revolver TV pilot show May 1978
Glen Matlock + Midge Ure interview – Thames TV 1978 with Anne Nightingale
Rich Kids – Here Come the Nice (Small Face cover) – live audio 1978
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac appeared at High Wycombe Town Hall on Tuesday 20th August 1968. Some 50 years later, at the point of publication of this article, the name Fleetwood Mac is linked with legendary rock n’ roll status. However, back in 1968 they were a far different band compared to what they would evolve into during their world concurring success of the 1970’s and 1980’s – they were also embarking on a 50th anniversary tour at the time of this post!
A quick look at their history has guitarist Peter Green forming the band in London in 1967 along with fellow guitarist Jeremy Spencer and drummer Mick Fleetwood. They soon added John McVie on bass as they took their initial steps on the road as a traditional rhythm n’ blues outfit – a combination of the band members names made up the title of the band. The foursome recorded their first album between April and December 1967 and the self-titled work was released in February 1968 and reached No.4 in the UK charts. A second album, ‘Mr Wonderful’ was recorded in April 1968 and released at the time of the Town Hall date in August 1968.
It was also around the time of the Town Hall date that they had recruited a further guitarist in the form of Danny Kirwan. It’s at this point that it’s worth mentioning that an early rehearsal and gigging venue for the band was The Nag’s Head in Battersea, South London. Kirwan’s live debut with the band is documented in many recognised biographies as August 1968 at this Battersea venue. However, the nature of the internet has seen some printed and online articles turn this into a performance at the equally famous Nag’s Head in High Wycombe. It’s not inconceivable that Fleetwood Mac did play the Nag’s Head in High Wycombe but during my research of the local High Wycombe press, I have found no evidence of them playing the London Road venue and Ron Watts’ autobiography makes no of Fleetwood Mac either.
Having said that, I was delighted to find an advert in the Bucks Free Press for the 20th August 1968 at one of the regular Tuesday evening dances at the Town Hall, High Wycombe, with Fleetwood Mac described as ‘The Biggest Drawing BLUES BAND in the County’. The date doesn’t appear to be documented elsewhere on the internet, so hopefully people with far more knowledge of the band than I’ve been able to piece together in the time available, will be able to corroborate.
Also interesting to note that a few days after the Town Hall gig, Fleetwood Mac played an open air concert at Hyde Park, London. The free concert took place on Saturday 24th August 1968 with Family headlining, supported by Fairport Convention, Roy Harper, Peter Sarstedt, Ten Years After and Fleetwood Mac.
Fleetwood Mac’s set-list at the time included: ‘Need Your Love So Bad’, ‘I Believe I’ll Dust my Broom’ and ‘Black Magic Woman’ – the latter becoming a massive hit for Santana in 1970. Fleetwood Mac’s first major hit, ‘Albatross’ was still at the writing stage but would be recorded in October 1968 and released the following month. In between those times it also appears the band returned to the Town Hall on Tuesday 8th October 1968 – again billed as ‘Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac’.
Where you at any of these gigs to see the legends in the making?
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Need Your Love So Bad – Fleetwood Mac – Dutch TV 1968
Black Magic Woman – Fleetwood Mac – Single audio March 1968
The Rezillos made a long awaited and welcome return to High Wycombe on Friday 18th August 1978, playing to a near sold-out Town Hall with support advertised as punk poet Patrik Fitzgerald and local band The Vents.
The Rezillos had played The Nag’s Head just over a year previous as a relatively unknown punk outfit from Edinburgh. By the time of the return to High Wycombe in August 1978 they had released their first album ‘Can’t Stand the Rezillos’ (July 1978) and had just secured their first real chart success with their ‘Top of the Pops’ single.
Promoter Ron Wattshad been looking to bring the band back to High Wycombe for several weeks and an original date of 14th July 1978 had been booked (with Sore Throat support) but the gig was cancelled, along with the rest of a proposed Rezillos tour, due to unrest amongst the band.
Their eventual return on 18th August 1978 came just over a week since their Top of the Pops debut – Peter Powell introducing a track that was essentially slagging off the programme.
Here’s a quick extract from the lyrics
Does it matter what is shown
Just as long as everyone knows
What is selling what to buy
The stock market for your hi fi
Take the money, leave the box
Everybody’s on top of the pops
A packed house at the Town Hall witnessed a manic set that included all The Rezillos favourites – they also threw in a 100mph version of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ – The Sweet classic from 1974.
Two weeks after their Town Hall appearance they were back on Top of the Pops as their record of the same name hit the top 20. A follow-up single, ‘Destination Venus’, was released in October 1978 but for reasons what are described as ‘growing tensions in the band’ led to an eventual split by the end of 1978 (all very well documented via the links below).
Please get in touch or leave or comment if you have any memories of The Rezillos gig at The Town Hall – including any more information on local support band The Vents.
For your listening and viewing pleasure:
The Rezillos – Top of the Pops – BBC Top of the Pops – August 1978
I understand that lead singer Faye Fife was wearing something similar at The Town Hall?
Cherry Red records, announced as new shirt sponsors for Wycombe Wanderers in July 2018, launched a competition shortly afterwards.
Singin’ for Wycombe is asking for followers of the Club to record a song for Wycombe Wanderers, upload it to YouTube and/or Soundcloud and share it. The best efforts will be offered the chance to release their track on Cherry Red Records as part of a digital compilation.
The press release at the launch said: “The football club and record label will listen and select their favourites in December 2018. Those that make the final cut will be compiled in to a digital compilation which will be made available across iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube Music, Deezer and all the other legal digital platforms that Cherry Red distribute music to in early 2019.”
The news item also suggests the winner may get the chance to perform the song live at Adams Park.
A new live music Club was launched at High Wycombe Town Hall on Friday 14th July 1978 with the ‘Peppers’ Club promoting a ‘New Wave/Punk’ night featuring London’s The Lurkers, Damned exile Rat Scabies’ White Cats and local band The Vents.
Peppers appears to be joint venture run between local promoter Ron Wattsand Wycombe District Council, with the aim of offering membership to gig goers in a similar way to the much longer running Friars Club at Aylesbury. Punters attending the Lurkers gig were given free membership cards with the promise of cheaper admission at subsequent Town Hall gigs.
The ‘Club’ idea was also intended as an attempt to prevent violence at gigs. The principle being if you caused trouble you would have your membership revoked and thus not admitted to future gigs under the Peppers name.
The opening night for Peppers took place midway through a year that had slowly been taken over by music related blockbuster films ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’. By mid-July 1978, ‘You’re The One That I Want’ by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the ‘Grease’ soundtrack had been at No.1 in the UK singles chart for five weeks. In the album charts, ‘Saturday Night Fever’ had been sitting at the top for 11 weeks!
The live music scene at the time was about as far removed from this summer of cheese as you could imagine. A gig at the Town Hall proved a welcome relief from the increasingly nauseating Travolta based music being inflicted via national radio and TV… and the ‘Disco’ nights at the same venue on Tuesday evenings!
The Lurkers, headliners for The Peppers opening night, had formed in West London in the latter part of 1976. They played some of their early London gigs at the iconic Roxy Club venue in early 1977. Gigs later that year saw them support the likes of The Jam, Eater and Slaughter and The Dogs.
They released their first record on Beggars Banquet – a track titled ‘Shadow’/’Love Story’ in July 1977. A second single, ‘Freak Show’/’Mass Media Believer’ followed in October 1977, both with limited success. Their third single, ‘Ain’t Got a Clue’/’Ooh!, Ooh! I Love You’ was released in May 1978 and proved to be their biggest hit – reaching 45 in the UK singles chart. Their debut album, ‘Fulham Fallout’ was released in June 1978, while another single, ‘I Don’t Need To Tell Her’/ ‘Pills’ was released in the same month as their High Wycombe Town Hall gig and earned them an appearance on Top of The Pops on 3rd August 1978.
Their line-up at the time of the Town Hall gig is believed to be Howard Wall (vocals), Pete Stride (guitar), Nigel Moore (bass) and Pete ‘Manic Esso’ Haynes (drums).
Meanwhile, The White Cats and been formed around January 1978 following the latest split-up by punk originals The Damned – drummer Rat Scabies (real name Chris Miller) recruiting Kelvin Blacklock (vocals), Eddie Cox (guitar) and Steve Turner (bass). Blacklock had been a member of early early punk band London SS. The White Cats played as headliners at The Nag’s Head on 6th July 1978 and clearly had impressed promoter Ron Watts to bring them as support for The Lurkers – it was perhaps a role that they didn’t enjoy?
I’m indebted again to a couple of friends who kept diaries during 1978 and both attended The Lurkers event at The Town Hall. First up, ‘Buzz’ recalls The White Cats set as being ‘very aggressive’ and added: “I wasn’t impressed by their performance, and it seemed neither was anyone else. They got absolutely no reaction from the audience whatsoever. The White Cats were pi**ed off, and called one song ‘Bollo*ks to Wycombe Town Hall’. No-one seemed to care.”
Meanwhile, ‘Tapps’ also recalls the attitude of The White Cats and confirms they introduced their final song of the evening as ‘Bollo*ks to Wycombe Town Hall’.
The White Cats were fairly short lived as they struggled to find their own identity. Their set included The Damned’s ‘Stab Your Back’ and another Damned song in the making, ‘Second Time Around’. The latter appeared on The Damned 1979 album ‘Machine Gun Etiquette’, but renamed as the title track. Other songs in their set-list that night would most likely have included ‘Escalator Love’, ‘Teenage Dream’, ‘Junkyard Angels’, ‘Detectives’, ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Shotgun Lovers’ – all recorded for John Peel Sessions in April and August 1978.
‘Buzz’ also recalls The Lurkers in his 1978 diary, saying: “The Lurkers played a fast, exhilarating set to a larger audience, some of which may have been their fans from London. From start to finish there was a massive area of pogoing and we all really exhausted ourselves! There was no violence at all.”
So the Club idea appeared to have worked, at least for this gig?
A review of Town Hall gig also appeared in ‘Rock On’ magazine and I include the complete text below as it collaborates with the memories from ‘Buzz’ and ‘Tapps’ :
“The hall was half full and the atmosphere wasn’t exactly electrifying either, which was disappointing when an exciting band like the Lurkers are appearing.
First on were a young band called the Vents. A lack of aggression and attack produced a rather timid less than ordinary performance. The only memorable thing was the contorted expressions worn by the lead guitarist.
Next on were White Cats. With the inimitable Rat Scabies. Their performance was an improvement on the Rainbow showing, but only just. Vocalist Kelvin Blacklock was a poor shadow of Billy Idol, and proceeded to act the fool throughout. There was a good performance of the Damned’s Stab Your Back, but that apart, they were predictable, and when trying to be nasty, merely irritating.
Finally, on came the Lurkers, and alter a disastrous start when Pete Stride’s guitar strings broke during Ain’t Got A Clue, they proceeded with a superb rock ‘n’ roll performance.
The set included Be My Prisoner, Shadow, Then I Kicked Her, Total War, and the new single, Pills. Howard Wall was brilliant, and Esso gave a stunning performance on drums during the unexpected break. All in all a memorable gig, confirming their brilliance on stage and album. But the Lurkers apart, the evening was a pretty poor one.”
For your listening and viewing pleasure:
The White Cats – Second Time Around – audio – demo 1978
The Lurkers – I Don’t Need To Tell Her – Revolver TV show 1978
The Lurkers – Shadow – live video – Red Cow, Hammersmith 1978
The Dashfest annual charity music festival takes place from Friday 13th July 2018 to 15th July 2018 at The Dashwood Arms, Piddington. As usual the event will feature live music acts on the Friday evening, with a full day of bands on the Saturday. The event will conclude with a selection of music acts on the Sunday afternoon and early evening.
In addition to the bands, there is a variety of other entertainment, including: Bucking Bronco, Bouncy Castle, Face Painter, Slush Machine, Ice Creams, Sweets, Pimms Bar, BBQ/Hog Roast, Vegan and Vegetarian Food.
Day tickets are £3 each, with weekend wristbands available for just £5.
Proceeds are in aid of Berks/Oxon/Bucks Air Ambulance and Animal SOS Sri Lanka.
FRIDAY 13TH JULY
7PM TO 7.50PM THE KULT 45’s
8PM TO 9.15PM THE LARGE PORTION…
9.15PM TO 12PM CARTEL
SATURDAY 14TH JULY
1PM TO 1.50 MISS KILL
2PM TO 2.50PM DOCTORS ORDERS
3PM TO 3.50PM TINY TINA
4PM TO 4.50PM RED HERRING
5PM TO 5.50PM BIG AL AND THE BLISTERING BUIKS
6PM TO 6.50PM TONY GOFF AND THE BROKEN COLOURS
7PM TO 7.50PM STRANGE FOLK
8PM TO 8.50PM KONTRABAND
9.15 UNTIL LATE THE WAY BACK
SUNDAY 15TH JULY
12.30 TO 1.15PM THE FANDANGO BROS – ACOUSTIC
1.15 TO 2PM STEVE MCCORMACK
2PM TO 2.50PM THE MOTS
3PM TO 3.50PM THE SKIN AND BLISTER BAND
4PM TO 4.50PM THE MIGHTY TRIPLE O BAND
5PM TO 6PM STEALWORKS
Also keep an eye on the Dashwood Arms facebook page for any changes due to World Cup matches taking place on Saturday and Sunday.