Pete Shelley – 17 April 1955 – 6 December 2018

In this article we fondly remember Pete Shelley, founder member of ‘punk’ band Buzzcocks, who died on 6th December 2018 at the age of 63.  Shelley’s legacy includes a memorable list of classic pop songs, as well as his part in evolving the ‘punk’ music around his home-land of Manchester.  As a 20-year-old he travelled with two friends to see a Sex Pistols gig at High Wycombe College.  What they saw that evening provided the catalyst for what would become two iconic gigs at Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall in June and July 1976 and pave the way for the likes of Factory Records, Joy Division, The Fall, The Smiths and of course Buzzcocks, to help shape the future of British music.

Shelley (real name Pete McNeish) had tentatively formed a band in late 1975 with 23-year-old fellow Bolton student Howard Trafford (later to become Howard Devoto).  On Wednesday 18th February 1976 they saw a first ever live review of a Sex Pistols gig in the New Musical Express and it inspired them to travel to London to track down the Pistols’ next gig.

Hence, with the help of a borrowed car, the pair, plus to-be band Manager Richard Boon, would travel the 180 miles south and learn that the Sex Pistols were due to play support to Lord Sutch in High Wycombe at the Buckinghamshire College of Further Education on Friday 20th February 1976.

It was also while they were down south that they would pick up a copy of Time Out magazine where the headline for the review of TV programme Rock Follies, ‘FEELING A BUZZ, COCKS’, gave them the idea for the name for their yet to be seen band –.  After seeing the Pistols in High Wycombe they would return to Manchester to form Buzzcocks and promote the famous gigs at The Lesser Free Trade Hall.

Buzzcocks would play one of their first ever gigs at the latter of these two dates.  Devoto took on lead vocals, while Shelley played guitar, aided by Steve Diggle on bass and John Maher on drums.  In January 1977 they would release their debut EP, ‘Spiral Scratch’, on their self-funded New Hormones label – one of the first truly independent record releases in the UK.   The EP included the now iconic ‘Boredom’ but the other three tracks, ‘Breakdown’, Time’s Up’ and ‘Friends of Mine’ had the same fresh sound and catch riffs.

Spiral Scratch EP – released January 1977

soon after the release of ‘Spiral Scratch’, leaving founder member Shelley with decisions to make.  Rather than recruit a new singer, Shelley bravely took on the front man role himself and the distinctive Buzzcocks sound was cemented with Steve Diggle moving to second guitar and Steve Garvey eventually becoming the permanent bass player.

With song-writing duties firmly on his shoulders, Shelley developed a way with lyrics that was virtually unique amongst his punk counterparts.  Back in those formative years of punk rock, rather than tap into what was fast becoming clichéd lyrics referencing such topics as hate, war, crime, anarchy and violence, Shelley wasn’t afraid to mention love and write songs that included backing vocals of grown-men going ‘ooh, ooh’.

Also, unlike some of the other early London ‘punk’ bands who morphed out of the ‘pub-rock’ scene, Buzzcocks genuinely struggled to play their instruments during their early outings on the live circuit.  Their early gigs would see the band muddling their way through primitive incarnations of their hits in the making – Shelley, in particular, with his sawn-off cheap guitar.  However, the sound quickly developed into something unique and one that was enhanced to a new level in the studio.

Buzzcocks would eventually sign for United Artists in August 1977 – releasing their debut album, Another Music in a Different Kitchen in March 1978 – their rise to success would be fuelled by a series of consecutive pure punk pop singles – ‘Orgasm Addict’, ‘What Do I Get?’, ‘I Don’t’ Mind’, ‘Love You More’, ‘Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve Fallen in Love With)’, ‘Promises’, ‘Everybody’s Happy Nowadays’, the list goes on and on.

It is relatively sad to look back to see that while many of the other original iconic British ‘punk’ bands played High Wycombe – including, Sex Pistols, Damned, Clash, Stranglers, Jam, Siouxsie and The Banshees and Generation X – Buzzcocks were never to perform on a High Wycombe stage – perhaps they weren’t ‘punk’ enough in the eyes of the promoters of the time?  The nearest they came were appearances at Aylesbury Friars – first on 6th May 1978 and then on 28th March 1979.

It was at the latter of these two appearances, while still at school, that I was lucky enough to see them for the first time.  I’d been captivated since seeing their Top of the Pops appearance of ‘I Don’t Mind’ in April 1978.  I remember being amazed that it was possible to write a song that included the lyric ‘pathetic clown’.  A couple of months later I heard their follow-up single ‘Love You More’ for the first time – lasting less than 2 minutes, I had to hear it again as soon as possible – hence a trip to town to buy the single in, by this time, its easily recognisable Buzzcocks style graphics.

My Buzzcocks memorabilia.
Including song book, badges, bootleg tapes and flyer from Aylesbury gig, March 1979

I took the cover to the Friars gig in March 1979 in the hope of an autograph. At the end of the gig those with similar thoughts patiently waited to the left-hand side of the stage for the band to return.  There was not much of a delay before Pete Shelley and fellow band member Steve Diggle emerged and happily signed autographs and chatted with their fans.  At this point some random meathead security man decided he wanted to clear the hall and claimed the band had ‘gone home’ and there was no point in waiting.  At which point Pete Shelley said in his distinctive high-pitched voice, ‘I’m still here!’.  The intellectually challenged security man then repeated his claim that the band had ‘gone home’.  Shelley responded with a slightly louder, ‘I’m still here!’  I can still hear his voice in my head saying those words.

In my youthful craze to hear more, I began accumulating live and early demo recordings of the band and soon discovered that Shelley’s pop songs were not limited to singles, or just three-minute songs. ‘Fast Cars’, ‘Moving Away From The Pulsebeat’, ‘Fiction Romance’, ‘E.S.P.’, ‘I Believe’, to name just four.

The band split in 1981 leaving a hole for many of their followers.  The records and tapes were stored away and we all moved on (for a while).  Then in 1989 they re-formed and we were reminded what an incredible back catalogue of songs they could call on.  The live shows were more powerful than ever.  They recorded new music and also gigged until the point of Pete’s death and had arranged a 40 year anniversary gig at The Albert Hall in June 2019.  I’d already got tickets and was in the process of going through the Buzzcocks archives when the tragic news arrived.

‘Oh Sh*t!’ was my one of my first reactions on the evening of Thursday 6th December 2018.  Shelley had a song title for almost every emotion and in this case, the ‘B’ side of the 1977 Shelley penned classic ‘What Do I Get?’, seemed the most apt.

If by chance any family or friends of Pete read this, I send them my sincere best wishes and thanks for Pete’s life.

Love You More – from Paul

My signed ‘Love you More’ cover, ‘To Paul’ from gig at Aylesbury, March 1979

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Breakdown – Buzzcocks – Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall – July 1976

I Swear I Was There – Granada TV documentary 2001
Listen from 3:16 for Devotto and Shelley recalling the trip down south in February 1976

Buzzcocks in their own words – interview at British Library – 9 June 2016
Listen from 13:50 for comments from Shelley and Boon about Sex Pistols gig at High Wycombe February 1976

I Don’t Mind – Buzzcocks – Oxford Zodiac – March 2006 – first published December 2018

24 November 1978 – Generation X/Vents/The Cure – Town Hall

High Wycombe favourites Generation X returned to the Town Hall on Friday 24th November 1978 but it was the sparse sound of the act third on the bill, The Cure, that went onto have global success far exceeding that of Billy Idol and his band of rockers.  Local band, The Vents, were also on the support bill.

Generation X – gig preview from Record Mirror – note two other gigs in High Wycombe on the same evening!

Generation X had appeared at High Wycombe on five previous occasions – four times at The Nag’s Head in 1977, before making their Town Hall debut in April 1978. Lead singer Billy Idol explained the reason for choosing High Wycombe again in a gig preview published in the Bucks Free Press Midweek. He said:“[High Wycombe] has always been great. It is like playing to your best friends.” He went on to say: “We are a wild rock and roll group. Our music is influenced by steel and concrete, not cows and fields.”  He concluded: “No one has ever proved that authority works. Drugs, booze, sex and violence makes their rules look like croquet on the lawn.  We are anti anything that strikes at individuality.”

Generation gig preview in Bucks Free Press Midweek – November 1978 – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

The High Wycombe Town Hall gig was the opening night of the latest Generation X tour, initially publicised to promote their second album. A NME article suggests the name of the new album would be ‘Intercourse (Old Meets New)’.  The album was eventually released in January 1979 under the title ‘Valley of the Dolls’.  Notable tracks were subsequent singles, ‘King Rocker’ and the title track.  Production on the album was by Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople).

Generation X tour dates from NME November 1978

The Cure were a late addition to the tour schedule after signing a record deal with Fiction Records in September 1978.  They had been signed by Chris Parry at Polydor Records for his Fiction label.  A debut single ‘Killing an Arab’ would follow in December 1978 on Small Wonder due to distribution problems with Polydor.

The band originated from Crawley, playing initially under the name of ‘Easy Cure’ and then simplying this to The Cure in July 1978.

At the time of the Town Hall gig The Cure were a three piece – Robert Smith (guitar and vocals), Michael Dempsey (bass) and Lol Tolhurst (drums). They were all 19 years old.

The Cure – 1978
Source unknown

The events surrounding their appearance at the Town Hall are fairly well documented in a couple of Cure biographies. At the Town Hall gig the band were left surprised that, rather than receiving a fee for the gig, they would have to pay £25 for the privilege of using the Generation X lighting and sound system.  They couldn’t afford £25 at the time, so they wheeled in their own amps and operated the sound and light system with the aid of a roadie and ‘encouragement’ from the audience.

Extract from Ten Imaginary Years book by Steve Sutherland and Robert Smith – published 1987

In his 2016 biography, Cured, Lol Tolhurst went on the describe the events as the punters made their way into the Town Hall:

“The doors opened and we were ushered on stage almost immediately ‘to warm the punters up as the tour manager informed us. I’m sure Robert gave him a disdainful look as we marched on stage. We were not the same as these old hippies running the show. That much was obvious to all. However, we welcomed the opportunity to play, even if it meant we had to deal with the predictably capitalistic remnants of the counterculture from time to time.”

Earlier in 1978, Tolhurst, had apparently been given the opportunity to play for the UK Subs, but turned down the request in order to distance himself from the ‘punk’ movement. Commenting on the main event at the Town Hall, he added:

“The Gen X show was quite a spectacle of punk rock. As the opening number, ‘Ready, Steady Go started, Billy idol, resplendent in a red leather jump suit, strode to the front of the stage and then, almost on cue, a thousand gobs of spit came arching over the stage front like arrows shot from longbows into the spotlight towards Billy. To our amazement he didn’t recoil from this assault of phlegm but positively revelled in the ghastly gobbing frenzy.

Suddenly, the purpose of the red leather suit became shockingly clear, it was the only suitable material for such an onslaught, especially considering this same scene was repeated every night of the tour. We watched from the side of the stage for a few more minutes, transfixed by the spectacle of Mr Idol being drenched sputum. I think we were all secretly glad that the audience had decided we weren’t worthy of their shower of spittle.”

Just under 40 years after The Cure’s appearance at High Wycombe Town Hall, the band celebrated the landmark by playing an open-air gig at London’s Hyde Park in front of an estimated 50,000 people. The encore at Hyde Park (including 1978 songs ‘Killing An Arab’ and ’10:15 On A Saturday Night’) lasted longer their than Town Hall slot!

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Valley of the Dolls – Generation X – BBC Top of the Pops – April 1979

Killing An Arab – The Cure – Small Wonder single 1978

10:15 On A Saturday Night – The Cure – promo video – early 1979

References:

https://en-gb.facebook.com/genxpunkband/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X_(band)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cure

http://www.thecure.com/bio/

20 November 1978 – Pere Ubu – Town Hall

Pere Ubu, a USA band who described themselves as ‘avant-garage’ appeared at High Wycombe Town Hall on Monday 20th November 1978.  Support came from The Soft Boys.

Pere Ubu formed late 1975 in Cleveland, Ohio with lead singer David Thomas as constant member during their performing career. Listening back to their music now would probably see them lumped in the ‘post-punk’ bracket – although they were, essentially around before ‘punk’.  They released four singles before their debut LP, The Modern Dance, came out in January 1978.

Pere Ubu – 1978 tour advert from the NME – featuring High Wycombe Town Hall gig November 1978

Their date at The Town Hall in November 1978 was part of a UK tour to promote Pere Ubu’s second album, ‘Dub Housing’. Originally arranged for Sunday 19th November, the gig was switched to the following evening having opened the tour in Middlesbrough and Newcastle. Other dates on the tour included appearances at Manchester – The Factory, Liverpool-Eric’s, London – Electric Ballroom.

A feature on Pere Ubu was published in the Bucks Free Press Midweek at their time of their 1978 appearance at The Town Hall. The piece, authored by ‘CJK’, described the band as; “One of the most radically innovative and challenging bands to appear in the last couple of years.”

The article went on to quote lead singer David Thomas saying that he refused to allow the band to be classified: “Classifications aren’t valid any more. We have much in common with jazz and early folk, we’re pioneers, out there on our own, getting it together.”  He added: “We try not to be anything other than what we are. We have no time for false images.”

Pere Ubu – cutting from Bucks Free Press Midweek – November 1978

For your listening pleasure

Non-Alignment Pact – Pere Ubu -track from their 1978 Modern Dance album

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pere_Ubu

http://www.ubuprojex.com/

13 November 1978 – Siouxsie and The Banshees release debut album

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 Scream – Siouxsie and The Banshees – debut album – released 13th November 1978 on Polydor

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

2 November 2018 – Punkarolla – Wycombe Sound guest appearance

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.

Andy Chalk and myself (Paul Lewis) on the Punkarolla show – Wycombe Sound – 2 November 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:

http://listenagain.wycombesound.org.uk/index.php/shows/punkarolla/

Shows from the earlier series are also available to listen to via MixCloud

https://www.mixcloud.com/WycombeSound/playlists/punkarolla/

Andy also has a Punkarolla Public Facebook Group

https://www.facebook.com/groups/224313594628909/

4 October 1978 – 999 – Town Hall

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.

999 tour dates – September, October and November 1978.
Including High Wycombe Town Hall – 4th October 1978.
Cutting from New Musical Express

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:

Great gig

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.

999 – review of gig at High Wycombe Town published in Bucks Free Press Midweek in October 1978

 

The success of the gig led to promoter Ron Watts bringing the band back to the Town Hall for another appearance in December 1978.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

 Feelin’ Alright With The Crew – 999 – audio

29 September 1978 – Motorhead – Town Hall

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.

Bucks Free Press advert for Motorhead and 999 gigs at High Wycombe Town Hall in September and October 1978

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:

  1. Motorhead (Hawkwind cover)
  2. I’ll Be Your Sister
  3. Leaving Here (Edward Holland, Jr. cover)
  4. Lost Johnny (Hawkwind cover)
  5. The Watcher (Hawkwind cover)
  6. Keep Us on the Road
  7. Louie Louie (Richard Berry cover)
  8. Tear Ya Down
  9. Iron Horse/Born to Lose
  10. White Line Fever
  11. Instro

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

Motorhead – Motorhead – official audio – 1978

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mot%C3%B6rhead

8 September 1978 – Rich Kids/Four Daughters – Town Hall

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.

Rich Kids – High Wycombe Town Hall – 8th September 1978 – flyer from my own collection

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.

Rich Kids – 1978 -posing for Oh Boy magazine
Left to Right: Rusty Egan, Glen Matlock, Midge Ure and Steve New

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:

  1. Sound Of Marching Men
  2. Put You In The Picture
  3. Here Comes The Nice
  4. Empty Words
  5. Young Girls
  6. Bullet Proof Lover
  7. Lovers And Fools
  8. Twelve Miles High
  9. Holy Holy
  10. Burning Sounds
  11. Strange One
  12. Cheap Emotions
  13. Hung On You
  14. Ghosts Of Princes In Towers
  15. Shake Appeal
  16. Rich Kids.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Kids

https://punkygibbon.co.uk/bands/r/richkids.html

http://www.midgeure.co.uk/archive/index.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visage_(band)

 

20 August 1968 – Fleetwood Mac – Town Hall

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!

Fleetwood Mac – High Wycombe Town Hall – Tuesday 20th August 1968 – advert from Bucks Free Press enhanced by wycombegigs.co.uk

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

https://www.fleetwoodmac.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleetwood_Mac

http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/Hyde-park-8-24-68.html

http://peel.wikia.com/wiki/Rock_Family_Trees:_The_Fleetwood_Mac_Story

 

18 August 1978 – Rezillos/Patrik Fitzgerald/Vents- Town Hall

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.

Rezillos August 1978 Tour montage – featuring Friday 18th August 1978 at High Wycombe Town Hall – created for wycombegigs.co.uk

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 Watts had 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?

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rezillos

http://www.rezillos.rocks/