Local promoter Ron Watts was busy throughout the summer months of 1979 putting on a variety of gigs at both The Nag’s Head and The Town Hall in High Wycombe. A flyer I discovered in my own collection reveals some interesting dates during July and August 1979, including a debut for Mod revival band Merton Parkas, a Blues Loft Reunion and ‘World Debut’ for former Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock’s band.
So, a quick skim through the list
Thursday 19th July 1979 – Merton Parkas/Panther 45
I believe this was Watts’ first venture into promoting a band from 1979 Mod revival. Curious to see what all the fuss was about, I recall making one of my ever trips to the Nag’s Head on a warm evening and being amazed to see at least a dozen scooters parked up along the London Road as punters from their London following made the trip into Buckinghamshire.
The Merton Parkas (formerly The Sneakers) consisted of Mick Talbot (keyboards and vocals), Danny Talbot (guitar and vocals), Neil Hurrell (bass and vocals) and Simon Smith (drums). At 20 years old, Mick Talbot and Simon Smith were the oldest members.
At the time of this gig they had just signed for Beggars Banquet after being recommended by The Lurkers. They would release their debut single, ‘You Need Wheels’ a few weeks after their appearance at The Nag’s Head.
Their set list that evening included the soon to be released single, plus covers, ‘Tears of a Clown’, ‘Stepping Stone’ and ‘Kids are Alright’, plus originals, ‘Plastic Smile’, ‘Give it to me Now’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Know You’.
Thursday 26th July 1979 – Blues Loft Reunion
This gig came just over ten years since Ron Watts had launched his Blues Loft in High Wycombe. According to the flyer, the featured artists were Paul Jones, Tom McGuinness, Hughie Flint, Shakey Vick and Dave Kelly. I’m pretty sure that Ron himself and the rest of Brewers Droop would have been on stage too.
Thursday 2nd August 1979 – The Jimmy Norton Explosion
This was billed by Watts as a ‘World Debut’ for a band put together by former Sex Pistols and Rich Kids bassist Glen Matlock. The Rich Kids had split up at the end of 1978 and Matlock had drafted in Steve New (guitarist formerly of Rock Kids), Danny Kustow (guitarist formerly of Tom Robinson Band) and ‘Budgie’ (drummer at the time for The Slits). Watts’ hand written flyer misspells the latter as ‘Busby’!
After all that explanation, I fairly sure that this gig never took place. They were also booked to appear at The Music Machine in London on 3rd August 1979 but I not sure if that took place either. From what I can make out, after recording a session for John Peel in July 1979, Matlock and New went off to tour with Iggy Pop and the JNE project was put on hold until early 1980 – they definitely appeared at The Nag’s Head on 29th February 1980.
Thursday 9th August 1979 – Phil Rambow
Rambow was a well-respected guitarist who had worked with Brian Eno and Mick Ronson. A quick search of Google reveals he also wrote songs with Kirsty MacColl and created the classic ‘classic ‘There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis’.
Another blow for live music in High Wycombe with the news that the gig below was CANCELLED due to Council restrictions.
Statement from Public Service Announcement said
It is with great regret that tomorrows gig has been cancelled! This is due to the council restricting the volume for live gigs to be an unworkable level. Let’s hope that the issue is resolved as The Antelope and particularly Roxi were trying to promote live music in Wycombe.
A quick mention of a cheap entry gig at The Antelope, High Wycombe on Friday 26th July 2019.
£1 will get you into to see Public Service Announcement, Calico Street Riots, Freudian Session and Bleed Happiness. Doors open at 7pm.
Regular visitors to the this site will be aware of Public Service Announcement. They released their first EP earlier in 2019 and this date will be first of three gigs on consecutive evenings. They play Holroyd Arms, Guildford on Saturday 27th July 2019 with The Members, while on Sunday 28th July 2019, they make their return to the annual Red Lion festival in Chinnor.
Some brief information on the other bands I found online
Calico Street Riots
Six piece English Folk Punk!
The idea to make a festival band was born whilst at Reading 2008.
Check them out on YouTube – obviously influenced by The Pogues (plus more swearing!)
The Freudian Session
Four piece Punk/Metal band bringing all the noise and banter to every show they play! Huge influences from the likes of The Wildhearts, Metallica, Rise Against, Therapy?, The Clash, Maximum The Hormone, anything punk or metal related!
The line-up of the Xtraverts at the time of this gig is believed have changed slightly from the one that supported The Lurkers at the Town Hall on June 1979, with Nigel Martin (vocals), Steve Westwood (guitar), Mark Chapman (bass) and now Andy Crawford taking over on drums from David Lee.
Elsewhere in the background for The Xtraverts was budding guitarist Glen Spicer. Glen would help tune the guitars for the band and would join the band later in 1979.
I was shocked to hear that Andy Crawford had passed away around the 40th anniversary of this gig and shortly before the time of this post. My condolences to his family and friends and offer this page as small tribute to a drummer who was very much part of the local punk scene back in 1979 and 1980.
R.I.P. Andy Crawford
Picture taken from Xtraverts Facebook group – messages can be left there too
The UK Subs made their second High Wycombe appearance on Wednesday 27th June 1979 with a Ron Watts promoted show at the Town Hall. Local band The Ladykillers were support on an evening where crowd violence caused a halt to proceedings.
The Subs had played to a small audience at the local SU Bar on 2nd February 1979 but in the intervening months they had signed a record deal with GEM records and their increased media prominence had drawn a decent crowd to the town centre venue –albeit including a small minority whose fighting threatened to call a premature end to the evening.
Support act The Ladykillers had made their live debut earlier in 1979 – impressing a local crowd as support to XTC at the Town Hall on 6th May 1979. Close to two months later they had a few new songs to their set, including a cover a Tamla original ‘Money’ but made more famous by The Beatles in 1963 and then a few weeks after this gig, by The Flying Lizards.
Ladykillers setlist for the support slot with The UK Subs included the following:
If It Happened Tomorrow
Fear of the Night
Mother Hates Me Hair
Money (Bradford and Gordy cover)
White Boys, Making Noise
Under The Skin
The UK Subs’ return to High Wycombe was part of a lengthy tour to promote their new single’ Stranglehold’. The tour would stretch into July and include a prestigious appearance at London’s Lyceum Ballroom – a venue that was not afraid to promote a diverse range of acts.
Music paper reviews of their gigs around the time of their Town Hall jaunt already had them pigeon-holed as ‘punk’ revivalists.
Robbi Millar writing in Sounds about their gig at The Music Machine on 15 June 1979, said: “I’m not sure how long the UK Subs are going to be able to carry on with their present formula but I hope they never mellow. Right now they’ve got a certain stranglehold on their rowdy band of merry men and bootgirls, so let’s pray that possible chart success doesn’t change them. Imagine the Subs on Top of the Pops!”
Just under two weeks previous they had supported Iggy Pop at the Hammersmith Odeon. Chris Bohn, writing in Melody Maker reported much travelled 35-year-old UK Subs lead singer Charlie Harper saying to the crowd:
“It took them 10 years to pick up on Iggy Pop, didn’t it? Some people say we live back in 1977 but we ain’t going to change our attitudes because of fashion.”
Bohn added himself; “Thus the first punk revival band thrashed their way through amusingly through a catalogue of earnest protest in speedily proficient HM punk style, projecting to he back of the hall where their ardently tribal admirers gathered.”
Bassist Paul Slack was quick to offer his views on the revival tag. Speaking to Sounds a week or so later, he said:
“People call us a punk revival band, sort of all zips and no sense, but that’s boll*cks because punk hasn’t died. It might not be trendy now but it’s still there. It’s gone underground.”
Guitarist Nick Garratt added:
“Punk music is last NEW thing and it’s still growing and improving. I don’t see why it shouldn’t go on for years yet, do you?”.
The UK Subs also made their feelings know about the old school of rock when they pulled out of their 22nd June 1979 slot at Glastonbury Fayre (later to become Glastonbury Festival). Fifteen years before the cameras turned up at Worthy Farm, this was mainly a pilgrimage for ‘hippies’ and probably not a safe place for the relative youthfulness of ‘punks.
Having survived not going to Glastonbury, a day before their appearance in High Wycombe, UK Subs made journalist Robbi Millar’s dream come true when they recorded their debut appearance for BBC’s Top of the Pops. Peter Powell introduced their ‘Stranglehold’ single on a show that saw Tubeway Army top the charts with ‘Are Friends Electric?’
But their visit to the Town Hall the following evening was a far cry from the BBC studios. I attended this gig as a schoolboy, along with several other class mates, all interested in seeing a ‘punk’ band in action. It proved an enlightening evening and a rough recording I made of the gig has helped me piece together the chaos of the night.
35-year-old lead singer Charlie Harper took the stage revealing that the band had: ‘just been through a really harrowing experience’ before shouting to those still in the bar to come out and ‘get the beer over here’.
The set list mainly drew from what would become their debut album ‘Another Kind of Blues’ – recorded in London in the month leading up to the High Wycombe gig and eventually released in September 1979.
The Subs had crashed through more a dozen songs in the opening 25 minutes before fighting broke out amongst a small number of people in the centre of the Town Hall floor. Charlie Harper was not impressed, shouting to the punters:
“Are we are punks here, or what? We’ve had enough people picking on us outside without f**king fighting amongst ourselves! We’ve come here to have a bit of fun from the trials and turmoil’s of today.”
Violence had marred a few previous Town Hall gigs during the 1977/78 ‘punk’ boom but seemed to have quelled into 1979. However, the danger signs were following an outbreak of crowd mayhem at the previous ‘punk’ gig at The Town Hall when followers of local band ‘The Xtraverts’ chanted the group’s name during song breaks in The Lurkers headline set.
There were subdued chants of ‘Xtraverts, Xtraverts’ again as the fighting died down during the UK Subs set, with guitarist Nick Garratt joking “OK, you can stop fighting now because I’ve changed my string”. However, it had the reverse effect as a far more intense brawl started, prompting promoter Ron Watts to come on to the stage and shout: “OK, open the doors we’re going home”.
Again, Charlie Harper voiced his displeasure by shouting: “Listen! Everybody who wants to fight, f**k off!” The majority of the crowd were in agreement and began charting “UK Subs!, UK Subs!” But with the house lights up and Nick Garrett walking off the stage, it looked like the live action was over.
Step in Charlie Harper again who wouldn’t let the idiots win, declaring: “We haven’t done our set yet. Just give Nick another minute.” So around, 12 minutes after the trouble originally broke out, the band were ready to go again, with Charlie Harper asking for the house lights to be turned down because they wanted to carry on. His request was obliged and they played another eight songs (in 15 minutes!) before a subdued crowd made their way home.
UK Subs setlist for High Wycombe Town Hall – 27 June 1979
I Couldn’t Be You
I Live in a Car
B1C (abandoned due to crowd trouble)
I Don’t Wanna Know
Scum of the Earth
Despite the audience problems at this gig, it is credit to promoter Ron Watts and the band that they returned to the Town Hall in September 1979 as part of a tour promoting their debut album, ‘Another Kind Of Blues’.
High Wycombe was lost from the major gigging circuit during the 1980’s but The UK Subs would return several more times in smaller venues and at the time of this article were set to appear at The Phoenix in Bridge Street on November 2019 – just over 40 years since their first appearances in the town. You can do the calculations on how old Charlie Harper would be at this point.
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Stranglehold – UK Subs – BBC Top of the Pops – 28 June 1979
Punk Can Take It – 1979 documentary featuring UK Subs
Filmed by Julien Temple at the Lyceum on 15th July 1979
Includes C.I.D., Live In A Car, Stranglehold, Emotional Blackmail, I Couldn’t Be You
Watching The Killers play their headline slot at Glastonbury Festival on Saturday 29th June 2019 reminded me that one of their first headline slots in the UK came in High Wycombe. On Monday 24th November 2003 they had been down to play support to British Sea Power at The White Room venue at was then known as Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College. However, bizarre events on the afternoon of the gig saw BSP forced to pull out, leaving The Killers to play on their own in front of a barely half-full venue.
I have first-hand re-collections of the evening having been keen to see British Sea Power. On arriving at around 7pm I was informed at the front desk of the venue that a member of BSP had hurt themselves and the band wouldn’t be performing. There was a slight pause, and then the student union rep said: “However, the support band are really good. They are sound checking now”. In the background The Killers were playing what I would later discover to be ‘Somebody Told Me’.
I didn’t discover the circumstances leading to BSP’s withdrawal until a few days later when the NME reported that bass player Hamilton was collecting branches to decorate the stage when he inadvertently sawed through the branch he was holding on to and fell to the ground, suffering a sprained wrist.
A spokesperson for the band said: “The BSP man had skilfully scaled a Copper Beech to selectively prune a few branches for the purposes of stage decoration. The accident occurred when, in Harold Lloyd style, the bass man sawed through the branch he was hanging onto. The fall resulted in a badly-sprained wrist, which made playing impossible.”
The NME report added that support band The Killers still played the concert, winning the crowd over while British Sea Power watched from the wings. Sound engineer Joe Harling stood in on bass for the remainder of the tour, while Hamilton recovered in time for BSP’s dates supporting The Strokes in December 2003. British Sea Power would eventually fulfil their High Wycombe date the following year.
Before then it was The Killers turn to try and impress the High Wycombe crowd. It was a long way from Las Vegas home where they had formed in 2001 – their name inspired by a logo on the bass drum of a fictitious band portrayed in the music video for the New Order song ‘Crystal’.
After gigging locally, a five track demo recorded in 2003 impressed the bosses of British label Lizard King and they signed a record deal with in July 2003. Two months later they travelled to the UK for the first to play at small venues in London (including The Garage and The Dublin Castle). The shows would help promote their debut release, ‘Mr Brightside’ released on 29th September 2003. They finished recording what would be their debut album, ‘Hot Fuss’, in November 2003 and returned to the UK for their support slot with British Sea Power. And so onto High Wycombe where a broken branch gave them a chance to be headliners.
At the time of the High Wycombe appearance their line-up was Brandon Flowers (22 years old, vocals and keyboards), Dave Keuning (27, lead guitar), Mark Stoermer (26, bass) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (27, drums).
I don’t have a record of the exact set-list for the High Wycombe gig but based on other appearances around this time, it would have included:
Jenny Was a Friend of Mine
Somebody Told Me
Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll
Smile Like You Mean It
Under the Gun
I believe their High Wycombe appearance was their first ‘headline slot outside of the USA and London. The Killers first official headline tour in the UK came in May 2004, with the ‘Hot Fuss’ album finally be released on 7 June 2004. Later that month they made their Glastonbury debut in a tent. The short set was broadcast on the BBC and help propel the band into the national spotlight just over six months after playing to a curious audience in High Wycombe.
Three years later (in 2007) they were headlining Glastonbury. They returned again in 2019, including in their set five of the songs they had performed in High Wycombe more than 15 years previous.
I was delighted to be able attend a celebration of Pete Shelley’s life on the evening of Friday 21st June 2019 at the Royal Albert Hall in London. The concert featured Buzzcocks (and an array of special guest singers) with support from The Skids and Penetration.
It would dismissive and rude of me not to squeeze in references to High Wycombe in this article. Buzzcocks may never had played High Wycombe but that was the place, back in February 1976, that Shelley (then named Peter McGleish) first witnessed The Sex Pistols. The rest is history.
Meanwhile, support acts, The Skids and Penetration both did make it to play live in High Wycombe – Richard Jobson and his merry Scottish band treading The Nag’s Head stage in June 1978 for their first appearance outside of Scotland and London. Penetration also sampled the delights of High Wycombe Town in June 1978 as they took a break from supporting Buzzcocks on their UK tour.
So, fast forward more than 40 years to the Royal Albert Hall in 2019 and it seemed almost surreal to witness all three of these acts on the same night and on the same stage.
It was perhaps apt that Penetration kicked off with their Buzzcocks cover, ‘Nostalgia’. It set the tone for an evening that proved that Shelley will be remembered as one of the greatest pop song writers of his era.
Penetration – set list
Come Into the Open
Shout Above the Noise
Beat Goes On
Richard Jobson is a great frontman and the latest version of The Skids he has assembled is able to do admirable justice to the impressive back catalogue of classics from the late 70’s and early 80’s. We even got a run through of, according to Jobson, the ‘worse ever Skids song’ in the form of ‘TV Stars’.
Skids – set list
Of One Skin
Kings of the New World Order
The Saints Are Coming
Working for the Yankee Dollar
Scared to Dance
Hurry On Boys
A Woman In Winter
TV Stars/Pretty Vacant /What Do I Get?
Into The Valley
Buzzcocks came on stage to an ever-rotating backdrop of band and Shelley memorabilia – just in case you got bored with the music. However, from the opening guitar riff of ‘Fast Cars’, sung by Buzzcocks original Steve Diggle, there was little chance to draw breath.
The guests started to take stage from the fifth number in – The Damned’s Captain Sensible attempting to the take on Boredom with the assistance of an oversize lyric sheet!
Former Buzzcocks John Maher and Steve Garvey joined the line-up for the short and sweet ‘Love You More’, with vocals coming from Penetration’s Pauline Murray.
You can see from the set-list below how the remainder of the evening panned out – all the guests adding their own unique style to the songs. The versions may not have been perfect but this was more about the remembering the songs rather than the performances.
Buzzcocks – set list
A Girl From the Chain store
Boredom (featuring Captain Sensible)
Love You More (featuring Pauline Murray))
Why Can’t I Touch it (featuring Peter Perrett)
Fiction Romance (featuring Richard Jobson)
What Do I Get? (featuring Dave Vanian)
Something’s Gone Wrong Again (featuring Dave Vanian)
Time’s Up (featuring Thurston Moore)
Noise Annoys (featuring Thurston Moore)
Sixteen Again (featuring Tim Burgess)
You Say You Don’t Love Me (featuring Tim Burgess)
Harmony in My Head
I Don’t Mind
Ever Fallen In Love (featuring all the guest vocalists)
Four years before Howard Jones would make his breakthrough in the UK charts with his synth based pop, his three younger brothers had formed a band and began gigging in the High Wycombe area. Their first outings came under the name of After Science, with an appearance at The Nag’s Head on Wednesday 20th June 1979 being one of their first ventures.
Brothers Roy Jones (20, vocals), Martin Jones (21, guitar) and Paul Jones (17, drums), were joined by friend Majid Ahmed (19, bass) for the gig billed to be in aid of Friends of the Earth. The self-made flyer was the only form of advertising for the gig but that and word of mouth amongst their music loving friends drew a decent crowd to the London Road venue.
I’m grateful for Roy Jones confirming, shortly before this article was published, that he had previously gained experience playing with local band ‘prog rock’ band Beowulf, which featured Sabir Ahmed (brother of Majid on bass), plus High Wycombe Royal Grammar classmate Paul Ferguson on drums. Ferguson went on to perform with Pink Parts during the 1977 ‘punk’ explosion.
By 1979, the ‘post-punk’ scene was in full swing and Ferguson had teamed up with a fledgling West London based Killing Joke. Meanwhile, Roy had begun collaborating with his younger brothers – all boasting natural music talent – and bringing a relatively fresh sound to the local scene and one that was in stark contrast to the bands harking back to the days full on punk days of 1976 and 1977.
Drawing influences from the likes of XTC, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Talking Head and Public Image Limited; After Science quickly built up a local following playing the smaller local venues but seemed to struggle to make the step into the larger venues.
Later in 1979 they would change the band name to The Jones Boys and start to record tracks at The Boiler House studios in High Wycombe (Sands) along with engineer Derek Timms. By the end of 1979 they had built up enough material for an album and were gaining interest from record companies.
Roy Jones commented: “We used to rehearse two nights a week for four hours in the evenings after work. Then we used to play live in local venues like The Nag’s Head in High Wycombe. We even got record company interest from CBS who sent an A&R man down to see us play live.”
Roy also recalls that during one of their Nag’s Head appearances in 1979 brother Howard would join the group on stage. It would be the only time that all four brothers ever played live together before an audience.
In 2014 Roy Jones would re-visit the tracks recorded at The Boiler House and issue a retrospectively titled album, ‘Endless Waiting Game’, via download and streaming platforms.
The tracks featured were:
Endless Waiting Game
Television Hum (featuring Paul Ferguson)
Chinese Takeaway Experiment
Visit to Earth
Yes No Running
The tracks were essentially the material performed live by After Science and The Jones Boys up until early 1980, when the chaotic events at a planned support slot for Killing Joke and Joy Division at The Town Hall, High Wycombe provided the catalyst to move to London and make another name change, this time to Red Beat – and finally a breakthrough to play the bigger stages in London and beyond.
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Jones Boys/Red Beat – Endless Waiting Game – 1979 remastered in 2014 by Roy Jones
The Lurkers won’t recall their return to High Wycombe on Wednesday 6th June 1979 which much pleasure. The London based band owed their background more to ‘pub rock’ than ‘punk rock’ and when faced with a resurrected version of local boys, The Xtraverts as support, there was only ever going to be one winner.
The Lurkers had appeared at the Town Hall the previous July at the height of their popularity and were looking to carry that relative success over into 1979. The Town Hall date was the opening night of a tour to promote their latest single, ‘Out in The Dark’ and new album ‘God’s Lonely Men’. The single crept into the UK charts at No.72 in the week they visited High Wycombe but would drop out again the following week – perhaps summing up their fortunes at a time when the media were keen to find the next the next musical trend.
To give an idea of the landscape of British popular music at the time, a glimpse at the UK singles chart for that week has Blondie’s ‘Sunday Girl’ in the No.1 position. Elsewhere in the Top 30, there were several acts that had played High Wycombe in the previous two years or so. ‘Roxanne’ by The Police were at No.16, ‘Masquerade’ by The Skids at No.17, The Clash with ‘I Fought the Law’ at No.24, The Damned with ‘Love Song’ at No.26 and Elvis Costello with ‘Accidents Will Happen at No.30.
Meanwhile, The Xtraverts, led by singer and founder member Nigel Martin, has their roots very much in the spirit of The Sex Pistols, with ‘Hate’, ‘Anarchy’ and ‘Chaos’, giving their now mainly teenage following a feel for what it may have been like to witness the original punk scene in late 1976/early 1977. Promoter Ron Watts had given them a rare chance to grace the Town Hall stage following their return with a new-look line-up a few weeks earlier at The Multi-Racial Centre.
The line-up of the Xtraverts at the time of this gig is believed to be, Nigel Martin (vocals), Steve Westwood (guitar), Mark Chapman (bass) and David Lee (drums). Drummer Lee recalled his introduction to band and the Lurkers gig in an interview for boredteenagers.co.uk in April 2006.
Lee had been to Wellesbourne school in High Wycombe with Chapman in 1978/79 and was invited to audition for The Xtraverts alongside Martin and Westwood, even though he wasn’t totally into the punk scene. Lee recalls: “Anyway here I was playing in a punk band, a little different for me as I was into Deep Purple and that kind of thing. I thrashed out a number of tunes and I was in!”
Lee said his finest hour was supporting The Lurkers at The Town on 6th June 1979: “The local support was fantastic. I had just bought a new Ludwig vistalite kit from the States. It looked great and sounded big! My first gig with the kit was supporting the Lurkers.”
Lee continued: “We had a sound check and all seemed well. I met the Lurkers drummer ‘Esso’ who admired my new shiny kit. We went on and then all hell let loose – The sound completely died. The fans thought it was the Lurkers sound engineers, all you could hear was my acoustic drumming! What had happened was, the evil sound limiter. The council were having a meeting and cut the sound. Not Good! Meanwhile, we eventually rectified the problem and the sound came back on. We blew the place away the fans went mental pogoing and spitting in appreciation. In fact the fans booed the Lurkers off the stage wanting the Xtraverts back on. The Lurkers were very upset!”
The Lurkers set-list would have been drawn from the following songs as performed at the Lyceum on 24th June 1979 but it’s not sure how far they got through their set before calling it a night.
By My Prisoner
It’s Quiet Here
I’ll Be With You
Out in the Dark
What Ever Happened to Mary
I’m On Heat
I Don’t Need to Tell Her
Take Me Back to Babylon
Suzie is a Floozie
Ain’t Got a Clue
I’m on Heat
The appearance by David Lee’s for The Xtraverts turned out to be his last! “Now as I wasn’t a true punk- not into the dyed hair, safety pins, tattoos etc. All I could see was my new black Ludwig vistalite kit caked in SNOT! I loved the band but I also loved my new kit!! That was the last gig and I left the band.”
Lee was replaced shortly afterwards on drums by Andy Crawford and The Xtraverts continued to gig in around High Wycombe during the summer -building up an even more enthusiastic following, spurred on by such songs as ‘Police State’, ‘Individual’, ‘Who Sent the Boys’ and ‘I Hate You’ – the latter including the lyrics
I hate you
The things you do
The way you dress
Lead singer Nigel Martin spoke the local press a few weeks after The Lurkers gig: “That was fantastic. The Lurkers were really mad l don’t think they’ll ask us to support them again.” He added: “All the papers and the bands keep saying that punk is dead, but there’s a lot of punks in the Wycombe area and we’re the only group staying true to the ideals that punk first stuck to. We don’t want to be millionaires and live in Los Angeles, ·and we won’t sign with some major company and be patronised. We want to play our music to our fans because they’re the ones who’ve stayed with us all along.”
For your listening and viewing pleasure
Out In The Dark – The Lurkers – audio of 1979 single
A hand written flyer found on social media provides evidence of a comeback gig by High Wycombe’s perennial punks, The Xtraverts, at High Wycombe’s Multi-Racial Centre on Friday 27th April 1979. The flyer shows the headline act as Wadada, with additional support from Plastic People.
At the time of this gig, then 21-year-old lead singer Nigel Martin was the only founder member from the original version of The Xtraverts, who had spawned from the ‘post-Bill Grundy’ era of late 1976 and first known to have gigged mid-way through 1977. The band continued to play live in and around High Wycombe and London but split-up shortly after the release of their debut single, Blank Generation (recorded in late 1977 and released in January 1978).
Martin returned to the stage briefly with a new band, Mirage – supporting 999 at The Town Hall on 20th December 1978 – but the resurrection of The Xtraverts coincides with what is often described as the ‘second-wave of punk’ during 1979 – with bands including The Ruts and a reformed Damned driving the local interest (particularly amongst teenagers) following their appearance at the Town Hall on 18th April 1979.
The line-up of the new look Xtraverts at the time of this gig is believed to be, Nigel Martin (vocals), Steve Westwood (guitar), Mark Chapman (bass) and David Lee (drums). Lee was replaced on drums later in the year by Andy Crawford but not before an infamous gig supporting The Lurkers at High Wycombe Town Hall on 6th June 1979.
The Plastic People were another local ‘punk’ band – this time headed by Gary Quelch (guitar and vocals). The remainder of the line-up at the time of this gig is believed to be Steve Hyland (guitar), Pete Hyland (drums) and Glen Spicer (guitar and vocals). Anybody with more accurate information, please get in touch and I will update this post accordingly.
What we do know about Plastic People is that they went on to release a joint double ‘A’ sided single with The Xtraverts– their contribution, ‘Demolition’, appearing alongside The Xtraverts’, ‘Police State’. It was released in November 1979 on Rising Sun records- Rising Sun being a record stall in High Wycombe Fayre, an indoor market on the site of what was previously Woolworth’s in Church Street and what would become The Chiltern Centre in the mid 1980’s.
From my own memories, I recall seeing both bands several times in 1979 at local venues, including the Multi-Racial Centre and SU bar. On each occasion the tribal following gathered pace, with much of their fan base drawing from recent school leavers and other teenagers who had been too young to witness the original punk explosion or were just simply unaware of the underground culture taking place on their doorstep.
At the time this flyer came to light (some 40 years after the gig) there was little, to no, information on the billed headline act Wadada. However, the beauty of the internet has pointed me into the direction of a Michael Wadada who, in 1979, began collaboration with High Wycombe based Adrian Sherwood, creator of the On-U-Sound record label. Unfortunately, Michael has no re-collection of the gig, so maybe the name of the act is just a coincidence. Anybody with any more information, please get in touch.
For the time being, I will leave you with a picture of the Multi-Racial Centre.
This venue took over from The Newlands Club as a relatively small capacity, non-pub venue, in the Town Centre. It was situated under the Abbey Way flyover, at the end of Paul’s Row. If you left the venue and made your way under the flyover, you would reach the entrance to the college buildings where gigs also took place in the main hall and SU Bar. The site of the re-developed ‘Gateway Building’, opened in 2009, is built on the location of the main hall where The Sex Pistols played their infamous High Wycombe gig in February 1976.
A fairly elaborate folder out poster/flyer, from my own collection, is the only evidence I have of a gig by Uncle Llama at High Wycombe Town Hall on Saturday 12th May 1979. The poster folds-out to an advert for the gig, while on the reverse there are details of the band line-up and for some bizarre reason, a food recipe! My best guess, based on the photos of the band on the reverse of the poster, are they fell into the ‘prog rock’ category. I’m fairly certain I would have picked up the poster, either from Scorpion or Venus record shops in High Wycombe.
For the record and search engine recognition, the line-up quoted was John Hill (lead guitar and 12 string), Steve McDaniel (synth, string and organ), Joe Pritchard (bass), Tim Medcalf (drums and percussion) and Clive Brooks (vocals and 12 string).
The only online reference to Uncle Llama I could find at the time of this post was a comment by Andy Glass of Buckinghamshire based ‘prog rock’ band Solistice on www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk. It was in relation to their gig at Aylesbury Friars in 1983, where Glass said: “We also had a great time playing with Marrillion and Uncle Llama (whose keyboard player Steve McDaniel is now a member of Solstice).”
If nothing else, evidence of this gig, re-affirms that gigs in High Wycombe during 1979 were not limited to ‘punk’ and ‘new-wave’ acts. Indeed, the ever changing face of music at the time of this gig had seen the first release by ska band, The Specials – their ‘Gangsters’ single being released on 4th May 1979 on the Two-Tone record label. Meanwhile, a month or so later, a Mod revival would begin with the likes of Merton Parkas, Chords, Purple Hearts and Secret Affair all enjoying a degree of chart success. The latter revival had initially been sparked by The Jam but more specifically by the filming of ‘Quadrophonia’ and its cinema release later in 1979. The differing styles of music and the sometimes obsessive tribalism (often media fuelled) connected with these ‘scenes’ did not always make gig going a pleasant experience, especially where promoters attempted a mix of bands.