12 May 1979 – Uncle Llama – Town Hall

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.

Uncle LLama – High Wycombe Town Hall – 12th May 1979
Poster/Flyer montage by www.wycombegigs.co.uk

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.

References and further reading

Solistice

https://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk/solstice83.html

http://www.solsticewebsite.com/

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6 May 1979 – XTC/Camera Club/Ladykillers – Town Hall

XTC were another band to return to the High Wycombe having played the town during their embryonic years.  The Swindon based outfit had appeared twice at The Nag’s Head in 1977 and the gig at The Town Hall on Sunday 6th May 1979 was most likely a favour to promoter Ron Watts.  Support on the night were local band The Ladykillers and Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club.  Attendees of the gig would have left the gig unware they had witnessed a live rendition of a future No.1 single in the UK charts.

Events at High Wycombe Town Hall – May 1979 from Bucks Free Press Midweek
Including XTC on Sunday 6th May 1979 showing Brian James Band as the original support.
Jack Thackeray also billed and just look at those prizes for the Miss Teenage Wycombe Contest!

Originally billed as support for the XTC gig were The Brian James Band.  However, James, a former guitarist and founder member of The Damned, would not appear.

Support on the night came from High Wycombe band The Ladykillers – the latest outfit to include local boy Kris Jozajtis (ex Deathwish, The Pretty, Good Guys and Four Daughters) on guitar.  Other band members were Stuart Rillstone (lead vocals), Ian Hutchby (bass) and Dave ‘Dudge’ Williams (drums).  Jozajtis and Hutchby were the co-writers of the original songs in their set-list.

Kris Jozajtis recalls that Rillstone came from Chorley Wood and had previously been in a band called Nuclear Rouge. Jozajtis, Williams and Hutchby had also played together in two other High Wycombe based bands, Good Guys and Four Daughters, but with Dom Williams on vocals.  Four Daughters had supported The Rich Kids at High Wycombe Town Hall in September 1978 and the rock/pop style of Glen Matlock’s band is the best comparison I can come up with for The Ladykillers.

Their set on 6th May 1979 is believed to have followed their debut live appearance at The Nag’s Head earlier in 1979.  The familiarity of some of the band members with the audience, plus songs recognised from their former groups, was a factor in them receiving a decent reaction from the audience.  Unusually for a first band on, they were called back for an encore and then promoter Ron Watts insisted they played one more song in ‘30 seconds’.  I was delighted to be reminded of this incident while sorting through a number of live recordings from that era.  A YouTube clip of the audio is posted at the foot of this article.

Ladykillers – set-list from my own records included the following – some titles guessed.

  • Under The Skin
  • Fear of the Night
  • Mother Hates Me Hair
  • You’ve Been Seeing Another Women
  • Hear The Sound
  • Bad Guys
  • White Boys, Making Noise

As far as I can tell, The Ladykillers did not commit any of their songs to official recordings. They played further dates in the High Wycombe area during 1979 but appear to have split up before the end of the year. Kris Jozajtis would go on to join The Folk Devils in 1983.

Any other memories of The Ladykillers gratefully received.

The final support act were Camera Club, a relatively unknown band featuring Bruce Woolley on guitar and lead vocals, Matthew Seligman on bass, Rod Johnson on drums, Dave Birch (ex-Vibrators) on guitar and a 21 year old Thomas Dolby on keyboards.

Bruce Woolley and Camera Club – still from BBC Old Grey Whistle Test appearance just a few months after their Town Hall gig supporting XTC

Midway through their set that evening they would play a catchy song called ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ – a tune that Woolley penned with friends Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn in 1977. In September 1979 the same song would be released by The Buggles (featuring Downes and Horn) – it proved to be quite popular, reaching No.1 in the UK charts, plus topping the charts in at least nine other countries.  For those at High Wycombe Town Hall on 6th May 1979, this would have been the first of many times they had heard the song.  By chance, I manage to record the audio of that evening on fairly primitive equipment – it was a Boots ‘Walkman’ type device and was all I could afford at the time – being still at school.  I’ve uploaded the audio to YouTube as an historical record.

Camera Club – set-list from my own records included the followin

  • Flying Man
  • Too Late For Tears
  • Clean, Clean
  • The Picture is Taken, The Glass is Broken
  • Goodbye to Yesterday
  • Johnny
  • Video Killed The Radio Star
  • No Surrender
  • Dancing with the Sporting Boys

It would be fair to say that the reaction to their set at the Town Hall was mixed. The introduction of synthesisers and keyboards in a live environment so soon after the ‘punk’ explosion came as a surprise to many. However, fast-forward a few years, and the likes of Gary Numan, Human League, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark were all chart bound with a similar style – plus, of course, local boy Howard Jones, who was often compared to Thomas Dolby when he broke the charts in 1983.

The Camera Club set-list calls mainly from songs that would appear on their ‘English Garden’ LP released on Epic records in November 1979.

It would be fair to say that the reaction to their set at the Town Hall was mixed. The introduction of synthesisers and keyboards in a live environment so soon after the ‘punk’ explosion came as a surprise to many.  However, fast-forward a few years, and the likes of Gary Numan, Human League, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark were all chart bound with a similar style – plus, of course, local boy Howard Jones, who was often compared to Thomas Dolby when he broke the charts in 1983.

Meanwhile, back at The Town in May 1979, headliners XTC were out on their first tour since original keyboards player Barry Andrews had left the band.  He had been replaced with Dave Gregory, who also hailed from their hometown of Swindon, but in fact played guitar and not keyboards.

XTC – early 1979
Dave Gregory, Andy Partridge, Terry Chambers and Colin Moulding

Andrews had been a member of XTC since 1976 and played with them twice at The Nag’s Head in 1977. The remaining members, Andy Partridge (guitar and vocals), Colin Moulding (bass) and Terry Chambers (drums) were those that linked with Gregory on the stage at the Town Hall in May 1979.

Gregory’s first work with XTC was on their new single ‘Life Begins at The Hop’, released on 27th April 1979.  Considering their previous 7” releases (including, ‘This is Pop!’ and ‘Statue of Liberty’), it is surprising to find that this was their first single that troubled the UK charts – peaking at No.54 and prompting their first Top of the Pops appearance on 17th May 1979.

It was their persistence that finally earned them the chart success they deserved.   They were using the April/May 1979 tour to debut some of the material that would feature on their August 1979 album release, ‘Drums and Wires’.  One of the songs falling into that category and played at the Town was, ‘Making Plans for Nigel’.  Released as a single in September 1979 it reached No.17 in the UK charts but deserved much higher.  ‘Computer errors’ have since been blamed for the single not reaching higher but the song remains an iconic pop tune and its distinctive drum and guitar sounds deserved so much more recognition at the time.

XTC – set-list from my own records

  • Beatown
  • Meccanik Dancing
  • Making Plans For Nigel
  • The Rhythm
  • Roads Girdle The Globe
  • Science Friction
  • Life Begins At The Hop
  • This Is Pop
  • Battery Brides
  • Cross Wires
  • Outside World
  • I’m Bugged
  • Crowded Room
  • Radios In Motion
  • Are You Receiving Me
  • Set Myself On Fire
  • Dance Band (encore)
  • Statue Of Liberty (encore)

The XTC set-list drew material from their three albums to date, their single back catalogue and previews of tracks from their yet to be recorded ‘Drums and Wires’ album.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

Under The Skin – The Ladykillers – live audio from High Wycombe Town Hall 6 May 1979

Video Killed The Radio Star – Camera Club – live audio from High Wycombe Town Hall 6 May 1979

WW9/Clean Clean – Camera Club – BBC Old Grey Whistle Test – 30 October 1979

Making Plans For Nigel – XTC – live video from Bristol Locarno 13 May 1979

Further reading and references:

XTC history

http://chalkhills.org/

XTC gigography

http://www.optimismsflames.com/Gigs%20Text%20Only.htm

Bruce Woolley

http://www.brucewoolleyhq.com/pop.html

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

18 April 1979 – Damned/Ruts/Beez/Auntie Pus – Town Hall

The Damned returned to High Wycombe for the first time since their infamous appearance at The Nag’s Head in October 1976, with a headlining slot at the Town Hall  on Wednesday 18th April 1979 – Support were local Chesham band The Beez plus up and coming West London punk lads, The RutsAuntie Pus, a one man target for verbal abuse from the crowd, was also on the bill for well attended Ron Watts promoted gig.  However, the gig ended in chaotic scenes as punters were ushered out of the venue by the local police following The Damned’s refusal to leave after they claimed that former Manager Watts had massaged the band’s cut of the takings.

Damned, Ruts, Beez – High Wycombe Town Hall advert from Bucks Free Press Midweek – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

The Beez, who had first performed live in 1978, were playing their biggest venue to date in their short history after promoter Ron Watts had been impressed with the local following they bought along to a support slot at The Nag’s Head on 8th March 1979.

Their debut single ‘Easy/’The Vagrant’ – on their own Edible records label – was set for release around the time of this gig and they went down well enough with the expectant crowd that evening to be called back for an encore.

The Beez – outside Quest studios – promo photos complete with autographs from my own collection

The Beez confirmed set-list from my own records was:

  • Without You
  • The Vagrant
  • Back Street Love
  • Do The Suicide
  • Girls
  • Hangover
  • Apathy
  • Something Wicked
  • Easy
  • Get Ahead With The Feds
  • All You Need’s A Brain
  • Questions and Answers (Encore)

The Ruts’ appearance in High Wycombe came just as they were gaining a wider audience following the release of their ‘In a Rut’ single in January 1979 on the People Unite label and the constant championing of this track by John Peel on his BBC radio show.

The Ruts had appeared at the Town Hall back in October 1977 as support to Wayne County and ATV but barely drew a cheer from the handful of punters who had arrived in time to see the opening act.  Less than 18 months later it was totally different story.  A John Peel session from January 1979 featuring ‘Savage Circle’, Babylon’s Burning’, ‘Dope for Guns’, Blackman’s Pinch’ and ‘Criminal Mind’, would make much of The Ruts set that night already familiar to the crowd.  Damned drummer, Rat Scabies’ guested on drums during Blackman’s Pinch (later renamed to Jah Wars).

The Ruts line-up that night at High Wycombe Town Hall was Malcolm Owen (vocals), Paul Fox (guitar), John “Segs” Jennings (bass) and Dave Ruffy (drums)

Early Ruts picture from the rutsdc website – note the home made t-shirt with what would become their iconic logo

The Ruts confirmed set-list from my own records was:

  • Savage Circle
  • I Ain’t Sophisticated
  • H Eyes
  • Lobotomy
  • Suss
  • You’re Just A..
  • Something That I Said
  • Blackman’s Pinch
  • Criminal Mind
  • Dope For Guns
  • In A Rut
  • You’re Out of Order
  • Babylon’s Burning
  • Society

The Ruts were called back for an encore and played ‘Human Punk’ – a crowd participation number where lead singer Malcolm Owen passed the microphone along the front of the stage.  Most of the songs that night would feature on their debut album, ‘The Crack’ – released in September 1979.

Warming-up the audience up prior to The Damned was Auntie Pus (real name Julian Isaacs).  He had been on the punk scene since 1977, playing a one-man old style rock ‘n’ roll guitar act.  Essentially between each ‘song’ he would lead the chant of ‘off the stage with Auntie Pus’ – if the crowd didn’t join-in he would continue.  This carried on until Ron Watts took the stage and asked the audience, “OK, let’s get rid of this c**t”.

His short ‘set’ included ‘Halfway to Venezuela’ and ‘Blues Suede Shoes’. Some of his recorded material would eventually be released in 1980 with Chris Millar (Rat Scabies) credited on drums.

The Damned had been on a roller-coaster journey since their arrival on the scene in the summer of 1976.  They had played twice at The Nag’s Head in the autumn of 1976 – their appearance in October 1976 being their first ever headline slot at any venue but that ended in chaos.

They had released a series of singles and two albums before playing a ‘farewell’ gig at The Rainbow, London in April 1978.  Leader singer Dave Vanian went on to perform with Doctors of Madness, while Brian James, Captain Sensible and Rat Scabies formed their own bands, Tanz Der Youth, King and White Cats, respectively.  The latter saw Scabies continue his taunts of the High Wycombe crowd at a Town Hall gig in July 1978.

But The Damned would not die, reforming originally as The Doomed in late 1978 and then returning under the original name.  The new look band would be minus guitarist Brian James – Captain Sensible taking over the lead guitar role and ‘Algy’ Ward on bass. 20 year old Ward had previously been in The Saints.  They coupled with founding members, Dave Vanian (vocals) and Rat Scabies (drums).

The Damned – Chiswick promo pic 1979
Algy Ward, Captain Sensible, Dave Vanian and Rat Scabies

Their return to the punk scene had gained them an ever increasing following thanks to their boisterous live shows but they were still finding their feet and new musical direction by the time of the Town Hall show in April 1979.  It would be fair to say that many of the audience were there out if curiosity value, rather than their recorded out of the time.

It was therefore with a sense of anti-climax that headliners, The Damned, eventually took to the stage to the sound of the traditional version of ‘God Save The Queen’, – not The Sex Pistols version.

The Damned confirmed set-list from my own records was:

  • Jet Boy, Jet Girl
  • Teenage Dream
  • Stretcher Case Baby
  • Ballroom Blitz
  • Born to Kill
  • Burglar
  • Melody Lee
  • Problem Child
  • Lookin at You
  • Love Song
  • So Messed Up
  • New Rose
  • Neat, Neat, Neat

The set was played through with barely a break to breath.  ‘Jet Boy, Jet Girl’ saw Captain Sensible take vocals on a song to the tune of Plastic Bertrand’s 1978 hit ‘Ça plane pour moi’.

The gig preceded the forthcoming General Election by two weeks (3 May 1979) – by this stage it was widely predicted that a Margaret Thatcher led Conservative Party would run out victors – hence The Damned had their own eloquent way of predicting the future of the country – including changing the lyrics to Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’, to ‘Great Big Tits’.

The set also included their recently released debut on Chiswick Records, ‘Love Song’.  On the 10 May 1979, The Damned would make their Top of The Pops debut as the song climbed the charts.

The Town Hall set would finish with their two classic punk singles, ‘New Rose’ and ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ before the house lights were turned on and the punters ordered out onto Queen Alexandra Road.

An explanation of the chaotic nature to the end of the gig eventually came to light in Ron Watts’ book. Watts commented: “[The Damned] probably hadn’t forgiven me for the way our business partnership had ended three years earlier, refused to leave the stage and the caretaker of the hall called the police, who were stationed next door.  They arrived and lined the side of the hall, with the band finishing sharpish and their fans filtering out, although by now the average age of a Damned fan was about 15 so there was never any danger of a riot ensuing. The band were on a percentage of the door take and reckoned I’d fiddled them, even attempting to sue me.”

Watts claims that the financial situation was eventually sorted out but it proved the last dealings he had with The Damned as a promoter – although Watts does recall meeting Captain Sensible over 25 years later at The 100 Club where he initially said; “That tosser from The Damned is here.  If he wants a fight, he can have one.”  A few minutes later they were chatting away ‘like old mates’, recalling those early pioneering days of punk rock.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

The Vagrant – The Beez – audio of debut single ‘B side

In a Rut – The Ruts – live in Paris 1980

Half-Way to Venezuela – Auntie Pus – audio of 1980 single

Love Song – The Damned – live on BBC Top of the Pops – May 1979

References and further reading:

https://www.boredteenagers.co.uk/BEEZ.htm

https://rutsdc.com/

https://www.punk77.co.uk/groups/auntiepus.htm

http://www.fearandloathingfanzine.com/auntie-pus.html

http://www.officialdamned.com/

4 April 1979 – Tom Robinson Band – Town Hall

The Tom Robinson Band returned to High Wycombe Town Hall on Wednesday 4th April 1979 on a date midway through their promotion of their second studio album, TRB 2.  The Ron Watts promoted concert was a sell-out and the TRB set was recorded by the BBC mobile for a later broadcast on the Saturday evening Radio One ‘In-Concert’ series.  Support came from British rock/pop all-female outfit, The Straits.

During my research for the 40-year anniversary of this gig, the very sad news that TRB guitarist Danny Kustow had passed-away came to light.  Kustow’s guitar provided much of the musical power behind the lyrics of Tom Robinson and his band.  This article is dedicated to his memory and may his many wonderful licks and solos live on forever.

Tom Robinson Band – montage of memorabilia from the 4th April 1979 gig at High Wycombe Town Hall.
Left to right – Danny Kustow, Ian Parker, Charlie Morgan, Tom Robinson
Specially created for wycombegigs.co.uk

TRB had last officially played High Wycombe in a Town Hall concert in November 1977.  However, my research suggests they were also lined-up for a secret gig at The Nag’s Head on 30th July 1978, shortly after the release of their debut album ‘Power in the Darkness’, but I’ve been unable to confirm if the appearance actually took place.  Previous to the Town Hall gig in November 1977, they had also graced the stage at The Nag’s Head on two occasions, making their return in April 1979 as long awaited ‘homecoming’ following the rise to fame through late 1977 and 1978.

Their move into the media spotlight had also seen the band feature in a Granada TV documentary, recorded in the main during their tour of Autumn 1978 and broadcast for the first time on national UK TV in February 1979.  However, fame had taken its toll on relationships in the band.  By the time of the TRB Two tour, original drummer ‘Dolphin’ Taylor had left and been replaced with Charlie Morgan.  Keyboard player Mark Ambler had also flown ship and replaced by Ian Parker.  That left lead singer/bassist Tom Robinson and guitarist Danny Kustow, the remaining original members from the foursome that burst onto the seen during 1977 with their heavily polictical rock/pop collaborations.  More than 40 years after its release, the messages with the debut album, ‘Power In The Darkness’ remained eerily valid at a time when the UK was being tortured with the political farce of Brexit.

Politics were not the main agenda for support act for the TRB Two tour UK in 1979.  Leeds based band, The Straits, had their influences heavily entrenched from 1970’s glam rock.

Their set-list included original songs ‘Strait To The Point’, ‘Release My Soul’, ‘You Belong To Me’, ‘Studio 54’, ‘Come Fly With Me’, ‘Fairground Boys’ and ‘Sacha Shoes Mafia’.  However, it was the T.Rex cover ‘Get in On’ that brought the best reaction from a crowd mainly in waiting for the main act.

The Straits – article from Sounds magazine 1979 – taken from the TRB bulletin No.14 given away on the TRB Two tour

For the record, band members, according to a Sounds article published shortly before the tour, were Judi Rock (lead guitar/vocals), Di Harde (bass/vocals), Shirley Newman (rhythm guitar) and Suzi Roll (drums).  With the exception of Ms Newman, I think it’s fair to assume those names are pseudonyms.  They were touted as heading for success but at the time of this post there appears to be no record of what became of them.  Anybody have any clues?

TRB burst onto stage to loud cheers from the packed house and went straight into the opening track of TRB Two, ‘All Right, All Night’, quickly followed by the classic ‘Winter of ’79 – the latter seeing new keyboard player Ian Parker showing his creativity by taking the mid-song instrumental break to a new level – definitely worth a listen on the YouTube audio at the foot of the post.

Tom Robinson Band set list for the Town Hall gig on 4th April 1979

  • All Right, All Night
  • Winter of ‘79
  • Black Angel
  • Blue Murder
  • Too Good To Be True
  • Getting Tighter
  • Law and Order (**)
  • Sorry Mr Harris (*)(+)
  • I Shall Be Released (**)
  • Glad to be Gay (**)
  • Martin (**)
  • Bully For You
  • Don’t Take No For An Answer (**)
  • Ain’t Gonna Take It
  • 2-4-6-8 Motorway
  • Right on Sister (encore) (*) (+)
  • Jumping Jack Flash (encore) (*) (**)

An edited version of the concert was broadcast on BBC Radio One in May 1979.

The tracks indicated (*) were NOT broadcast by the BBC.

In 2013 a TRB Anthology collection was released with a slightly different selection of tracks.

The tracks indicated (**) were NOT included on the Anthology release.

The tracks indicated (+) were included on the Anthology release but not the BBC broadcast.

The second encore, ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ remains the only track not available from the BBC mobile recording.  And if by magic, I’ve managed to find a recording of that in my own collection and include it below (via YouTuber) as further tribute to Danny Kustow, who took on lead vocals for the Rolling Stones cover.

Tom Robinson’s affection for High Wycombe was confirmed in a brief interview for the Bucks Free Press published in the 12th April 1979 edition. Robinson said:

“I don’t know why we’re so popular here but I know why I like playing here, because the people are so friendly and the audience is one of the best I’ve ever played to.”

TRB were to split later in 1979 but Tom Robinson and Danny Kustow would return to High Wycombe within the year – Robinson as a member of his new band, Sector 27 and Kustow as a guitarist with ‘punk’ super-group, Jimmy Norton’s Explosion – the latter featuring Glen Matlock, Paul Cook and drummer Budgie.

For your listening and viewing pleasure

 Winter of ’79 (audio) – Tom Robinson Band – High Wycombe Town Hall – 4 April 1979

At the end of the track Tom Robinson reveals to the audience that the gig is being recorded for Radio 1.

”Tonight High Wycombe is to be immortalised again (cheers).   I wish those at home could see the sight that confronts us here at High Wycombe Town Hall tonight.  Strong men would cry”.

Note: The video is incorrectly dated 1 January 1979

Too good to be true? – Granada TV documentary – broadcast UK TV February 1979

Jumping Jack Flash (audio) – Tom Robinson Band – High Wycombe Town Hall – 4 April 1979

References and further reading

https://tomrobinson.com/

Tom Robinson’s tribute to Danny Kustow, as read at his funeral on 14 March 2019

https://www.facebook.com/tomrobinsonmusic/posts/1146208828880788

 

8 March 1979 – The Beez – Nag’s Head

The Beez, a local band from Chesham, made what is believed to be their Nag’s Head debut on 8th March 1979 when they supported The Alligators.

Formed in 1977, they originally performed under the name of Bloo Lite – making their live debut as The Beez at a gig in April 1978 at The Elgiva Hall in Chesham.

Line-up for The Beez was Robert Boughton (guitar/vocals), Gordon Watson (guitar/vocals), Tim Heal (bass) and Paul Morris (drums/vocals).

The Beez quickly built up a local following and recorded their first material in December 1978 at Quest Studios in Luton. A demo tape from The Quest Studio sessions was circulated in order to gain more gigs and two tracks would eventually become their debut single –‘Easy’ coupled with ‘The Vagrant’.

The Beez – outside Quest studios – promo photos complete with autographs from my own collection

They  clearly impressed local promoter Ron Watts at The Nag’s Head on 8th March 1979.  Watts would have been delighted with the paying punters they attracted to the London Road venue and rewarded them with support slot  on the Town Hall stage on 18th April 1979 next to The Damned and The Ruts – it was by far the biggest venue they had played in their short history to that date.

The band would continue their rise to relative local fame with support appearances at Aylesbury Friars, plus further support slots at High Wycombe Town Hall and headline slots at The Nag’s Head.

An EP would follow later in 1979 but by 1980, perhaps frustrated with their lack of wider success, they had split-up. However, their recorded output remains the perfect example of truly independent record releases and the vinyl copies are collectors’ items.

For your listening pleasure

Easy – The Beez – audio of debut single ‘B’ side

The Vagrant – The Beez – audio of debut single ‘B’ side

References and further reading

https://www.boredteenagers.co.uk/BEEZ.htm

1 March 2019 – Punkarolla – Damned special

On Friday 1st March 2019 I was back as a guest on Andy Chalk’s Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound.  This time sitting alongside another long-time friend, Martin Percival, talking more about the 40th anniversary of gigs in High Wycombe and reminiscing in particular about an appearance by The Damned at The Town Hall on 18th April 1979 – a gig where the punk originals were supported by a then up and coming punk/reggae group The Ruts and local band The Beez.

We played a selection of our Damned favourites from throughout the years, plus tracks from the support acts on the night.  There was also the usual stuff old and new.  It was broadcast  between 9pm and 11pm on the new monthly (1st Friday of each month) time slot – hosted as usual by Andy.

It is possible to listen live in the High Wycombe area via 106.6 FM, via the internet and radio player.

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 Group Facebook Group

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

I have since posted up more details of The Damned gig from April 1979 as a mark for 40th anniversary.  This include set-lists from the all the acts that played that evening.  If you want to hear previously un-circulated audio clips, please leave a comment and I’ll try to get these online.

An enhanced version of the advert from the Bucks Free Press is included below.

Damned, Ruts, Beez – High Wycombe Town Hall advert from Bucks Free Press Midweek – enhanced for wycombegigs.co.uk

More on the 18th April 1979 gig via this link >>

 

12 February 1979 – Adam and The Ants – Town Hall

A High Wycombe District Council promoted ‘Rock Concert’ at High Wycombe Town Hall on Monday 12th February 1979 saw a fledgling Adam and The Ants take to the stage alongside local band The Vents.

The Ants date was part of their Young Parisians tour and the date appears to coincide with their departure from Decca records.

Adam and the Ants plus The Vents – High Wycombe Town Hall – Monday 12th February 1979 – advert from Bucks Free Press

Adam Ant (real name Stuart Goddard) had formed the band in London in early 1977 – originally as The Ants, before adopting the eventually well-known Adam and The Ants title. They went through several line-up changes before signing for Decca records in 1978.  The debut single ‘Young Parisians’ had little chart success, although the band had built up a significant cult following, particularly in the London area, with their followers going under the guise of ‘Ant People’.  During this post-punk period it was a common site to see gig goers with leather jackets painted with Adam and The Ants.

Further recording for Decca were made during 1978, along with two John Peel sessions. But their time with Decca does not appear to be a happy one.

The date of the Town Hall concert is noted as around the time that Adam and The Ants left Decca records – Goddard is quoted as saying:

“…as you know Decca own things like televisions and missiles and things like that…………..we weren’t dropped by Decca, their A & R department just folded up and they let us go, which was just a joke. Everyone thought we were just a 100% hardcore speed band so we put ‘Parisians’ out.  I preferred ‘Lady’ and it was a double A side but Decca played it to Radio 1 and they said that ‘Parisians’ was better.”

A bootleg recording of this concert has been widely circulated and confirms the set-list for the evening was:

  • Nietsche Baby
  • Day I Met God
  • Animals And Men
  • Cleopatra
  • Kick!
  • Never Trust A Man (With Egg On His Face)
  • Catholic Day
  • Boil In The Bag Man
  • Family Of Noise
  • Press Darlings
  • Zerox
  • Lady
  • Puerto Rican/Scab
  • Fall In
  • B-Side Baby
  • Hampstead

The line-up of the band at the time of the Town Hall appearance was Adam Ant (vocals and guitar), Matthew Ashman (guitar), Andy Warren (bass guitar) and Dave Barbarossa (drums).

Adam and The Ants – Decca promo picture 1978 – showing Adam Ant, Matthew Ashman, Andrew Warren and David ‘Barbe’ Barbarossa

They went on to release their debut album, ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ In October 1979 on the Do It record label. It would reach the top of the newly formed Independent Album charts.

The history of Adam and The Ants post their Town Hall appearance in February 1979 is an interesting one. Former Sex Pistols Manager Malcolm McClaren was hired by Adam and The Ants in early 1980 to help with their path to wider recognition.  However, instead, McClaren convinced Matthew Ashman (guitar), Leigh Gorman (who had by then replaced Andy Warren on bass) and Dave Barbarossa (drums) to leave the band and form a new group under McLaren’s management. A thirteen year old Annabella Lwin would become the lead vocalist for the new band – Bow Wow Wow.

Meanwhile, Adam Ant continued with a new version of his band featuring guitarist Marco Pirroni (an ex-member of Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Models, Rema Rema and Cowboys International) plus Kevin Mooney (bass guitar), and two drummers, Terry Lee Miall and Chris Hughes. The new band would take to the road for their ‘Ants Invasion’ in the first-half of 1980 while still pinning down a record deal.  They would visit High Wycombe again in May 1980 for what would become an infamous evening at The Town Hall and one that proved the catalyst for the local Council to end ‘rock concerts’ at the historic venue.  I’ll leave the detail of that evening until a later posting but those with memories of the 1979 or 1980 (riot) are welcome to get in touch.

For your listening and viewing pleasure:

Young Parisians – Adam and The Ants – single audio 1978


Lady – Adam and The Ants – single B side audio 1978

References and further reading:

http://www.antmusic.co.uk/my_story/1979/1979.html

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

https://killyourpetpuppy.co.uk/news/adam-and-the-ants-decca-records-1978-do-it-records-1979/

https://punkygibbon.co.uk/bands/a/adamandtheants.html

 

2 February 1979 – UK Subs – Bucks College SU Bar

The UK Subs made what is believed to be their first ever appearance in High Wycombe on Friday 2nd February 1979, with a gig at the Buckinghamshire College of Higher Education Student Union Bar.  The date is also significant as it was on this day that Sid Vicious was found dead in his New York flat following a heroin overdose.  Meanwhile, back in High Wycombe, according to music paper gig listings, there was also the choice of seeing Adam and The Ants appearing at The Nag’s Head.

2nd February 1979 gig listings from Record Mirror – UK Subs and Adam & The Ants in High Wycombe

The basis of what would become the UK Subs had been formed out of the 1976 London punk scene, when ‘30 something’ hairdresser, Charlie Harper pulled together a band that performed under various names before settling on ‘United Kingdom Subversives’ and then the abbreviated UK Subs for their first gigs around the summer of 1977.  John Peel sessions followed but it was not until September 1978 that they released their first studio recordings – a three track single on City Records featuring live favourites ‘C.I.D’., ‘Live in a Car’ and ‘B.I.C.’  Earlier in 1978 they had two live tracks included on the ‘Farewell to the Roxy’ LP.

The UK Subs line-up for their debut release was the same as the one that appeared at their High Wycombe appearance in February 1979:

UK Subs – Gem Records promo photo 1979
Left to right: Nicky Garratt (guitar, 23), Paul Slack (bass, 21), Charlie Harper (vocals,34), Pete Davies (drums, 24)

This gig at The SU Bar pre-dated their signing to Gem Records and subsequent rise in popularity by a few months – their first widely available single, ‘Stranglehold’ would be released in June 1979 and they would return to High Wycombe to play the Town Hall twice more in 1979 to promote the single and their debut album release ‘Another Kind of Blues’.

The UK Subs still continued to perform at the time of this post – with lead vocalist – veteran rocker Charlie Harper the only common face throughout and aged 74 as of February 2019!  Their gigging history has seen them return to High Wycombe on a number of occasions – playing The Flint Cottage, White Horse and The Phoenix.  They were due to return to The Phoenix in November 2019 – an incredible 40 plus years since their appearance at the SU Bar back in February 1979.

Back in February 1979, a much younger (but still ‘old’) Harper would have heard the news of the death of Sid Vicious by the time his band took to the SU Bar stage.  Less than three years previous, Vicious (real name John Beverley) had seen The Sex Pistols in at the close by College Main Hall – a notorious character on the London ‘punk’ scene, he later became bass player for the Sex Pistols before the band split in January 1978.  He was just 21 years old at the time of his death.  The circumstances surrounding his death were still being discussed and analysed at the time of this post.

Sid Vicious obituary from Record Mirror – 10th February 1979

Advertised for the same evening as the UK Subs gig were Adam and The Ants at The Nag’s Head. The The London based band were fronted by Adam Ant (real name Stuart Goddard).  24 year old Goddard was in the stages of promoting his band, Adam and The Ants, formed around the summer of 1977 and on the back of the ‘punk’ explosion but starting to move more towards a ‘pop’ sound.  I’m unsure if the Nag’s Head appearance actually took place on 2nd February 1979.  It is listed in some publications as High Wycombe Town Hall but I can confirm the Town Hall appearance was a few days later on Monday 12th February 1979.  Perhaps The Nag’s Head was a warm-up date or simply never took place?

If the multiple events of Friday 2nd February 1979 weren’t enough to keep up interest at the time, local gig goers could have also taken in an appearance by Sham 69 at Aylesbury Friars on Wednesday 31st January 1979 – this was the gig where lead singer Jimmy Pursey claimed this would the final live appearance for this band – Pursey becoming increasingly frustrated with crowd trouble at Sham 69 gigs.  A day after The UK Subs gig at The SU Bar you could have travelled across to Friars again to see Stiff Little Fingers play as headliners on their Rough Trade tour to promote their recently released debut album, ‘Inflammable Material’.  A busy week!

Anybody with any memories or clarification of these gigs, please get in touch.

For your listening and viewing pleasure: