1 March 2019 – Punkarolla – Damned special

On Friday 1st March 2019 I’m back as a guest on Andy Chalk’s Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound.  This time I’m 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’ll be playing a selection of our Damned favourites from throughout the years, plus tracks from the support acts on the night.  There’s also the usual stuff old and new, so please take a listen 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’ll be posting up more details of The Damned gig from April 1979 in a separate post on or around the 40th anniversary.  That will include set-lists from the all the acts that played that evening, plus, I hope to have some previously un-circulated audio clips too.  In the meantime, 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

 

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 10th February 1979.  Perhaps The Nag’s Head was a warm-up date or simply never took place?

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 10th 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: