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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
I was back on Andy Chalk’s Punkarolla radio show on Wycombe Sound on Friday 2nd November 2018 for another guest appearance. I can’t believe this was two years since my nervous outing on the debut show in November 2016!
This show featured more of my ramblings of the 40th anniversary of gigs in High Wycombe – this time looking back at appearances and playing music by Motorhead, 999, The Cure, Eddie and The Hot Rods and Pere Ubu. Plus, this time around, as an alternative to playing the back catalogue of The Fall, I delved into current breaking music influenced by punk and came up with tracks by Idles, Shame, Sleaford Mods and Cabbage. Plus, of course, Andy’s usual selection of underground punk music, including Black Bullets, The Accused. Ambition Demolition, DC Spectres, Healthy Junkies, Yur Mum and PollyPickPocketz. Plus an exclusive track by local band, Public Service Announcement – look out for their show at The Phoenix Bar on Friday 7th December 2018.
A reminder that it is possible to listen live in the High Wycombe area via 106.6 FM, via the internet and mobile app. Shows are also available to ‘Listen Again’ for four weeks via www.wycombesound.org.uk
The direct link to the Punkarolla ‘Listen Again’ page is:
Cherry Red records, announced as new shirt sponsors for Wycombe Wanderers in July 2018, launched a competition shortly afterwards.
Singin’ for Wycombe is asking for followers of the Club to record a song for Wycombe Wanderers, upload it to YouTube and/or Soundcloud and share it. The best efforts will be offered the chance to release their track on Cherry Red Records as part of a digital compilation.
The press release at the launch said: “The football club and record label will listen and select their favourites in December 2018. Those that make the final cut will be compiled in to a digital compilation which will be made available across iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube Music, Deezer and all the other legal digital platforms that Cherry Red distribute music to in early 2019.”
The news item also suggests the winner may get the chance to perform the song live at Adams Park.
The Dashfest annual charity music festival takes place from Friday 13th July 2018 to 15th July 2018 at The Dashwood Arms, Piddington. As usual the event will feature live music acts on the Friday evening, with a full day of bands on the Saturday. The event will conclude with a selection of music acts on the Sunday afternoon and early evening.
In addition to the bands, there is a variety of other entertainment, including: Bucking Bronco, Bouncy Castle, Face Painter, Slush Machine, Ice Creams, Sweets, Pimms Bar, BBQ/Hog Roast, Vegan and Vegetarian Food.
Day tickets are £3 each, with weekend wristbands available for just £5.
Proceeds are in aid of Berks/Oxon/Bucks Air Ambulance and Animal SOS Sri Lanka.
FRIDAY 13TH JULY
7PM TO 7.50PM THE KULT 45’s
8PM TO 9.15PM THE LARGE PORTION…
9.15PM TO 12PM CARTEL
SATURDAY 14TH JULY
1PM TO 1.50 MISS KILL
2PM TO 2.50PM DOCTORS ORDERS
3PM TO 3.50PM TINY TINA
4PM TO 4.50PM RED HERRING
5PM TO 5.50PM BIG AL AND THE BLISTERING BUIKS
6PM TO 6.50PM TONY GOFF AND THE BROKEN COLOURS
7PM TO 7.50PM STRANGE FOLK
8PM TO 8.50PM KONTRABAND
9.15 UNTIL LATE THE WAY BACK
SUNDAY 15TH JULY
12.30 TO 1.15PM THE FANDANGO BROS – ACOUSTIC
1.15 TO 2PM STEVE MCCORMACK
2PM TO 2.50PM THE MOTS
3PM TO 3.50PM THE SKIN AND BLISTER BAND
4PM TO 4.50PM THE MIGHTY TRIPLE O BAND
5PM TO 6PM STEALWORKS
Also keep an eye on the Dashwood Arms facebook page for any changes due to World Cup matches taking place on Saturday and Sunday.
They have recently added around six self-penned new numbers to their set, complementing cover versions of ‘Tommy Gun’, ‘Staring at The Rude Boys’, ‘I Fought The Law’ and ‘Ready Steady Go’. Their set also typically includes two or three Basta Roc favourites as a throw-back to the days of the band that featured current band members Pete Colverd and John Fleming.
Support act Crossways are described as an ‘alternative indie rock band’ from Chesham, while The Meantime Collective get the tag-line ‘blisteringly fast, ska infused punk rock.’ They are a three-piece from Brighton.
Read more about the bands via their respective Facebook pages:
The 4th annual ‘No More Heroes’ punk festival took place in High Wycombe on Saturday 23rd June 2018. There was a change of venue this year, with the slightly bigger ‘Wycombe Arts Centre’ in Desborough Road, taking over from The Phoenix Bar in Bridge Street.
The event kicked-off at 11am and ran right through until midnight, with close to 20 bands taking to the stage throughout the day.
The running order was expected to be the following:
Posh Birds Productions were proud to present a three-day music festival at The Dashwood Arms, Piddington, to raise much needed funds for the residents at Animal SOS Sri Lanka. The event took place on Friday 4th May 2018, Saturday 5th May 2018 and Sunday 6th May 2018.
Running order (all bands are provided their services for free)
High Wycombe annual FREE street festival – FROGFEST – took place on Sunday 27th May 2018 in the High Street and surrounding venues. The family-friendly event featured a variety of musicians, food stalls and street entertainers. 2018 saw Frogfest celebrate its sixth birthday, and the event was the biggest to date.
FROGFEST LINEUP 2018 MAY 27th from 11.25am.
11.25 – 11.45 – Everyone can sing 11.45 – 12.15 -Main Stage – Hartbeats Vitae Drummers 12.15 -12.40 – Squirrel Stage – The Bailey Sisters 12.40 – 13.10 – Main Stage – The Brightside 13.10 – 13.35 – Squirrel Stage – The Apricot Hounds 13.35 – 14.10 – Main Stage – 3rd Lung 14.10 – 14.35 – Squirrel Stage – 91 Nights 14.35 – 15.10 – Main Stage -Tinlin 15.10 – 15.35 – Squirrel Stage – Maz Manzini Band 15.35 – 16.10 – Main Stage – Dury Service 16.10 – 16.35 – Squirrel Stage – Other Sons 16.35 – 17.15 – Main Stage – Sir Walter J Wallis 17.15 – 17.45 – Squirrel Stage – Steph Willis 17.45 – 18.25 – Main Stage – The Hot House Four 18.25 – 19.05 – Squirrel Stage – AmiR 19.05 – 19.45 – Main Stage – These Certain People 19.45 – 20.30 – Squirrel Stage – Georgia and the Vintage Youth 20.30 – 21.30 – Main Stage – The Defekters
Notice also that The Antelope hosted a FREE live music from 1.30pm to 10.30pm, including headliners – The Sex Pistols Experience.