January – March 1984
January – General Motors ends production of the Vauxhall Chevette after nine years.
7th January The Service The King’s Head Fulham.
We met at my house at 3pm, loaded up the nursery school mini bus and drove from Frimley Green to London. By the time we left the M3 and were on the single track rickety Chiswick flyover, the January darkness was complete. Warm and safe inside our bubble, we still had about twenty minutes to go. Slowing now on the Talgarth Road in traffic and life. I never wanted to miss the dirty red brick Victorian houses with the large windows and we would wonder what they were like inside. Straining to see before we were past. Turn right at the Three Kings pub, on to North End Road, full of take-aways and kebabs. Dark chinned men, sharpening knives and in lively conversation. The light from the yellow and red plastic shop fronts, illuminating the pavement. People dash past, still too early to eat. Finally we turn into the commotion and hum of the Fulham Road.
We would pull up outside the pub, jump out and take a moment to feel the hit of the noisy, winter air. The King’s Head was 100 yards from Fulham Broadway tube station and if Chelsea were at home, the scarfed and gloved breaths and buzz of football and shopping would merge and hurriedly disappear into it’s welcoming light. The rattle of car engines, voices and glowing shop windows surrounded me, I had just turned eighteen, my senses were fully switched on and I was happy. Hopping from foot to foot in the road to unlock the van doors, we start hauling out the gear as quickly as possible, impatient drivers beeping and inching past. Danny would then go off to find a side street to park. Licensing laws meant the pub wasn’t open yet, so I would peer through the patterned glass and knock on heavy wooden door for the landlady to let us in. We would then carry our guitars, drums and amps, set up and once Danny has rejoined us, we would sound check.
The stage was small, about a foot high with just enough room for us to set up and play. Sometimes we had friends with us, less fun if we didn’t. Soon enough, the pub doors would open, the bustle of people drifting in and out, staying for a few songs, maybe more. Not necessarily music fans, just strangers in off the street. Mates would meet, share a pint, have a chat, watch us for a bit and head off. Groups of women would shriek and clatter in and out. Bit by bit more people would stay and the pub filled. We played two sets. The second one, always to a fuller, more gregarious crowd. Drunken hoots and laughter during and after our songs.
There was a little set of traffic lights on the ceiling in front of us. These were to stop bands playing too loudly. When on green, all was fine. If they went amber you had ten seconds to stop playing, because if they went red the power cut. We used to play, staring at the lights the whole time ready to stop mid song, wait for the them to go back to green and carry on. Occasionally the power would cut and we would have to wait for one minute before it would come back on. I got so used to looking up at the ceiling when we played I would do it at home when we rehearsed.
13 January – Six people die when Britain is battered by hurricane-force winds.
15th January The Service The King’s Head Fulham
A guy came to the front of the stage after our first set and chatted to Rudy. It occurred to me he was our height, even though we were on the stage. He said ‘that was really good’. He was Scottish and looked familiar. I noticed a fish ear ring dangling from his ear and realised it was actually Fish from Marillion.
20th January The Service St. John The Baptist Woking
Rudy’s school, he was still only sixteen, he and his friend Christian organised us a gig there in the main hall.
Around this time, Danny and I went to have a meeting with Steve Royal, about the Greyhound compilation. His offices were on Carnaby Street. We headed up there, with a cheque for £250, money we were borrowing from my parents. We were asked to sit and wait in a room where a receptionist was taking phone calls. After one call she said, ‘I hate it when he phones up. That was Adam Ant, we run his fan club’. It was all a bit odd, but we handed the money over, were given a date for the gig and went home.
21st January The Service The King’s Head Fulham
Someone kept shouting for any Bob Dylan songs. Rudy knew the first few lines of ‘The Times They Are A Changin” and played those. Literally just the first couple of lines. The bloke looked satisfied and shuffled off.
25 January – The government prohibits GCHQ staff from belonging to any trade union.
25th January The Truth / The Playn Jayn / The Famous Five The Savoy London.
We were huge fans of The Truth. Dennis Greaves had previously been in 9 Below Zero and The Truth were his new, mod band. Rudy, Danny and myself were all fans of The Jam and Rudy was definitely a parka wearing, scooter driving, Rickenbacker playing mod. (I saw The Jam seven times from 1980 until they split in 1982) . We were also into Motown and ’60s bands like The Who and The Kinks. When we saw that The Kinks were playing Guildford Civic Hall in 1982 we went. The Truth supported them, it was the first time we had seen them and we loved them. We would then travel to see them all over London, including as often as we could when they had a Sunday night residency at The Marquee. These were hot, sweaty, crowded nights. Stage diving and dancing. Motown and Northern soul played before the band came on.
One time when it was myself, Tracy and Rudy a skinhead asked for a light as we emerged from Oxford Street tube station. Rudy leant forward to oblige, and the geezer head butted him, completely out of the blue. He then started saying, ‘sorry mate, sorry’ holding his hands up by way of an apology as he walked off, smoking his freshly lit cigarette. Rudy, who was wearing his stripy mod blazer, was in a bit of shock. As were we. We kind of looked at each other, checked Rudy was ok and carried on to the gig. Staying as late as we could, we would head back to Waterloo as fast as possible to make the last train home, getting a hot chocolate and a sausage roll from the station cafe if we had time.
The Playn Jayn supported them at The Savoy. I bought their live album ‘Friday 13th’ afterwards.
26th January Loose Talk Angie’s. A local-ish bar, in Wokingham. A lovely small barn, slightly out of the way and a little tricky to find. Danny and I went, armed with a demo and met the owner – Angie. I really liked it there, even though the type of music she put on, wasn’t ours. She let us in for free and invited us to stay for the band that night. Howard Jones had apparently played there the year before!I loved the idea of Angie owning her own bar and putting bands on.
28th January The Service The King’s Head Fulham
We would rehearse on Sunday lunch times at my house, often have a mid week gig and also head up to London for our Saturday nights. We were getting really good and were excited about our new songs. We recorded ‘Find Another Way’ for the Greyhound compilation album on 2nd February in a 16 track studio in Surbiton. (This is also included on ‘Some Greater Love‘). I remember how chuffed we were with this recording and put it on straight on as soon as we got in the mini bus to drive home. Again, I used to take my tape player with me when we drove anywhere, as there was no cassette player in the mini bus.
1 February Japanese car maker Nissan signs an agreement with the British government to build a car factory in Britain. This landmark deal means that foreign cars will be built in Britain for the first time, with the factory set to open during 1986.
February 4th The Service The King’s Head Fulham
One of the demos I had posted was to Dingwalls – we were offered a gig and played there on 5th February. There were a few bands, one of which was called The Friday Club. They released a single not long afterwards which we saw advertised in the ‘N.M.E.’. Danny’s brother Vince came along with a few friends, we also took Marie-Lou and a couple others up with us in the mini-bus.
February 7th Friends Again / The Woodentops The Marquee
The first time seeing both bands. I had a few glorious 7″ singles by Scottish band, Friends Again. I hadn’t heard of the support band, The Woodentops, before, but thought they were great. Friends Again were fabulous.
February 8th The Service The Royal Hotel Guildford
Local-ish gig. This venue is now a up market Chinese restaurant.
February 9th The Service The Greyhound Fulham.
The gig we had been given as part of the compilation album deal. We played with a band called Caleche, who were also due to be on the album. They were a soul band and musically, we were nothing like each other, although we enjoyed each others sets and got chatting. Both bands were starting to get a bit suspicious of this whole compilation thing as none of us had heard from Steve Royal since we’d given him the £250. Anyway, we played the gig. JC came along with his girlfriend. Rudy and I got a little bit drunk. After we played, we were running down the road and Rudy attempted to give me a piggy back. This lasted a few steps before we fell, Rudy cracking his head on the pavement, he had blood dripping down his face. Apparently his poor mother nearly fainted when she went into his room the next morning and saw blood all over his face and pillow.
We never did hear from Steve Royal again. It had been a con. They had rented the Carnaby Street office for a couple of days and got £250 from lots of unsuspecting bands. The whole Adam Ant thing had been to make them seem believable.I don’t know if the Greyhound had been in on it or not, funny that the gigs actually took place though. They had a few bands every night for a week, all of us thinking we were going to be on the album. About a year later we saw ‘Steve’ in a photo for an advert for a hotel chain – he was an actor. We used the money we were getting paid for the King’s Head gigs to pay my Mum and Dad back.
At least we had recorded ‘Find Another Way’, which we were still delighted with. I sent a demo tape with it plus ‘Too Much To Hide’ to Dan Treacy (of the Television Personalities) at Whaam! Records. Our drummer had heard that they were signing bands. I made a little sleeve for the tapes by cutting pictures from ‘The Face’ magazine and adding the wording with Letraset and a type writer before getting them photocopied.
12 February – Austin Rover announces that the Triumph marque will be discontinued this summer after 63 years, as the Triumph Acclaim’s successor will be sold as a Rover.
February 12th The Smiths / Billy Bragg / The Redskins / The Telephone Boxes The Lyceum
What a gig. Frustratingly we couldn’t stay until the end of The Smiths set as it was a Sunday night – the last train back to Farnborough was earlier on Sundays. I think we only saw four songs actually. The Smiths debut album hadn’t come out yet (it was days away though) and I remember thinking Morrissey was singing ‘Pretty girls make grades…’ as we left (It is of course, ‘Pretty Girls Make Graves’). Ben and Tracey (Everything But The Girl) were there, we nudged each other when we saw them at the bar. It was the first time I had seen any of these acts live (apart from The Telephone Boxes) and we saw them all (apart from The Telephone Boxes) quite a few more times over the next couple of years.
February 14th The Alarm / Jake Burns & The Big Wheel / The Subway Hammersmith Palais
Tracy and I went to this one. Danny was at university in Cardiff, studying for an English degree. I had been a big Stiff Little Fingers fan and also really liked The Alarm. (Jake Burns‘s new band after S.L.F. had split were supporting.)
February 18th The Service The Kings Head Fulham
February 24th The Service Heatherside Community Centre ‘Heather Rock ’84’
A local gig, in Camberley.
February 25th The Service The Kings Head Fulham
This was to be our last gig at the King’s Head. We completed eight Saturdays in a row. The following week we were due to play but had something else on so I phoned them and said one of the band was ill. The landlady said don’t bother coming back. It was a shame to lose the residency but we had learned loads from it.
March 2nd The Dirty Strangers Angie’s.
Took Tracy to Angie’s. Didn’t know anything about who was playing, just thought it would be good to go there again.
12 March – Miners’ strike begins and pits the National Union of Mineworkers against Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government intent on free market reform of the nationalised industries, which includes plans for the closure of most of Britain’s remaining coal pits.
March 20th Friends Again / The Synomics The Marquee
Back to see Friends Again – they had obviously just signed a deal as they all had new amps and guitars.
March 23rd The Service The West End Centre
The venue where Danny and I would be running The Buzz Club a year or so later. We played with a couple of other local bands, including Controls, who I saw a few times over the years and who my friend Tracy joined as singer in 1984.
28 March – A greenfield site at Washington, near Sunderland, is confirmed as the location for the new Nissan car factory.
March 29th The Kinks / The Truth Guildford Civic Hall
The Kinks invited The Truth to support them again and also played Guildford Civic Hall together again. We went along, this time having seen The Truth loads of times in between.