Including The Smiths and The Redskins G.L.C. / The Television Personalities / The Bluebells / Lloyd Cole and more…
On April 6th I went to see local band, What The Curtains at South Hill Park, Bracknell. One of the bands included on the ‘Stepping Stone’ compilation album, along with The Service. They asked me to do some backing vocals for them, so I went along to their studio a couple of days later and did a bit of singing. I have a feeling they did’t like what I did as I never got sent the recording!
In February, I had posted Dan Treacy from the Television Personalities a demo for his Whaam! label. He ‘phoned up saying he loved our music and wanted to put a 12″ out by us. It was crazy! I was very happy about this and called everyone to let them know. Wow! A record by us!
Whaam! was a wonderful label, run by Dan and Ed Ball (later of Creation Records who was in the band, The Times) with early releases by The Pastels, The Marine Girls (Tracey Thorn), Dr and the Medics, The Times and The Television Personalities.
9 April – More than 100 pickets are arrested in violent clashes at the Creswell colliery in Derbyshire and the Babbington Colliery in Nottinghamshire. It is estimated that 46 out of 176 British coal mines are currently active as miners fight government plans to close 20 coal mines across Britain.
April 9th The Service The Rock Garden
(The venue I would be the band booker for in five years time.)
A clothes shop called Brave New World had opened in Camberley, along the A30. We went in to check it out and fell into conversation with the guy who owned it. He was making his own clothes and when I told him we were in a band, he said we could wear and return what ever we liked as long as we gave the shop a mention on stage.
Here we are at the Rock Garden in borrowed clothes from Brave New World.
15 April – The comedian Tommy Cooper, 63, collapses and dies on stage from a heart attack during a live televised show, Live from Her Majesty’s.
17 April – WPC Yvonne Fletcher is shot and killed by a secluded gunman during a siege outside the Libyan Embassy in London in the event known as the 1984 Libyan Embassy Siege. 11 other people are also shot but survive.
25th April Controls Fleet Country Club
Tracy, Tim, Rich and Jon – Controls.
27th April – Function / Flow Motion – Old School House – Woking
Another band from the ‘Stepping Stone’ compilation. Our drummer Mick had also been their drummer for a while.
We were actually getting dissatisfied with Mick’s drumming. He was a massive Jet Black from The Stranglers fan. In fact, he pretty much only listened to The Stranglers and we wanted a bit more variation in taste both outside the band and within it. We made the tough decision to ask him to leave. I phoned him up from a small room in the house, dry mouthed and nervous. He was upset. I was very relieved when the task was done. We then put an advert in ‘Melody Maker’ and got quite a few phone calls. The questions we asked were –
1.What sort of music are you in to? (If they said ‘A bit of everything’ / ‘I like all music’ we weren’t interested)
2. How old are you? (Anyone over 21 was too old)
3. Where do you live? (As long as they were prepared to travel to Frimley Green to rehearse, we didn’t mind)
The guy who got the job wasn’t really the sort of person you would think fitted in with us at all. I’m not entirely sure what made us say ‘yes’ as I’m sure he failed on numbers 1 & 2, but his obvious enthusiasm intrigued us. He was an estate agent by day and a very good drummer by night. He would arrive in his office suit and use bicycle clips to stop his trousers getting caught on the bass drum pedal. Sometimes, rather than drum, he would pace around the room, clicking his drum sticks together and counting loudly to train us to stay in time. It was effective and we would soon feel the difference a good drummer made.
May 7th The Service The Old Tiger’s Head SE13 Our debut with Matt Pearce on drums. A great gig but I left my Fender acoustic guitar behind. We realised after about ten minutes into the homeward journey and went back for it, but it was gone. I’m fairly sure one of the bar staff had taken it, but not much I could do. This wouldn’t be the last time I left things behind at gigs, it’s always a bit hectic loading all the gear. I haven’t left a guitar behind since though.
May 10th – Billy Bragg / The Redskins / Dr & The Medics – Electric Ballroom
Not just a gig we really wanted to go to, but Dr & The Medics were on Whaam! – the label we were about to be on ourselves. Danny, myself and Rudy went to check them out. They were very out there. The lead singer spoke in an American accent throughout, we actually thought that’s where he was from until Dan told us ‘Clive? He’s from Lewisham!’
12 May – Liverpool F.C. secure a third consecutive league title and the 15th in the club’s history, despite being held to a 0–0 draw away at Notts County.
Dan Treacy had started to get a few gigs for us, including supporting another band on his label, mods called The Direct Hits. We supported them at The Moonlight Club in Hampstead on 14th May. Danny was actually in the middle of his finals at university in Cardiff , but he came back as we thought this was such an important gig!
16th May The Service Fleet Country Club A local gig at a brilliant now long gone club. We all went there regularly, as they had a great alternative club night. Here are our friends Marie-Lou and Aidan at Fleet Country Club.
School friends of mine Tricia Oliver and Georgina Lynch also at Fleet Country Club.
19 May – Everton win the FA Cup, their first major trophy for 14 years, with a 2–0 win over Watford in the final at Wembley Stadium. The goals are scored by Andy Gray and Graham Sharp. Everton’s last FA Cup triumph came in 1966, and they have now won the trophy four times.
23rd May Lloyd Cole and the Commotions ‘Perfect Skin’ released. I fell in love with the music and the singer the very first time I heard it. My taste was getting more jangly / Velvet Underground and less mod / The Who now.
30th May Liverpool win the European Cup for the fourth time with a penalty shoot-out victory over AS Roma of Italy after a 1–1 draw in the final at Olympic Stadium in Rome. Liverpool, who have also won the Football League First Division and Football League Cup this season, are the first English club to win three major trophies in the same season.
1st June – British unemployment is at a record high of around 3.26 million – though a higher percentage of the nation’s workforce were unemployed during the Great Depression some 50 years ago.
7th June The Truth / Long Tall Shorty – 100 Club
We had gone to see The Truth so often that they now recognised us and stopped to talk to us. They were out front during the support band and we chatted for a while. Bobby Bluebell was also in the audience. I was a big Bluebells fan and had actually bought their album that day. I had played it to Rudy who wasn’t particularly impressed, it didn’t stop him saying ‘love the album’ to Bobby though! Here’s the glorious ‘Cath’ with Laurence Donegan on bass just before he left to join Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. (I got to know Russell Irvine from The Bluebells through my friend Henry in 1990.)
10th June The Smiths / Billy Bragg / The Redskins / Hank Langford / Misty In Roots
Danny and myself went with my cousin Christine Olga. It was a free festival laid on by the G.L.C. to highlight the large unemployment figures under Mrs Thatcher’s government. It was a fantastic day, wandering along the South Bank seeing lots of our favourite bands and artists. It did get scary at one point, during The Redskins set, when some National Front skinheads stormed the stage and started a fight. The bass player had been giving them gyp as they were making right wing arm movements. He stopped mid song and tried to jump into the crowd, some of them got up on stage and all hell broke loose. I remember seeing Hank Wangford get punched – he was compere. We joined lots of other people by running. We got away and then saw about 30 skinheads marching along the South Bank chanting and looking pretty damn evil. It wasn’t pleasant, but that was it, they left and we didn’t see them again.
You can hear it all happen at the end of this bootleg recording of The Redskins’ set:
The Smiths played in the car park and were introduced by Ken Livingston.
12th June – The Bluebells / Friends Again / Fruits of Passion – Guildford Civic Hall
Two of my favourite bands on the same bill! I also loved Guildford Civic Hall. I think it’s a real shame this venue and others like it have been replaced by glossy versions of themselves. No longer a place to see exciting bands on the way up, but instead on the way down, playing to a seated, older, more refined audience. I saw so many brilliant bands there in my early to late teens, pushed against the front of the stage sweaty and deliriously happy.
Craig Gannon had joined The Bluebells on guitar – he would later also play in The Smiths and plenty of other great artists. Everyone knows ‘Young at Heart’ so I’ll post another song, one of my favourites – ‘Sugar Bridge’. I had a double 7″ single, including a couple of tracks produced by Elvis Costello.
15th June The Service Cardiff University Students’ Union.
Danny had sorted this one out for us. We took lots of our friends with us and more of Danny’s student friends also came. Rudy had broken his arm so played keyboards! It was a great night. A few female students came up to me afterwards saying how cool they thought it was to see me fronting a band. It hadn’t really occurred to me before.
17th June – The Television Personalities / After This – The Clarendon Hotel Hammersmith
We met Dan Treacy for the first time (I had only spoken to him on the phone up until now) and also saw his band. Much stranger live then I thought they’d be. We introduced ourselves and while we were chatting he asked us if we’d like to support his band on their European tour in September. ‘You bet we would’!
22 June – The inaugural flight of the first Virgin Atlantic plane takes place.
25th June – Friends Again / Pogue Mahone / The Jasmin Minks – The Empire Rooms Tottenham Ct Rd
This was a Capital Radio gig. They were on all week with terrific lines up each night. Lloyd Cole played one night but I read him say in an interview that everyone gets to write one great song and he had written his, ‘Perfect Skin’. I took that to mean that the rest of his songs weren’t any good so bought tickets for this night instead! Pogue Mahone would of course soon become The Pogues. I had this fabulous 7″ single before they changed their name.
The Jasmine Minks were on Creation Records. I had their ‘Think!’ single.