WENT BANG! FUCK OFF'
- the punk explosion
Round about '76/77 I found things to be a bit strange and I'd gone
into other parts of the business.
Gerry Shephard and I went to see The Sex Pistols at Notre Dame
Hall in Leicester Square, which I think was late-76. Gerry and
I were dressed in our snazziest gear with flared trousers and
all that, and there's all these punks there with drainpipe jeans,
short hair, really sort of 'now'. The Sex Pistols came on and
did four numbers and I said to Gerry - cos we'd had had enough
by then, we'd seen enough and we came out - I said, 'Well that's
it then.' I just knew.
Everything did kind of collapse when punk came. I think we were
all a little bit horrified: how do you cope with the Sex Pistols?
At the Punk Rock Festival [at the 100 Club] the Sex Pistols were headlining the first night and I was supposed to be headlining the second night. Cos at the time I was the only artist who even had a record out, let alone had a hit. I didn't have a band, and Malcolm McLaren said, 'Well you've got to come, otherwise we'll have to give all the tickets away - you're the only well-known guy.' Which now he wouldn't admit to saying. So he said, 'Come and listen to The Vibrators at the soundcheck, they're really good.' So I played with them, and they learned some of my songs really quickly, so when they did their set I came up and sung three or four songs. And that was the beginning of the relationship. I thought they were pretty good to have learned those songs so quickly at the soundcheck.
I did a TV show in Germany with The Clash and Dana and Showaddywaddy,
which was a very strange group of people. And we were all on the
'plane going over and I always remember The Clash were so badly
behaved, taking all the mini-bar from the hotel and everything
- they were just shocking. And there was Dana and I behaving ourselves
The glam rock thing was alright for the early 1970s, but by 1974
I was bored. But 1977 will be different. With the arrival of the
punks there is suddenly more energy in the business.
I think punk was probably influenced by the likes of Slade.
Punk bands were essentially glam and glitter fans four years on.
About the time of punk I felt confident enough to put an advert
in the local 'paper asking for punk/new wave musicians to form
a band, which got a few replies, one of which was from Mike Gibson.
We did eventually put a record out as The Jermz, which is now
a collectable punk single.
There were different aspects to punk: there was the DIY thing,
getting rid of all the bullshit, and there were some good tunes
came out of the punk era, but also like some bad attitudes that
was a bit too far over the top, which didn't make it accessible
to enough people to make it really a viable commercial proposition,
but it's made it last longer.
What happened was anybody that was before, wasn't. Punk's idea
was to kill the rich element and the big stadium rock, to bring
it down to a kind of street thing.
By '76/77 punk was coming in, and nobody survived that. It all
went BANG, fuck off, this is the new regime, this is what's going
to be happening now. Punk wiped the board with everybody.
Record companies and press deserve each other really, because
they've got a knee-jerk reaction to everything. So they see: oh
shit, right, punk, oh yeah, great, let's get some punk. So it's
like: drop everything else. I mean these are not people who are
artistically inclined, they're just people who want to sell as
many bits of plastic as possible - they wouldn't really mind if
it was pornographic stuff on it, as long as they sold it.
It was punk that really saw the back of me. Once punk took over,
record companies just said, 'Sorry, mate.' I remember reading
this letter saying 'We're not going to renew your contract,' and
then I heard about Billy Ocean going the same way, so I thought:
oh well, I'm in good company.
We did this album called Hideaway in 1978 - it was released
in Europe but at that time, even though we'd had all the success
we'd had, the record company said: we're not putting you out.
So that was it. It was such a sea-change.
There weren't many punk bands I got into. The Jam was about as
far as I got. I totally understood it - they were rebelling against
this pretty-boy pop-star stuff. I totally related to the fact
that they would be slightly out-of-tune, and the songs weren't
all that great, they were just full of aggression. Totally understood
some punks yesterday
The idea of flobbing at the groups, that'd drive me nuts. But
I did like some of the clothes, which I really pulled on, cos
there was some of their stuff was bright. I went and started to
buy some of their crazy stuff and it fitted me. Plus I'd shaved
my hair completely off and I was a bald-head. And that fitted
the punk thing perfectly, you know, with an earring. The Kojak
of rock & roll.
I was getting very disillusioned with the scene over here, because
punk had come in and - I'm not a Christian or anything like that
- I can't stand people swearing and cussing. And my wife and I
even thought about emigrating, we just thought the country was
going downhill, morally and everything else. I was very disillusioned
at that time.
We weren't particularly interested in punk. Showaddywaddy had
by this time become the band that parents would actually take
their kids to see, which was quite unique. So from the point of
view of angry young men, I suppose Showaddywaddy were pretty naff,
but for some reason we didn't seem to get bad press around that
time. It was as if the outrage of punk was nullified by the success
of ourselves. We were really the only band that had come from
the earlier '70s that was on the crest of a wave at that time.
It was quite unusual.
David Van Day:
There we were [as Dollar] right in the middle of punk. The Stranglers,
The Damned, The Sex Pistols - all on Top of the Pops, and
there was us. I thought we were the alternative music then, because
there was so much punk around.
'we were the alternative'
I think the industry had got to a point where it was getting a
bit drab again. We'd had the glitter and all that sort of stuff
and that had worn off, and there was this aggressive thing coming
through, but there was still quite a demand for something that
was colourful and lively. And I think that was exactly why the
band became so huge at that time.
We did a gig that was an absolute nightmare; that's when I was
thinking of packing in the business. My agent 'phoned up and said
we got this gig with Toyah Wilcox on at Leceister University,
and he said we're really stuck, we need a band. It was a nightmare
- luckily we had leather jackets on. There were all these punks,
and they were all throwing bottles and glasses and spitting. Very
evil-looking bunch of people - they had hate in their eyes, I
tell you. I took this Stratocaster with me, and it got hit by
a glass - I'd only just had it done up. And I thought: I'm gonna
give up; if this is the state of the business, I don't want to
But it was only a month or so later that we did a gig with Blondie
and blew them off the stage. That was at Lancaster University.
Blondie had had a lot of publicity and had their first album out
and 'Denis Denis' had been a hit, and we did a gig with them and
Advertising and someone else, and we blew them all off. And I
thought: maybe it's not so bad.
Things were changing. Hello's last single, 'Feel This Thing',
was very much disco-orientated. One of the tracks they did with Mike
Hurst was quite punky - they quite liked that sort of thing, they
quite liked The Stranglers and that sort of feel. They were really
looking for direction a bit. They were struggling a bit to find
a corporate identity, so to speak.
Apart from one or two exceptions who obviously had a musical talent
and came out of it and demonstrated that they were worthwhile
bands, you were talking about record sales of thirty or forty
thousand. Well, it seems to me self-evident that there isn't anything
meaningful out there in the market-place in terms of saying: I
love this music, I want this music, give it to me.
Chris Spedding & The Vibrators: 'Pogo Dancing'
(click to enlarge)
the effect of punk on Mr Midge Ure:
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
these words were brought to you by
David Van Day
and the late Marc Bolan
Top of the Pops
'The Funky Gibbon'
Fuck the critics
Sparks vs Rubettes
'Under the Moon of Love'
Crisis, what crisis?
The Real Thing
Bay City Rollers
'I Love To Love'
The death of Arnold