Teenage Punk Rockers

This site explores the punk culture as it was in 1977 England. We were teenage punk rockers that wrote a fanzine and formed a garage band.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bombsite Fanzine 1977; Punk77 and Bored Teenager

BETWEEN 1976 and 1978, the UK was host to some of the most exciting new bands and youth energy seen only a few times in popular music and culture. Two web sites that have worked hard to compile an accurate record of this period, Punk77 and Bored Teenager add interesting commentary, rare photos and previously unheard stories.

Compiled with passion and many years of research, both Punk77 and Bored Teenager have documented punk music with a marked difference. Take a tour for yourself, and as you journey from page to page, some band names will jump out, and require no introduction – the Adverts or Generation X, for instance. But, in between, you will see interesting profiles of lesser known but influential punk bands such as the Skunks, The Brownshirts, The Spitfire Boys and Seventeen. Whose musicians continue to inspire the punk, and post-punk revolution that continues to reshape popular music today. No matter what your opinion about the era, there have been some influential UK bands and social ideology that has changed popular culture all over the world. 1977 punk bands took multiple influences and merged them into their own attitude, to be loud, be obnoxious and make your own rules.

Detour records site Bored Teenager, is managed by Dizzy, a mod, that everyone from the era knows. I have had the pleasure of working with him on some band research projects. He seems like a real genuine guy, a very nice man with solid ethical value, and I really like him. I worked with Paul at Punk77 on the Why Control / Bombsite profile, he was a more behind the scenes type of guy. Paul's useful research, and recent book about the Roxy punk venue [video below], is a credit to the punk scene.
OK we all have our heroes from the period, but it was the movement as a whole that left behind a residue. It was this influence that came from regional bands originating from "brash and showy" Liverpool, "angry and introvert" Manchester," punk and reggae" Birmingham, or "saint and sinner" Glasgow that gave the overall movement enough historical horse power and continue to pulsate.
Many people have benefited from Paul and Dizzy's service. Both guys have contributed to the awareness of UK social expression and talent. For stimulating the momentum, I want to say "thanks to both of you". To everyone else I want to say "are we ready to have another go"?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bombsite Fanzine 1977; The Buzzcocks, The Skunks

Punk Gig at Liverpool Polytechnic October 7th 1977, The Buzzcocks, The Skunks the New Hearts and John Cooper Clark were on the schedule that night.

As punk concerts around the North of England grew more popular through late 1977, gig performances improved as bands played tighter and the more locals were starting to participate in the movement. This night was a good one, the Chester, Rhyl and Buckley contingents gathered outside the entrance with the Eric's regulars before the show. Jamaican rhythm migrated through the walls and there was lots of beer spilling by the bar.
Loads has been written about the Buzzcock, they were, and still are the originals. Influenced by Velvet Underground and The Stooges by late 1975 Pete Shelley and Howard Devoto were practicing together and developed a sound. In February 1976 the two traveled to London to watch the Sex Pistols. It was that encounter where Shelley and Devoto arranged for the Sex Pistols to perform at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in June 1976. The Buzzcocks intended to play at this concert but were unable to recruit other musicians in time for the gig.
42 locals attended and it is referred to as the gig that changed the world in Tony Wilson's movie "24 hour Party People". Soon after they recruited bass guitarist Steve Diggle and drummer John Maher and made their debut opening for the Sex Pistols' second Manchester gig in July 1976.

Below; A great clip of DeVoto-era Buzzcocks performing

By the end of 1976, The Buzzcocks had released the Spiral Scratch four-track EP, on New Hormone label, making them the first punk group to establish an independent record label. A few months later, Devoto left the group. Diggle switched from bass to guitar, and Garth Smith joined on bass; due to Smith's alcoholism, he was replaced with Steve Garvey. This new line-up signed with United Artists Records.
The Bombsite writers were directed upstairs and along a hallway to a classroom. We looked in a bunch of the rooms and eventually found one filled with smoke with about eight people inside including the Buzzcocks and John Cooper Clark. The room was set up with school desks and chairs and a blackboard.

There was a bunch of sound equipment laying around. Pete Shelly had his guitar plugged in to a small amp, and the guy close to the stage curtain in the above photo was hammering out Buzzcock riffs to the amusement of everyone in the room. He played pretty well, no doubt he went on to have his own band and music career. We spent most of our time with Garth sitting on and around one of the school desk with the other band members close by.

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Our experience with Garth that night was good, we found him a likable guy, polite and he was happy to assist with our review, he was not drunk or even tipsy and we have been around some wombats. The interview was recorded in Bombsite issue #5, possibly the last interview with the Buzzcocks. He mentioned nothing about leaving the band and most likely did not know his destiny. The following night's Coventry gig would be his last performance with the band.

The support band that stood out that night were the The Skunks, the crowd were ready for the big line up and it included a mixture of students, pogoing punks, mods and the Eric's art crowd plus loads of flying lager cans. The Skunks fired back with tons of youth energy. The band had worked with the Buzzcocks during 1977/78 supporting them at the Roxy and Free Trade in Manchester. Along with many other punk rock bands in and around London including, XTC at the 100 Club, The Police at the Vortex, and were spotted and signed

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by Pete Townshend and Keith Moon after supporting Generation X at a Vortex gig. The first single Good from the Bad / Back Street Fighting released on Eel Pie records in 1978 sold 2000 copies. Guitarist Gerry Lambe contacted Bombsite to thank us for digging out the photo after 30 years.
The Skunks were: Gerry Lambe - Guitar, Franco Cornelli - Guitar, Hugh Ashton - Bass and Pete Sturgeon - Drums.

The New Hearts played The Roxy and The Vortex and were signed to CBS sometime around the time of this gig. The sounded much better live than on vinyl and were positioned well at the end of 1977 to take advantage the popular mod interest. Supported the Jam on a UK tour and a few dates with 999.
On November 21st 1977, the New Hearts released their debut single, "Just Another Teenage Anthem". It was backed by "Blood On The Knife". They were from Essex, U.K. and released two singles before disbanding. Two of the members, Ian Page and Dave Cairns formed mod revivalist band named Secret Affair.

The Buzzcocks poster included in Bombsite issue 5 - we actually received a check from UA

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Control 1977; Kings Road, Chelsea

Above; Early Clash Punk Bikers
At eighteen years old we were familiar with Chelsea's Kings Road region and would regularly visit the pubs, clubs and boutiques and then return North charged by our experience.
The King's Road begins in some splendor; Belgravia, Sloane Square, the Duke of York's barracks but it finishes with a council estate in a district called World's End. For the punks who colonized it in 1976, there was revolution in the air, and the hot weather that year helped, too.
The King's Road was always an adventure of interesting clothing boutiques, record stores, antique and art dealers; Small shop's that provided a modern trendy style for shoppers. Young fashion graduates and enthusiasts sensed the spirit and plunged in. Taking advantage of cheap rent they opened their own boutiques among the older fish shops, pubs and greengrocers. They would attract customers with outlandish names and window displays. A visit to the King's Road was a journey into England's self-expression.
Each Saturday afternoon rock celebrities would mix with the crowds of visitors and emerge transformed in outlandish clothing. In central Chelsea, at 430 King's Road, was a clothing store that earlier, during the 1970's was the location of a music club called Sex. This was where Malcolm McLaren would find his band's members amongst the local riff-raff that visited as Saturday regulars. Malcolm ran the store with his partner Vivienne Westwood. Their lives, along with John Lydon, Steve Jones, Glen Matlock and Paul Cook would be transformed as the Britain was ready to express the anxiety of her unemployed youth during that hot summer of 1976. Within 12 months the popular androgynous Roxy Bowie street style of skinny jeans, plastic sandals and eye liner, was transform into leather jackets, brothel creepers and a tougher sounding three chord rock.
The punk clothing stall Acme Attractions, located in the basement of the Antiquarius Antiques Market moved upstairs and was renamed Boy. Pretenders Chrissie Hynde and Billy Idol worked here and among others Adam Ant was a regular patron to the store. Down the road lines of expressive youths flocked in leather, fishnets and PVC to watch The Rocky Horror Show.

Poly Styrene regularly worked her boutique in Beaufort Market on King's Road when the manager of the Man in the Moon dropped by to pick up a day-glo tie. His focus was on the salesgirl with braces on her teeth, Poly. Having read the local paper that Poly had a band he wanted to offer her a weekly spot at the Man in the Moon, the now famous World's End pub and theater space in Chelsea between Vivienne Westwood's Seditionaries store and Beaufort Market.
We were from Britain's grim North and had little money to buy a mohair jumper or an overpriced ripped T shirt from Boy or Sex. But would return home and make our own clothing using stencils, paint and razor blades.
Further down the road was another clothing store ran by Ollie Wisdom, it is here where he met student Mark Curzon. Mark read Ollie's guitarist requirement from a note pinned on his T shirt. By June 1977 they were headlining as The Unwanted and played regular spots at London venues, including the Man in the Moon. This is where we met them during the Queen's Jubilee celebration weekend. The bar and live performances were downstairs at basement level and the place was hot, loud and exciting. Joe Strummer and Mick Jones stopped in on Motorcycles that night there was a buzz around the bar, but it was a place where this was commonplace, a hangout, the Clash were simply part of the local crowd. The Unwanted were good, Ollie, the singer had an odd shaped question mark shaved in his hair. We spent some time talking with him about the local scene. Bass player Dave Postman was also friends with Sid Vicious, and played with him in The Flowers of Romance. After taking an Unwanted poster from the wall. We left the place ready to get the last train and had to leg to Sloan Square.
Shag Nasty guitarist Riff Starr was a regular to the pub, he was friends with Poly and Joe Strummer. Some years later he explained that the Clash would regularly ride in on motorcycles.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bombsite Fanzine; Reconstruction Project

Along with a couple of other projects, I have been working to include a reconstruction of our 1977 Bombsite fanzines in episode format. These episodes coincide with each Bombsite issue with the original commentary expanded by the original writers to bring them up to date.
The whole thing started when Mark turned 50, as this event energized me to do something to try and capture the adventures we had during our teenage punk years.
Nothing too serious, and most likely not for resale, maybe for my daughter to read when she gets older, or for us, so that we don't forget our crazy energetic youth.
Mark, saved lots of items from the period, and found stories, photos and other stuff that has worked for the project. My sister had kept copies of Bombsite #1 and #2, and Dizzy from Bored Teenager found a copy of issue #5 with a fanzine collector in Greece. But issue three is still missing. We believe that issue #4 was skipped and not released.
Furthermore, I have been working alongside Dizzy at Detour records, and Paul over at Punk77. Both these guys run great punk reference sites on the internet, and have helped me find dates and threads of information for this project.

For 2008 completion, the overall project will recreate the four issues, as a limited redesigned book-set. This production includes original Bombsite interviews, Why Control adventures and memories from the era. Through the lives of three nineteen year old local punk rockers we aim to highlight the social value of experimental music, fashion and unleashed youth energy, as a mechanism to enhance urban change for Britain's north.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Why Control 1977 ; Saturday Night Fever

The UK disco boom started in the mid 70's, and continued through the early 80's. The London UK premier for Saturday Night Fever was on January 1st 1978. The US release was in December 1977. The dress style was particularly annoying as mainstream UK nightclubs were scattered with twits wearing powder blue suits, dodgy shirt collars, gold medallions and leather dancing shoes. I was attending Chester college at the time and guys in my class were getting their hair permed. Disco fever peaked at the end of 1977, with the release of the movie soundtrack. As Brits started to hear stories of the wild nights at Studio 54 in New York City they took the bait, hook line and sinker. Ten of the 17 songs from the soundtrack would become hits, with seven #1 hits.
In contrast the punk rockers were rock and rollers wearing leather jackets, tee shirts [often ripped or with written slogans] narrow pants or jeans, with DM's or creepers and sometimes bleached or died black hair. The London designers did their best to cash in with different ideas but we had no money, and thrift stores and jumble sales were cheap. The whole piercing, mohawk and Ronald McDonald hair coloring thing, did not occur until later, toward 1980.

Why Control's punk protest was to take all of our sound equipment out onto the Street. The street ran adjacent to the cinema. Hundreds of people were queued up to watch Saturday Night Fever that evening. The line was four people deep, and around the block as they were standing in the drizzle close to our practice room. We plugged everything in, and the sound blew down the street like a tornado. Cookie was thrashing about with power and fury, creating the most intense high energy rock & snarl monster these poor disco ducks had ever seen.

Above "Why Control's" practice room Bath Street Chester
An Indian waiter and a cab driver stopped to see what was going on. They were both laughing and stayed to listen, but everyone in the queue looked shit scared. After a while a cop arrived. Surprisingly he was polite and simply asked us to stop and take the equipment back inside. This was an interesting time for the UK, the SUS rule was still used extensively, and to spend a night in-side would almost guarantee getting rolled by the scuffers.
Maybe we made a difference that day. I think that Joe Strummer would have approved....

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