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.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bombsite Fanzine 2008; The Pork Dukes

The long awaited book "The Rhythm Method" by author Nicky "Bonk" Forbes of The Pork Dukes, and later known as the legendary "Rocky Rhythm" of the Revillos was released on June 16th 2008. In this limited edition new book, Revillos' sticksman Nicky Forbes (Rocky Rhythm) draws on his musical escapades in the 1970s punk scene and beyond into the 1980s. Follow this link and click here to buy the book direct, or use link at the bottom of this page.

Above; Book Artwork Performed by the renowned artist Vince Ray

Formed in 1976, the Pork Dukes were ruder than the Sex Pistols, but didn’t achieve the Pistols’ notoriety. Playing incognito, there were rumors the Pork Dukes featured Keith Moon on vocals, members of Led Zeppelin, The Rezillos, Tenpole Tudor, Steeleye Span and even Dudley Moore.

The Pork Dukes released their first single ‘Bend & Flush’ in the summer of 1977, and the rude content and cover of the single helped it sell over 20,000 copies. Although the notorious Pork Dukes had three UK indie hit singles and two album releases, they received no radio airplay. That’s not surprising, because the band offended listeners with provocative song titles, like: Throbbing Gristle; Making Bacon, My Mother Gave Me A Gun For Xmas, I Like Your Big Tits, Let’s See If It Fits; and Telephone Masturbater.

The late, legendary UK DJ John Peel, on his BBC Radio One show, remarked that “the Pork Dukes would have hits with their infuriating catchy singles, were they not so manifestly unbroadcastable!”

But even a nod of approval from Elton John at the time didn’t help: the curiosity surrounding the Pork Dukes afforded them cult status but after releasing two albums the band split in 1979.
So, I decided to track down Nicky and asked him about the early years. I had one rule - Nicky please no one word answers to my questions.
Sounds good, mate. You'll be pleased to hear I am crap at one word answers! Fire away....

Bombsite fanzine
OK, It's 1977, The Jam, The Buzzcocks and the Clash kick off the White Riot tour, where are you guys at this point? What is it that gets your band rolling?

Actually, to explain my 1977, we need to stretch back as far as 1971, to an event held in a field near Clacton, Essex: the Weeley Pop Festival. Bands that played there included Mott The Hoople, Rory Gallagher, the Faces and Marc Bolan’s Tyrannosaurus Rex, in their hippy pre-T-Rex incarnation. Further down the bill was a band called Gnidrolog. The singer and the guitarist were twins, and I ended up playing with them in 1976, in a pub band. I was 19 and impressed. Although their band had been a ‘progressive’ band (read: not my cup of tea) they nevertheless had had major record deals and also had a ‘punk’ attitude. We were doing covers and our own material now and called ourselves the Street Kings. Someone at Caroline Exports put a fake cover of an imaginary single in their record catalogue - ‘Bend and Flush’ b/w ‘Throbbing Gristle’ - and surprisingly received 2,000 advance orders. The Street Kings were invited to record, indeed write, the non-existent songs as the Pork Dukes and so we changed our name to that.
The single was released in the spring of 1977 on a deliberately obscure label. The lyrics were very rude and this schoolboy naughtiness was to become the Pork Dukes’ constant. Our thing. Our one and only gimmick.
The single was included on a punk compilation album called ‘Streets’ on the Beggar’s Banquet label. An erratic tour was hastily organised, and one of our few official London gigs as the Pork Dukes was as part of that ‘Streets’ tour in 1977. Indeed, apart from going to Manchester to play the club Rafters for £150 (good money back then), it was the only other date of the tour we did.
We were supporting the Lurkers - Howard Wall was on vocals at the time. They were the headliners at the 100 Club, the famous jazz club at 100 Oxford Street. That identi-punk thing of Mohican hairdo, regulation studded jacket with obligatory bondage trousers and requisite bum flap fortunately hadn’t happened yet. It was still young kids inventing and discovering their own imagery within the confines of their limited style knowledge and ability. The school tie and shirt were a popular pioneer punk look, simply because it was so uncool to wear your school tie. Hardly radical, though. Some were into leather-jacketed rebelry whilst others delved into sub-military or S&M rubber imagery for shock value.
With the plethora of fashion available now it’s easy to forget just how hard it was back then to find anything different to wear. If you wanted jeans you bought flares or Oxford Bags. That was it.
The first punks really wanted to be something totally different from all those disco people wearing fetching brown with skinny-rib cream-coloured shirts and platform shoes and their music. It’s difficult to believe now but, at that time, finding clothes in black was almost impossible. And if you did wear black, it was for a funeral, or there was something odd about you. Often I had to dye my trousers, shirt, even my boots. Thirty years after World War Two had finished, bombsites with rubble were still visible in London and all around the country: Liverpool, Birmingham. The pre-Thatcher politics of the country had resulted in strikes, with rubbish piling up in the streets, power cuts and the three-day week, and punk grew partially out of those social conditions, say most commentators. But punk was also a reaction to a dire, stagnant music scene – shit like ‘Ms Grace’ by the Tymes or ‘Sad Sweet Dreamer’ by Sweet Sensation.

above; 1977 100 Club Nicky "Bonk" Forbes
It was still early in the evening, but there was some degree of interest in us when we strode onto the bare boards of the low stage at the 100 Club. A swarm of pogo-ing punks were there simply due to our curiosity value and we blasted them with our Rickenbackered set. The press had gone along with the whispering hype about us from the record label and there was a small, bee-sized buzz of conjecture as to who the mysterious Pork Dukes really were. After all, they’d come from nowhere and hadn’t played any gigs. Rumors abounded that it was members of Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin having a joke, or that the twins were in fact the bastard brothers of Dudley Moore, to whom they bore a remarkable resemblance. All blatant lies.
This and our other gigs at that time featured a festering dead pig’s head on stage. The bass player stole this concept after reading about the group Eater doing the same, but topped the idea neatly with a safety pin right through the pig’s eye. I kept the head in my bass drum but forgot about it for a few weeks. Opening the case at the next gig a sea of maggots fell out. That bass drum still stinks of rotting pig’s head to this day, probably. The bassist wore a white Clockwork Orange outfit with shades. The bulging-eyed singer, Vilos Styles, donned tights, lipstick and stubble. Incorrect rumours at the time said that some singers contracted hepatitis from swallowing other people’s spit. Either way, it wasn’t nice. Hiding behind the others in the ‘firing line’, I would set the kit up as far to the back of the stage as possible so only my cymbals rusted from all the gobbing. It was fast, sweaty, boisterous fun.
Half way through our foul-mouthed, raucous set I looked across the bobbing heads to the back of the small venue and was surprised, to say the least, to see Omar Sharif in the audience. That looks like Omar Sharif, I thought. Nah, can’t be. What would he be doing down this ropey hole? Indubitably, he’s bound to be in some playboy’s paradise - Monte Carlo probably - dressed elegantly in a white suit with gold braid and playing blackjack at some Ambassador’s residence whilst supping on vintage port out of a fine Baccarat glass yet never getting his moustache wet and being served Ferrero Rocher chocolates on a silver platter by a smiling sophisticated lady in a black evening gown as harpsichord music plays in the background, surely? But, no! Here he was standing by the stairs at the back of the club. Apparently, he’d come down thinking it was a jazz night but instead stepped into a morass of pogo-ing punks. I don’t suppose he was a Pork Dukes fan. He didn’t hang around for our autographs.
So the Pork Dukes were doing relatively well with their first single out, more planned plus an album to follow - the most happening band I had been in thus far. In Carnaby Street a fan wearing a carnal Pork Dukes T-shirt was arrested and charged with ‘wearing a licentious and lewd garment likely to cause a breach of the peace’. I took that as a positive. Trendy DJ John Peel said he would play our ‘infuriatingly catchy’ records on his Radio One show ‘were they not so manifestly unbroadcastable’. We even had a nod of approval from Elton John in a Sounds interview.

As the record producer had played drums on the Pork Dukes’ ‘Bend and Flush’, it wasn’t until the follow-up single that I finally got to play drums on a record for the first time. That was our second single of 1977: 12” of putrid yellow vinyl entitled ‘Making Bacon’ b/w ‘Tight Pussy’.
We taped the single in the voice-over and dubbing room at Bray Film Studios. After recording the drums, I was at a loose end while the others did their overdubs. To pass the time, I went rooting around the sound stages and film lots. At the time there was a very popular science fiction series on the television, filmed at Bray, called Space 1999. It was produced by the legendary puppeteer Gerry Anderson - the same chap who’d made Stingray, Thunderbirds, Supercar, Joe 90, etc. The series was filmed with actors but, just the same as the puppet programmes, Space 1999 utilised small models of things like space stations and spacecraft for filming those essential outer-space shots. They were painstakingly constructed and painted. The models were works of art. The attention to detail showed they had been assiduously hand-created by a talented, patient craftsman. Unfortunately, I found the miniature sets by jumping off the back of a stage and landing on them accidentally, crushing some irreparably. Oops. How accidentally punk: Destroy! I want to be anarchy...

above; The Pork Dukes 2007 100 Club
Bombsite Fanzine
Wow, Nicky was not kidding. No one word answers here.

More about the band and to buy Nicky's book, follow the links

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