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How the Music Industry can stop the extinction of British Venues

A few years ago, i flew over to USA to see friends in California. But also, to go see one of my friends bands, called Cock Sparrer. As we drove down from LA to The Great American Music hall in San Fransisco, listening to the car radio, it really struck me, how important British music is to the world. Here i was heading down to a sell out show, by an obscure punk band, in the cool capital of the world. The average British person, would have never heard of this band. 

Everywhere you go, you will find it playing. its not only The Rolling Stones, Beatles and Elton John, or Oasis, but Punk Rock, Indie, 70’s, 80’s and every other decade of popular music. The same in Argentina, Brazil, Scandinavia, all across western Europe and beyond. Gone are the days that Britain is known for military, or railways. Whatever Governments have come and gone, British music has found its way to every corner of the Globe. A major export, not only for financial benefit, but for British cultural benefit. The welcome you get as a British person, in so many countries, is due to the love affair many nations have to our, British Music. Many of those music fans making a pilgrimage to the UK, to see where it all began.

But before it reaches those places, it is a seed in a kids garage, then a local pub. if they get lucky, they step up to the next town or city, playing their songs, working, promoting, and slogging away. One in a thousand, then get a bit of radio play, a larger gig, a record deal. One in 20.000 get BBC acknowledgment. A hard , hard career to follow. With no support from the UK Government. There are many reasons why live music, is in such a bad state. No more Top of the pops, no financial support, a lack of imagination with record labels. But the extremely high price of beer, is killing pubs at a rapid rate. Every town, is being raped, of the grass roots venues. Venues being sold off for development, for a fast profit.

Symond Lawes.

Independent venues are more than just places to see bands – they’re at the heart of their communities. But if the music industry doesn’t step in soon, we’ll be writing even more obituaries for these vital outposts of culture 

What makes a great venue? From the perspective of musicians, it’s when owners realise that good customer service is at the core of everything they do. Give the musicians the basics so they are able to do their job. That includes a comfortable and warm backstage room, plenty of time for a sound check, a respectful crew and a good sound system. Most of these things can be achieved with common sense more than money. But can owners of venues really raise the bar if all they offer is a fridge stuffed with Red Bull? Sadly the lack of resources is keeping standards too low for independent music venues in the UK, compared with, say, the rest of Europe.

Often, venues don’t feel like an artist’s home any more. They’re treated as normal, independent businesses rather than being valued as centres of culture in their communities. Venue owners are often former musicians and they are passionate about live music. But even the best of them are forced into dark alleys to survive, making compromises and potentially killing their passion for the music as it’s dragged down into the shit with them.

Last week, I was a panelist at Venues Day, a conference that was organised by the Music Venue Trust and Independent Venue Week about the future of independent music venues in the UK. I was asked to represent the point of view of the artist, discussing what makes a good venue great.

Mindofalion Live and raw in 2014. The grass roots of music, which becomes a worldwide export

Madame Jojo’s
Placards outside Madame Jojo’s nightclub in London. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images
The event took place at the Purcell Room, in London. It was the first time I’d taken part in a conference. Venue owners from all around the UK had filled the room, and someone had told me the participants were “very angry”. I had no idea what to expect, although I knew very well that many small, independent music venues have been in crisis for a long time.

I got involved with the issue the day my favourite venue in London, the Luminaire, shut down in 2009. That day, I lost more than just a place to see live music – I lost my second home. As I walked into the Purcell Room, it was even more clear to me that the owners of such venues need help. They need money, and they need it now, or more of the hundreds of venues that are essential to the culture of the UK and the music business in particular, will follow the fate of Madame Jojo’s and the Buffalo Bar in London, which are each soon to become extinct.

This has to be addressed at the very top of Government, Live music venues are the training ground for one of Britain’s largest exports, and Icon of pride, which excludes, no class, age or race

The disastrous financial situation of independent music venues has direct consequences for everyone, including musicians. Take branding. No artist should have to play with a Jack Daniel’s logo on the stage if they don’t want to, or a Vodafone sticker on their monitors if they don’t want to. Artists should not become vehicles for advertising if that’s not how they choose to run their business. Don’t get me wrong, I am not 100% against branding; I understand the need to raise money. But the stage is a sacred place, and if a venue makes a deal with a beer company, it should not involve the musicians.

Let’s take another example: during Venues Day, many owners acknowledged that club nights are how they’re able to survive these days, which means they book two events in one night. Who can blame them? They need money. But what does it mean for the artists? Well, it means that even if they sell out a show, the promoter might book a club night to start after you finish. They eject you, your crew and your fans at 10pm, then a DJ comes in and a whole new crowd invades the premises. Instead of playing at 10pm, your show needs to start at 8.30, which means support bands have to play at a painful 7.30pm. Obviously, there is no time after the gig to sell your merch or to meet your audience. Not only does it kill the band’s small chance of making extra money, but it also kills guitar music. Who wants to see rock’n’roll at 8.30 at night?

Another iconic Music venue, the 12 Bar, on Denmark Street, London. Right in the heart of Britains world famous Tin Pan Alley. Been handed the death sentence, at the end of 2014, by Westminster council, In favour of commercial short term property speculators. 

It is urgent that we find solutions to finance independent music venues which respect the spirit of live music and musicians. Artists are their customers, too, and we know that branding and club nights are not enough to keep some of our venues afloat.

How can we achieve this? One solution became apparent during the conference, where owners were joined by promoters and booking agents. Let’s do the maths: the venue owners need money and the large agents need to make a healthy profit. Got it? The last panel of the day, entitled What’s Next?, was supposed to address solutions available to venue owners. I took the mic to suggest that the industry itself should fund small venues. Agents, big promoters and venue groups should reinvest part of their annual profits into small venues. This is an idea my friend Andy Inglis, who used to co-run the Luminaire, has been talking about for years. After all, they belong to the same industry, don’t they? Just because small venues are the grassroots of the industry, that doesn’t have to mean they can’t benefit from the profits the others make.

I was surprised by the audience’s lack of response. The Music Venue Trust cautiously expressed its intention to create a charity system to support small independent venues, but I didn’t get the feeling it would pick up the funding idea and make it a priority. From what I understood, the two main ideas taken from the day were the need for tax cuts for small venues and an online resource for venues to share ideas and advice. Although it is important to begin with a couple of rallying points and get recognition from government, I still believe that music industry support is essential for the survival of independent venues.

At this point in the conference, I didn’t get a sense of much anger or desperation in the room. I could only assume people were too scared to speak up. Or maybe I’m totally wrong and most venues don’t want funding to come from the industry. I believe the idea is more popular among professionals than we think, but maybe it demands a bigger effort – or someone, a hero, to fight for it.

Next January, The band Savages and I will settle in New York City for three weeks to play a series of club shows. Sold out all nine shows in just one hour, which has never happened to us so fast before. Could this become a new model? Audiences love to see live music in small venues. Let’s hope they survive before we realise how much we needed them.

Find more information about Venues Day 2014, the speakers and partners on

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Immortal Machinery

“Immortal Machinery were formed in the winter of 2013, fuelled by a desire to make dark, melodic and uncompromising music.  The trio first met at a gig in central London in 2011, and spent the next two years jamming, experimenting and doing occasional bits of session work. After taking up writing his own songs, guitarist and vocalist Steph K soon became absorbed with the menacing sounds of Danzig, Type O Negative and the Misfits. Fused with bassist Mat G’s jazz sensibilities and drummer Tom S’s hard-hitting grooves, they soon found themselves making their own brand of sinister rock’n’roll. They are due to release their first album At the End of Time on 27th February 2015  – its lead single is set to feature an appearance from one of thrash metal’s Big 4 lead guitarists. Until then, they can be reached on Facebook and on twitter with @immrtlmchnry Their early demo work 

Immortal Machinery at the 229 Club, Great Portland Street

Supported by the newly-started record label Roxeavy Music, Immortal Machinery continue to perform up and down the country. They also host their own self-promoted gigs in London, with the aim of promoting other underground bands who share their ethos. If you are interested in playing at one of their shows, send a private message to their facebook page or email

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Indonesian punks forced into re-education

By Karishma VaswaniBBC News, Jakarta

A group of arrested Indonesian punks are jailed in Banda Aceh police station in Aceh province

 The punks and skinheads were rounded up at a local concert

Dozens of young men and women have been detained for being “punk” and disturbing the peace in Aceh, Indonesia’s most devoutly Muslim province. They are being held in a remedial school, where they are undergoing “re-education”.

Rights groups have expressed concern after photographs emerged of the young men having their mohawks and funky hairstyles shaved off by Aceh’s police.

They look sullen and frightened as they are forced into a communal bath.

But Aceh’s police say they are not trying to harm the youths, they are trying to protect them.

The 64 punks, many of whom are from as far away as Bali or Jakarta, were picked up on Saturday night during a local concert.Aceh police spokesman Gustav Leo says there have been complaints from residents nearby.The residents did not like the behaviour of the punks and alleged that some of them had approached locals for money.

Mr Leo stressed that no-one had been charged with any crime, and there were no plans to do so.

They have now been taken to a remedial school in the Seulawah Hills, about 60km (37 miles) away from the provincial capital Banda Aceh.

“They will undergo a re-education so their morals will match those of other Acehnese people,” says Mr Leo.

But activists say the manner in which the young people have been treated is humiliating and a violation of human rights.

Aceh Human Rights Coalition chief Evi Narti Zain says the police should not have taken such harsh steps, accusing them of treating children like criminals.

“They are just children, teenagers, expressing themselves,” she says.

“Of course there are Acehnese people who complained about them – but regardless of that, this case shouldn’t have been handled like this. They were doused with cold water, and their heads were shaved – this is a human rights violation. Their dignity was abused.”

But Mr Leo disagrees.It is the second time the police have cracked down on punk culture in Aceh

“We didn’t arrest them, they haven’t committed any criminal offence,” he says.

“They are Aceh’s own children – we are doing this for their own good. Their future could be at risk. We are re-educating them so they don’t shame their parents.”

This is the second time Aceh’s police have clamped down on punks in the province, which is the only province in Indonesia allowed to implement shariah law.

There is a thriving underground punk music scene in Aceh, but many punk-lovers are viewed suspiciously by local residents.

Many of the young teens sport outrageous hairstyles, in keeping with punk culture, but against the norms of the keenly religious in Aceh.

Aceh is one of the most devout Muslim provinces in Indonesia, and observers say it has becoming increasingly more conservative since Islamic law was implemented a few years ago.

Indonesian punks stand in line before prayer.  Indonesian punk rock fans, their head shaved clean, stand in line before prayer at the police school in Aceh Besar, Indonesia. Photograph: Heri Juanda/AP Mohawks shaved and noses free of piercings, dozens of youths march in military style for hours beneath Indonesia’s tropical sun – part of efforts by the authorities to restore moral values and bring the “deviants” back into the mainstream. But the young men and women have shown no signs of bending. When commanders turn their backs, the shouts ring out: “Punk will never die!” Fists are thrown in the air and peace signs flashed.

A few have managed briefly to escape, heads held high as they are dragged back. Sixty-five young punk rockers arrived at the police detention centre last week after baton-wielding police raided a concert in Aceh – the only province in the predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million to have imposed Islamic laws.

They will be released on Friday, after completing 10 days of “rehabilitation” – from classes on good behaviour and religion to military-style drills aimed at instilling discipline. Nineteen-year-old Yudi, who goes by only one name, said it was not working. He tried unsuccessfully to shake off police when they took an electric razor to his spiky mohawk. At the sight of his hair scattered in the grass, he recalled, tears rolled down his face. “It was torture to me,” he said. “I can’t wait to get out of here,” he added. “They can’t change me. I love punk. I don’t feel guilty about my lifestyle. Why should I? There’s nothing wrong with it.” His girlfriend, 20-year-old Intan Natalia, agreed. Her bleach-blonde hair has been cut to a bob and dyed black and she has been forced to wear a Muslim headscarf. “They can say what they want, but I like life as a punk,” she said. “It suits me.” Two young men hated it so much at the detention centre, they tried to escape. They pretended they had to go to the bathroom then fled to the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, 30 miles away. Police found them strolling the streets nine hours later and brought them back. It was just after midnight. “They said they missed their parents, but it’s pretty clear they were lying,” said the local police chief, Colonel Armensyah Thay. “They didn’t go home. How could they? They’ve been living on the streets.” The crackdown marked the latest effort by authorities to promote strict moral values in Aceh which, unlike other provinces in the sprawling archipelagic nation, enjoys semi-autonomy from the central government. That was part of a peace deal negotiated after the 2004 tsunami off Aceh convinced separatist rebels and the army to lay down their arms, with both sides saying they did not want to add to people’s suffering. More than 230,000 people were killed in the towering wave, three-quarters of them in Aceh.

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Here’s MANKIND: 

There’s something going on. An emerging scene reacting to the overwhelming EDM rains that floods every single garage here without mercy – wiping out the kids trashy hang-outs where they desperately tries to ruin their lives. Garages are turned into silent aquariums.
It is such a perfect clean-up. But hey, the aquarium is cracking up.

It’s explosive, dark, potent, and psyched out. And the main little monster fish here is the band MANKIND.

Currently whipping up the underground and warehouse parties in Stockholm with their runaway, throbbing and decadent show, Swedish MANKIND is getting attention.

MANKIND, four guys that could have been seeds planted at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, drawing strength from the graves of Jim Morrison, Chopin and Gertrud Stein.

Instead the plants grew in Ingmar Bergman’s land of held back silence – bonded by a mutual musical love and existential brooding.

The bands first track “Blood, Sugar” – not least apparent by the video (directed by Johan Stolpe) – is unmistakably Scandinavian with Fever Ray-ish aesthetics. It’s produced by Gordon Raphael (The Strokes, Regina Spektor). Although early recognized and loved by The Needle Drop, “Blood, Sugar” was never sent out in the world. So lo and behold, this is now corrected. Needle Drop:

MANKIND were brought up on music released long before they were born and in boroughs far from where they lived (the early 90’s Seattle scene, the Velvet’s New York, The Door’s California, London 60s…) and that’s exactly where they belong artistically. But in addition they also have their own DNA, a unique sound full of odd MANKIND figments, twisted song structures, lyrics that are clever, angry, darkly funny, upsetting and on-point and a world of imagery and ideas that we know will keep us busy and alert.

Band are Arthur Batsal (vocals), Oliver Boson (drum), Alexander Ceci (guitar), Fredrik Diffner (bass) – just over 20, lives in Stockholm, Sweden


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Laurel Aitken

Let me tell you about Sally Brown . . .

NOVEMBER 7, 2014

Laurel Aitken in Chicago at the Subterranean in 1995. Photo by Heather Augustyn

So I love me some Laurel Aitken, and I’m singing along in my car to Sally Brown driving down the highway and my son starts laughing. I’ve belted out these lyrics so many times I don’t hear them anymore, but my son’s fresh ears pick up on perhaps the silliest words to ever grace a ska song–yes, the cukumaka stick. What the heck is a cukumaka stick? I decided I’d find out.

The cukumaka stick is actually a coco macaque stick. It was first used by the Arawaks in battle, even though they were largely a peaceful people. The Arawak, or Taino Indians as they were sometimes called, were one of the native people of the Caribbean. They came to the islands of the Caribbean from Guyana or perhaps from other islands in the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas. They were still a Stone Age people whose tools were primitive and they were an agricultural and fishing people.

The Arawaks used the coco macaque, a heavy solid strong stick or club, as a tool, but they also used it to bludgeon their victims or enemies in combat. In Haiti, the coco macaque stick was called “the Haitian Peace Keeper.” In Cuba, where Laurel Aitken was born, it was called “the Cuban Death Club.” And in New Orleans, the coco macaque stick is called “the Zombie Staff” or “Spirit Stick.”

The coco macaque stick was used in Cuba and Haiti as a weapon and became a part of the cultural vernacular after it was used by the dictatorial regimes in Cuba and Haiti against political activists. During the regime of Papa Doc in Haiti, the coco macaque stick became a symbol associated with the “guaperia,” or his military. According to one article, the “Cocomacaco was the main weapon of the notorious tonton macutes, his the personal body guards.”

The Daily Gleaner on March 1, 1915 wrote of  a coco macaque stick when reporting on a corrupt Haitian dictator who stole money from the country’s coffers. It stated, “He could only find a few thousand pounds to seize, though he sent an army to make the levy: an army strongly armed with superdread-nought cocomacaque sticks.”

Aitken is likely informed by many of these interpretations of the coco macaque stick, but perhaps none as much as the one in his own country which saw the coco macaque stick as a weapon associated with slavery. On the Cuban sugar plantations, slave owners beat their slaves with a coco macaque stick. The weapon later became a “tool of correction” used by men on women, and there was a Cuban proverb that said that wives should be “corrected with cocomacaco hard,” which may also shed light on why, when Laurel Aitken was once asked about this lyric, he hinted at a sexual connotation, as was common in the calypso, mento, and subsequent musical traditions–just think of Jackie Opel’s “Push Wood” for an example with a similar object–wood–but there are dozens if not hundreds of others with different objects–shepherd rods, needles, etc.

The coco macaque stick also had a life all its own. The Taino Indians and Haitians who practiced Voodou believed that the coco macaque stick walked by itself. The owner could send the coco macaque stick to run errands or dirty work, and if the coco macaque stick hit someone on the head, they would then be dead by morning.

Here is some information I found in an article on voodoo: “Coco macaque is what many refer to as a very real magical Haitian vodou implement or black magicians helping tool. Made of Haitian Coco-macaque palm wood or what ever wood one has at hand it is basically just simple thick 1 to 2 inch wooden cane, which is supposed to be possessing one of many magical powers, The strangest one is that to be able to stand up and walk on its own. Though it’s appearance of walking is described more like a hopping or bouncing action. This Voodoo Magic walking stick is not bound by gravity and is said to bounce off of houses and homes and even roofs as it travels to it’s commanded destination. Sometimes many people might refer to them as Voodoo Zombie Canes and swear that by all known accounts and means that they or it is possessed by the spirits of the dead. By all old Haitian accounts many will tell you that it is a simple design or sometimes crudely hand carved by a voodoo black magic priest using what ever found wood is available to them at the time. And it is a cursed or controlled by specific spirit that causes the walking stick to appear to move all by itself.”

Here are the lyrics to that classic Laurel Aitken tune, Sally Brown:

She boogey, she boogey, she boogey down the alley
Let me tell you about Sally Brown
Sally Brown is a girl in town
She don’t mess around
Let me tell you about Sally Brown
Sally Brown is a slick chick.
She hits you with a cukumaka stick
Cukukukukumaka stick
Hits you with a Cukumaka stick

Heather Augustyn

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CHESTERTON, IND.—Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music by Heather Augustyn has been published by Half Pint Press and is now available. The book is a comprehensive look at Jamaican vocalists, instrumentalists, record producers, dancers, wives, mothers, and deejays who helped to shape the course of Jamaican music on the island and worldwide. Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music is the fourth book from Augustyn on Jamaican music and culture.

The book features dozens of interviews with women who found a way share their talent in a culture and industry that was marked by brazen displays of masculinity. They endured harassment and received little or no pay to perform as backup or alongside or in front of the male musicians. They sacrificed family and home for a life in the spotlight, or they brought their babies with them on the road. They took over the studio and made it their own, or they suffered unimaginable violence, even murder. They changed the course of music all over the world. The book also features over 100 exclusive photographs and memorabilia that supplements personal narratives and archival material.

Heather Augustyn spent two years researching and talking to such women as Millie Small of “My Boy Lollipop” fame who rarely grants interviews, and she obtained photographs from her personal photo album. Others include Enid Cumberland of Keith & Enid who is now in her mid-80s; Janet Enright, the country’s first female guitarist who performed jazz in the 1950s; Marcia Griffiths of the I-Threes, Bob Marley’s backup singers, and vocalist for the Electric Slide, the staple of every wedding reception; members of the first all-girl ska band, the Carnations, featuring the parents of Tessanne Chin, winner of The Voice; Doreen Shaffer of the Skatalites; Patsy Todd of Derrick & Patsy and Stranger & Patsy; Althea & Donna, and dozens of others.

Augustyn is also author of Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist, McFarland 2013; Ska: An Oral History, McFarland 2010; and Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation, Scarecrow Press 2013. She is a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana and an adjunct professor at Purdue University’s North Calumet campus. She lives with her husband and two boys in Chesterton, Indiana. Songbirds Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music is available at Here and

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Skinhead footwear survey, London school of fashion

Dear Symond,

Thank you for accepting my request into the Skinhead Classics Group. I’m currently studying footwear design in my final year at London College of Fashion and am doing my final major project on the evolution of the rude boy and the skinhead subculture. I am looking in to consumers and specifically members or admirers of the skinhead subculture. Would it be okay to post a survey to gain insight towards consumer habits and motivations to help with my degree?
Thank you for your time.
Kind regards,Eleanor Mills

Thankyou for showing an interest in the skinhead subculture, i am sure people will be pleased to help

Click here to take part in the survey 

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Skinhead attacked in Ramsgate UK

Colin Harvey aged 47 was attacked on his way home, late Friday night/Saturday morning 1am  1st November 2014

All he knows of The attackers, was a group late teens about 5 or 6 of them, Chatham Court, Station Approach road, Ramsgate. 

Sherina ‘Rena’ Burke says.  One lad was about 6.2 the others about 5.6 /5.7 about 1am yesterday morning
Don’t know if, or who  who’s dealing with it at the Police station, as we left about midday so he could get cleaned up and have a sleep. Not even sure he was going to proceed with dealing with the old bill !
Oh and his wallet was missing too.

Locals we think, but Colin didn’t recognise any of them. The poor neighbour phoned the police, but was too frightened to open the door as she was elderly, I’m sure some one will find out something as they are bound to brag to the wrong person !! Colin’s spirits remained high, he had us all laughing, not sure if I’d have been so upbeat, I’m glad they didn’t knock that out of him. What a trooper !

This attack happened feet from his door 6 youths (late teens) were sat on the steps leading to his door he asked them to move and they attacked like a pack of animals ..he has remained in good spirits and still has his sense of humour, even after cracked ribs, Broken nose, fractured jaw, missing teeth, two black eyes and a large shoe print bruise across his face x
Been a skinhead since his teens not that it makes a difference !!

Skinhead for Life

Colin is well liked, born and lived his whole life here, has had the girls arriving in droves yesterday with beer baccy soup etc. Colin is a regular attender of skinhead events, and is a big ska and oi fan, one of the crowd. He was wearing one of our Great Skinhead Reunion Shirts, So this is an attack on all of us. Do your bit for a brother

Anyone in the area, can you please post this around. The lads are probably boasting, and could be local. 

Ramsgate , is situated on the South East coast of England in Kent, quite a run down area, and is mainly recognised as a major ferry port for Europe. A close knit local community, but does attract alot of transient people. If you saw, or know anything, lets help to get justice for Colin.

If you have any info, please let us know,or contact  Kent police on 101

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Southall Skinhead Riots, A witness account

Rob Smiths Account

Friday, July 4th, 1981 had been a hot summer’s day in the Western suburbs of London. Late that afternoon, a small group of us took the bus from South Harrow to Hayes and met up with Hayes skins. From there about 15 of us travelled the short distance up the Uxbridge Road and arrived early at the Hambrough Tavern in Southall. As we walked from the bus stop, along the pavement and into the pub’s forecourt, we hadn’t noticed a hint of trouble anywhere and we weren’t expecting any either!

The pub was a good size. Inside it was bright from the evening sun thanks to the large bay windows but more on those later… The pub is located on the edge of Southall, on the main road leading into a town renowned for its large Asian population but we never thought that going to an Oi! gig on the edge of Southall would provoke a large part of its population to riot. Oi! bands had played in other areas across London with large immigrant populations before and there had never been any trouble.

Inside the pub, it grew noisier as more skins started to arrive. The atmosphere was buzzing – the 4-skins, the Last resort and the Business were going to play.

rob smith and friends

Inside, I remember thinking this gig had very little that was extreme right wing about it. I was aware of this because I’m of mixed race. There were no Nazi flags, no siege heils and it definitely didn’t feel like an extremist’s right wing get-together. Everyone was there – for this much looked-forward-to gig – for the bands, and to hear some good Oi! music.

Round about 8 O’clock, the crowd was getting a little impatient because the 4-Skins hadn’t yet arrived – you could see the gig organisers were getting a bit impatient too; but sure enough, through the large bay windows, we saw the band arrive, hurrying through the forecourt, ready to go straight on stage.

While the 4-Skins were playing something else was going on. Through the large windows, out in the darkening Uxbridge Road, we could see more and more Asians arriving and gathering by the wall of the forecourt. Inside it was stiff upper lip and the music carried on but there were a lot of murmurings as it became obvious there were going to be a lot of trouble.

The crowd outside got surprisingly larger by the minute. A few police had arrived and were forming a barrier between the restless, shouting Asians and the pub but as the crowd outside became larger and noisier, it became clear that the music inside would have to stop.

Events passed the point of no return when a brick came crashing through one of the bay windows. The music stopped and everyone inside took up defensive positions but no one would go outside – that would’ve been suicide. In the falling darkness, more bricks and missiles came hurtling in through the windows and it wasn’t long before we knew we had to get out… petrol bombs were being thrown at the pub. Many of us weren’t sure if we were going to get out alive because the police outside were looking as if they were failing to contain the situation. Inside, what had just been a calm evening’s entertainment had turned into a war zone. Broken furniture and glass lay all over the place as we fought to defend ourselves.

As more busloads of police arrived, a passage was formed to escape through. As bricks and bottles flew from 100’s of amassing Asians, we headed out of the pub across the no-man’s land forecourt, into the Uxbridge Road, behind the protection of police lines. Looking back, we saw a hijacked police car being set on fire. It was then rammed into the pub by Asian youths, sending the Hambrough up in flames. Fire engines, ambulances and more police cars arrived. Blazing sirens were drowned out by the noise of the riot. The night sky turned a reddish hue from the huge blaze. Even after we’d got back to Harrow, 4 miles away, we could still see the red glow of the sky from the burning pub!

The national newspapers, and radio and television news headlines the next day and for the next few days, were full of it but what I read in the papers and heard on the news didn’t match what I saw that night. The media were pinning all the blame on us skinheads, accusing us of going to Southall to start a riot and throwing petrol bombs at Asians. But I clearly remember going to Southall for a drink and a gig in a pub. There were no Nazi saluting skinheads in the pub. There were no skinheads throwing petrol bombs at Asians and there were definitely no plans to incite a riot.

Because of what happened at Southall, left-leaning media outlets and much of the right-leaning middle classes found every excuse under the sun to marginalise skinheads and Oi! music but their prejudices were based on false accounts! It was the assembled Asians that were the cause of the rioting that night, no matter how much they thought they were justified in doing what they did. They even continued rioting long after the last skinheads left the scene! But it was skinheads who got blamed, even though it was the police who had to defend us, not the other way round. We were the small minority needing police protection from the 100’s of rioting Asians! In fact, there were a few Asian skinheads inside the pub for the gig… these Asians weren’t rioting, the ones outside were! There were a few Black and Greek skinheads inside too.

On a lighter note, one funny thing I heard, don’t know if it’s true, was that the manager of the 4-Skins band chased the pub manager up the Uxbridge Road, wanting his money for the gig!

Seriously, the Southall night changed the course of Oi! – From that time on, the media ensured that Oi! would never get the positive publicity it deserved but despite all attempts to stamp it out, Oi! is still around and now global and long may it be so, but it will always be at home in London, where it all began.

Hanborough Tavern Southall, burned down by Asian Mob

Rob Smith

Hounslow Robs Account
I also went to that gig at the Hambrough tavern in Southall, the area itself is not too far from where I was living in Hounslow so it was an ideal opportunity for me to get to see a couple of the bands I was well into at that time, the 4skins and the Last resort.

Anyway, being only 15 at the time (turned 16 later that month) I hadn’t been to that many gigs, one that I had been to was at the Hambrough tavern a few weeks earlier. It was the Meteors and I hadn’t even planned to go; I’d been hanging around Hounslow bus garage which was a meeting place for the younger skins in my area when a local skinhead girl turned up and asked me to help her find the pub. Being a true gentleman (and because she was a right looker!) I went with her. As soon as we got off the bus on Southall Broadway we started to get abuse shouted at us by groups of Asians that were hanging around. Feeling nervous but putting a brave face on we headed towards the pub after asking one of the few white people we saw for directions. We noticed a group of Asians up ahead and as we got closer they blocked the road and surrounded us, there were maybe a dozen of ’em and looked to be in their late teens or early 20’s. One of them said “what are you doing in our area? “, as I turned to answer I got punched from the side and they all piled in. Would love to be able to say I had a good go back but didn’t have a chance really and ended up curled up on the ground getting a good kicking! To be fair they didn’t hit the girl although that was the only fair thing about it! Eventually they ran off and I found I wasn’t in too bad a condition, a few cuts & grazes but nothing serious. We made it to the pub and saw the band and I’m just mentioning that night cos it gives a bit of background to the area and how the Asians saw it, they regarded Southall as their town and you even had graffiti on the walls saying “whites out”!

Going back to the night of the riot I obviously had bad memories of the place but wasn’t gonna miss the chance to see the bands so headed to the bus garage in Hounslow where I knew some older local skins would be meeting up, an advance guard had already left but another 20 or so were there so I tagged along with them. Luckily we got a bus to Hayes and then another into Southall, I say luckily cos if we had taken the direct route it would have taken us to the Broadway and we’d have ended up on the other side of the massive mob of Asians that had already gathered by the time we got there.
I don’t remember any talk on the bus about it kicking off with the Asians that night, the only time I can recall someone mentioning trouble was about the possibility of old area rivalries between skinheads coming up at the gig.
On reaching the Tavern there was a line of police further up the road heading into the main part of Southall and you could clearly see the Asians on the other side of them. In the pub itself there was a good crowd and it was mainly skins but I noticed a few rockabillies and straights. As was mentioned by Cockney Express and London Rob there were also a few black skinheads in the pub and although there would have been right wing skins in there as well I don’t remember any friction between the skins inside.

West London Skinhead Girls who were at the infamous Southall gig

As for the bands themselves, the gig itself is a bit of a blur and my memory has failed me a bit there. I’d never heard the Business before but enjoyed their set. The Resort I did like, having heard the 3 track tape on sale at the shop. I remember Hodges & co on stage and have read elsewhere that they were playing “Chaos” as the windows came in, dunno about that but it would have been perfect timing!!! I do remember the bricks coming into the pub ‘tho, were standing quite near to the big bay windows where the curtains had been drawn. Looking back I suppose this stopped the bricks and flying glass doing more damage but a number of people did get hurt. I got a small cut on the cheek myself but others had much worse, can still picture a skinhead girl who had blood all down the side of her face. Of course everyone moved away from the windows but many also headed for the door, partly because you didn’t know what was gonna come in next but also to get out and get stuck in if they could, Skinheads were breaking up chairs and tables to use as weapons & to say people were angry would be an understatement!
Outside it was chaos, the old bill was trying to keep the Asians away from the pub but because of the numbers they were struggling. It’s true that some skins were in the front line standing shoulder to shoulder with the police, through the lines you could see the Asians were going mental and were well tooled up, waving sticks, bats and even swords above their heads! Some skins actually managed to get into them, talk about suicide missions! One guy came back with the whole inside of his lower arm opened up, said it had been done with a meat cleaver! From the look of it I didn’t doubt it!
We were being pushed back away from the pub and I can remember seeing the petrol bombs flying, didn’t actually see the moment the pub was hit or when the van was pushed into it but recall seeing the pub burning and the flames high in the sky. Looking back now I dread to think of the outcome if a petrol bomb had entered the pub whilst everyone was still inside really doesn’t bear thinking about!

On our side of the police the skins were pretty much able to do as they wanted as the police had their hands full trying to control the Asian mob. A few lighter moments did occur, a number of shops had had their windows smashed and some skins had entered into ’em to find weapons or just to do a bit of looting! One of the older Hounslow lot reappeared out of a shop with a box full of crisps! A full blown riot going with petrol bombs flying around and you’ve got skinheads walking about munching crisps! I’m sure some were even asking what flavours he had! (I was at the back of the line so had to make do with ready salted!) Cockney Express mentioned in a post that he saw people throwing bottles of cresta at the Asians; I remember that drink, they should have tried setting fire to it, probably would have burnt better than petrol!! At one point word went round that some Asians had managed to get around behind the police line and were up one of the side roads, we all went steaming up there but it was either a false alarm or they had thought better of it and scarpered. Anyway on the way back a couple of skins started knocking on doors and whacking any Asian that answered, out of order maybe but then again the circumstances that night weren’t normal! One door flew open and a bloke came running out waving his arms and shouting “I’m white, I’m white, paki’s 2 doors down”!!

London skinheads who were at the Hanborough Tavern when it was attacked

Eventually most of the skinheads were rounded up by the police and we were marched away from the area towards Hayes and Harlington station where the skins from other parts of London were to be put on trains. Those skins from west London carried on as we didn’t want to get trains into town. One thing I did notice was that the further we got away from the pub the worse we were treated by the old bill, we were being stopped every 100 yards or so and searched and hassled by ’em. The police earlier in the night had been fine with us because they knew what had happened and knew the score. Now there were coppers being brought in who hadn’t been at the front line and probably thought we had been the ones who had kicked it off, maybe not the case but it might explain their attitude and actions.
Also on that walk there was a confrontation with a group of white geezers who had pulled up in a van and jumped out with baseball bats calling us Nazi bastards, we were well spread out by this time and only about 10 of us were together in a group but we stood our ground and after a short stand off the police turned up and the blokes jumped back in the van and sped off, dunno who they were but they’d obviously been watching the news!
We ended up getting a night bus back to Hounslow and found a few local skins that hadn’t been to the gig waiting at the bus garage. Of course we played it up and you could tell they were gutted to have missed the night. I must admit I was guilty of the same when I met up with my mates the next day, probably bored ’em to tears going on about it, just like I’m doing now to anyone whose bothering to read this!!
Eventually got home about 4 in the morning, my mum was still up. She just looked at me and said “I don’t have to ask where you’ve been, I’ve been watching you on the telly”!

Looking back now the young Asians in Southall must have planned to attack the Hambrough tavern that night, they were just too organised for it to have been a spur of the moment thing, and they would never have got those numbers out at short notice.

I personally think Southall happened cos the local Asians were never gonna let a skinhead gig take place on their manor without having a pop at it. They did see it as their town and thought they had to put on a show of strength. The fact that most of ’em probably thought (as did most people not in the know thanks to the media) that every skin was a raving Nazi obviously played a part as well!
Still. it was a lively night! Wouldn’t have missed it for the world!

Hounslow Rob

Cockney express (terry London) Account
Before I go any further I should point out that the following is my version of what I saw at the Southall riot. It is my own view of what lead up to the riot and it is my own view on the bands and the era itself. No disrespect is meant to any person/persons or bands.
As far as I know there are only two people that have taken the time to sit down and write what they saw. Both of those versions lead to the same end but, differ because of the people that wrote them and perhaps where they were on the night.
At the time of the riot I was Living in Bethnal green in London’s east end which was just a stone’s throw from the shop; The Last Resort. This shop at the time was world famous because of the Skinheads that used it on a regular basis and, because it was just THE place to be. Living so close didn’t mean that either me or, any of the other Skinheads that lived nearby used the shop or went to it regularly. To us it was just a shop that was around the corner. Any novelty the shop held had long since worn off. We left people from outside the East end to hang around the shop and look hard? And indeed get ripped off by the owner a certain Mickey “Millwall” French and his wife in crime…Margret and of course who could forget their fellow muggers of Skinhead money…”Fat Andy and “Shorditch” Ian.
Anyway before I lose my thread……………….
I had followed first Sham 69 then obviously the Cockney rejects but as these two bands either lost their way or, turned heavy metal I needed to find something new. That something new came in the form of a fellow that lived just a few streets away by the name of Gary Hodges and of course the now legendary 4 SKINS. To most at the time they were THE oi! Band. To us no one came close to them and if the truth be known it’s my opinion that since they (Hodges line up) split no one ever has. As far as I’m concerned since mid-1982 everything that came after has just been clutching at straws but please remember that is just my opinion. It is however an opinion that is shared by many that grew up during that time; living in the birthplace of oi! And, as a lot see it the eventual death place of oi…London’s east End. Yes I am aware of the bands that carried on and in some cases went from strength to strength I/e the Angelic upstarts and the Business but for me what followed was second rate. I will add that yes it was good music but to me it was second rate. If you like oil! at this time had started to grow up and spread throughout the country and in doing so newer bands injected their meaning into the music.
For me oi! Was about life in London, no, life in the East end….tuff, hard and a slum where no one gave a toss about us…the kids. The only ones it seemed that cared were the bands of the time. Listening to the likes of Blitz from Manchester or the Angelic Upstarts from the North east just wasn’t the same as listening to the Cockney rejects/The 4 Skins/Eastend badoes or, Cock sparer. Perhaps the only band that came later that made us listen again was the Ejected. You could call this narrow mindedness and I couldn’t give a f**k if you did…hey it’s not the first time I’ve been called that and, I doubt it will be the last. My take on it is simple….we came from an era which was very tribal and as such listening to what we called a foreign band Like the Upstarts was a no no. Of course we went to see them and of course we bought there albums and played them until they wore out but they just didn’t speak for us in the same way as our own. Just as a side point regarding the Upstarts; in later years I have spoken to many people from the North east and they felt the same way about London bands as we did about, non-London bands…like I said we were tribal. Who knows perhaps this is the real reason for the demise of the oi! Scene. Some say that it was the right wing whilst others say it was the left wing. Some even say it was when Skinheads grew their hair. There are many factors that contribute to its demise but, without a shadow of a doubt the main one IS the now infamous Southall riot.

Could this album really cause so much trouble for the Oi! scene? In the eyes of the media/government and any other dimlo that wanted to jump onto the “lets ban Oi! bandwagon” it could…or could it?
The album ‘strength thru oi’ which takes its name from a Nazi slogan ‘strength thru joy’
has been used as a scapegoat to justify the unfounded claims of the media from the day of its release until now. It’s true that the front cover had a photo of the late Nicky crane who was a member of the British movement and, head of the leader guard. It’s true that he had British movement tattoos. It is also true that he was a last minute stand in because the cover should have featured Carlton leach the notorious West ham and ICF hooligan but due to one thing and another he didn’t show. It’s also true that on the rear of the cover it pays homage to various non-white peoples.Thats as far as I will go with that because I don’t feel it’s worth going into detail about what Jesse Owens did or who he was or/Sugar ray Leonard etc. etc. What I will say is this. It has been common knowledge for a long time now that the Front cover was changed because of the real cover model not showing. What you might not know is this. Others who I cant mention have indicated it was actually the rear cover that was changed due to its right wing content…..think about it! Either way that album was and always will be the best of all the Oi! Albums in the series. To me everything that came after carry on oi was a waist of money.
I and others were due to leave on coaches for Southall that were to leave from the Last resort in Goulston Street, East London. As it turned out around twenty of us didn’t because a couple of weeks before we had arranged to meet Skinheads from Ealing (West London) at Ealing. We had met the Ealing Skinheads at various 4 Skin gigs and got to know them and would travel to a pub that they used called the Victoria. I also knew a couple of the Green ford Skinheads who at the time were working at the same place I was in Old Street. One of these Skinheads was talking about the planned gig at the Hambourgh
Tavern in Southall one Monday morning at work. To come to the point the same Skinhead told me on the Wednesday of the same week that he wouldn’t be going because he had heard that the Southall youth Movement was going to try and disrupt the event. Talking with some Ealing Skinheads later that day it was confirmed that they had also heard the same.
This is a bit of information that to my knowledge has never been mentioned anywhere by anyone that has ever spoken or written about what happened on the night.
It turned out that we got held up in Ealing and arrived in Southall almost forty five minutes late. As we made our way to the Tavern it was obvious that what I had been told was quite true because of the huge amounts of Asians that were gathered and, armed.
We were a good thirty in numbers and just cut straight through these people without any sign of them even trying to have a go at us. As we came near to the tavern there was about ten Police already on duty outside. We got the usual bollox that they tended to give Skinheads back then but it did them no good because they were just ignored which I don’t think they liked all that much. Now, at this point I would like to point out that the media has established a myth which goes something like this.
They, the media claim that what sparked the riot was us. Skinheads came into the Southall area and were abusing Asian woman/daubing walls with Swastikas and racist slogans etc. This is complete and utter bollox. The real reason is this. Two months prior to the event a gang of Asians had been arrested and two had been beaten whilst in Police custody (something that was quite common back then). The end result of the tension that this event caused lead straight to the doors of the Hambourgh Tavern. The Asians were looking for an excuse to get back at the Police and despite three meetings with the elders of their community and the Southall youth movement to keep the peace it was going to go off. Claims that the British Movement and National Front were in the pub were complete rubbish. Claims that on one of the coaches that brought people from the Last Resort there was a National Front flag in the rear window are rubbish. Perhaps what people don’t know is that inside the pub there were Black Skinheads that had travelled from the Kilburn area.
It was these that were the first to be hurt as the windows came through and believe it or not it was these that were pulled to safety by white Skinheads. Any notion that this was a right wing motivated event is an untruth. Obviously there were right wing supporters in the pub as there was left wing. We all knew each other and it was an unwritten rule that on a 4 Skins bill you kept that at home. Who would want to tangle with Gary Hodges and those that he had with him? Only a fool that’s who.
Playing on the night were three bands…they were. The Last Resort. The Business. The 4 Skins.
It was those Black Skinheads that were hurt first and as ive said were pulled clear. I don’t know if they were in the bay window on purpose to wind the Asians up or what but if that was the case then it worked. One of their names was Lenox and he came from Ladbroke grove and as a side point was also injured at Acklam hall during another event that went tits up.
As the windows came through i would have to say that we were still not too worried inside the pub about what was going on outside because we thought the Police would move the Asians on. I have never worked out why they didn’t or, why it got so out of hand.We have to be honest here because the Police could have been heavy handed and forced the issue but obviously the event with the Asian gang had something to do with it. The only thing people were concerned about was the woman that were there…one of whom was pregnant and the younger ones. I’ll never know how everyone got out safe and sound but, we did. It certainly hasn’t got anything to do with the Police because they just lost it.
I was in a group of East end Skinheads which included Gary hitchcock/The 4 Skins and Lol Prior. Because we all knew each other we all stayed together and stayed in the pub until we were forced out by the fumes and smoke that at this point was pouring in through the smashed windows. The now legendary story about Lol prior trying to get the bands equipment out before it burned is quite true. He was beaten back by the flames and he was dragged out kicking and screaming.
Just a head of us as we came out of the pub were the bulk of the Skinheads that i presume Rob is talking about when he says they were escorted through the Asians.
There are many stories about that night that have been told since and some i smile about because i know that they are rubbish. One is when Hoxtom Tom the bassist with the 4 Skins was supposed to have knocked on the door of an Asian seeking help and was knocked over the head with a frying pan…funny but untrue. Another is that Gary Hitchcock jumped into the back of a Police van and wouldn’t come out. also untrue. These people were all in the same group together until we arrived back in East London safe and sound.

One thing that is true is this. As we left the pub and tried to charge at a group of Asians that had begun to fight toe to toe with the police that were trying to get away from the pub; they ,the Police screamed for us to help them which we did. With hindsight this was a mistake on both ours and the polices part because this just enraged the Asians even more. I mean, there we were with a solid line of police between us and the Asians and we were beating the living daylights out of ten or more Asians that had been caught as the police reinforced their lines. I suppose it must have looked or was seen by the press as a racist attack but……one of the black Skinheads was also having a go at the Asians…figure that out.
Rightly or wrongly but those Asians that were caught and hurt and, i do me they were hurt deserved it. What stuck with me as i sat and thought about it over the following days was the amount of camera flashes. What the f**k was all that about? how did anyone from the media arrive on the scene so soon? In the papers the following weekend these photos began to appear along with photos of burnt British movement and National front leaflets?
One word can describe these leaflets and I’ll leave you the reader to make up your own mind…the word is…PLANTED.
During a conversation with Gary Hodges he came up with the idea that the police had put those leaflets there the following morning as a ploy to avoid any questions raised about their complete incompetence over the tactics they used on the night. I’d say that is as true an explanation as I’ve heard. I don’t recall seeing any leaflets being handed out. The only leaflets i was given were for future Oi! events and one for a gig which was to take place in the pub two weeks later for a Rockabilly night with the band the Deltas.

The police gathered up the Skinheads that were left over from the pub and tried to force us to the Local British rail station and onto Paddington I believe.
Gary Hitchcock gave them a simple two word answer “fk Off”. The police couldn’t argue because they had other things to attend to. For some unknown reason we ended up in North Harrow When we arrived they MADE us all buy a ticket or they would arrest us. Anyway, whilst on the platform another group of Skinheads arrived who obviously had the same idea as us which was to somehow get back to Southall and have a go back. Among the group which was mainly Chelsea and the South London Skinheads was Chubby chris of Combat 84.By now we were a good forty in numbers and these were all the people that you wanted with you. Thinking on it these days it was quite a surreal situation because there on that tube train platform were two sets of people who probably hated each other more than any other group. The hatred all came down to East/South London and West ham/Chelsea. Funny though, because none of that was mentioned as the hate for the Asians was a lot greater. Well as it turned out we didn’t get back to Southall because we were being followed every step of the way by the Police who were at all the stations we went through. I would like to be telling you how we did make it back to Southall and, how we did take revenge on the Asians but if I’m honest its lucky we didn’t. Looking at it now im older there’s a good chance that i might not have lived if we made it back. It goes without saying that the amount of weapons we had gathered up and the mood we were in we would have killed or been killed. As it was many Asians throughout London fell foul to Skinhead attacks in the following weeks and during one of these attacks one Asian that got a little too mouthy was knifed to death. I don’t have a problem with that because not one Asian when asked by the media said that what happened in Southall was wrong. We are aware of the tightknit community these people have and we were aware at the time that they knew the truth that was hidden behind that riot so ,fk THEM. You could say that im a callous bastard but i was at Southall and was also there the night the Asian was killed. I don’t think it too relevant to go into detail about his death but he deserved what he got as did those that turned up on the night in question. What you have to remember is tensions were running high within the Asian community and, amongst Skinheads. Some of the younger Asians took what they read in the papers as truth. Lets just say that when a group of Asians turned up to gloat and gave it large to a group of Skinheads that were at Southall then they were inviting trouble… i said tensions were running high.

The story came out about the Asian gang and the beatings the police gave to two of them but by now people’s minds were closed. We all thought f**k it then…if this is what you think we are then that’s what we will be.

We eventually ended up at Harrow on the Hill where there was also a large number of Skinheads but by now the police had, had enough.
Everyone just drifted off onto the tube and went home.
Obviously we all knew it was on the cards that there would be a backlash but i don’t think that anyone realised it would be on the scale that it was. At the time it was as if the whole world and his sister had something to say about the oi! Movement and, everyone wanted to have their say. The papers were full of it each and every day for two solid weeks or more and no one wanted to touch an oi! Band or, even touch and oi! Event. Clubs and pubs that were due to host an event pulled out and gave some lame reason.
It really was a case of us and them at the time.
Skinheads were getting grief from every direction; even those Skinheads that were still at school were being threatened with being kicked out if they didn’t grow their hair. Those that were putting the records out were it seems fighting a losing battle with the music industry and the bands were being slaughtered by people that had been all ready to promote them just a few weeks before.
The right wing was claiming a victory over the left and in turn the left was claiming one over the right.
It was even spoke of in parliament…………………
None and, i do mean NONE of this dampened the spirits of those that were involved in the scene because all though at the time we didn’t realise it, this is what we all thrived on and lived for……Confrontation. That is what the whole meaning of oi! Was and should be about even today.
What an absolute victory the Carry on Oi! Album was and, what a sigh of relief was breathed on the streets. Out of all the Oi! Albums this one might not be the best but, it certainly was the most well received of them all. This album to us at the time represented two fingers firmly stuck up to the them……………………………..The establishment.
I would have to say that most if, not all didn’t like the cover notes because to us they went too far…..they were too apologetic. It was if the words wrote on the rear of that cover played straight into the hands of those that were trying to destroy the Oi! Movement. It felt like the establishment had said, either toe the line or, we WILL destroy you. This was too much for some of the more loyal within the Oi! Scene and so they left it. Gary Hodges and the 4 Skins came in for so much flak that it got too out of hand and caused too many arguments so he (Gary Hodges) did the natural thing and left the band. It goes without saying that he went out in a blaze of glory and this was all down to the track that was on the carry on Oi! Album…………….Evil, it says it all really.
Once Gary left the scene it began to fill with what can only be described as kiss arse apologists who played straight into the hands of both the right wing and, the left. It was these people that really brought politics into our movement with their bullste rantings. You only have to have a look at the so called Oi! Albums that came after Oi! Oi! that’s yer lot. Just have a look at the bands that were on these albums and also the cover notes………….Bollox to all that ste. With the exception of perhaps the new 4 Skins/Vicious rumours and of course the Business the following albums were rubbish.
It was the people that were behind the said albums that played straight into the hands of the right wing. You can try all you like to pull that statement apart but history will prove you wrong. By mid-1983 the door was well and truly closed on the whole Oi! Movement; it wasn’t a shadow of its former self and because of those that were now running it….Oi! was lost.
Everything was turned on its head by the middle class, suburban rebels that had taken it upon themselves to try and speak for the kids.
These people were on a collision course with a man that came onto the Skinhead scene kicking, growling and causing havoc. He met these people head on and; with his band he just took over and, blew away the cobwebs and told the establishment exactly what they could do and, where they could go. Oi! Was dead but, Ian Stuart had arrived and, in style.
The left put up a form of resistance but it was just too weak……..
Who honestly could take Chris Dean, Nick King or Martin Hewes of the Redskins seriously? Please, If anyone is in any doubts then think…..Jubilee gardens.
Probably the biggest pile of bullste that came out of those few years was that the Redskins were signed to Decca records which in my mind says it all. The Redskins were supposed to be what they the establishment wanted Skinheads to be like Bollox to that idea because there was no way that any self-respecting Skinhead would listen to three middle class drop out types that had nothing in common with us. These people openly supported the Socialist workers party anyway. Correct me if I’m wrong but the way i see it is like this; if you can’t have the right then you can’t have the left Oh! But of course these type of people don’t think like that do they….too much bullste floating around in their heads and not enough streetwise suss’. It’s at this point in the history of Skinheads that the so called S H A R P Skinheads began to pop up. Yes i don’t understand them either. The bit i can’t seem to get my head around is when they say they are non-political…..errrrr if you say so.
Now before i get accused of championing the right wing let’s just get something straight. In Ian Stuart those people that were beaten down by the media over Southall saw someone that again spoke for them. Those people would be the ones that came from the street., the real Skinheads/the real Herberts and the real football thugs. Not the Sussed Skins as they were known as at the time or the loony left wing lets ban everything and support everything that just isn’t worthwhile, types.
We are all aware of where Skrewdriver went and what they did and that’s not relevant so, it won’t be spoken of. By the time Skrewdriver had announced their true intentions most if not all of the original Oi! scene had moved onto either; Football hooliganism and the casual way of life or were too busy earning a crust to give a fk. As the 80’s wore on under a Thatcher government people began to think in a different way to a few years before i mean…like her or hate her she gave us money/jobs and a meaning. The spirit of Oi! Was about changing the way we were living and getting ourselves out of poverty. She gave us that and, we took it. We are all aware of the miners’ strike but we didn’t give a toss about that because it was a case of “were all right jack”. It takes me back to the point i made about being tribal so nuff said. In any case a lot of the Skinheads that i grew up with watched our Dads being made unemployed as they the establishment closed down the docks in the East end of London…the same applied for the hated ones that lived over the river in South London. We had experienced it…..i don’t recall any miners standing alongside my Dad on picket duty in the 70’s.His favourite saying to me as i grew up was “Boy, the dosh is out there so grab it with both hands and never let go…fk everyone else” too bloody true. Now if that aint Oi! then i don’t know what is.

Oi! Can never be as it once was because of the way we live today but that doesn’t mean the bands that have emerged and in some cases re-emerged cant still play good old fashioned Oi! The way it should be played.
There are allot of bands that call themselves Oi! but as far as I’m concerned the only two that are worth a mention are…Argy bargee and Section 5.These two have the spirit of the old bands. The rest are too busy with politics which was not what we were about.
It’s good to see younger people getting involved in the newer scene and enjoying the music of the older one.
The future
Who knows, let’s just take it as it comes and try to enjoy it while it’s here. It could soon be gone.

And lastly, It would not be right to end this article without naming the bands and recordings that made it all worthwhile.
The Bands……
1.The 4 Skins (Gary Hodges line up)
2.The East end badoes.
3.The Cockney rejects.
4.The Business.
5.Vicious Rumours.
7.Cock sparrer.
8.The Gonads.
9.The Ejected.
10.The Last Resort.

The Records……
1.One law For Them.(The 4 Skins)
2.1984.(The 4 Skins)
3.Class of 82. (The Ejected)
4.England belongs to me.(Cock Sparrer)
5.We can do anything.(The Cockney Rejects)
6.Working class kids.(The Last Resort)
7.Work or riot.(The Business)
8.The Way its got to be.(East end badoes)
9.Vicious Rumours.(Vicious Rumours)
10.Fighting in the streets.(The Cockney Rejects)

As i said at the start, this article is not meant to upset or insult any band/bands/person or persons. If it has then…toughen yourselves up and get a life you mugs.

The Final words come from Max Splodge when asked for his opinion on the riot and i quote…
“I think it was a conspiracy between Esso and Unigate”.
Follow that.
Cockney Express ( Terry London

Jinkys Account
So much rubbish has been wrote about what really happened and I’m not sure I have ever read anywhere either in a book or on the internet anything by people that were there.
Well that summer was a scorcher as those that remember will tell you and tempers were running high among a lot of people on the streets hence all the riots.
I had been to the Hambourgh Tavern before the night of the riot but that was a Rockabilly gig. In fact I had been there a month before. Whilst on our way we got no end of grief off the local Asians but just pushed through them to the pub. I had gone the month before with two Rockabillys and another Skinhead and it was us the Skinheads we thought they were targeting but as we found out inside everyone had been given grief so we just assumed it was because we were White. Now some people have said that the Skinheads going to Southall was provocative but what a load of old tosh because explain the grief the Rockabillys got or the grief that the Soul boys got when they went there. We were told by someone that worked the bar that everyone that came into that pub on gig nights was greeted with the same hostile reception from the Asians and hey ho…they were ALL White so go and figure that one out.

What Tel says about the geezer from Greenford is quite true.. Tel his name was Greg Page in case you had forgot mate. I knew Greg through the Ealing Skinheads. Jason Harrison (Arty), Tony Jarvis (Samson) and the others; you should remember them Tel.
So Greg tells us about the gig but a few days later he explains about the Southall youth Movement and what they had threatened to do if it went ahead. As a point on the side I think that if the Police had called the gig off they would have still gone on the rampage because I don’t think to this day that it was us that they really wanted to have a row with…it was the Police and the reasons have already been pointed out. Also, why didn’t the Police stop the gig because they MUST have known all the things that we knew. Maybe they wanted to use this as a way of avoiding a full on riot by the Asians against them and its far easier to blame us the Skinheads than have questions asked about them… there’s a thought for you to mull over.
Right, I got one of the coaches that left from the last resort along with a few other pals from the East end, yeah it’s true that there was a Union jack in the back window of one of the coaches and why not?, And so what?
Those that I’d gone with had already had a right good drink up and were still at it on the coach. On the journey we gave all the usual waner signs to everyone and that included the filth; Funny coz id have thought they would have stopped the coach and wiped us off but no? maybe im reading something into this that isn’t there but how about this for an explanation…the old bill knew where we were going and they knew what was going to happen and that’s why they waved us on ,sit you never know.
Right, we arrive at the Hambourgh tavern in good time but you couldn’t help but notice that the little journey that we had to take from the coaches to the pub was not pleasant at all. The Asians that were gathered were making cutting gestures across their throats to us and giving the wan*er sign but I don’t think any of us realized that this was any more than a few locals giving it large. We understood what they thought we were i.e. Nazis and so we swallowed it. Some returned the gestures but can you believe that those old bill that were with us threatened us with arrest and started to get heavy handed. At the time I didn’t think on it but now I reckon that is was all for the Asians benefit but it did them no good because those that were being shoved about shoved back.
Inside the pub now. I won’t talk about what happened there because Tel/Rob and Rob have spoken about that.
I want to talk about what happened as we came out. Tel talks about the group he was with being the last ones out and by rights that should have been me as well but because of where I was in the pub I had to leave because I couldn’t breathe. Correct me if I’m wrong but those bay windows had large curtains hanging from them and they caught on fire and gave off smoke. It had gone from enjoying ourselves and told by Hoxton to keep calm to sudden chaos and blind panic. I thought I was going to be burned alive and I’m not afraid to admit it. As I say I was forced out of the place and was shoved towards two rows of Police and bundled forward still coughing my guts up.
I managed to find two pals that I had gone with and we mobbed up with all the other Skinheads some one hundred feet from the pub. It was at this time that the last lot came out of the pub and got straight into some Asians that had come across to where a few Police had got in front of a small wall. To me it looked like these Skinheads were trying to make a stand and this caused some of those that I was with to try and get back but it was all done in a few minutes and we were bundled away. It was just as we were being told that we would be taken to the local BR that a huge bang went off then a flash that lit the place up; the Asians were all cheering and I have since found out that it was the Police car that was rammed towards the pub.
There was no way I was going to get on a train and go to Paddington or wherever it was because my only interest was getting back home to East London and the same went for the seven or so I was now with. We managed to escape from the police escort and walked what seemed like miles through all these back streets. Along that way we just kept bumping into one mob of Asians after another and they wanted it and they got it. I hope this doesn’t sound like we were some kind of super heroes because trust me I was shitting myself and I don’t give a toss about admitting it either but we had to fight our way through a good fifty plus Asians in little gangs for about fifty In one of those little rows we had we came across ten or so Asians that I think wanted to kill us. As we turned a corner they were coming the other way and it went straight off but we managed to get the better of them and get them on their toes. It was as we were leaving them behind that another lot came out of an alleyway and I was hit over the head with a bottle. I tell you I went down like a ton of bricks but those that were with me stopped the Asians from putting the boot in and fought the cunt’s off me. These Asians also ran off but the talk was that a huge mob will come back our way so we had better get off ourselves. I honestly can’t remember too much about getting home because I was dizzy and seeing double. One thing I can remember is the looks I was getting from people on the bus we had jumped on and this was down to the claret coming out of my head. None of us knew where we were or where the bus was going but as long as it was heading away from that pub I don’t think any of us really care. As it turned out we ended up in a place called Eastcote where we got a tube train all the way home. Now that was luxury I can tell you.
By the time we got back it was all over the TV and radio and guess who got the blame?
The following day after getting along to the hospital to be stitched up from cuts I bought the papers and they were full of it and I still can’t understand to this day what the press thought they were doing. They made out that Skinheads had gone to Southall looking for trouble and got turned over by the locals. One report said that a Swastika had been sprayed on a window. If that is true I can’t see why the riot happened. The press basically said that the Asians gave us a good hiding because some of us gave them some verbal….the press were gloating over it instead of condemning it which they should have. It seems that the press were saying that two wrongs do make a right so if that was the case then why did all the revenge attacks that took place across London get bad press?
No, something was most defiantly dodgy about that night and I think that somewhere in a Government vault is a paper with the names of the ringleaders from the Southall youth Movement and the names of the Police that let it all happen to protect themselves.
My account (very boring one)
My Memories of that night – said in short quick version.
We had been drinking in the Hambrough for a few weeks before the gig It was just inside Southall on the border of Hayes. Obviously, it was mainly skins from Hayes and Southall and local areas pre the riot night and there hadn’t been much trouble every time I had gone there. I had gone there as usual but was looking forward to the gig. It was slow to start but the atmosphere was great inside. I was getting hot so went outside for some air and saw groups of Asians gathering. Suddenly Peter Soda a black guy that had gone to the same school had spotted me and came rushing over to me. He asked me why i had come tonight and that i shouldn’t have come with my skinhead as it was going to be kicking off in a few minutes and he said “loads of them have got petrol bombs ready”. He grabbed my hand and told me to go with him. (By the way I forgot to mention he was a friend) He walked me through the gathering groups to the other end of Southall – the wrong end!!! He left me near a copper close to the police station and said i should be far enough away to be safe. The Petrol bombs started going off and i saw the smoke from a couple of cars that had been set alight and could hear screaming and shouting. Loads more police shot out of the Station and towards the trouble. The copper i was standing with shot off so i dashed right into the front of the station. Some police were coming back bleeding as the Asians were attacking them too. It was getting dodgy near the station too so a copper told me to get in his car and drove me to another part of southall down the backstreets that could connect up to Yeading. He left me there then drove off, I started walking and not long afterwards I heard my name being shouted. It was my mum who had driven round the back way with the minibus from the children’s home and she was picking up some stray skinheads she found and was dropping them over to Hayes via Yeading. There were both black and white skins in the pub that night and my mate who was Black had gone with me. She had got out and got back to Hayes and had told my mum she didn’t know where I was, my mum then came out looking for me.
My mate Peter told me that the Asians had gone prepared with the petrol bombs. It was a load of crap that the skins had gone there for trouble but the next day on the news it was saying we started it all and were provoking the Asians but the rioting carried on with Asians attacking the police even after all the skins had left.

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Adam and the Ants

November 1980 Adam and the Ants ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’
Tour programme – interview and reviews – Animals and Men – Human League
The Cure – The Passions – The Scars – Another Pretty Face

 Adam and the Ants: Kings of the Wild Frontier

Vague is growing a deserved reputation as one of the best about; in fact could prove the eventual successor to Ripped & Torn… It’s got that hard punk attitude, lots of colour… and plenty of spirit. Suffered even more than Panache from being an Antperson to the extent that it sold 4,000 copies of an Ants special on their last tour, and then spent the whole of the next issue slagging them off. Good value as much as anything though. It’s frequently scruffy, badly printed and incomplete, but must be the most regular fast-growing fanzine about.’ Tony Fletcher Jamming

 November 9-December 15 1980 Welcome to Vague 7, which is really Vague 5 made into an Antzine (with the z the wrong way round on the cover) for the November tour after the great demand for the original. Terrible capitalists aren’t we? I bet Mark P is turning in his grave… Issue 7 was the Adam and the Ants ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ tour programme, consisting of the Adam interview from issue 5, Animals and Men from Vague 4, some other Ants related stuff, the Cure, the Passions and Human League again, and a different colour cover. Here also is stuff from the Ants retrospective in Vague 12, reviews and reports from Channel 4 fanzine and the earlier Vagues, and the Frontier tour report from Vague 8; rehashed from the cobbled together version I tried to get published as an Ants book in the early 80s. The nearest I got to a deal was one publisher who said he might be interested if I re-wrote it as a girl.

Never Trust a Man with Egg on his Face

Pete Scott, in Vague 12 on the original Ants experience: When I first saw Adam and the Ants I felt as if I’d walked straight into one of those weird paintings where watch faces hang limply over tree limbs. The Ants were like nothing I’d ever experienced before – 4 figments of make-believe carefully superimposed on a real setting. Both musically and visually, they were quite unique. Their songs were not just your ordinary, run of the mill rock�n’roll clap-trap – by turns they were gross, violent and beautiful. Maybe best of all, they were also very funny. If you’re a regular Vague reader, then you don’t need me to tell you how good the Ants were back then. Nevertheless they had their faults. In the last issue of Vague, Tom pointed out that ‘their ideology was always a bit dodgy,’ and in retrospect I’m inclined to agree. As you may have already guessed by now, this is yet another bitter, disillusioned article on Adam’s rise to fame and fortune, written by yet another bitter, disillusioned former fan.

I don’t want to waste a lot of time and energy explaining why Adam’s vintage (pre-‘Dirk Wears White Sox’) material was superior to his current output. But with ‘Deutscher Girls’ currently riding high in the charts, and Do It’s new ‘Antmusic’ EP looking all set to follow it, this seems like a good time to look back over Adam’s career and discuss certain aspects of it. This article may well represent my last word on the subject of Adam and the Ants, so pay attention. In the early days, the Ants’ career was marked by instability; line-up changes were frequent. Things were made worse by the fact that Adam had a tendency to base his songs around controversial subject matter. The Ants’ repertoire included titles like ‘Bathroom Function’, ‘Beat My Guest’, ‘Il Duce’ and ‘Whip in my Valise’. As a result, the press soon came to hate the band, and Adam was subject to some pretty nasty critical abuse.

Adam defended his use of taboo subject matter by likening himself to Mel Brooks, the director responsible for such films as The Producers (with its controversial ‘Springtime for Hitler’ sequence) and Blazing Saddles. At the time, the comparison with Brooks seemed reasonable and I went along with it, remarking that Brooks’ work, like Adam’s, has undoubtedly offended a lot of people. Nowadays, when I look back over the lyrics to songs like ‘Juanito the Bandito’, ‘Cleopatra’ and ‘Day I Met God’, I find it hard to understand what I ever saw in them. They seem cheap and nasty somehow, almost like the kind of thing a naughty schoolboy might write to amuse his friends during a rainy dinner hour. Then there was Adam’s admiring references to Nazi concentration camp officer Ilse Koch, his Cambridge rapist mask and his constant use of sexist imagery in the Ants graphics.

I don’t want to convey the impression that I now hate all the old stuff. Despite a few reservations, I still love most of it. I love songs like ‘Nietzsche Baby’, ‘Ligotage’, ‘Hampstead’ (the original Oi song), ‘Redscab’ and ‘Boil in the Bag Man’. I love them, and I wish Adam would honour all the promises he’s made to release them. ‘Deutscher Girls’/‘Plastic Surgery’ lacks impact – the production on both tracks is terrible. So all we’re left with is ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ and ‘Antmusic’. ‘Dirk’ is an intriguing album – punk rock’s book of grotesques. It explores the dark side of modern pop music with humour and perception. A few of the tracks, ‘Digital Tenderness’ and ‘The Idea’, fall pretty flat, and even the good ones are spoilt by an inexcusably weak production job. But on the whole, ‘Dirk’ remains an offbeat, imaginative LP with much to recommend it. The version of ‘Cartrouble’ on the ‘Antmusic’ EP is superior to the one on ‘Dirk’ – louder, heavier and more exciting. The version of ‘Physical’ is less sluggish and ponderous. It’s also a good illustration of what the phrase ‘Antmusic for Sex-people’ used to mean. ‘Kick’ is a real blast from the past – a scathing outburst of undiluted noise. ‘The Pure Sound’. Screaming guitars, pounding drums – the works.’ Do-It’s ‘Zerox’ was the first great Antsingle and ‘Antmusic’ looks like being the last.

Adam and the Ants speed pop history – The New New Super Heavy Punk Funk: 1975 Adam Ant started out as Stuart Goddard in Bazooka Joe, who were supported by the Sex Pistols at St Martin’s College of Art. 1976 Adam formed the B-Sides with the bassist Andy Warren, Lester Square and Bid who went on to the Monochrome Set, and Max who ended up in Psychic TV. 1977 ‘The first time I saw Adam Ant he had just had ‘Fuck’ carved into his back by Jordan with a razor blade and World’s End was stained with his blood…’ Adam and the Ants formed at the Roxy during a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig. Their debut at the ICA was cut short after ‘Beat My Guest’, which Adam performed in a ‘Cambridge rapist’ leather mask. Then they played with X-Ray Spex at the Man in the Moon pub on King’s Road, the original Sex shop Jordan became their manager and Dave Barbe succeeded Paul Flanagan as the drummer. They also appeared in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee film and at the opening night of the Vortex punk club. The guitarists were Lester Square, then Mark Ryan ‘The Kid’, Johnny Bivouac, and (from ’78 to ’80) Matthew Ashman.

Sanctuary in Salisbury

September 22 1978 Adam and the Ants, the Glaxo Babies and the Screens at Salisbury Tech College – where I had just started a building studies course – on the Friday of the first week of term. The first time I saw Adam and the Ants was a riot – literally, the first Salisbury anti-punk bikers’ riot. I recalled the gig in the Ants retrospective in Vague 12: Christine was off being a young Parisian, much to her annoyance (she was even more obsessed with them than me), so I was driving and like a good citizen I only had one drink then went into the hall to see the support bands, the Screens and Glaxo Babies. Salisbury had never seen anything like it. I was used to having exams in the hall, but there we were waiting to see Adam and the Ants; students dressed up punky for the night, everybody from Southampton and Bournemouth, a large contingent from London – some of whom boasted of seeing the Ants 40 times already; most of the London lot looked really young and they had their own style, consisting of cardigans, Ants or Seditionaries T-shirts, studded belts, bondage trousers and kung fu slippers – and there were rather a lot of bikers.

At the time nobody knew what was going on, even when it was actually going on, but I later pieced together roughly what happened. Some bikers went into the Star, which was full of punks including the London contingent, generally taking the piss, and one of them came off worse in an incident involving Duncan, the drummer of Martian Dance (and later Chiefs of Relief). However, there was a United Bikers rally on and after a few phone calls bikers started infiltrating the gig at the college. When there were sufficient numbers amassed, they began picking punks at random and dragging them out to the foyer for a kicking. Martin Butler (who helped organise the gig) heard about the trouble in the students’ union office and went down to try and calm things down. He was saved from a kicking by the Ants roadie Robbo from Liverpool who dragged him into the hall. Then a biker girl was (at least said to have been) stabbed in the toilets and all hell broke loose.

In the hall things were still relatively calm, although there was a generally uneasy atmosphere and the word soon got round. The weekend swinger student punks (Salisbury was the only place the Ants ever played their ‘Weekend Swingers’ track) started frantically flattening their hair and wiping off their make-up. I missed out on most of this because, for once, I was more interested in what was happening on stage. The converted were apprehensively paying homage, everybody else had either gone home or were outside being beaten up, apart from me and mate Howler. The Ants provided a suitably stunning tight and intense soundtrack, starting with ‘Plastic Surgery’, everyone who stayed was bonded together as they did a defiantly long set featuring: ‘Bathroom Function’, ‘Il Duce’, ‘You’re So Physical’, ‘Weekend Swingers’, ‘Song for Ruth Ellis’, ‘Cleopatra’, ‘B-side Baby’, ‘Friends’, ‘Never Trust a Man (with Egg on his Face)’, ‘Catholic Day’, ‘Deutscher Girls’, ‘Lady’, ‘Puerto Rican’, ‘Fall In’ and ‘It Doesn’t Matter’.

You just couldn’t leave till the end and it was just as well we didn’t, as anyone who left early was being picked off one by one outside. I still only just got out in one piece as a bouncer stopped me walking right into the middle of a gang of chain wielding hairies. During a lull in the fighting, Howler and me eventually sneaked out and made it to my Mini unscathed. I was one of the few lucky ones, everyone I’ve met who was at the gig got beaten up to varying degrees, apart from the Scouse rockabilly Ants roadie Boxhead, who talked his way out of it – saying he was a rocker and having a quiff to prove it, Terry Watley who recalled fighting back with a money bag, and Rob Chapman, the singer of Glaxo Babies (who went on to ‘Christine Keeler’ and ‘Who Killed Bruce Lee?’ fame), now of Mojo magazine; he recently told me he doesn’t remember the biker aggro as they left early.

Later on came Adam and the Ants, 2 guitars, drums and Adam. They start with ‘Plastic Surgery’ and are met with a mixed reaction. They all look great and immediately create an atmosphere. The Salisbury people are obviously not used to good music and some leave after feeling alien to something disturbingly real. Adam Ant looked like a human gargoyle and sings with a clear-cut very sexual voice. Most of the songs are based around the bass lines and are Stooges/Velvet Underground influenced. I feel that there is a barrier between the group and the audience which is the fault of both parties, although is probably intentional by the Ants.

November 1978 The Ant Manifesto by Adam Ant: We are 4 in number; we call our music Antmusic; we perform and work for a future age, we are optimists and in being so we reject the ‘blank generation’ ideal; we acknowledge the fanzine as the only legitimate form of journalism, and consider the ‘established’ press to be little more than talent less clones, guilty of extreme cerebral laziness; we believe that a writer has the right to draw upon any source material, however offensive or distasteful it might seem, in pursuance of his work; we are in tune with nothing; we have no interest in politics; we identify with no movement or sect other than our own; there are no boxes for us or our music, we are interested in Sexmusic, entertainment, action and excitement, and anything young and new; we abhor the hippy concept and all the things that surround the rock’n’roll scene; we admire the true individual; and above all the destruction of the social and sexual taboo; finito muchachos.’

Young Parisians in Wales

January/February 1979 The ‘Parisians’ tour: January 21 The Ants and the Lurkers at the Electric Ballroom. January 31 The Ants at Newport Stowaways – Young Parisians in Wales: In the ‘winter of discontent’, at the time of the fall of the Shah of Iran and Cambodia to the Vietnamese – In Wales at Newport Stowaways club on the ‘Parisians’ tour we got mixed up in some Cardiff v Newport aggro, after Tim Aylet bravely but unwisely went to the assistance of a kid getting a kicking on the floor, and chucked out by the bouncers before the Ants came on: We’re standing on the dance floor patiently waiting for the Ants to come on, when we notice that the kids dancing keep rushing up to the front and attacking these other kids. Like true heroes (ie. fucking idiots), we stick up for them and consequently get mixed up some local Cardiff-Newport feud.

I remember Tim getting a kicking on the floor. I grab his assailant and explain to him that Tim is alright. He seems to understand so I let him go, whereupon he headbutts me and his mates push me out of the way. Simultaneously, Martin is getting similar treatment while Taz is trying to get Chris out from underneath a table, and Akbar and Rodent are hiding somewhere else. I explain what’s happening to a bouncer, who says, “I’ll teach you to start to trouble,” and lays into me as well. Then he throws me out, along with what I presume to be the Cardiff lot who started the trouble. I recall hiding under some steps round the back when Martin opens the fire exit and calls me over. I’m just about through the door when the bouncer reappears and throws both of us down the steps. At one point we think we hear a shot being fired. Then the police arrive. Martin and I explain about the bouncers beating everybody up. They say they’ll do something about it, then come back after a while and beat us up as well.

The first gig anywhere near us was at, you guessed it, Newport Stowaways… In the Mini I told Chris, that if anything should happen to me, get me back across the Severn Bridge before I die. On arrival it’s very quiet, too quiet, we’re not sure if the gig’s still on. I’m quite prepared to go straight back home but this Ants fan Tarrack tells us it’s still on as far as he knows. The doors eventually open but we’re the first in and we discover the support band Protex had pulled out of the tour, so there would be no support at all and another long wait. We sit in the least conspicuous place and just grin and bear it… Then suddenly this fucking enormous great bloke with about 10 others, all dressed in black leather and studded belts, come in and head for our table. The big bloke sits down at our table and says, “Hello, haven’t I seen you at Ants gigs before?” I say, “Yeah, I expect so. You were at Salisbury weren’t you?” “Yeah! Salisbury. The bikers!” “Yeah, that’s where we come from.”

It soon transpires that the big bloke knows Russ, Christine’s boyfriend, a London punk who had ended up in Bournemouth/Ringwood. The big bloke was none other than Big Pete Vague. The others were Duncan, Howard, Mark from Newcastle, Ferguson… These soldier Ants were going round the bar getting to know everybody there. Later we discovered that you don’t do this just to be friendly but sometimes it’s the only way to find somewhere to stay the night. However, the mostly London lot create a slightly better atmosphere than last time… It’s lucky that we met somebody to talk to because it seemed like hours before the new Gary Glitter and ‘Missa Luba’ intro was played. The ‘Missa Luba’ track ‘Sanctus’ Ants intro is from the Lindsay Anderson film If… (see Vague 16). On the Zerox tour the Ants dropped most of their old stuff and played material that would become the ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ album.

The best explanations of the Ants phenomena were by Pete Scott. In his review of the ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’ album in Vague 8 he wrote: At one time being a fan of the Ants was like belonging to a very exclusive club or street gang. Adam was fond of describing his following as ‘clandestine’, a very appropriate word. Tony D, writing in Kill Your Pet Puppy, defined it as an ‘all powerful force’. It was a highly individual combination of energy, inspiration and commitment. In fact, it was unique. Consequently, the Ants were always separate and distinct from the common herd. They didn’t play pop, rock or punk music, they played Antmusic… August 1 The Ants at Plymouth Woods. August 5 The Ants, the Monochrome Set and Angelic Upstarts at the Lyceum. After which ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ was recorded.

To tell you the truth I didn’t take a lot of notice of the first 3 bands – I was too busy ligging with such notables as Seditionaries shop assistants, Ants roadies and a bunch of Taffies who beat us up at the Newport gig. The Distractions were a non-event. A Certain Ratio were alright but a bit too cosmic. Classix Nouveaux, so I heard, are made up of the remnants of X-Ray Spex. Their bald-headed lead singer had a good stage presence and they were not too reminiscent of their predecessors. I’m sorry about the sketchy review of the support bands but the main object of the expedition was to see the Ants. So here goes; this will be the first good review of them you will have read (as in favourable rather than well-written). Actually the Ants were not their usual selves – a rift was appearing between Andy and Matthew, the guitarists, and Adam. Since then we have heard from Pete that the aforementioned (Andy Warren) has quit the band, but Adam has supposedly got something really good sussed out.

November 1979 Adam and the Ants ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ album was released. After going to London to buy copies (at Rough Trade?) with Christine, we reviewed it in Vague 2: Well, this is it, at last the Ants have gone on to vinyl in album form and quite frankly it’s not too much of a disappointment, in fact it’s quite good. This album has been in the pipeline for over a year now and to live up to expectations it had to be pretty sensational. Like the singles it fails to capture the essence of an Ants gig. The main thing that is missing is the strong bass line. This enables the vocals to come across clearer which is good in a way. However, I can’t help thinking that anybody who hears this album and hasn’t seen the Ants is just going to dismiss it as arty crap. There is a good selection of tracks here but I don’t think the album is very well produced at all. It certainly doesn’t do the Ants justice. They are essentially a live band though.

Malcolm McLaren relaunched Dave Barbe, Matthew Ashman and Leigh Gorman (Andy Warren’s replacement) with Annabella Lwin as Bow-wow-wow. Adam teamed up with the guitarist Marco Pirroni formerly of Rema Rema, the Models, Siouxsie and the Banshees at the 100 Club with Sid Vicious, the Infants and Beastly Cads. March The new Adam and the Ants’ re-working of ‘Cartrouble’/‘Kick’ was released and then the Ants left the Do It label. April 27 Adam Ant: ‘Dear Tom and Vague fanzine, have just read your rather distressing letter of February 18 1980. I must apologise for the lack of response from the Bivouac, but I have had to move it and get a new secretary to take care of it all and no letters have been given to me for about 4 months. I would be grateful if you would send any questions you want to ask to the new Bivouac secretary at: Wanda, Cathedral House, 1 Cathedral Street, London SE1. My regrets once more, muchos regardos, Adam Ant. Antmusic for Sexpeople.’

May ‘Adam and the Ants: Dear Tom at Vague, thanx a lot for a most exciting and well put together fanzine (Vague 4). Hope to meet up and interview the new Ants on the forthcoming tour. Enclose dates for you. Please excuse lack of time. Am very busy, muchos regardos, Adam Ant.’ May/June The Ants Invasion tour 1980: May 22 The ‘Invasion’ tour began at the Electric Ballroom and The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle: Forsaking my college exams, I hitched to London; to take some Vagues round to Rough Trade, go to see The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle on Oxford Street, and get to Camden Town tube station with a few hours to kill before the gig starts. I make a few hopeless attempts to get in to do an interview/avoid paying… get something to eat, then join the queue being viciously surveyed by gangs of prowling skinheads (which is a bit of an exaggeration but not much). Things start to look up when I meet Abro from Manchester and we eventually get into the Ballroom. Once inside I head for the bar… Everybody’s there, except Withie who’s supposed to be giving me a lift back…

First band on is Johnny Bivouac’s Lastarza… they’re fresh and entertaining but apart from that all you can say is they’re like the Ants. Then Duncan’s band Martian Dance have their moment in the limelight… All the band are old Ants fans and this obviously influences them a lot. But if you’ve got to compare them with anybody they’re more like the Psychedelic Furs. Lead singer Jerry overcomes his nerves but not his Andy Warren haircut as their act progresses and the place fills with expectant Antpeople… Returning from a jaunt to the bar, a tape of ‘Press Darlings’ can be heard coming from the Ballroom. We squeeze our way in, Pete disappears into the crowd, me and Kilburn Chris stay near the back… They start with ‘Physical’ and it’s nothing like new year’s eve, it’s new, more exciting… This gig is of course the debut of the new Ants… The sound of the 2 drummers is fantastic… Marco Pirroni is shit hot – if a bit large… The next number is the first from the Ant/Pirroni writing partnership, ‘Kings of the Wild Frontier’. Its thudding tribal beat sends the crowd into real action, although it’s the first time it’s ever been played live…

May 23 The High Wycombe Ants anti-skinhead riot – the Do Long bridge of the Antapocalypse Now: At High Wycombe Town Hall on the ‘Ants Invasion’ tour, the London Ants lot gave the local skins a kicking/chairing and we narrowly caught the last train before a skinhead reprisal attack: After the Electric Ballroom, Pete put up Abro and me at his Kilburn towerblock and we got a lift to the next gig at High Wycombe off the Ants lighting engineer Malcolm Mellows… A lot of the talk on the way is about rumours that the Wycombe skins are going to try to have the London Ants lot. By the time we get there I’m a little apprehensive. We wander around High Wycombe and it seems cool enough. At about 6 we go into this Rastas’ pub. Everybody else thought it was great but I thought it was really heavy. By then I was a nervous wreck, convinced that I wasn’t going to get out of this one in one piece, and I was nearly right.

Once in the gig things start to look up again. The bar’s crawling with soldier Ants from all over the country and there’s hardly a skin in sight. Martian Dance, who are apparently doing the whole tour, do another great supporting set. They are really growing on me. There’s a bit of a ruck upstairs in the bar but Pete sorts it out… The hall is about half full, there’s a funny atmosphere but no outstanding trouble spots. ‘Kings’ really gets everybody going (well, almost everybody). Then it’s virtually the same set; ‘Press Darlings’, ‘Ants Invasion’, ‘Cartrouble’… The Antpeople go mad and a few times I thought a scrap had started. Then there’s a bit of a scuffle and a few sieg heils from the right side of the hall. Adam says, “We’re not interested in the past, only the future and Antpeople!” Then Kevin Mooney joins in and stirs up chants of “Ants! Ants! Ants!” There’s some more verbal exchanges and then the Ants try to ‘calm things down’ by doing ‘Beat My Guest’.

To give the skins their due, there was only about 20 of them but they still had a go. Suddenly there was a hail of chairs from their side of the hall. In response the whole floor clears and a few hundred Ants fans proceed to kick shit out of the offending boneheads. Some of them managed to escape into the foyer, but when the bouncers saw there was trouble they locked the front doors… At one time I thought it was dropping to their level, but we all went to see the Ants, the skinheads as usual tried to spoil it, but this time they were out of their league…Meanwhile, the Ants rise to the occasion, applauding their fans and playing an extra long set. A lot of people leave early to avoid a skinhead backlash but I stay to the end so as not to miss ‘Plastic Surgery’ – putting myself in danger of needing some. Then Emu and me make our way to the station. Pete, Abro and Malcolm were going on to Manchester.

Paranoia really starts to set in as I thought the obvious thing for the skins to do would be to get all their mates and wait for us at the station. But we get there without incident and it’s deserted. A guard tells us to go on through because our last train is about to go and we have to run across the lines to get to it. The train’s packed with Ants fans but suddenly the engine stops. Everyone is looking out the windows back at the platform where some skinheads have appeared (or someone said they thought they saw some?). “Move this fucking train!” Someone pleads. And as if by magic the engine starts up and we’re wafted away from the Wycombe skins. The atmosphere on the train was as exhilarating as at the gig, like a battle had been won, rather similar to how I used to feel coming back from football (but of course I’m above all that now). It was a free trip as well, as we all rushed the gates at Marylebone…

May 27 1980 Highlights of the Vague Adam and the Ants interview by Tom and Chris at the Bournemouth Roundhouse Hotel on the ‘Invasion’ tour, published in Vague 5, 7 (in its entirety) and 25. The new Ants, Marco Pirroni, the bassist Kevin Mooney, and the drummers Chris Hughes (aka Terry and Merrick) and Terry Lee Maill (from the Models), were also present most of the time.

Adam: “This tour is unique in that the theme is clandestine. There is no record company backing what so ever. We’re not signed to a record company. There has been no notification to anybody other than street posters and 350 handbills I sent out personally to members of the fan club, and a handbill we had pressed up for the Electric Ballroom… The thing is that every gig we’ve done has been a success, from the point of view that the spirit of the gig has been identical. One of a real good time and kids looking bright faced and excited. They’re not looking that way because they’ve been told by the rock press that it’s hip to be there, they’ve come there because they’ve taken the trouble to find out in some way or another. It’s a great feeling because 200 of them is worth 1,000 of other audiences. This tour is done by local promoters, we didn’t want to play toilets. We’ve been playing toilets for 3 years, toilets stink, they’re shitholes. We won’t change in toilets anymore because, for 2 reasons; one, I don’t like living like a sub-human; two, it’s a shitty awful show, you can’t put on an exciting show, no light show in clubs, and also the bulk of the thugs in this country tend to get their kicks in clubs and it’s heavy and I don’t like it.”

Chris Hughes on the 2 drummers set-up: “It came about when Adam was getting his new group together and in the transition period Adam was involved in recording the rework of ‘Cartrouble’. We went down to a studio in Wales and we talked about Adam’s ideas, having a tribal influence in music. He’s heavily into Burundi and I had some Burundi tapes. We discussed the approach the drums should have and did ‘Cartrouble’, which is a question of arriving at the right formula on the drums.” Tom: “Nothing to do with Gary Glitter?” Chris Hughes: “No, if you listen to Mike Leander’s production it doesn’t actually sound like two kits that much. But drums-wise, Adam and Marco came over and we did some demos. Then it was a question of finding two drummers, Marco knew Terry because he’d been in groups with him and we all got together in London. It was just one kit originally, I wasn’t going to play, I was just producing.”

Adam: “It’s been the hardest period in my career, overnight they split and consequently I couldn’t get out there and play to the kids. The Electric Ballroom was a triumph for us. I was faced with a large amount of bills to pay off, then I just went round to Marco’s house because I’ve always liked his sound. And I said I want to collaborate with you; not just having you playing guitar but I want to write with you. I thought the time had come to collaborate with another sound and another mind. We got together and started to write stuff. Any old numbers that are in the set are purely because Marco said they’re alright, we can do something with them. They are radically different. We were looking for a new approach to it, with two drummers it has to be different, I mean ‘Beat My Guest’, now it kills, ‘Fat Fun’ is lethal. And songs like ‘Press Darlings’, it’s very ironic but record companies are very interested in it as a single. They find it commercial, purely because these guys are playing. It’s never been played before, it’s the difference between the men and the boys… it’s a totally different world, I don’t want to get into a bitching match about the old band, I wish them all the best. That’s history to me, but the two records we’ve made since prove it. I wish to Christ I’d had these guys on the album because it would have been one fuck of an album.” Chris Johnson says he was disappointed by ‘Dirk Wears White Sox’ after the Ants live.

“I want them to love us or hate us. I want it clandestine. An Ant kid once wrote to me and said, to him, an Ants concert wasn’t a concert, it was an event, it was a meeting of the clans. Kids from different areas that were into one idea and know there is a group on who are going to give 100%. They’re going to achieve purely by their own efforts a great night and not allow anyone to fuck it up for them. So, consequently when I said that at the Ballroom it had been eating away at my guts. I’ve been constantly compared to these groups like the Upstarts. Promoters say, oh the Ants, they’re just like these groups. And I ain’t mate. I ain’t no fucking Toyah. Nothing to do with us. The Ants are the Ants and everybody else is everybody else.” Tom: “Who have you got any respect for?” Adam: “Hardly anyone now. They’ve all got too fucking esoteric, just crawled up their own arseholes. Punks have become hippies in the last 9 months.” Tom: “What about Lydon and PIL?” Adam: “John Rotten’s a poet. It depends whether you like poetry or not. He made a very good first single and I haven’t liked anything since.” Marco: “Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols lost it for me after they did Bill Grundy. They done it all before that.”

I unwisely say: “The album got some good reviews.” Adam: “The album was fucking slagged off, what are you talking about?” Tom: “What about Record Mirror?” Adam: “Pete Scott likes the fucking group. He hated us then he had the guts to come and see us live again on the ‘Zerox’ tour and wrote me a letter saying he’d made a big mistake, and that takes a lot of guts. Songs like ‘Press Darlings’ aren’t about Pete Scott and people like you. I’m glad to see you’ve got it together this much, I’d buy that (Vague 4), that’s worth the money.” (20p) Then Chris Johnson incites Adam into another great blast at the music press with: “How did this mutual hatred between you and the press come about?” Adam: “It isn’t a mutual hatred. Look, if I came up to you in the street and said, ‘You’re a fascist,’ but I said it 250,000 times, I tell you man, I’m going to knock Nick Kent out one day. And there’s no way he’s gonna get out of it, unless he publicly apologises. He upset my mother, my family, and me, and I don’t like that. I also think they’re lazy, bad at their jobs; that is the most unforgivable thing, they’re just bad at their jobs, they’re useless. It’s old hat. I’m going to bring out a record and if it goes into the charts it’s going to be 250,000 people who know exactly what I think of those arseholes for the rest of time. Their comments about me lasted one week. Mine about them will last till the day they fucking die…”

Chris Hughes: “I think there’s a lot of point in doing a fanzine, provided you convey accurate information, if you can get a fairly accurate impression of what we’re about and secondly you’ve got to show NME and all the arsehole papers how to write. As soon as it goes to print there’s a different value to those words and you’ve got a lot of impressionable kids reading it. You’ve got to make sure you’re being more accurate and precise than the stuff you don’t appreciate from Fleet Street.” Adam: “I don’t think this is very different from In The City, I know the guys that do it, they research hard, they spend a lot of money on this sort of format. This paper will eventually get through to the general public, they’ll say what the fuck’s this about and look at it. It’s like when you make a record, who do you make it for? Your fans or everybody? I make it for everybody. The reason why everybody knocks In The City, especially Tony D of Ripped & Torn and Kill Your Pet Puppy fame, he used to have a sense of humour, now it’s worse than the worst political hippy magazine. Keep politics out of art. Ask us a good question.”

Chris Hughes: “One of the original mottos of punk was no heroes, I personally never aligned myself to that, I’ve always had heroes and always will have. When your hero does something that you don’t agree with and realising that, that is part of growing up. You don’t get 40 year old people idolising pop stars because they’ve experienced a lot more. Older people may well have heroes but they’re more capable of assessing when their hero does something they don’t like. You’re a lot most impressionable when you’re young. An Ant fan might at 13 take everything Adam says as gospel but at 20 he won’t take everything as correct.” Adam: “I don’t believe in preaching, I think it’s boring. I’ve tried never to preach. Every interview I’ve ever done has been answers to questions, which is purely my opinion, my opinion may be a whole load of bullshit, probably is, but at the time I’m asked a question, I think about it and I tell you what I feel. Like I’ve always said, if I give you pleasure, great, if I don’t, fine. I’m going to enjoy myself tonight and nothing’s going to stop me…”

JWe’re not disturbed until about 6 when the bands arrive. Most of the Ants acknowledge us but Chris Hughes is the only one not frightened of another interview. We chat for a while until it’s time for the sound-check. To finish Adam dedicates a song to Middlesbrough and they do ‘Anarchy in the UK’. Valentino’s is a very small but smart disco with the lit-up floor and everything, unlike the night before it doesn’t fill to bursting and the locals are friendly. The only similar thing is the bouncers but aren’t they the same everywhere? The Flowers shakily hit the stage but when they settle down I can see what Adam was on about. I thought they were a local band but the audience response is not too good. The same goes for poor old Martian Dance, but they continue to play their best gig so far, probably because Jerry didn’t have to dodge glasses for a change.


November 22 Aylesbury Friars. 23 Lyceum. 24 Doncaster Odeon. 25 Oxford New Theatre. 26 Exeter St George’s Hall. 27 St Austell Cornish Riviera Lido. 28 Southampton Gaumont. 29 Lewisham Odeon. Back in London, I interviewed Martian Dance at Queen Elizabeth College on Campden Hill. Adam’s girlfriend Mandy, the actress Amanda Donohue, appeared on the tour at Aylesbury Friars and we somehow walked through a skinhead riot outside unscathed. At the Lyceum the original SEX shop Jordan was the ‘Antmusic Revue’ DJ. A skinhead with a hatchet appeared in the Oxford New Theatre bar. In Exeter we stayed in the squat of ‘Antperson of the night’ Cherokee Mark. There was another brush with the law hitching to Cornwall with Pete Vague; by which time we were getting disillusioned with Adam and sick of hearing him say: “This one’s for you Sheffield (Doncaster, etc)”, “You showed ‘em Exeter (St Austell, etc)”, and “Are you feeling sexy Birmingham? (etc)” I hitched back from Cornwall through the night to sign on, as Nige from Liverpool got nicked in St Austell; bunked the train back to Bournemouth after the Southampton gig; and hitched back to London with some hippies, to hang around at Better Badges on Portobello with Sarah and Scrubber before the Lewisham gig.

November 30 Cardiff Top Rank. December 1 Brighton Top Rank. 2 Coventry Tiffany’s. 3 Stoke Victoria Hall. 4 Derby Kings Hall. 5 Taunton Odeon. 6 ‘Antmusic’ was released. 7 Bristol Locarno. 8 Birmingham Odeon. 11 Newcastle Royalty. 12 Ipswich Gaumont. 13 Chelmsford Odeon. 14 Canterbury Odeon. 15 Manchester Apollo. After narrowly avoided a kicking in Cardiff due to the intervention of our Welsh mates Frenchie and Stumpy, further aggro in Brighton didn’t come to much. About a dozen of us tried to sleep in the kitchen of the tour support band God’s Toys in Coventry. There were sieg heiling skinheads in Derby, Mick from Liverpool was beaten up and the Vagues sold out. Spent the night in a derelict house by the coach station after the Bristol gig. Heard the news that John Lennon had been killed at Victoria coach station, on my way back west to pick up more Vague 7s and finish issue 8, as the Ants appeared on Top of the Pops. In the days after the Lennon assassination we were back in Liverpool; Stumpy and me signed on saying we were there looking for work. Then we stayed with the Geordie Mohican contingent including the famous Rezillos/Revillos roadie Mitch who had a double Mohican. We bunked the train from Ipswich to Chelmsford and tried to sleep in a multi-storey carpark. Ended up ejected from Manchester Apollo for slamdancing and congratulated by the short-lived Ants bassist Kev Mooney.

October 4 Moved to Walpole Road, Bournemouth. Revillos at Southampton University. Signed on in Bournemouth. London Rough Trade with Vague 6. Punishment of Luxury and Program at Salisbury cancelled. October 11 ‘Dog Eat Dog’ by Adam and the Ants was released. October 16 Signed on and interviewed Bauhaus at the Stateside. October 22 UK Subs interview for Point of View fanzine last punk gig at Stateside/Village fanzine stall. November 2-6 Vague 7 was printed and stapled. Negotiated with the Ants manager Falcon Stuart to sell it on the next Ants tour as the programme. November 7 London Better Badges to get inserts. November 9 The Ants Frontier tour began in Liverpool.

Tom Vague
(Vague Publishing, 1980)