Tamworth Bands History : 1981
|January - March||April - June|
|Youth Club Rock Tour||Blitz and new Arts Centre management|
|July - September||October - December|
Well what a year…what a year…
The local band scene in Tamworth really came of age in 1981. As Richard Whitehead pointed out in a Musicbox article in April, it was now a year since a conscious decision was made at the Herald to concentrate on local bands and the local scene. During that year they had covered the following bands: Ethis, Those Attractive Magnets, (Fetch The) Comfy Jigsaw, The Assets, The Fretz, Titan, DHSS, Flash Harry, Blind Alley, Bleeding Hearts, Edward ian Armchair, The Jets, Red Cassette, Ledbelly, Amber Lights, Quill, Nick Lowe, East Park, The Lounge Lizards, Omen, Hard Road, Conclusive Fiction and Hamma. The Tamworth music scene was now well and truly ‘local’. Gone were the distant days of top name acts appearing in the town, gone were the days where the only band you could see was a ‘club’ band at the local WMC. Tamworth now had a thriving scene of local youngsters making their own music for their own fans in their own town.
Early in the year we saw the appearance of a new and exciting band – Ethis – determined not to be labelled ‘Heavy Metal’ – they were the ‘thinking man’s’ rock band. We also saw the demise of one of Tamworth’s top local names – Brewster who split after five years together. Garry Norris decided to go down the Jazz Rock route.
There was still of course the ever-present complaint of apathy in the town with Ice convinced the reason being local youngsters were unwilling to part with their cash to see local bands.
March of ’81 saw a ground-breaking musical event in the town with four local bands embarking on a tour of local youth clubs. Headed by Those Attrractive Magnets and backed by three new names: The Assets, The Travelling Dog and (Fetch the) Comfy Jigsaw. The tour criss-crossed the town talking in Wigginton, St. John’s, Polesworth, Dosthill, Wood End and Kingsbury.
1981 saw two bands grow and grow in experience and popularity and their names were rarely out of the Musicbox column. The DHSS, now in their third iteration with only Vince Watts remaining from the previous two line-ups could be seen gigging regularly around the town. Joined by brother Martin on drums and bassist Barry Douce, the band retained Vince’s punk legacy but produced a unique sound all of their own.
The second band were Those Attractive Magnets. If ever a year in the history of Tamworth bands belonged to one band, this was it, 1981 belonged well and truly to Those Attractive Magnets. The year saw three different line-ups, beginning the year with John ‘Hurricane’ Higgins ex-Reliants and DHSS on drums, only to be replaced in March by a drum machine called ‘E.D.W.A.R.D.’ They then became a trio consisting of Rikk Quay, Andy Baldwin and Paul Killick and then in April a foursome being joined by Gary ‘Garry’ Overton. Who, by the way, must have been in two of the shortest-lived bands in local music history. At the start of March he was in Travelling Dog who by the end of March had split, at the start of April he was in Conclusive Fiction who by the end of the month had split and he was in Those Attractive Magnets.
The start of the year saw the Magnets in the studio recording ‘Pictures on the Wall’. In February supporting the Lounge Lizards and in March taking part in the Youth Club tour. In May they played at the first Blitz discotheque at The Warren – all frilly shirts and make-up. And later that month they were in the studio once again recording what they hoped would be their debut single, ‘Fade into Secret Silence’.
July saw them, at last, breaking out of the confines of Tamworth with a gig at the Faces nightclub in Erdington, Birmingham and on Royal Wedding day they played with The DHSS at the Stable. In September they played Faces again giving what was regarded as their best performance to date.
And finally…in November of 1981, the Magnets signed a recording deal with Ebony Records. They were to appear on a new ‘sampler’ album featuring futurist bands with two self-penned tracks ‘Fade into Secret Silence’ and ‘Go it Alone D5000’. What a year for the Magnets.
But, 1981 wasn’t just about Those Attractive Magnets. There were other bands causing a stir. The Omen showed what excellent musicians they were with several performances during the year and a new demo tape. Heavy metal was again in abundance with Hamma and Trojan out and about along with new band Aardwolf. And folk music returned to the town with a new folk club opening at the Three Tuns in Fazeley.
Ice, those seasoned rockers, were to embark on a 15-date tour of Germany in June. Although in July we read how Steve Sheldon, their original drummer had left the band – due to disillusionment over whether or not the tour would take place.
What else did we have – Skinheads – a special Herald feature, Country and Western – with the Prince of Wales holding a regular Monday night C&W club. Blitz at the Warren and that schoolboy band (Fetch the) Comfy Jigsaw who became Thirty Frames a Second and could be seen with new band the Classified Ads with soon to be Herald Reporter Sam Holliday on lead vocals.
The end of the year saw The DHSS searching for a keyboard player (call back in 1982 to see who got the job). Tambeat, Tamworth’s first ‘fanzine’ was launched by Mike Turner and a new band Wilderness Laine appearing on the scene.
What a year – well and truly the beginning of Tamworth’s local band scene – look out 1982, here we come!