Tamworth Bands History : 1987
Well what a year, what a year, what a year!!! Sam ‘The Beast’ Holliday wrote over 65,000 words in the Tamworth Herald, Musicbox column during 1987. And every single word proved what an incredible local music scene existed in Tamworth.
From the very beginning when we read how Dance Stance won the 1986 Musicbox Poll, to the end of the year when the same band entered the rock and roll history books, by becoming the first unsigned band ever to release a single/EP on compact disc.
As one band thrived and flourished and touched the edge of superstardom, so others fell by the wayside – The Dream Factory’s final gig at the Rathole, was reviewed, a band that helped to spawn Dance Stance were no more, but in their last ever performance they finally won over the sceptics, the people who always felt it was ‘uncool’ to like the Dream Factory – but it was ‘too late’. Mark Mortimer, never one to mourn the passing of one of his bands was already on the road with the Great Express, moving the furthest he had yet moved from his soul/mod roots.
Early in the year Wolfsbane were still sunning themselves in Dubai, honing their talents and learning their trade for what was to become a monumental year for Tamworth’s metal kings.
New from the Arts Centre came in the shape of the appointment of Mr. John Garforth from London, as the new Arts Centre Manager, who had over 25 years’ experience in arts administration.
1987 was a year for new bands…but not any old new band…very significant new bands: Rape in Yellow, Emma Gibbs Loves Badges, Fetch Eddie the Baby’s Gone Blue, The Conspiracy and World Intelligence Network – wow!!
But sadly, ’87 was also a year that saw the demise of a number of significant local acts. One of the scene’s longest established and most talented bands – One On One split at the end of April as did that unique combo – the Soil Brothers.
The annual Battle of the Bands contest saw Rape in Yellow perform out of their skins in what was their debut concert. Having the cheek to perform “A Day in the Life”, and being able to do a masterful job of performing it too, just showed the potential that existed in the band.
However, rightly so, in the final of the competition, we read how “SUPER WOLFSBANE turned in the performance of their rock and roll lives on Friday night to deservedly scoop the ‘Battle of the Bands’ title for the first time.”
The good-hearted nature of local musicians again came to the fore in April of 1987 with the release of the second TAMAID cassette in aid of Quince Tree Special School. The songs, recorded at the end of 1986, were put together as part of the ‘Children In Need’ campaign and all the proceeds went to the school in Amington.
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Another band touching the edges of stardom in 1987 were Catch 23 who capped it all by releasing their debut single and launching it at the Arts Centre with The Wilsons, the alter-ego’s of Wolfsbane, on the bill.
August was to see the biggest ever Tamworth Rock Festival, as we read in the Herald:
BIGGEST FESTIVAL YET OFFERS 27 GREAT BANDS
YES, IT’S HERE AT LAST! After all the months of planning and preparation, Tamworth will this weekend unveil it’s biggest and best rock festival ever.
Over the next four days no less than 27 bands – not to say alternative poets, disc jockeys and general eccentrics – will combine their talents to give the town’s pop pickers a week to remember.
Tonight (Friday – 28/08/87) the whole event kicks off with an action-packed Arts Centre show to be followed on Saturday night with another night of new bands at the same venue. And then on Sunday and Monday, Tamworth Castle Grounds will be taken over for 16 hours for a massive live extravaganza of music covering 18 varied and exciting groups from all over the Tamworth and Atherstone area.
It all adds up to four hectic, juicy days so here is a blow-by-blow account of what to expect, where to expect it and where not to go if you want to avoid it!!
Tamworth Arts Centre
WELL WHAT A START. For just 50p you can get to see five totally different bands who represent just about every form of musical extreme in this little old scene of ours. Heading the lot our The Wilsons who have been added as late festival funmakers and should provide many moments of bopping delight. Joining the Wilsons are the brash barmy boys known as The Pakistani Brothers, the all-new all-electric Stranger Than Life, the arrogant and animated Oliver Reed Combo and another late addition The Parade. That is five potentially explosive acts for less than the price of a Curly Wurly each. Be there early (8pm) ‘cos it is going to be full.
Tamworth Arts Centre
ANOTHER case of sheer daylight robbery when just 50p once again gets you masses of good original music. The Conspiracy, Tamworth’s new alternative hopefuls make their eagerly awaited Arts Centre debut and are joined by the rocking, rollicking blues of Jim Crows, the powerful mid-Seventies attack of New Age Gypsies, and the passionate and highly-tipped indierockers Ferocious Apaches. The fifth band on the line-up is still to be confirmed as there is a possibility that The Final line may have split up. If that is so, new Burton FM soundalikes Vienna will be slotted in as special guests so whichever way you look at it your ears cannot fail! Remember it starts at 8pm and get there early.
Tamworth Castle Grounds (11.30am-7pm)
AND SO, to the main course. Once again the festival will be sited at the top of the Castle Grounds, just in front of the tennis courts and once again it will all be totally FREE.
You will see no less than nine bands on Sunday and a further nine on Monday with the only sort of rock uncatered for being that horrible stuff that breaks your teeth at Blackpool. It all begins at 11am when the Reverb/Buttercup disco blares into action and then 90 minutes later the first band – Kubla Khan – hit the stage. This oh reader, is what happens next…
KUBLA KHAN (12.30) – A new and enthusiastic rock band with a slant to the mid-Seventies and wicked sense of humour. Should be very good scene setters.
THE SEARCHING (1.05) Another relatively new act whose own brand of rock searches across a broad spectrum enveloping influences that include The Damned and the Cure.
The A5 (1.40) – A tremendous unit who are improving all the time and have now acquired a harder more distinctive sound. Aggressive, tuneful and toe-tappable.
WORLD INTELLIGENCE NETWORK (2.15) – Totally fab, leather-jacketed bunch who manage to Cope with being compared to Cope all the time. WINners.
CATCH 23 (2.50) – Youthful, fanciful popsters with hope in their hearts and electricity in their blood. They make great pop music. It’s as simple as that.
RAPE IN YELLOW (3.25) – Like Moses, this band have spent a long time in the wilderness and now return with a commanding set. They play original, whimsical Sixties based pop music.
ZEALOUT (4.00) – Another new band who walk on the Atherstone side of life. Zealout play broadly based rock music and regard this show as their first major introduction to the world.
PLATINUM HI (4.35) – Zooming all the way up from London this combo (who feature former Tamworth fave Rob Rea) play colourful metal music with brash style.
THE GREAT EXPRESS (5.10) – Concluding Sunday night’s revels are one of Tamworth’s hottest properties. The Express have already raced to the top of the league with their power charged, energetic and unusual creation. A great end to a great day.
Tamworth Castle Grounds (11.30am-7pm)
MRE MIRTH, music, magic and majesty on offer today with some of the best sounds outside of my record collection. As with Sunday, the bands will appear at roughly 40 minute intervals so you should never be very far away from something you are REALLY going to like. Here is the day’s itinerary so get your Filofax out.
FUTURE FIELD (1.05) – A new intelligent AOR based rock band with a host of ideas and several accomplished local musicians. Soothing music for the fun.
SHELLSHOCK (1.40) – Pure, unashamed heavy metal from a band whose enthusiasm is a refreshing as Brew X1 in the Sahara. Loud, proud and metallic.
JABBERWOCKIE (2.15) – Original unit who play music like of which Tamworth has never seen before, multi-instrumentalists overflowing with notes and notions.
WOLFSBANE (2.50) – The kings, the bosses, the boys. Wolfsbane’s dictionary definition is ‘everything that is good about heavy metal music’. They’ve got the LOT.
FETCH EDDIE (3.25) – Clean, loveable pop music which is as pure as the average Vestal Virgin. Ace tunesmiths who could set the afternoon alight.
DEPTH CHARGE (4.00) – One of Tamworth’s old favourites with new life and a new line-up. Look out for guitarist ‘Tanya’ (See rock festival t-shirts for more info on that!)
RUFFIAN ON THE STAIRS (4.35) – Commercial pleasing soul sounds from a band who combine the best of Tamworth and Lichfield. Promise to be quite special.
BREAKING POINT (5.10) – Longstanding heroes, who combine the powerful with the passionate and have been sorely missed from our stages of late. But absence makes the heart grow fonder they say, so get set for some nostalgic cheer.
So that’s the whole line-up. In betweens each band you will see and hear djs, comperes and poets like Buttercup, Edward ian Armchair, Dave Hewitt, Kevin McGough, Bue, Rikk Quay et al and there may also be some surprise guest celebrities popping up as well. In the event of rain over Sunday and Monday there may be alternative arrangements but you must be at the Castle Grounds to find out what they are.
Whatever happens this is Tamworth’s biggest musical event of the year and one which every music-loving person from 6-66 should enjoy immensely. So clear your weekends, clear your heads and get set to be bombarded from every possible angle by every possible sound.
In September’s Musicbox, under the headline “Decade with a herald of punk”, we read how, ten years earlier a band called The Reliants were formed in Tamworth. They got together days after the Herald (in pre-Musicbox days) did a half-page special about ‘punk rock’ (apparently misquoting) an eloquent young man named Edward ian Armchair. Shortly after the article appeared Edward met up with Vince Watts and Tamworth’s first and perhaps truest punk rock band The Reliants were formed. They did a whole host of concerts locally at a time when apart from one or two rock bands like Ice and Brewster, the Tamworth scene was as dead as the proverbial dodo. In their own way they inspired a whole new mood and feeling in the area and directly or indirectly because of the Reliants, bands such as Those Attractive Magnets, DHSS, The Classified Ads, The Fretz et al felt the desire to actually play music and put the area firmly on the map.
Less than six months after John Garforth’s appointment as Arts Centre Manager, in the Herald of 9th October we read the headline: “Arts centre chief sacked” - The manager of Tamworth Arts Centre has been sacked after only months in the job.
In that same edition of the paper, we read how, IAN GIBBONS – one of the most colourful and influential characters in the history of the local music scene – was set to leave Tamworth, bringing an end to the town’s now famous venue ‘The Rathole’.
So, the year was over. And what a year! Three bands on the very verge of superstardom: Wolfsbane, Dance Stance and Catch 23. A Rock Festival the envy of every local music scene and a local Musicbox Editor with an undying enthusiasm that positively filtered through to every single local band. This was without doubt THE year of the Tamworth Music Scene – when local bands finally became national bands.