There’s no order or sense to all this. It’s as it comes. Some stuff may, or may already have been, moved into the greater narrative hopefully making a bit more sense. So this page is a repository of stupid things and remarkable feats – in other words, anecdotes, added to over time by anyone who has the need and information to do it.
The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle
Site of first gig. Quite a bit was recorded here at various times e.g “Berlin”. First gig sucked Curly Jhon into into the fold. Doomage was really confident, so much so that I was shocked by the looks on some audience faces. I (SP) wore a home-made steel Viking helmet, borrowed from a biker bloke that lived in the flat below the Attic. I hung sanitory towels from the cheek pieces, dyed up to look used. It lasted two tunes as it was so fucking heavy; each time I tried to play keyboards it slipped over my face, bonked my nose and almost broke my neck with the weight of it. A band called “Last Exit” played regularly there and thereabouts. One member was called Gordon Sumner…
Gosforth Hotel, Salters Road, Gosforth, Tyne & Wear
Site of early gigs on roster with The Noise Toys (TNT) etc. This is the pub where Chris Donald started his Viz mag. I’d often see him about, flogging his comic to all and sundry in Jesmond pubs and The Cumberland in Byker.
The Russel Club, Mosside, Manchester
Site of the Gratton “joke”. Joy Division didn’t play too bad (but it was their home patch by then). There were a lot of really scary black guys wearing floor length fur coats looking like they were packin’. I also remember “Echo Beach” being played a lot between bands. When Crawling Chaos found that Joy Division weren’t going to drink their post gig pile of “Pils”, we stepped in and drank the lot. This was when Curtis came up to me and said: “Well, I’ve tried to speak to you lot, but I just can’t get on with you…” in a very gay way… Curly Jhon gave him the ritual tirade of “Joyce! Joyce De Vision!” whence he walked off. Two weeks later he hung himself… I’ve since posted a bit more information on my recollections and thoughts about this here.
Spectro Arts Workshop, Newcastle
Played a few times there. Nice and clean and very, very, white inside.
This was the gig when Strangely realised that women didn’t hold all the sexual cards. As was normal at the time, Strangely would get his kit off down to his old man long johns. Whilst prancing around he became aware that all the women in the audience weren’t listening to the music, but just trying to get a glimpse of his willy if it popped out of the slot in the front (there were no fly buttons or other closure devices)… oo-er missus.
Proudly played as part of a big “Rock Against Racism” (RaR)/”Anti-Nazi League” event. Other bands included The Mekons and X-o-dus. The Crawling Chaos played and the next lot came on. After about 10 minutes, an infiltration of thuggish types charged through the crowd, poured onto the stage and backstage as well. Strangely was pushed backstage while trying to shut the doors and hid under a table. Dozens of police arrived.
A burly copper replied to me when I answered his question with “It’s a rock against racism event. It’s supposed to be peaceful.””That Peaceful!” It’s more like a bloody war zone here”. Fatso got hit on the head with a fire extinguisher although someone said they’d seen a speaker flying through the air in his direction. The legend continues. He got CIC money though.
More on “RaR” and a new book on it all in this Grauniad article here.
Crawling Chaos played a youth club in Durham and left the postering to other folks – fatal mistake, although they didn’t do anything we hadn’t done previously, fly-posting, that is. However, the local burgers of that city haven’t quite forgiven the Viking pillagers from the North yet and so took offence at having various green GPO connector boxes, lamp-posts and walls plastered with our advertising (which included contact details!! (twit). In Wallsend, the local coppers paid a visit to Fatso and Jeff and hauled them off to the nick where they gave their names as Doomage Khult and Errol Dynamic, amusing the desk sergeant greatly. He soon saw the ruse and we all ended up being charged, summonsed and then visiting Durham Magistrates Court where I was told to stand up straight and take my hands from my pockets by the Clerk of the Court. The “Post Office Installations” figured many times in the charge sheets which were read out completely to each of us, to which we all pleaded guilty and were each fined £1 for each offence and £5 costs. That was £11. It seemed to take about an hour. So that was that then… It kept us going for ages in bar-room anecdotes.
Penmaenmawr, North Wales
Fuckin mushrooms and beer. On the way to play at a nurses home in Wales, the hire van broke down just north of Tebay (where the services are now, more or less). While waiting for a replacement, a field of magic mushrooms was espied. Everyone started collecting “for later” but most put one in the pocket, one in the gob. By the time the new van arrived everyone was spaced out, possibly ‘cos we woz threatened by a big guy with a shotgun at the old Tebay services. I have a lasting vision of Clinka(Gazza) strutting round lane one on the M6 Southbound with a cardboard guitar, getting nearly killed by the traffic. After stopping for (more) beer in Runcorn (luxury), we arrived at the nurses home, carried the gear up loads of stairs, set it all up and then went into a dark room for 12 hours without playing because we couldn’t see anything as there was too much spurious visual input. The next day we were still spaced out. I was shivering like mad in a crap seaside cafe thinking I was going to die. I think I took about 1000 magic mushrooms of the good firm snot-like variety, about a large handful. It’s the only time I couldn’t tell if my eyes were open or closed, that night. A severe excess? Really fucking bad actually…
Hamilton Hotel, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear
This picture from this page shows a pic from an attic looking down South Parade. The Hamilton has changed names several times since Crawling Chaos got chucked out for being too loud. It was down on the left of South Parade heading towards the sea. The Rex Hotel is visible as the last hotel on the right before the sea. It’s still there.
A gig was arranged and I organised a magician old school friend called Dave Brown to do a spot in between our two sets. (I only bumped into him walking down the street – funny that.)
Unfortunately, the owner woman found the music too loud and offensive (she should have guessed by our name, doh!) and called the police as we refused to stop playing until we were paid.
A big burly sergeant turned up with a bit of backup ‘cos the place was pretty packed. I noticed Doomage and Fatso getting pretty fired up for an argument so I put on my diplomatic hat and arranged for us to finish with a couple of quiet numbers, then the magician to do his spot, and then we’d get paid and go. We must’ve looked like good punk-bad punk to her, poor red-lip-sticked woman. The big old sergeant asked her if this was okay, in a reasonable voice, and she acquiesced, so the agreed events passed by. And that’s what happened. Extra info here and here.
This was one of the three times to my recollection that we (or I) got paid not to play!!
Working Men’s Club, Manchester
On a ‘tour’ of various places in Manchester, one was this club (name now forgotten). However, we had two sets to play and all the way through the first some bloke kept shouting at us “got any Newman – got any Newman?”
I went “wah?” to which he replied, “Newman, y’know, Gary Newman. Friends are Electric, like?”
I said “nah, we don’t do that” and he was a bit huffed. In the break the club chairman or concert’s bloke came up to us with a bunch of his stewards for comfort and asked us not to do the second set. We said “No. We’re booked to do two, we’ll play two, and you’ll pay us for two.” Needless to say, he said, “Oh that’s alright, don’t worry, we’ll pay you. It’s just it’s not what the audience are used to here…”
Aye. Manchester. Second Pay-off.
Percy Arms, Tynemouth
Not strictly a band incident. But I was up in Tynemouth a week or so ago (see picture of King Edward’s Bay as the sun set) and as I went past the Percy Arms I recalled we all got chucked out of there because I was singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, by Tony Bennett.
Naturally, as it was a 30’s style pub I thought this would be appropriate but after one warning, the barman had had enough, gave us all the money (plus some) for the drinks we’d bought and nearly finished anyway, and chucked us oot!
So there you have it – paid three times NOT to play!
Incidentally, I popped in to see Holly (The Symptoms) during this trip and his steadfast refusal to pose properly or visit me in sunny Somerset is the reason for the photo on the right.
The Chalk & Cheese Brothers
Part I: Ashington Police Station
After playing in north Northumberland (probably Lynemouth Social Club or an afternoon anti-nuclear Power Station gig in the sand dunes of Druridge Bay, our drivers and roadies at the time, the Fabulous Chalk & Cheese Brothers got us stopped because they were drunk as well.
We and them all piled in the back of the van, all denying driving but not admitting either…
Unsurprisingly, the coppers didn’t take too kindly to this and hauled us all off to Ashington nick, for questioning.
Myself? I pretended to be completely blotto and on the verge of oblivion, which wasn’t too difficult as I was only about a pint of Stella off anyway…. After some time, we were all sent on our way and I’m still unsure of the precise outcome of all this. What I do remember is that the Fabulous Chalk & Cheese Brothers were a harbinger of the Gallaghers. “Oh we’re brothers we are – exactly alike – we’re like Chalk & Cheese”. That’s the derivation of their epithet.
Part II: Tynemouth
Possibly (although the memory is a bit hazy because of all the Stella), we got stopped again by the Chalk & Cheese Brother’s (C&CB) behaviour as driver/roadies. We got pulled with all the gear in the back of their van by the coppers, again! The copper, at the driver’s door said,
“Can you get out and give us a sample sir?”
One of the C&CB’s said,
“I can’t. The door’s welded shut!” – which it was. They had to get in and out by any door except the driver’s as it really was welded shut!
So the copper walked round to the passenger door on the Transit and tried to open it, much to the other C&CB’s protestation. The copper got a bit annoyed at this and yanked at the door – which the C&CB then let loose and it dropped to the ground, dropping right onto the copper’s foot! (This was the reason for the C&CB’s protestation, but he was so unintelligibly drunk that the copper couldn’t understand him!). The C&CB’s were then hauled off and we were left to walk home, which was only up the road anyway.
I think that was the last C&CB event. they’d actually helped quite a bit, like playing at the Swallow Hotel in Jesmond, for instance, which was a weird arty-farty toff’s type of gig in their ballroom. I remember it being very, very hot there, so was quite glad to strip to the long-johns, much to the flowery-clothes-clad ladies delight!
The Rock Garden, Covent Garden
The Rock Garden in Covent Garden…. This was a later gig. It was a long journey from the North-East. Very Long. By the time we arrived (Hippy Jeff, all bleezed-up, was the driver), we’d consumed about half to a whole cubic metre of beer, this being the quantity of empty beer cans that spewed out onto the pavement outside the colonnaded place when the back doors of the van were opened on our arrival.
We did our set, which included a specially rehearsed piss-take of the theme tune to “The Sweeney”. This was preceded by us shouting and calling all the audience “Cockney Wankers – we’ve got a tune specially for you cunts”. Around about this point, the drummer, Gazza, and myself, dropped a copious handful of Magic Mushrooms each, timed (so we cunningly thought), to turn on just as we left the stage….
Unfortunately, all the beer and empty stomachs meant they kicked in almost immediately. The end of the gig was a blur for me, literally, as I couldn’t focus on the keyboards any more and my mouth refused to make the correct sounds… I looked around and saw Gazza fall backward off his stool, and then vainly struggled to get back on.
That was sooo much excess and probably was turning point for myself (SP). It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but it was funny at the time. Bizarrely, the audience, which was pretty big, enjoyed it all…. Jasper, a sound/promoter type guy came over and said he wanted to do stuff for us, which was nice, but after his current project, which he said was an up-and-coming actress called Toyah! She ended up taking all his time so it never panned out. Life, “It’s a Myth-tery, It’s a Myth-tery”, init?
p.s. 13/9/11: Holly has recently told me that he did the whole gig with leg & arm in plaster (this’d be from the parachute jump at Sunderland Airport, what is now the Nissan car factory, aye?). He said that when “people came up and asked me about where they could get some [plaster] like it, i told them the hospital!!!” – Like I said, too much excess.
The Moonlight Club
The gig at the Moonlight Club that led to the ridiculous slagging off by Adam Sweeting (can he play anything at all?)…. It was the one at which the live recording was made of Joy Division on that white LP. My (SP) recollection is of it being really dismal, apart from us and Joy Division, who did their usual jerky power stuff. We chose to do a lot of jams, which is probably the reason for Sweeting’s comment. It wasn’t one our best, Fatso kept going slow and then running into his power-punk drumming thing which becomes a bit tedious and hard to improvise. But it WAS live, and it WAS creative,and it WAS unique, and it WAS new. It WAS Crawling Chaos!
Electric Circus, Manchester:
During the soundchecks at Manchester’s Electric Circus, a clash of personalities erupted between guitarists (no beer spilt tho’)….
Jeff was on stage drinking a pint of beer (half full) when the band’s guitarist took offence at his presence and pushed him bodily, backwards off the stage.
Jeff fell backwards about four to five feet onto the hard floor – and then proceeded to do a perfect backward roll, all in one movement, popping up standing without losing any beer at all!
A split second later he’d placed the beer on a the floor and leapt onto the stage, straight-arm grabbed the other guy right round the trachea with his thin, strong fingers, and started squeezing until the other guy started passing out and a heap of folks pulled him off.
Amazing! No beer spilt!
The drop can be seen clearly in this image taken from here. You had to be there, I guess.
On the Manchester tour there was one gig at the above pub where Fatso forgot his drums.
So we just miked up beer trays and mats for him as he had his sticks… A bit of a twiddle with the tone controls and actually, it wasn’t that bad! There were some pretty bemused folk in the audience though.
Electric Ballroom, London
There was another fight at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London (probably 18/04/80) when Macky got walloped by one of The Monochrome Set . “And quite right too” – said Holly in a recent email to me (2 Dec 2007). “There was blood, Macky’s nose I think” said Holly to me.
(Macky was always macho and demonstrating some new commando technique or another he’d just learned.)
Bid, from The Monochrome Set, confirmed the fight, but reckoned the fight was with “a vague friend of the band” in a email to me, so he’d know I suppose, being better placed.
A Nothin’ originated tune. The only significant difference is the addition of keyboards by Strangely, especially the start which is G major and G Dim alternating chords terminating with a Bflat major then B major chord. Apparently, one day Holly and Shieldsy were going to put some flowers on his grandad’s grave. On the back seat of the bus they were travelling on was a bag containing a loofa. The bus was the 442*** (Ashington to North Shields via Deleval). They loofa and flowers were left on the grave as a gift together. Nice.
n.b. ***the 442 is no more since 2007. It’s now the 12 and doesn’t go as far. This means if the words are changed it’ll be crap.
n.n.b. 12/9/11: ***apparently the grave bit is wrong accordingly to Holly today in a cryptic message involving saki. I’ll leave it in as I distinctly remember someone telling me the tale – must’ve been Paul.
Leigh Festival ( My Memory of it – SP).
This is the text of a posting I made here.
Angst in East Lancs Wasteland
This was the banner headline in Melody Maker, I think, for the gig at the Leigh Festival.
Two things stick in my mind about the gig apart from it being freezing cold and there being no-one there.
- On the bus there were no toilets but there was lots of beer. So the empty tins were getting filled with piss (I think the bus only did one piss stop on the journey). Jeff had just filled one and Billy Connolly (Gordon) asked if he could have a drink because he was thirsty. So Jeff gave him the can and Gordon drank it remarking only, that it tasted warm.
- The second thing is the fact that Crawling Chaos had a song called “Merry Christmas, Prince Charles” which Jeff and me wrote in my bedroom in 10 minutes and embellished over time. The song started with a long monologue from me backed by mournful keyboard and guitar sounds and a few cymbal splashes. The gist of the “speech” was about a fictionalised personal meeting between Strangely Perfect and Prince Charles which I always made up on the spur of the moment. Leigh Festival had some toilets (I’d just been and they were to the right when viewed from the stage) and I fitted them into the monologue. An hour or so later, when we’d finished playing, this beautiful girl came up to me and started talking about the Prince Charles song (I thought I was in there as I naturally thought she was chatting me up…). She said “You know you mentioned the toilets where you saw Prince Charles?” “Yes?” I feverishly replied…. “Well can you tell me where they are ‘cos I’m bursting?” she deflatingly retorted with her question.
Apart from that, we didn’t stay to see Joyce Division but we saw OMD and their spinny tape deck (we had one similarly but kept it out of sight)
Glossop, Visit Tony Wilson:
This is the text of a posting I made here.
In this review of the 24 hour party people film, the author, Miranda Sawyer states
So, the Tony Wilson of the film is constantly saying, ‘I’m a Cambridge graduate, you know,’ which the real-life Wilson doesn’t.
..er. That’s not quite true from my recollection , you know. Before “Sex Machine” was released by Factory we made a surprise visit to Wilson’s house in Glossop, (not the one in Palatine Road, Didsbury – that was another time when we got scowled at by everyone there except Erasmus and Wilson).
Initially, Wilson wouldn’t let us in. But we knew he was in, by the car, smoke from chimney, etc. He popped his head through a chink in the curtains to see who was there, and when he saw it was a bunch of scruffs, let us in.
It was a nice little cottage on the side of a hill and was a lovely sunny day. He told us “sorry… but I’m a bit worried after the Louis Edwards expose I’ve done on “World in Action” “. He presented/investigated for the show corruption in Manchester United and he thought the big boys were coming round to do him in. We got the picture from his end, this is someone’s view from Man U Trust.
After that, we got chatting and smoking. He had a huge video collection with all the “So It Goes” tapes, which was nice. He was especially pleased to show us some old Tiswas stuff which he droned on about. During the stay, Jeff and him started comparing degrees e.g. “wot you get – oooh, a first! Where d’yu geddit – oooh Cambridge, oooh Newcastle” etc etc.
At this juncture, some of the lads got bored and went to play in the fields. Me, the bleeze was too much and I passed into neverland.
The point of all this; well he did go on about his degree and he was immensely proud of it.