New Musical Express, October 15, 1977

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Walk-outs hit Damned, Stiff, Heartbreakers


In a week of upheaval and drama on the new-wave front, Rat Scabies walked out of The Damned — who, a few days earlier, became the latest British band to be subjected to violence in Europe ... Johnny Thunders parted company with his drummer, and is now considering Scabies for the Heartbreakers' vacancy ... Problems hit punk label Stiff Records, with talk of Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe leaving the company, just as their promotional package tour gets under way ... and The Clash are forced to change several of their tour dates, because they can't cope with stringent security requirements at certain venues.

The Damned lost their drummer Rat Scabies at the weekend, when he quit the band after a series of internal disputes. Stiff Records say they don't know the reason for his departure, but sources close to the group suggest it has been brewing for some time. There are even unconfirmed reports that he attempted suicide last Thursday, but he is now understood to be auditioning for the vacancy in the Heartbreakers. Meanwhile, the Damned are continuing their European tour, with Johnny Moped's drummer, Dave Burke, sitting in at short notice — and they have been booked to support The Clash on their major British tour, starting later this month. (See Thrills, page 11).

Just before the Scabies walk-out, The Damned became the latest British new-wave band to be subjected to violence during a European tour. This time the incident occurred in France, during one of the opening gigs of their tour. They were headlining a concert in a hall near Nancy and, ten minutes into their set, fighting broke out amongst the audience. Paul Conroy of Stiff Records claims that the venue was invaded by neo-Fascists, who proceeded to smash up the place. The Damned were unable to finish their set, but they are continuing with their French tour. Said Conroy: "It's getting so political at Continental gigs now, it makes you wonder if it's worth touring there."

Johnny Thunders opened his nationwide tour in Bristol on Saturday — with two of the Sex Pistols playing as temporary Heartbreakers! Paul Cook took over the drum stool from Jerry Nolan, and Steve Jones augmented the line-up. The gig was evidently an enormous success, with the band being called back for five encores.

Reason for this surprise is that Nolan is in dispute with the other members of the band, and it seems unlikely that he will ever play with them again, specially as Thunders now has his eye on Rat Scabies to fill the vacancy.

Paul Cook agreed to deputise at short notice, and Steve Jones went along for the ride. But the situation regarding the rest of the band's tour — which resumes at Cleethorpes tonight (Thursday) — is unclear. Much depends on whether Scabies joins the outfit — and even if he does, whether he's ready to take over.

Thunders' publicist commented: "One thing's for sure — the tour goes ahead, regardless of who occupies the drum seat". (See Thrills, page 12).

Another upheaval occurred when Slaughter & the Dogs dropped out of the tour. The support will now be Siouxsie & the Banshees and The Models on all dates — except Southampton, Leeds, Manchester, Bath and Shrewsbury, where the Killjoys play instead of the Banshees. And The Models are the sole support at Liverpool and Chelsmford.

Stiff Records launched their promotional package tour — featuring Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Ian Dury, Wreckless Eric and Larry Wallis — this week, amid speculation that at least two of the acts are about to split from the label. Stiff's co-founder and guiding light Jake Riviera has left the company to set up his own organisation, and he claims to be taking Costello and Lowe with him.

"No comment" was the official word from Stiff, although they emphasised that the tour is going ahead as planned. In any case, it's understood that both artists are contracted to make one more record each for the label.

Meanwhile, Costello has a new single coming out on Stiff on October 14 titled "Watching The Detectives", with the B-side featuring two tracks recorded live at London Nashville — "Mystery Dance" and "Blame It On Cane". And Lowe also has a single out the same day, a revival of the Billy Fury hit "Halfway To Paradise".

The Clash have had to switch three of the venues in their October-November tour itinerary, reported last week. Official explanation is "seating problems", but it's understood also to involve additional security measures required by the original venues, which the band considered impossible to fulfil.

Their Edinburgh gig on October 26 is moved from the Odeon to the Leith Theatre, and on November 7 they now play Birmingham Top Rank instead of the city's Odeon. Norwich St. Andrew's Hall on November 6 is also out and, as they haven't been able to find a suitable alternative venue in the town, they play Ipswich Corn Exchange instead on the same date.

The Clash's European tour takes them to Sweden this weekend and, on Saturday, they are booked for a gig in Ronneby — at the same venue where the Stranglers were attacked, and had their equipment severely damaged, by the semi-political heavy mob called the Regeri. The band are going ahead with the date, as they feel it may cause even more trouble if they don't, but they are facing it with considerable apprehension. Commented a CBS spokesman: "We are keeping our fingers crossed, and we only hope you don't have to print another punch-up story next week!"

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New Musical Express, October 15, 1977

NME reports on changes at Stiff Records and the upcoming release of the single "Watching The Detectives."

Recommended TV details EC's appearance on So It Goes.


1977-10-15 New Musical Express cover.jpg

Recommended TV


FRIDAY: Glen Campbell in concert with Jimmy Webb and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (BBC-2); Billy Liar film with Tom Courtenay IBBC-1).

SATURDAY: Racing Cars and John Martyn in Sight And Sound In Concert (B8C-2 and Radio 1 stereo link); Neil Sedaka in concert (most ITV regions).

SUNDAY: So It Goes with Elvis Costello filmed at Liverpool Eric's and Penetration at Manchester Electric Circus (ITV, but screened in London on Saturday).

TUESDAY: Dr. Hook and Otway & Barrett in The Old Grey Whistle Test (BBC-2); repeat of Leo Sayer Sings (BBC-1).


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