Torquay’s first punk venue was the short-lived Gatsby’s New Wave Club in 1977 (now the EF Centre on Castle Road). Local punks could see bands such as Plummet Airline, Avent Gardener, Cherry Vanilla and, on November 16 1977, Sham 69 and Torquay’s Cane – originally The Kayo Punks. Ian Dury was booked, though, I believe, the club folded before he had the chance to appear.
The history of The Cane site features promotional materials for Gatsby’s New Wave Club, along with Chelsea & The Cortinas, at Torquay Town Hall on July 27, 1977, and The Kayo Punks at the 400 Ballroom on September 28, 1976 (50p admission).
Torquay had a small punk scene that included bands such as Critical Press, Systum, and Glass Points. There was also Das Schnitz, which was formed by a group of friends from Torquay Boys Grammar School. In 1979 they issued a 7 inch called 4am.
The band recalls: “It was recorded at the only studio in Torquay at the time, Swan Street Studios on an eight-track machine. Rates were £8 per hour, but we only had £12 so we were in and out within one and a half hours!” To save printing costs and in true punk spirit, the records all had sleeves converted from other bands’ releases on which the band wrote their name and titles.
Das Schnitz held a reunion in 2009, so here’s the guys re-living their youth – and ours – at the 12 Bar Club in Central London on Saturday, July 25 2009
Adrenalin were formed in Torquay in 1975 and became a punk band in 1977. Vocalist Ian Roberts later joined ex-Damned member Rat Scabies in the White Cats and then in an early incarnation of Culture Club. Later he was a member of the blues band The Nightporters.
This is a bit of a tentative link: The Adverts‘ TV Smith and Gaye Advert were from Bideford, and they attended South Devon College. This is The Adverts with Gary Gilmore’s Eyes on Top of the Pops, August 1977.
Incidentally, the A4 gig flyer for the 1976 Tuesday night 400 Club gigs is on the Bored Teenagers web site. It records:
21 September: Strife
28 September: Eddie & the Hot Rods
5 October: The Sex Pistols
12 October: Casino
Casino had just brought out an LP. The 60p tickets could be obtained from Torquay’s Flox Records & Castle Records or Soundz in Paignton .
The October 5 Sex Pistols appearance advertised in the flyer was cancelled. However, there have been rumours ever since that the Pistols did play in Torquay under an alias.
Unless anyone knows better, the Pistols never played in The Bay. The source of the story is probably that one of their founders members did. The Rich Kids appeared on August 2, 1978 at Torquay Town Hall. The Rich Kids were founded in 1977 by Glen Matlock – after he quit The Sex Pistols.
Matlock was credited with much of the music for the Pistol’s songs – while Johnny Rotten came up with the lyrics – and is recognised as co-author of 10 of the 12 songs on Never Mind the Bollocks. On leaving the Pistols, Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious.
The Rich Kids included future Ultravox member, Midge Ure, who had been in teeny bop band Slik. Also, involved was Rusty Egan, who later went on to found Visage. After one album, Ghosts of Princes in Towers, and three singles, the Rich Kids disbanded in 1979.
Here’s Ghosts of Princes in Towers introduced by Peter Cook on Revolver in 1978.
It’s worth remembering how much Punk caused consternation across the country. From the Herald’s front page of June 1977:
Top Rock Group Banned from Town Hall
A top rock group has been banned from Torquay Town Hall – and the man who was to promote the concert said that the decision by the council was due to “apathy and bloody-mindedness”.
The Stranglers were due to appear on June 9 as part of a national tour. Mr Greg Van Dyke, the Plymouth promoter, said “I was told that the council were not willing to take the risk. But I was not told what the risk was… The council did not even do me the courtesy of ringing me. They clearly don’t know a thing about the band.”
No one at the Town Hall was available for comment this morning.
Apparently, the problem was largely to do with the ‘risk’ that young people would hear the Stranglers swearing.
Music fans were understandably angered: “For goodness sake, what are the council trying to do, bore us to death… Let us decide what’s best for us… Plenty for OAPs and visitors… nothing for the youth of Torbay… Head in sand council…”