St. Albans Punk & New Wave '76 - '81

Once upon a time in 1975...

A recently formed band called The Sex Pistols turned up at Hertfordshire College of Art and Design in St. Albans pretending to be a support band and managed to blag their way on to the bill. John Lydon (aka Rotten) recounted on The Sex Pistols song Satellite:

"It's the story of the travelling nonsense, around the satellite towns of London, and picking up enough money to survive for a day or two. We had to do it, but in a way, that's what built the Sex Pistols crowd. They came from all those godforsaken new towns: Milton Keynes, St Albans. As bad as it was in London for young poeple, they had nothing at all in the satellite towns. No social scene, nothing"

A student there at the time - Shanne Bradley - was so impressed that she booked the band twice more during 1976. When the band were unavailable for a further booking she got The Damned to perform (their second ever gig).

Shanne was also inspired to form her own band - The Nipple Erectors - and following an audition at her bedsit an unkown singer called Shane McGowan became their lead singer.

As the punk scene began to develop other bands toured through St. Albans including The Clash on their infamous "White Riot Tour".

Inspired by these gigs and the buzz they caused a cluster of bands formed around the area, playing local venues and organising their own gigs. Others wrote fanzines or designed posters and badges. A few joined London bands such as Paul Dean - bassist with X-ray Spex and another Art College attendee John McKay who became guitarist with Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Local artist/designer Phil Smee was inspired to start a record label - Waldos Records, and began by releasing The Bears "On Me / Wot's Up Mate" in 1977. Others released DIY singles and cassettes - including several local band compilations.

New Wave became the catch all title for the disparate and individual acts that, inspired by punk's initial blast developed their own "alternative" pop styles, from punk-funk to caustic acoustica!

There was no more inspired and electric scene at the time than that of St. Albans and that sense of DIY inventiveness would endure for generations to come! St. Albans MusicCity, March 12 - 20, 2011, demonstrates how eclectic and abundant that culture remains -

What lies herein are memorabilia, reminiscences and sounds from an abundantly creative period in St. Albans' creative history.

Now go form a band!

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