In the 1970’s I lived opposite the Lord Nelson (now the Horatio) pub on Holloway Rd. in North London.
Bands played there nearly every night so I would often wander over to see the likes of Dr. Feelgood, Flip City (with Elvis Costello), Kilburn and the High Roads (with Ian Dury), Ducks Deluxe and many other great bands now lost to the mists of time.
One night I could hear a raucous racket coming over from the pub through my window and when I went over to investigate I was confronted by Mike Spenser’s band the Flying Tigers. I say “confronted” because this was in your face rock and roll – punk, before the term was in general use.
Mike announced from the stage that their lead guitarist had failed to show so at the end of the first set I volunteered to step in as I knew most of the songs they were playing and my guitar and amp were in my flat opposite.
Ben Donnelly, the bass player and Phil, the roadie came to help me hump my Selmer Zodiac (red and chrome – wish I still had it) over to the pub and I sat in.
After the show Mike asked me to come down to a rehearsal that weekend. This was when I met the missing lead guitarist Richard Anderson who was brilliant and a major influence on my future playing.
Soon the Tigers morphed into the Cannibals and continued to walk a trashy path for many years to come.
We recorded some tracks at Pathway Studios in Islington North London with master engineer Bazza who worked on many of the early releases on Stiff records. Two tracks (“Good Guys/Nothing takes the place of you”) from this session were released as a single on Big Cock Records (F-UK 1).
There was quite a bit of media interest in this single and John Peel played it often, sometimes twice in the same show!
After his sad death a small box of his absolute favourite discs was found and the Cannibals 45 was in that box.
Ben Donnelly and I then went on to recruit Bill Hurley to form the Inmates and Tony Oliver from the Cannibals joined us.
The Inmates recorded “Dirty Water” for Soho records but then signed with Radar Records, home of Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, Ray Campi, Roky Ericksen and others. We went on to have hits in the USA, UK and Europe……
It’s been an interesting and (mostly) enjoyable trip!
Recently I met up again with Mike and offered to make shows for Trash Can Radio – which I listen to avidly, so after a quick technical tutorial from Mike….GUNN’S GROTTO was created!
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