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At a Glance

Formed: Jan 1977 (37 years ago)


Biography

Following the demise of Jet in 1976, vocalist Andy Ellison, bassist/writer Martin Gordon, guitarist Ian Macleod and drummer Chris Townson rehearsed new material at Island Records HQ in St. Peter's Square, London W12. After running the results past former Sparks manager John Hewlett, who had arranged these rehearsal sessions, the band went into Island Studios in the same building. Engineering was Gary Lyons, who had also engineered the (Roy Thomas Baker-produced) Jet album and who had developed a good working relationship with the band. One-time Sparks guitarist Trevor White also was present ... Read more

Following the demise of Jet in 1976, vocalist Andy Ellison, bassist/writer Martin Gordon, guitarist Ian Macleod and drummer Chris Townson rehearsed new material at Island Records HQ in St. Peter's Square, London W12. After running the results past former Sparks manager John Hewlett, who had arranged these rehearsal sessions, the band went into Island Studios in the same building. Engineering was Gary Lyons, who had also engineered the (Roy Thomas Baker-produced) Jet album and who had developed a good working relationship with the band. One-time Sparks guitarist Trevor White also was present at the sessions, offering his production expertise and timely humour. The musicians recorded four tunes, including the up-tempo 'Dirty Pictures', referring to the activities of Gordon's then girlfriend Kelly St. John, and the rather more reflective 'Sail Away'.

Island Records passed on the recordings, and Gordon went off to play bass with Hewlett protege Ian North, once of an earlier Island Records signing Milk'n'Cookies. This, however, was not an arrangement which was likely to endure. Gordon also recorded some more demos, include 'No Russians in Russia' and 'Don't Waste My Time', both of which featured guitarist Ian Macleod and vocalist Andy Ellison.

When Ellison mentioned that he had played the Island recordings to Chiswick Records, who had in turn expressed interest in releasing them, Gordon rejoined the fold. Not so Chris Townson, however, whose domestic commitments now prevented him from pursuing anything less than a full-time paying position. Ellison related how he had met Ted Carrol, the jovial Chiswick Records supremo. "Ted was really knocked out by 'Dirty Pictures', he wanted to release it right away but he assumed that Martin and I would be wanting to do it on a big level.... I managed to pursuade him that all we wanted is someone to put the record out for us, and Ted was the first person I'd met who considered anything on the tape to be commercially viable."

The band thus returned to Island Studios to mix two of the songs for a single release. They provided Chiswick Records with a shortlist of five possible names. One day the Melody Maker called Chiswick and wanted to know the name of the band. Ted looked at top of the list and said "Oh, it's called, er... Radio Stars", and so it came to pass.

'Dirty Pictures, released on April 8 1977, became an immediate cult classic. Slipping past the BBC censors, it found it's way onto John Peel's nightly show and made it into the New Wave/Independent charts. Monty Smith of the NME made the record single of the week for April 1. "Ensconced within the introductory fade-out feedbacks is a couple of minutes of ferocious early Kinks/Who concrete music, the best of bonce-spinning British smut-rock. The BBC will love them - not only will they not be able to play it ("I get my kicks up in the attic with a Kodak Instamatic") but the picture sleeve is a neat thumb-printed Radio Times pastiche featuring a naughty lady in black lingerie who is not exactly unattractive to men... " The cover concept was pinched from a photo session that the Goons did with Barbara Goalen (the face of '55) and featured the three musicians and a glamour model entitled Kelly St John (in fact Gordon's companion of the time) wearing see-through erotic lingerie.

The drummerless trio then snagged the services of Gary Thompson, a colleague of Ian Macleod, and on April 30, assembled in the Chiswick offices in preparation for a German tour. They were to support hard-rock band UFO. Taking the maximum permitted sum from the bank (thirty pounds per capita), they drove to Germany to make their debut in front of 6,500 German HM fans in Karlsruhe.

Shamelessly ripping off the best bits of UFO-stagecraft, the renamed Radio Stars swiftly left the introverted days of Jet behind them. By the end of the tour, they were a tight, flexible and above all confident ensemble, who delivered loud punchy rock played fast and kept short. Added to the mix was Ellison's stage persona, which was identical to his John's Children persona from the previous decade but which now was sartorially updated with leather jacket and kneepads. Gordon too had left his monogrammed riding boots at home - jeans and t-shirts were the order of the day.

Returning to the UK for their debut British gig at a girls' school in Mill Hill, the band soon found themselves back in the studio, recording the 'Stop It!' EP, inspired by their recent German exploits. The band were convinced that the Germans had been chanting "Stop It" at them during their recent tour. Opening 'Stop It!' was 'No Russians In Russia' (inspired by President Gerald Ford's misguided claim in 1976 that the Eastern Bloc was not influenced by the Soviets). Joining it was 'Johnny Mekon' from Jet days, 'Sorry I'm Tied Up' and 'Box 29'. A version of the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence', an old favourite of the band, was also recorded but in the end not included. (It eventually saw the light of day on the 'Somewhere There's a Place for Us' collection).

In the meantime Radio Stars had acquired management and an agency. The Asgard agency were recommended by Chiswick Records; the two Pauls (Fenn and Charles) got behind the band, and Radio Stars were to work almost without a break for the next two years.

Ellison's former bandmate and guitarist from John's Children Marc Bolan invited Radio Stars to appear on the Marc TV show. They debuted the lead track from the EP in March 1977. The British music press received 'Stop It!' with acclaim and only a little reservation, as noted in the previous year's end NME Rent-a-Punk Guide, and Sounds called the EP "a true pop band for the 70's...Radio Stars write catchy tunes with a sense of fun".

Jim Toomey, who once stood in for Chris Townson during the Jet tour with Hunter-Ronson, came back again in time for Radio Stars to join the Eddie and the Hot Rods' Summa Madness outing. In October, his replacement was Steve Parry, an expatriate Canadian. A few rehearsals taught Parry the songs, a few gigs made sure that he (more or less) remembered them, and then the band went into the studio to record their debut album.

The proposed title of 'Bowels Stuffed With Spleen' was derived from the same Greek menu that inspired the song 'Macaroni And Mice'. Chiswick however found the name unacceptable - a brainstorming pub session was called for. Under the influence of strong drink and Trevor White, 'Songs For Swinging Lovers' seemed to satisfy all parties. The previous two singles weren't on the album but Chiswick remedied the omission by including a freebie (termed a greatest hits single) coupling 'Dirty Pictures' with 'No Russians In Russia'.

Among the items recorded for the album was 'Elvis Is Dead Boring', written following the great man's death in 1977. A rather sanctimonious engineer at Olympic Studios refused to work on the song, which, undergoing minor cosmetic surgery, became 'Arthur Is Dead Boring'. 'The Beast of Barnsley' noted that the red-tops' fascination with mass rapist Reg Chapman wasn't doing their circulation much harm, whereupon the rapist's mother 'fainted to the floor', recovering only to instruct her lawyers. Again, a pragmatic lyric change was introduced - "she tried to chop Beasty's head off with a cleaver" was altered to "she considered chopping Beasty's head off with a cleaver", which didn't scan so well but was considerably cheaper in the long run. (While later touring London on the back of a lorry to promote the album, Radio Stars met a friend of the Beast who told them that Chapman was "dead chuffed" that a song had been written about his exploits). Paul Charles, the band's manager, defended the tune in the Daily Telegraph of November 10 1977, saying "the last thing we want to do is upset people at a family level, but we thought it is a case that could not be ignored".

The album was preceded by 'Nervous Wreck', released as a single in October. The press applauded - "Incisive jubilant pop built around a naggingly catchy melody'. "Andy Ellison whips out the anguish with tongue-in-cheek bravado and is answered by a demurely chirpy back-up chorus who chant that romantic word "electroencephalograph"; "a melody that quietly turns your head inside out", "ingeniously off-the-wall approach to making what they think are pop records", "delightful ditty about a dubiously romantic situation in bouncy good-time rock'n' roll style..."

The band's first appearance on Top of the Pops was cancelled due to a technicians strike, the second attempt saw them introduced as Paul McCartney and Wings. Radio Stars obligingly went into an atonal Teutonic version of Mull of Kintyre in reponse. (It was retained thereafter as a live favourite). Gordon's girlfriend Kelly, hot from the cover of Dirty Pictures', appeared on the show to mime to her vocal insert. She didn't think so, she claimed.

Radio Stars were touring at the time of the success of 'Nervous Wreck' and had been booked into venues on the strength of their pre-hit status. As the record hit, the venues remained the same size but the audiences doubled and re-doubled in number and enthusiasm. Fans clamoured for relics, such as pages of newspaper read by the band and, on one occasion, the skin from a banana actually eaten by Andy Ellison. Kelly St John sometimes appeared obtrusively at the side of the stage.

'Songs for Swinging Lovers' was released on November 25 1977 to general acclaim. "Rock'Roll without adopting a new wave pose as mantle of convenience said Sandy Robertson for Sounds - "more worthy of your investigation and time than nine-tenths of the junk that comes out each week!" he continues excitedly. "An aural Fawlty Towers", said the NME's Monty Smith. "The sly, slick soundtrack for Page Three of the Sun... Radio Stars stick out from the fetid morass of garage bands on fly-by night labels like Nureyev's whatsit through his leotard...not only do these guys play real good'n'snappy bop-along rock, they've also got a fistful of ace chewns and there's not a whiff of pretension about them...sod it, I'm off to play it again".

For Melody Maker, Harry Doherty produced a track by track breakdown - "For me, 'Songs For Swinging Lovers' embodies exactly what Radio Stars represent, the first "new wave" band to tackle the techniques of the seventies studio realistically, backed by some superb songs and a full complement of ideas that widen the dimensions even further. Gordon, you surprisingly find", he adds," is the creative engine that keeps Radio Stars in overdrive. Apart from producing the album imaginatively, he is the main writer in the band. His style is that of a cartoonist as opposed to loquacious lyricism. The often curious and always funny situations he writes of allow for uniqueness". The cover sparked controversy, showing the lovers of the title gently swinging by their necks from a tree.

A winter tour followed, kicked off by an impromptu circuit of London on the back of a lorry which ended with Andy being fined 65 pounds for dancing on the roof of a police van. The band reunited with Eddie and his famous Hot Rods, Squeeze opened with spirit and the Hotrods found themselves hard pressed to maintain the stranglehold on public and critical acclaim to which they had become accustomed.

Radio Stars recorded a new tune specifically written for release as a single. With an obscenity tucked away in the first verse and a riff borrowed from every nursery rhyme ever written, 'From A Rabbit' is an ode to the joys and pitfalls of body building. The BBC played it to death, but, even with the incentive of a 6" hip pocket edition and a reworked 'Beast No. 2' on the B-side, it stopped short of the charts. The band had received offers from other major record companies, notably Chrysalis Records, but eventually re-signed mid-tour with Chiswick when they made an offer the band couldn't understand.

After the tour they began recording a second album, selecting the Kinks-owned Konk Studios in north London. One night in the bar, they met Graham Chapman from Monty Python, and pursuaded him to sing a little song and to say 'Goodbye' in many different ways, which they insert into 'Sex In Chains Blues'. The album begins with 'Radio Stars', a thematic statement of intent, various other guests showed up, including former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones on harmonica and Chris Gent added a brass section. Jamie Crompton replaces Steve Parry on drums halfway through the album. His manager placed an embargo upon his protege's face and so, on the album cover, Jamie wears a rubber Mickey Mouse head. and a T-shirt with the message "I am Jamie Crompton" written upon it, which rendered the subterfuge rather pointless.

The next Radio Stars single was a trailer from the album, 'Radio Stars'. Perversely, the album track was considered too short for Radio One's requirements at 1 minute 16 seconds, so two versions were created. One was simply the song repeated twice, with Andy's impersonation of a gormless Radio 1 DJ saying "Well, there we are, the fabulous new single from Radio Stars, let's hear it again" linking the two, which didn't fool anyone, not even Radio 1 DJs. The other version had a specially written middle passage, recorded long after the rest of the track, as is clear to any alert listener, and this is the form in which it was officially released.

Jamie Crompton wandered off, joining Suzy Quatro as a guitarist, and was replaced by John Mackie. The band performed at the '78 Reading Festival, their biggest date so far, and were described as sounding like' an earthmover demolishing a series of brick walls'. Crompton returned and the band set off on their longest UK tour to date; 42 dates in two months was a gruelling schedule by anyone's standards. Chris Gent joined in when he could, on sax and vocals, and Trevor White played rhythm guitar. The tour eventually finished, but started up again almost immediately to support the new album, still unreleased. The release date kept slipping back - by the time the tour finished in November, the record still wasn't out.

The tour started up again for the third time. Gordon had his wisdom teeth removed and didn't return, with Trevor White switching to bass. Radio Stars gained their best reaction yet for the tour: "a cult band if they took themselves more seriously, a highly successful band if they prepared a strategy for the future instead of just having such good fun...though the fact that they get their kicks that way is an integrity recommendation in itself...the songs are heavy on amusing lyrics, memorable hooks and the band have overall Star quality...the audience are responsive to the direct approach of Radio Stars, who tackled the job with astonishing fervour and are a revelation."

When the 'Holiday Album' was eventually released, it gained mixed reviews - the advocates of humour felt it is too heavy, the devotees of heaviness felt it too humorous. Geoff Barton for Sounds appraised the album as "eccentricity, off-the-wall-ness and a plethora of pop hooks win through in the end...definitely deserving of a four star rating". Steve Parry reappeared on Jamie Crompton's drum stool, and the band undertook another tour in February 1979. A new single, 'The Real Me', was released but, despite good reviews, achieved no chart success. Record company support dwindled and the band eventually split up in the summer of 1979.

For their 32nd anniversary, the band reformed to perform at the Metro club in London in March 2008, with Steve Budney on drums. The band also played the Rebellion all-dayer at the Kentish Town Forum on Saturday 13 December 2008 and reprised their earlier tours with Eddie & the Hotrods as special guests of that band on January 22, 2010 at the 100 Club in London.

Singles:
Dirty Pictures / Chiswick 1977
Stop It! (EP) / Chiswick Records 1977
Nervous Wreck / Chiswick Records 1977
From a Rabbit / Chiswick Records 1978
Radio Stars / Chiswick Records 1978
The Real Me / Chiswick Records 1978
Good Personality / Moonlight Records 1981

Albums:
Songs for Swinging Lovers / Chiswick Records 1977
Holiday Album / Chiswick Records 1978
Two Minutes Mr Smith / Moonlight Records 1982
Somewhere There's a Place For Us (CD, download) / Ace Records 1992
Songs for Swinging Lovers (CD, download) / Ace Records 2008
Holiday Album (CD, download) / Ace Records 2008
Something for the Weekend (CD, download) / Radiant Future Records 2009

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Following the demise of Jet in 1976, vocalist Andy Ellison, bassist/writer Martin Gordon, guitarist Ian Macleod and drummer Chris Townson rehearsed new material at Island Records HQ in St. Peter's Square, London W12. After running the results past former Sparks manager John Hewlett, who had arranged these rehearsal sessions, the band went into Island Studios in the same building. Engineering was Gary Lyons, who had also engineered the (Roy Thomas Baker-produced) Jet album and who had developed a good working relationship with the band. One-time Sparks guitarist Trevor White also was present at the sessions, offering his production expertise and timely humour. The musicians recorded four tunes, including the up-tempo 'Dirty Pictures', referring to the activities of Gordon's then girlfriend Kelly St. John, and the rather more reflective 'Sail Away'.

Island Records passed on the recordings, and Gordon went off to play bass with Hewlett protege Ian North, once of an earlier Island Records signing Milk'n'Cookies. This, however, was not an arrangement which was likely to endure. Gordon also recorded some more demos, include 'No Russians in Russia' and 'Don't Waste My Time', both of which featured guitarist Ian Macleod and vocalist Andy Ellison.

When Ellison mentioned that he had played the Island recordings to Chiswick Records, who had in turn expressed interest in releasing them, Gordon rejoined the fold. Not so Chris Townson, however, whose domestic commitments now prevented him from pursuing anything less than a full-time paying position. Ellison related how he had met Ted Carrol, the jovial Chiswick Records supremo. "Ted was really knocked out by 'Dirty Pictures', he wanted to release it right away but he assumed that Martin and I would be wanting to do it on a big level.... I managed to pursuade him that all we wanted is someone to put the record out for us, and Ted was the first person I'd met who considered anything on the tape to be commercially viable."

The band thus returned to Island Studios to mix two of the songs for a single release. They provided Chiswick Records with a shortlist of five possible names. One day the Melody Maker called Chiswick and wanted to know the name of the band. Ted looked at top of the list and said "Oh, it's called, er... Radio Stars", and so it came to pass.

'Dirty Pictures, released on April 8 1977, became an immediate cult classic. Slipping past the BBC censors, it found it's way onto John Peel's nightly show and made it into the New Wave/Independent charts. Monty Smith of the NME made the record single of the week for April 1. "Ensconced within the introductory fade-out feedbacks is a couple of minutes of ferocious early Kinks/Who concrete music, the best of bonce-spinning British smut-rock. The BBC will love them - not only will they not be able to play it ("I get my kicks up in the attic with a Kodak Instamatic") but the picture sleeve is a neat thumb-printed Radio Times pastiche featuring a naughty lady in black lingerie who is not exactly unattractive to men... " The cover concept was pinched from a photo session that the Goons did with Barbara Goalen (the face of '55) and featured the three musicians and a glamour model entitled Kelly St John (in fact Gordon's companion of the time) wearing see-through erotic lingerie.

The drummerless trio then snagged the services of Gary Thompson, a colleague of Ian Macleod, and on April 30, assembled in the Chiswick offices in preparation for a German tour. They were to support hard-rock band UFO. Taking the maximum permitted sum from the bank (thirty pounds per capita), they drove to Germany to make their debut in front of 6,500 German HM fans in Karlsruhe.

Shamelessly ripping off the best bits of UFO-stagecraft, the renamed Radio Stars swiftly left the introverted days of Jet behind them. By the end of the tour, they were a tight, flexible and above all confident ensemble, who delivered loud punchy rock played fast and kept short. Added to the mix was Ellison's stage persona, which was identical to his John's Children persona from the previous decade but which now was sartorially updated with leather jacket and kneepads. Gordon too had left his monogrammed riding boots at home - jeans and t-shirts were the order of the day.

Returning to the UK for their debut British gig at a girls' school in Mill Hill, the band soon found themselves back in the studio, recording the 'Stop It!' EP, inspired by their recent German exploits. The band were convinced that the Germans had been chanting "Stop It" at them during their recent tour. Opening 'Stop It!' was 'No Russians In Russia' (inspired by President Gerald Ford's misguided claim in 1976 that the Eastern Bloc was not influenced by the Soviets). Joining it was 'Johnny Mekon' from Jet days, 'Sorry I'm Tied Up' and 'Box 29'. A version of the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence', an old favourite of the band, was also recorded but in the end not included. (It eventually saw the light of day on the 'Somewhere There's a Place for Us' collection).

In the meantime Radio Stars had acquired management and an agency. The Asgard agency were recommended by Chiswick Records; the two Pauls (Fenn and Charles) got behind the band, and Radio Stars were to work almost without a break for the next two years.

Ellison's former bandmate and guitarist from John's Children Marc Bolan invited Radio Stars to appear on the Marc TV show. They debuted the lead track from the EP in March 1977. The British music press received 'Stop It!' with acclaim and only a little reservation, as noted in the previous year's end NME Rent-a-Punk Guide, and Sounds called the EP "a true pop band for the 70's...Radio Stars write catchy tunes with a sense of fun".

Jim Toomey, who once stood in for Chris Townson during the Jet tour with Hunter-Ronson, came back again in time for Radio Stars to join the Eddie and the Hot Rods' Summa Madness outing. In October, his replacement was Steve Parry, an expatriate Canadian. A few rehearsals taught Parry the songs, a few gigs made sure that he (more or less) remembered them, and then the band went into the studio to record their debut album.

The proposed title of 'Bowels Stuffed With Spleen' was derived from the same Greek menu that inspired the song 'Macaroni And Mice'. Chiswick however found the name unacceptable - a brainstorming pub session was called for. Under the influence of strong drink and Trevor White, 'Songs For Swinging Lovers' seemed to satisfy all parties. The previous two singles weren't on the album but Chiswick remedied the omission by including a freebie (termed a greatest hits single) coupling 'Dirty Pictures' with 'No Russians In Russia'.

Among the items recorded for the album was 'Elvis Is Dead Boring', written following the great man's death in 1977. A rather sanctimonious engineer at Olympic Studios refused to work on the song, which, undergoing minor cosmetic surgery, became 'Arthur Is Dead Boring'. 'The Beast of Barnsley' noted that the red-tops' fascination with mass rapist Reg Chapman wasn't doing their circulation much harm, whereupon the rapist's mother 'fainted to the floor', recovering only to instruct her lawyers. Again, a pragmatic lyric change was introduced - "she tried to chop Beasty's head off with a cleaver" was altered to "she considered chopping Beasty's head off with a cleaver", which didn't scan so well but was considerably cheaper in the long run. (While later touring London on the back of a lorry to promote the album, Radio Stars met a friend of the Beast who told them that Chapman was "dead chuffed" that a song had been written about his exploits). Paul Charles, the band's manager, defended the tune in the Daily Telegraph of November 10 1977, saying "the last thing we want to do is upset people at a family level, but we thought it is a case that could not be ignored".

The album was preceded by 'Nervous Wreck', released as a single in October. The press applauded - "Incisive jubilant pop built around a naggingly catchy melody'. "Andy Ellison whips out the anguish with tongue-in-cheek bravado and is answered by a demurely chirpy back-up chorus who chant that romantic word "electroencephalograph"; "a melody that quietly turns your head inside out", "ingeniously off-the-wall approach to making what they think are pop records", "delightful ditty about a dubiously romantic situation in bouncy good-time rock'n' roll style..."

The band's first appearance on Top of the Pops was cancelled due to a technicians strike, the second attempt saw them introduced as Paul McCartney and Wings. Radio Stars obligingly went into an atonal Teutonic version of Mull of Kintyre in reponse. (It was retained thereafter as a live favourite). Gordon's girlfriend Kelly, hot from the cover of Dirty Pictures', appeared on the show to mime to her vocal insert. She didn't think so, she claimed.

Radio Stars were touring at the time of the success of 'Nervous Wreck' and had been booked into venues on the strength of their pre-hit status. As the record hit, the venues remained the same size but the audiences doubled and re-doubled in number and enthusiasm. Fans clamoured for relics, such as pages of newspaper read by the band and, on one occasion, the skin from a banana actually eaten by Andy Ellison. Kelly St John sometimes appeared obtrusively at the side of the stage.

'Songs for Swinging Lovers' was released on November 25 1977 to general acclaim. "Rock'Roll without adopting a new wave pose as mantle of convenience said Sandy Robertson for Sounds - "more worthy of your investigation and time than nine-tenths of the junk that comes out each week!" he continues excitedly. "An aural Fawlty Towers", said the NME's Monty Smith. "The sly, slick soundtrack for Page Three of the Sun... Radio Stars stick out from the fetid morass of garage bands on fly-by night labels like Nureyev's whatsit through his leotard...not only do these guys play real good'n'snappy bop-along rock, they've also got a fistful of ace chewns and there's not a whiff of pretension about them...sod it, I'm off to play it again".

For Melody Maker, Harry Doherty produced a track by track breakdown - "For me, 'Songs For Swinging Lovers' embodies exactly what Radio Stars represent, the first "new wave" band to tackle the techniques of the seventies studio realistically, backed by some superb songs and a full complement of ideas that widen the dimensions even further. Gordon, you surprisingly find", he adds," is the creative engine that keeps Radio Stars in overdrive. Apart from producing the album imaginatively, he is the main writer in the band. His style is that of a cartoonist as opposed to loquacious lyricism. The often curious and always funny situations he writes of allow for uniqueness". The cover sparked controversy, showing the lovers of the title gently swinging by their necks from a tree.

A winter tour followed, kicked off by an impromptu circuit of London on the back of a lorry which ended with Andy being fined 65 pounds for dancing on the roof of a police van. The band reunited with Eddie and his famous Hot Rods, Squeeze opened with spirit and the Hotrods found themselves hard pressed to maintain the stranglehold on public and critical acclaim to which they had become accustomed.

Radio Stars recorded a new tune specifically written for release as a single. With an obscenity tucked away in the first verse and a riff borrowed from every nursery rhyme ever written, 'From A Rabbit' is an ode to the joys and pitfalls of body building. The BBC played it to death, but, even with the incentive of a 6" hip pocket edition and a reworked 'Beast No. 2' on the B-side, it stopped short of the charts. The band had received offers from other major record companies, notably Chrysalis Records, but eventually re-signed mid-tour with Chiswick when they made an offer the band couldn't understand.

After the tour they began recording a second album, selecting the Kinks-owned Konk Studios in north London. One night in the bar, they met Graham Chapman from Monty Python, and pursuaded him to sing a little song and to say 'Goodbye' in many different ways, which they insert into 'Sex In Chains Blues'. The album begins with 'Radio Stars', a thematic statement of intent, various other guests showed up, including former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones on harmonica and Chris Gent added a brass section. Jamie Crompton replaces Steve Parry on drums halfway through the album. His manager placed an embargo upon his protege's face and so, on the album cover, Jamie wears a rubber Mickey Mouse head. and a T-shirt with the message "I am Jamie Crompton" written upon it, which rendered the subterfuge rather pointless.

The next Radio Stars single was a trailer from the album, 'Radio Stars'. Perversely, the album track was considered too short for Radio One's requirements at 1 minute 16 seconds, so two versions were created. One was simply the song repeated twice, with Andy's impersonation of a gormless Radio 1 DJ saying "Well, there we are, the fabulous new single from Radio Stars, let's hear it again" linking the two, which didn't fool anyone, not even Radio 1 DJs. The other version had a specially written middle passage, recorded long after the rest of the track, as is clear to any alert listener, and this is the form in which it was officially released.

Jamie Crompton wandered off, joining Suzy Quatro as a guitarist, and was replaced by John Mackie. The band performed at the '78 Reading Festival, their biggest date so far, and were described as sounding like' an earthmover demolishing a series of brick walls'. Crompton returned and the band set off on their longest UK tour to date; 42 dates in two months was a gruelling schedule by anyone's standards. Chris Gent joined in when he could, on sax and vocals, and Trevor White played rhythm guitar. The tour eventually finished, but started up again almost immediately to support the new album, still unreleased. The release date kept slipping back - by the time the tour finished in November, the record still wasn't out.

The tour started up again for the third time. Gordon had his wisdom teeth removed and didn't return, with Trevor White switching to bass. Radio Stars gained their best reaction yet for the tour: "a cult band if they took themselves more seriously, a highly successful band if they prepared a strategy for the future instead of just having such good fun...though the fact that they get their kicks that way is an integrity recommendation in itself...the songs are heavy on amusing lyrics, memorable hooks and the band have overall Star quality...the audience are responsive to the direct approach of Radio Stars, who tackled the job with astonishing fervour and are a revelation."

When the 'Holiday Album' was eventually released, it gained mixed reviews - the advocates of humour felt it is too heavy, the devotees of heaviness felt it too humorous. Geoff Barton for Sounds appraised the album as "eccentricity, off-the-wall-ness and a plethora of pop hooks win through in the end...definitely deserving of a four star rating". Steve Parry reappeared on Jamie Crompton's drum stool, and the band undertook another tour in February 1979. A new single, 'The Real Me', was released but, despite good reviews, achieved no chart success. Record company support dwindled and the band eventually split up in the summer of 1979.

For their 32nd anniversary, the band reformed to perform at the Metro club in London in March 2008, with Steve Budney on drums. The band also played the Rebellion all-dayer at the Kentish Town Forum on Saturday 13 December 2008 and reprised their earlier tours with Eddie & the Hotrods as special guests of that band on January 22, 2010 at the 100 Club in London.

Singles:
Dirty Pictures / Chiswick 1977
Stop It! (EP) / Chiswick Records 1977
Nervous Wreck / Chiswick Records 1977
From a Rabbit / Chiswick Records 1978
Radio Stars / Chiswick Records 1978
The Real Me / Chiswick Records 1978
Good Personality / Moonlight Records 1981

Albums:
Songs for Swinging Lovers / Chiswick Records 1977
Holiday Album / Chiswick Records 1978
Two Minutes Mr Smith / Moonlight Records 1982
Somewhere There's a Place For Us (CD, download) / Ace Records 1992
Songs for Swinging Lovers (CD, download) / Ace Records 2008
Holiday Album (CD, download) / Ace Records 2008
Something for the Weekend (CD, download) / Radiant Future Records 2009

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

Following the demise of Jet in 1976, vocalist Andy Ellison, bassist/writer Martin Gordon, guitarist Ian Macleod and drummer Chris Townson rehearsed new material at Island Records HQ in St. Peter's Square, London W12. After running the results past former Sparks manager John Hewlett, who had arranged these rehearsal sessions, the band went into Island Studios in the same building. Engineering was Gary Lyons, who had also engineered the (Roy Thomas Baker-produced) Jet album and who had developed a good working relationship with the band. One-time Sparks guitarist Trevor White also was present at the sessions, offering his production expertise and timely humour. The musicians recorded four tunes, including the up-tempo 'Dirty Pictures', referring to the activities of Gordon's then girlfriend Kelly St. John, and the rather more reflective 'Sail Away'.

Island Records passed on the recordings, and Gordon went off to play bass with Hewlett protege Ian North, once of an earlier Island Records signing Milk'n'Cookies. This, however, was not an arrangement which was likely to endure. Gordon also recorded some more demos, include 'No Russians in Russia' and 'Don't Waste My Time', both of which featured guitarist Ian Macleod and vocalist Andy Ellison.

When Ellison mentioned that he had played the Island recordings to Chiswick Records, who had in turn expressed interest in releasing them, Gordon rejoined the fold. Not so Chris Townson, however, whose domestic commitments now prevented him from pursuing anything less than a full-time paying position. Ellison related how he had met Ted Carrol, the jovial Chiswick Records supremo. "Ted was really knocked out by 'Dirty Pictures', he wanted to release it right away but he assumed that Martin and I would be wanting to do it on a big level.... I managed to pursuade him that all we wanted is someone to put the record out for us, and Ted was the first person I'd met who considered anything on the tape to be commercially viable."

The band thus returned to Island Studios to mix two of the songs for a single release. They provided Chiswick Records with a shortlist of five possible names. One day the Melody Maker called Chiswick and wanted to know the name of the band. Ted looked at top of the list and said "Oh, it's called, er... Radio Stars", and so it came to pass.

'Dirty Pictures, released on April 8 1977, became an immediate cult classic. Slipping past the BBC censors, it found it's way onto John Peel's nightly show and made it into the New Wave/Independent charts. Monty Smith of the NME made the record single of the week for April 1. "Ensconced within the introductory fade-out feedbacks is a couple of minutes of ferocious early Kinks/Who concrete music, the best of bonce-spinning British smut-rock. The BBC will love them - not only will they not be able to play it ("I get my kicks up in the attic with a Kodak Instamatic") but the picture sleeve is a neat thumb-printed Radio Times pastiche featuring a naughty lady in black lingerie who is not exactly unattractive to men... " The cover concept was pinched from a photo session that the Goons did with Barbara Goalen (the face of '55) and featured the three musicians and a glamour model entitled Kelly St John (in fact Gordon's companion of the time) wearing see-through erotic lingerie.

The drummerless trio then snagged the services of Gary Thompson, a colleague of Ian Macleod, and on April 30, assembled in the Chiswick offices in preparation for a German tour. They were to support hard-rock band UFO. Taking the maximum permitted sum from the bank (thirty pounds per capita), they drove to Germany to make their debut in front of 6,500 German HM fans in Karlsruhe.

Shamelessly ripping off the best bits of UFO-stagecraft, the renamed Radio Stars swiftly left the introverted days of Jet behind them. By the end of the tour, they were a tight, flexible and above all confident ensemble, who delivered loud punchy rock played fast and kept short. Added to the mix was Ellison's stage persona, which was identical to his John's Children persona from the previous decade but which now was sartorially updated with leather jacket and kneepads. Gordon too had left his monogrammed riding boots at home - jeans and t-shirts were the order of the day.

Returning to the UK for their debut British gig at a girls' school in Mill Hill, the band soon found themselves back in the studio, recording the 'Stop It!' EP, inspired by their recent German exploits. The band were convinced that the Germans had been chanting "Stop It" at them during their recent tour. Opening 'Stop It!' was 'No Russians In Russia' (inspired by President Gerald Ford's misguided claim in 1976 that the Eastern Bloc was not influenced by the Soviets). Joining it was 'Johnny Mekon' from Jet days, 'Sorry I'm Tied Up' and 'Box 29'. A version of the Beatles' 'Dear Prudence', an old favourite of the band, was also recorded but in the end not included. (It eventually saw the light of day on the 'Somewhere There's a Place for Us' collection).

In the meantime Radio Stars had acquired management and an agency. The Asgard agency were recommended by Chiswick Records; the two Pauls (Fenn and Charles) got behind the band, and Radio Stars were to work almost without a break for the next two years.

Ellison's former bandmate and guitarist from John's Children Marc Bolan invited Radio Stars to appear on the Marc TV show. They debuted the lead track from the EP in March 1977. The British music press received 'Stop It!' with acclaim and only a little reservation, as noted in the previous year's end NME Rent-a-Punk Guide, and Sounds called the EP "a true pop band for the 70's...Radio Stars write catchy tunes with a sense of fun".

Jim Toomey, who once stood in for Chris Townson during the Jet tour with Hunter-Ronson, came back again in time for Radio Stars to join the Eddie and the Hot Rods' Summa Madness outing. In October, his replacement was Steve Parry, an expatriate Canadian. A few rehearsals taught Parry the songs, a few gigs made sure that he (more or less) remembered them, and then the band went into the studio to record their debut album.

The proposed title of 'Bowels Stuffed With Spleen' was derived from the same Greek menu that inspired the song 'Macaroni And Mice'. Chiswick however found the name unacceptable - a brainstorming pub session was called for. Under the influence of strong drink and Trevor White, 'Songs For Swinging Lovers' seemed to satisfy all parties. The previous two singles weren't on the album but Chiswick remedied the omission by including a freebie (termed a greatest hits single) coupling 'Dirty Pictures' with 'No Russians In Russia'.

Among the items recorded for the album was 'Elvis Is Dead Boring', written following the great man's death in 1977. A rather sanctimonious engineer at Olympic Studios refused to work on the song, which, undergoing minor cosmetic surgery, became 'Arthur Is Dead Boring'. 'The Beast of Barnsley' noted that the red-tops' fascination with mass rapist Reg Chapman wasn't doing their circulation much harm, whereupon the rapist's mother 'fainted to the floor', recovering only to instruct her lawyers. Again, a pragmatic lyric change was introduced - "she tried to chop Beasty's head off with a cleaver" was altered to "she considered chopping Beasty's head off with a cleaver", which didn't scan so well but was considerably cheaper in the long run. (While later touring London on the back of a lorry to promote the album, Radio Stars met a friend of the Beast who told them that Chapman was "dead chuffed" that a song had been written about his exploits). Paul Charles, the band's manager, defended the tune in the Daily Telegraph of November 10 1977, saying "the last thing we want to do is upset people at a family level, but we thought it is a case that could not be ignored".

The album was preceded by 'Nervous Wreck', released as a single in October. The press applauded - "Incisive jubilant pop built around a naggingly catchy melody'. "Andy Ellison whips out the anguish with tongue-in-cheek bravado and is answered by a demurely chirpy back-up chorus who chant that romantic word "electroencephalograph"; "a melody that quietly turns your head inside out", "ingeniously off-the-wall approach to making what they think are pop records", "delightful ditty about a dubiously romantic situation in bouncy good-time rock'n' roll style..."

The band's first appearance on Top of the Pops was cancelled due to a technicians strike, the second attempt saw them introduced as Paul McCartney and Wings. Radio Stars obligingly went into an atonal Teutonic version of Mull of Kintyre in reponse. (It was retained thereafter as a live favourite). Gordon's girlfriend Kelly, hot from the cover of Dirty Pictures', appeared on the show to mime to her vocal insert. She didn't think so, she claimed.

Radio Stars were touring at the time of the success of 'Nervous Wreck' and had been booked into venues on the strength of their pre-hit status. As the record hit, the venues remained the same size but the audiences doubled and re-doubled in number and enthusiasm. Fans clamoured for relics, such as pages of newspaper read by the band and, on one occasion, the skin from a banana actually eaten by Andy Ellison. Kelly St John sometimes appeared obtrusively at the side of the stage.

'Songs for Swinging Lovers' was released on November 25 1977 to general acclaim. "Rock'Roll without adopting a new wave pose as mantle of convenience said Sandy Robertson for Sounds - "more worthy of your investigation and time than nine-tenths of the junk that comes out each week!" he continues excitedly. "An aural Fawlty Towers", said the NME's Monty Smith. "The sly, slick soundtrack for Page Three of the Sun... Radio Stars stick out from the fetid morass of garage bands on fly-by night labels like Nureyev's whatsit through his leotard...not only do these guys play real good'n'snappy bop-along rock, they've also got a fistful of ace chewns and there's not a whiff of pretension about them...sod it, I'm off to play it again".

For Melody Maker, Harry Doherty produced a track by track breakdown - "For me, 'Songs For Swinging Lovers' embodies exactly what Radio Stars represent, the first "new wave" band to tackle the techniques of the seventies studio realistically, backed by some superb songs and a full complement of ideas that widen the dimensions even further. Gordon, you surprisingly find", he adds," is the creative engine that keeps Radio Stars in overdrive. Apart from producing the album imaginatively, he is the main writer in the band. His style is that of a cartoonist as opposed to loquacious lyricism. The often curious and always funny situations he writes of allow for uniqueness". The cover sparked controversy, showing the lovers of the title gently swinging by their necks from a tree.

A winter tour followed, kicked off by an impromptu circuit of London on the back of a lorry which ended with Andy being fined 65 pounds for dancing on the roof of a police van. The band reunited with Eddie and his famous Hot Rods, Squeeze opened with spirit and the Hotrods found themselves hard pressed to maintain the stranglehold on public and critical acclaim to which they had become accustomed.

Radio Stars recorded a new tune specifically written for release as a single. With an obscenity tucked away in the first verse and a riff borrowed from every nursery rhyme ever written, 'From A Rabbit' is an ode to the joys and pitfalls of body building. The BBC played it to death, but, even with the incentive of a 6" hip pocket edition and a reworked 'Beast No. 2' on the B-side, it stopped short of the charts. The band had received offers from other major record companies, notably Chrysalis Records, but eventually re-signed mid-tour with Chiswick when they made an offer the band couldn't understand.

After the tour they began recording a second album, selecting the Kinks-owned Konk Studios in north London. One night in the bar, they met Graham Chapman from Monty Python, and pursuaded him to sing a little song and to say 'Goodbye' in many different ways, which they insert into 'Sex In Chains Blues'. The album begins with 'Radio Stars', a thematic statement of intent, various other guests showed up, including former Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones on harmonica and Chris Gent added a brass section. Jamie Crompton replaces Steve Parry on drums halfway through the album. His manager placed an embargo upon his protege's face and so, on the album cover, Jamie wears a rubber Mickey Mouse head. and a T-shirt with the message "I am Jamie Crompton" written upon it, which rendered the subterfuge rather pointless.

The next Radio Stars single was a trailer from the album, 'Radio Stars'. Perversely, the album track was considered too short for Radio One's requirements at 1 minute 16 seconds, so two versions were created. One was simply the song repeated twice, with Andy's impersonation of a gormless Radio 1 DJ saying "Well, there we are, the fabulous new single from Radio Stars, let's hear it again" linking the two, which didn't fool anyone, not even Radio 1 DJs. The other version had a specially written middle passage, recorded long after the rest of the track, as is clear to any alert listener, and this is the form in which it was officially released.

Jamie Crompton wandered off, joining Suzy Quatro as a guitarist, and was replaced by John Mackie. The band performed at the '78 Reading Festival, their biggest date so far, and were described as sounding like' an earthmover demolishing a series of brick walls'. Crompton returned and the band set off on their longest UK tour to date; 42 dates in two months was a gruelling schedule by anyone's standards. Chris Gent joined in when he could, on sax and vocals, and Trevor White played rhythm guitar. The tour eventually finished, but started up again almost immediately to support the new album, still unreleased. The release date kept slipping back - by the time the tour finished in November, the record still wasn't out.

The tour started up again for the third time. Gordon had his wisdom teeth removed and didn't return, with Trevor White switching to bass. Radio Stars gained their best reaction yet for the tour: "a cult band if they took themselves more seriously, a highly successful band if they prepared a strategy for the future instead of just having such good fun...though the fact that they get their kicks that way is an integrity recommendation in itself...the songs are heavy on amusing lyrics, memorable hooks and the band have overall Star quality...the audience are responsive to the direct approach of Radio Stars, who tackled the job with astonishing fervour and are a revelation."

When the 'Holiday Album' was eventually released, it gained mixed reviews - the advocates of humour felt it is too heavy, the devotees of heaviness felt it too humorous. Geoff Barton for Sounds appraised the album as "eccentricity, off-the-wall-ness and a plethora of pop hooks win through in the end...definitely deserving of a four star rating". Steve Parry reappeared on Jamie Crompton's drum stool, and the band undertook another tour in February 1979. A new single, 'The Real Me', was released but, despite good reviews, achieved no chart success. Record company support dwindled and the band eventually split up in the summer of 1979.

For their 32nd anniversary, the band reformed to perform at the Metro club in London in March 2008, with Steve Budney on drums. The band also played the Rebellion all-dayer at the Kentish Town Forum on Saturday 13 December 2008 and reprised their earlier tours with Eddie & the Hotrods as special guests of that band on January 22, 2010 at the 100 Club in London.

Singles:
Dirty Pictures / Chiswick 1977
Stop It! (EP) / Chiswick Records 1977
Nervous Wreck / Chiswick Records 1977
From a Rabbit / Chiswick Records 1978
Radio Stars / Chiswick Records 1978
The Real Me / Chiswick Records 1978
Good Personality / Moonlight Records 1981

Albums:
Songs for Swinging Lovers / Chiswick Records 1977
Holiday Album / Chiswick Records 1978
Two Minutes Mr Smith / Moonlight Records 1982
Somewhere There's a Place For Us (CD, download) / Ace Records 1992
Songs for Swinging Lovers (CD, download) / Ace Records 2008
Holiday Album (CD, download) / Ace Records 2008
Something for the Weekend (CD, download) / Radiant Future Records 2009

This biography was provided by the artist or their representative.

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