The Damned

The Damned is an English punk-rock/psych band from London that released two albums on Stiff Records in 1977. The band split in early 1978 but reformed later that year with a revised lineup in which original bassist Captain Sensible switched to guitar, opening the door to a succession of bassists. In 1979, the band released Machine Gun Etiquette on Chiswick Records, followed in 1980 by the triple-sided studio release The Black Album. Three further albums followed between 1982 and 1986 on Bronze and MCA, after which the band focused more on merchandising and live shows.

Members: Dave Vanian (vocals, theremin), Brian James (guitar, 1976-78, 1989-91), Captain Sensible (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals, 1976-84, 1989-92, 1996-present), Rat Scabies (drums, 1976-77, 1978-96), Lu Edmonds [aka Lu] (guitar, 1977-78), Jon Moss (drums, 1977-78), Alasdair Ward [aka Algy Ward] (bass, 1978-79), Paul Gray (bass, 1980-83, 1989-92, 1996, 2017-present), Bryn Merrick (bass, 1983-89), Roman Jugg (organ, synthesizer, guitar, 1983-89)


The Damned assembled in the spring of 1976 from the remnants of two rehearsal bands: London SS and Masters of the Backside. Guitarist Brian James hailed from London SS, where he played alongside future members of The Clash and Generation X. For a brief time, London SS included drummer Rat Scabies (aka Chris Millar), who soon drifted to Masters of the Backside with singer Dave Vanian (aka Dave Lett), bassist Captain Sensible (aka Ray Burns), and American guitarist/singer Chrissie Hynde.

Masters of the Backside formed under the guidance of Sex Pistols manager Malcom McLaren, who owned the Kings Road punk boutique SEX, where Hynde worked. McLaren’s idea was to assembled more bands with a sound and image akin to the Pistols so that his boys would be seen as the vanguard of a new movement. As the nucleus of The Clash took hold within London SS, James drifted to the MotB camp, which renamed itself The Damned (a name briefly considered that spring by another rising local act, Ultravox, who performed a song titled “The Wild, the Beautiful, and the Damned“). Hynde left the band (later to surface as the frontwoman of The Pretenders) and McLaren associate Andy Czezowski took over as their manager.

The Damned played their first proper concert at London’s 100 Club on July 6, 1976, as an opening act for the Pistols. That August, The Damned played the First European Punk Rock Festival in Mont de Marsan in Southwest France. (Other acts who performed at the 8/21/76 event included Eddie and the Hot Rods, Pink Fairies, Roogalator, and the Tyla Gang). On September 21, The Damned played the second night of the 100 Club Punk Special. Their performance took place between sets by fellow up-and-comers The Vibrators and the Buzzcocks.

That fall, The Damned signed with indie upstart Stiff Records and recorded their first single, “New Rose.” It was produced by musician Nick Lowe, who befriended the band during the Mont de Marsan event. The single was released on October 22, 1976, beating the vinyl debut of rivals The Sex Pistols by five weeks. Its b-side is a sped-up cover of The Beatles “Help.”


Discography:

  • Damned Damned Damned (1977)
  • Music for Pleasure (1977)
  • Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)
  • The Black Album (2LP, 1980)
  • Strawberries (1982)
  • Phantasmagoria (1985)
  • Anything (1986)

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