The Godfathers

The Godfathers were an English rock band that released three albums on Epic between 1988 and 1991. Their debut proper, Birth, School, Work, Death, spawned rock radio hits with “If I Only Had Time,” “When Am I Coming Down,” “Cause I Said So,” and the title track.

Members: Peter Coyne (vocals), Chris Coyne (bass), Mike Gibson (guitar, 1985-92, 2008-09), Kris Dollimore (guitar, 1985-90, 2008-09), George Mazur (drums, 1985-92, 2008-09), Chris Burrows (guitar, 1990-95), Ali Byworth (drums, 1992-95), Ricky Newson (guitar, 1995-?), Paul Ronney (guitar, 1995-97, 2000), Grant Nicholas (drums, 1995-98, 2009-12), James Stirling (guitar), Les Riggs (drums, 1998), Sam Powell (bass, 2000), Igor (drums, 2000-01), Del Bartle (guitar, 2009-present), Dave Twigg (drums, 2012-present)

The Coyne Brothers

The Godfathers evolved from the Sid Presley Experience, a post-punk band that featured the Coyne brothers: Peter (vocals) and Chris (bass).

The Coyne’s grew up in South London in a large, tight-knit Irish family where the motto was “don’t side with anybody out of the family.” The brothers later noted similarities in their Celtic clannishness and the fierce Italian loyalties portrayed in American mobster films like The Godfather.[1]

Their earliest musical influences were American ’50s rock and the British ’60s beat boom. As teenagers, the Coyne’s absorbed the pub rock and punk sounds coursing through England. After a series of odd jobs, Peter worked for three years as a music journalist. 

The Sid Presley Experience

In 1982, Peter and Chris formed the Sid Presley Experience with guitarist Del Bartle and drummer Kevin Murphy. The name referred to their three-pronged roots in punk (Sid Vicious), ’50s rock (Elvis Presley), and ’60s freakbeat (Jimi Hendrix Experience). They self-released a maxi-single comprised of the group-original “‘F’ for Fake” and two covers: John Lennon’s “Cold Turkey” and the Jimmie Haskell composition “Firewater,” recorded in 1964 by surf rockers The Astronauts.

In May 1984, the Sid Presley Experience issued the single “Hup Two Three Four….” (b/w “Public Enemy Number One….”) on indie I.D. Records. The instrumental b-side sports a “Peter Gunn”-like riff in F#, overlaid with cross-picking, searing sustain, machine guns, and sirens. On the record sleeve, the four are dressed like mods. As in all subsequent media, the Coyne’s don slicked-back hair and ties; their image inspired by ’60s East End mobsters the Kray Brothers.

With a micro-hit on their hands, they mimed “Public Enemy” on The Tube, an ITV music program. As egos soared, on-stage punch-ups flared between the Coyne’s and Bartle and Murphy. The brothers replaced the latter two with guitarist Mike Gibson and drummer George Mazur, both Yorkshire natives. They expanded to five with lead guitarist Kris Dollimore, a seasoned sideman from the British Isle of Sheppey.

The new lineup played two UK shows, then hit the US for a string of dates in August 1985. Upon their return, they flipped through Halliwell’s Film Guide for potential new names. They picked The Godfathers because of its imposing, larger-than-life quality.


  • Hit by Hit (comp, 1986)
  • Birth, School, Work, Death (1988)
  • More Songs About Love & Hate (1989)
  • Unreal World (1991)



  1. McCormick, Moria. “The Godfathers make a hit” Rolling Stone. Issue #527. Page 28. June 2, 1988.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *