The Vibrators

The Vibrators were an English punk-pop band that debuted as the backing act for Chris Spedding on a 1976 one-off single on RAK. Signed to Epic, the band released the album Pure Mania in 1977, followed by V2 with bassist Gary Tibbs in 1978. Tibbs followed the gig with stints in Roxy Music, Code Blue, and Adam and the Ants.

After the second album, the Vibrators paused for several years but reconvened in 1982 for a steady stream of albums over the ensuing three decades. During the split, guitarist John Ellis scored a gig with Peter Hammill, appearing on the 1982/83 albums Enter K and Patience.

Members: Knox (vocals, guitar, 1976-78, 1982-present), John Ellis (guitar, 1976-78, 1982-86), Pat Collier (bass, 1976-77, 1982-84), John “Eddie” Edwards (drums), Gary Tibbs (bass, 1977-78), Don Snow (keyboards, saxophone, 1978), Dave Birch (guitar, 1978), Ben Brierley (bass, 1978), Greg Van Cook (guitar, 1978-79), Kip (vocals, 1979-80), Ian Woodcock (bass, 1979-80), Phil Ram (guitar, 1979-80), Adrian Wyatt (guitar, keyboards, 1979-80), Noel Thompson (bass, 1984-86), Mark Duncan (bass, 1986-89), Mickie Owen [aka Mickie Rooster] (guitar, 1986-89)


Background

The Vibrators formed in London in early 1976 when guitarist–singer Ian ‘Knox’ Carnochan teamed with guitarist John Ellis, bassist Pat Collier, and drummer John “Eddie” Edwards.

Knox (b. 1945) hailed from Watford, where he played in the unsigned 1960s garage bands The Renegades and Knox & the Knight Ryders. He enrolled in art school and took up painting, which occupied most of his twenties.

Ellis (b. 1952) formed his first band, Bazooka Joe, in 1970 with future video director Daniel Kleinman. Though they went unsigned and unrecorded, Bazooka Joe lasted six years through multiple lineups. Reputed for their campy image and musical mix of glam, rockabilly, and proto-punk, they influenced Madness, whose debut album (One Step Beyond…) contains a cover of the Bazooka live staple “Rockin’ in A♭.” At one stage, Bazooka featured singer Stuart Goddard and backing singer Arabella Weir, a future comedian. Goddard fronted the band at the time of their November 6, 1975, performance at St. Martin’s School of the Art. The event marked the live debut of their opening act, The Sex Pistols.

Collier joined a mid-’70s Bazooka Joe lineup before joining Knox and Ellis in their new band. (His Bazooka replacement, bassist Gary Tibbs, would later replace him in The Vibrators. In 1981, Tibbs teamed with Goddard, by then famous under the stagename Adam Ant.)


Punk, Chris Spedding

The Vibrators played the London pub and club circuit for several months during the spring–summer of 1976 as a shaggy-haired R&B/pop group. Soon enough, they gravitated to a new aesthetic put forth by the Pistols and other acts formed in that band’s wake, including The Clash, The Damned, and Buzzcocks.

They connected with guitarist Chris Spedding, a veteran jazz and rock guitarist (Battered Ornaments, Nucleus, Sharks) with a sympathetic ear to London’s new breed. Spedding, who produced an early set of Pistols demos, chose The Vibrators as his backing band for a set at the 100 Club Punk Special, an eight-act festival arranged by Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren. The event marked the debut performance of Siouxsie & the Banshees, formed by members of the ‘Bromley Contingent’, a group of teenage stylists who followed the Pistols from gig-to-gig.

Spedding and a now leather-clad Vibrators played on night two (September 21, 1976) of the festival, between sets by The Damned and Buzzcocks. They performed covers of The Beatles (“I Saw Her Standing There”), The Rolling Stones (“Jumping Jack Flash”), Jerry Lee Lewis (“Great Balls of Fire”), and  Chubby Checker (“Let’s Twist Again”), plus the Spedding original “Motorbike.” During their set, police arrested audience member Sid Vicious for a glass-throwing incident that left a girl injured in one eye while The Damned played. The event was covered by Melody Maker journalist Carolyne Coon, who was also taken into custody when she tried to intervene in Sid’s arrest.

On November 19, 1976, Chris Spedding and The Vibrators issued “Pogo Dancing” (b/w “The Pose”), produced by Mickie Most for RAK Records. Spedding wrote the a-side as an ode to the pogo, the dance of choice at punk shows where the attendee jumps up and down in time to the music’s breakneck downbeats. Vicious purportedly invented the dance at an early Pistols show.

Spedding and The Vibrators performed “Pogo Dancing” (and “Motorbike”) on Show 14 of the ITV music program Supersonic (aired 12/13/76). In the footage, Knox sports his now-trademark curly quiff and goggles. The single followed The Damned’s “New Rose” by four weeks and preceded the Pistols’ “Anarchy In the UK” by one week, making it the second UK punk release.


Discography:

  • Pure Mania (1977)
  • V2 (1978)
  • Guilty (1982)
  • Alaska 127 (1984)
  • Fifth Amendment (1985)
  • Recharged (1988)
  • Meltdown (1988)
  • Vicious Circle (1989)
  • Volume 10 (1990)

Sources:

Leave a Reply

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