the summer of '76 Billy Idol met
Tony James in a
pub and, noticing they looked pretty good
together, formed a group. Tony at this time was
pretending to be a guitarist but Billy pointed
out he never used the top 5 strings and, anyway,
looked better playing a bass down by your knees.
two months they practised with the drummer John
Towe, with Billy playing guitar. After three
gigs the three left to start their own
evening Tony found a '60's paperback called
GENERATION X, a romantic account of Mods and
Rocker violence, under Billy's bed, and thought
it would make a great name for the group. After
phoning all their friends who hated it, they
decided to use it anyway.
Billy decided he could sing better than he could
tune his guitar, potential guitarists were
auditioned but all were ugly or deaf. Then one
night at a local youth club Billy spotted a
young guitarist, Bob "Derwood" Andrews
next night Billy & Tony took him to a party
and introduced him to Marc Bolan, and realising
that they knew stars, he joined immediately.
five days rehearsal the group had lined up their
first gig, but gigs were hard to come by for
punk rock groups in the winter of '76. The group
decided it would be easier to open their own
club and play there, and so, on December18,
played the first gig at the Roxy Club in
which soon became the rock mecca.
group quickly became very popular, with queues
of punks and record companies stretching round
for their regular shows. Just after Christmas,
in a fit of generosity they decided to give John
Towe 10 years off to learn to play in time.
Impressed by his warm overcoat and spikey hair,
Mark Laff, who was playing with minimalist group
Subway Sect was then asked to join the group.
Mark proved to be a great character, truly
believing himself to be Keith Moon, and helped
to improve Gen X's raw chaotic stage show.
group was finally complete and the four
Londoners continued to play a number of sold out
concerts around the English clubs. Their
concerts soon became like company conventions,
A&R men were attracted by the group's good
looks and pop potential.
X soon began to get a very large following &
vast coverage in the teeny magazines, owing to
their punk image. The music papers began to hate
the group giving them continuous coverage every
week for being such image conscious stars.
Enhancing this reputation considerably, Tony
stated in an interview that he would never have
a fat person in the group. Journalists
everywhere promised to flatten Tony for being so
Records eventually signed the group with
promises of ceaseless faith, creative control
& huge advantages, which they handed over to
the group’s managers to invest in Alfa Romeos
for their wives & themselves.
group’s first single, produced by Sweet/Baycity
Rollers producer, Phil Wainman, whizzed straight
into the charts at 38 & Gen X were the first
punk band to sell out & go onto the fading
Top Of The Pops, finally bringing punk rock home
to the BBC.
Blackburn, DJ for the show was not as thrilled
as the kids, but the group continued to hound
him at studio 1 with their next three hit
singles, until the eventual break up of his
& Tony went to see Chris Wright, head of
Chrysalis, to see if he could help them find a
new manager who was a friend of God, & he
promised he would ask. God had several close
friends & next day Billy & Tony flew to
to meet them. One manager in particular seemed
ideal & they got on very well, but they
decided to keep his name a secret as they were
so embarrassed about the other group he managed
(Kiss!) During Nov/Dec, whilst their lawyers had
lunch together, the group promoted their own
tour of English clubs, at this time unable to
release any records.
some months Derwood's attitude to recording
& playing had become increasingly
disillusioned, indeed he began to find it
impossible to remove his Rory Gallagher shirt.
So after weeks without a bath he left to pursue
a more suitable career in motorcycle
maintenance. Realising this was an ideal
opportunity to rid the group of the creeping
heavy metal disease that had begun to afflict
them, Billy & Tony decided to give Mark Laff
their traditional ten years off to practice Led
Zeppelin songs in case a vacancy ever occurred.
a successful tour of
the group returned to produce their third album.
their continued success the group found
themselves broke. Their manager Stewart Joseph
tried to help by looking for a bigger house
& a new car for himself, but said he could
do no more.
group decided he should do no more, & since
he seemed to avoid the heavy, sometimes fatal
traffic conditions in
asked their lawyer to have a quiet writ in his
then there were two; Billy & Tony,
christened the Dodgy Charlatans, or CHARLATWINS
as they became known, with a bunch of new songs
& a bunch of writs from their old manager,
loaded a fresh clip into their lawyer, pointed
him at the enemy & waited for the dust to
the gold-dust did eventually settle in Stewart
Joseph’s bank account, he was gone forever
& then there were three.
Chimes had heard the call up & arrived fresh
from the Cowboys International & first Clash
album, indeed with the same drumkit &
unshakable rock steady beat. Billy had started
to play guitar again & the three began
rehearsing every day in a World’s End studio.
X, as it was to be called, then decided to see
whether, if they laid all the guitarists in
England end to end, they would stretch from AIR
number 1 studios to Chris Wright's house in
Steve New, the legendary horizontal man &
guitar hero from the Rich Kids joined the group
for two months, but had to leave whilst
recording the groups new single to carry out
some urgent chemical research. An urgent call
brought Danny Kustow down to the studio to
complete the track.
Keith Forsey was flown back from LA for a third
time to complete the album.
Foresee, friend & drummer for Giorgio
Moroder & Kenny Jones lookalike, promised to
complete the album as long as Steve New was
banned from the studio, although Steve Jones was
sneaked back in to play on five tracks whilst
Keith was on the phone to his girlfriend. To
push the group further into debt, John McGeoch,
guitar player from Siouxie & The Banshees
was brought in to help out on the other seven
this time it became increasingly apparent that
it would be handy if the group had their own
permanent guitar player who could help to split
the debts four ways, instead of getting in
people who expected a million pounds a minute
(when they could stand up).
all was delivered & after a minor incident
with a naked 10 year old girl for the sleeve of
the single (& a massive budget) Chrysalis
were still happy, saying " If we cant make
this a hit, we shouldn’t be in the
to everyone’s surprise, ‘Dancing With
Myself’ received great reviews & amidst an
expectant hush from Chrysalis, the record
rocketed to no 62, then died of loneliness.
though suprisingly still in business, Chrysalis
got ready to jump headlong (after weeks of
meetings), into their favorite acts next
adventure. Doug D’Arcy, managing director of
Chrysalis UK, meanwhile was said to be
consulting an exorcist about the group.
the Charlatwins & Mad Chimer were back were
back in their World’s End rehearsal studio
teaching the 999th guitar player the
chords to ‘Dancing With Myself’, wondering
if a dead rhinoceros might look & play
better, when in walked a white Les Paul
clutching babyfaced James Stevenson.
careful study to make sure it wasn’t Steve
Andrews, the groups faithful A&R man, or the
dreaded Doug in disguise in a last ditch attempt
to get the group off their backs & out on
the road again, it was discovered……..he
this must be too good to be true, (he wasn’t a
giraffe either) they made him join the group
immediately before they woke up.
10 solid days of rehearsals, without sleep or
food or Crossroads, the group had learned a
catalogue of 20 songs & were ready to
operate again. The group built a stage at the
World’s End studio, renamed it the
Club for the night & invited all their
friends, record company, press & punks.
Everyone was mighty impressed; the difference
between the new & the old was
night & day. A small tour was booked to lead
up to Christmas to break in the new group &
a new 4 track single of ‘Dancing With
Myself’ comes out in the New Year. The
title of the LP is ‘Kiss Me Deadly’.
taken with thanks from Regeneration