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ARCHIVES & STORIES part 6


In mid '89 Rat was on the phone proposing a series of Damned reunion gigs in the UK and US. The idea was for the origional lineup of Rat, Dave, Captain and Brian to do songs from the first album for the first half of the show, then for Captain to switch to guitar for the second half with myself on bass for songs from Machine Gun Etiquette, the Black Album and Strawberries. The encores would then feature all 5 of us. Basically this was because Brian wouldn't play any other Damned members songs except his own! We did a couple of British gigs that worked a treat - it was great for me to watch Brian back with the others from the side of the stage, and I got so into it that at Cardiff University I actually forgot that I was gonna be playing the second half until a crew member asked if my bass was ready! Plus, when I hit the stage, everyone was well and truly warmed up, and in July we headed over the water to America.

Damned US Tour July 1989

Washington DC 12th - 13th, NYC 15th, Rhode Island 17th, Boston 18th, Hollywood CA 20th, Phoenix AZ 22, San Fransisco Ca 24th, Anaheim CA 26th, Tampa Florida 28th, Miami Fl 29th

Everybody being reasonably careful not to upset anyone else - at least at first. The gigs were shit hot and we were all playing to our limits, but offstage none of us really mixed that much. Rat was basically calling the shots, and he made sure that none of us new how much money the gigs were generating. It didn't exactly lead to group cameraderie; there was a feeling that things could blow up at any point, so I tended to take it one day at a time.  But we returned without any major upsets, in fact for The Damned it all went unnaturally smoothly, and we returned home with the vague promise of more live work in America in the future. I didn't hold my breath...
Far more enjoyable were the gigs with Captain that I had started to do. Organisation wise things frequently went pear-shaped and much of it was done on a reduced budget, but touring with Captain was much more fun if financially less rewarding! Various unfortunates would be roped into roadie duties, attempting to drive an overladen, wheezing transit van whilst being pelted with various unsavoury objects and insults from behind. Together with drummer Martin and guitarist Dan we would all pile in and set off for yet another pub or club somewhere in Europe, wondering if we would make it without yet another breakdown, playing a mixture of Damned songs, favourite covers and Captain's solo stuff. I often spent time between these gigs crashing at Captains bungalow near the Sussex downs, with his dear lady Rachel uncomplainingly cooking, stoking fires and looking after 3 lively kids whilst we hit the pubs of Brighton, laughed at the absurdity of life as a working musician, slagged off Rat, and nursed appalling hangovers the next day.

Around this time I also had a call from ex - Hotrods guitarist Graeme Douglas about doing some reunion shows. We started off with a few of the traditional pub gigs in London, which then attracted the interest of promotors further afield in Spain, Holland France and Ireland...

One such jaunt will stick with me forever. Owing to singer Barrie Masters not being in the best of health Graeme roped in a Scottish singer called Jim to bravely take his place. He did very well, too. The gigs were mostly in Northern Ireland over 2 weeks and had been set up by Frank, a long term Rods fan who also happened to be quite well-off and quite well known, I think he was something big in contraceptive distribution!. There were some very bizarre shows in the middle of nowhere, and what with NI being a very small country drives took all of 30 minutes a day. Therefore there was much hanging around and a healthy appreciation of Bushmills flourished. The people were lovely, great audiences, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - until we got just over the border. In Drogheda, we were booked to play an old boxing hall and it was packed out, but rather oddly the front of the stage was taken up with a bunch of young guys with their backs to the support band, and the stage security seemed unwilling to remove them. I soon found out why. Needing a little more room to run about, and being well flushed with fine Irish whisky, I delivered one of them a swift kick up the arse with my boot. Immediately they were all off the stage and surrounding my victim - the atmosphere changed in an instant. Before we new it the stage had been invaded and we were running for our lives to the tiny dressing room. "Jeez Paul" Frank said, "I don't think that was a wise thing to do, they're all fuckin' recruiters for the IRA!" We remained prisoners there for 4 hours while Frank tried to reason with them, all the while listening to the sound of bottles smashing against our van outside. To say we were bloody scared was putting it mildly. I even took up smoking again for the rest of the night. They wouldn't call the police and we had to wait until the coast was clear before hastily piling into the van. Every window was smashed, and the second Steve turned the key the smell of petrol hit us - they'd doused the van in it. How we made it to the hotel without the thing exploding is a miracle. The next day was Sunday - everything closed - we had to drive to Dublin, it was pissing with rain and we had to kick out the rest of the windscreen to see. It was not a happy group that day...

The CIA - Dean, Roman, Clyde, Warren, PaulSomehow, around the beginning of 1991, I also found myself roped into the Canvey Island Allstars. The CIA was a loose collective of musicians from the Southend area, and I got a call from Steve the Hotrods drummer one day, asking if I'd like to be involved. It was an odd group consisting of Roman Jugg, Steve, and former Hotrods and Dr. Feelgood roadies Dean and Warren. It sounded a laugh and had the backing of the Feelgoods' manager, so we met up, had one rehearsal and set off on a bunch of gigs around the UK, Holland and Belgium. An album was recorded in Kent over 2 days and was released in April as "Escape from Oil City". However Captains gigs took precedence and my time with the CIA was a short lived one, besides it wasn't quite the supergroup that Dean fondly imagined!

Then there was Rene Berg.

Rene
had a dubious past including a short stint in Hanoi Rocks (years earlier we had played on the same bill at Finnish festival with them. "Look at that goddess with the blonde barnet!" I said to Barrie, espying a tall slim figure with their back to us. Rehearsing my best chat up linesIn the studio for Rene Berg, 1991 I moved in for the kill, only for singer Mike Munroe to turn around. "Er, sorry mate" I spluttered, "I thought you were a bird!"). Rat, ace guitarist Bernie Torme and myself were recruited to play on his solo album (see discography). Rehearsal time was booked at Ezee studios in London, but not much got done. "You hum it, I'll play it, and cut the crap" said Rat on the first day. We were out of there a few hours later, leaving a rather worried Rene. "But we've only tried a few of the songs!" he wailed as Rats car disappeared into the night, tyres screeching." Don't worry mate, its always like this, trust us, it'll be fine!" I said reassuringly. And it was, of course. We even did a gig at The Marquee when the album was released later in the year - great fun, except I couldn't celebrate, having to drive back to Cardiff straight afterwards.

There was one gig around this time for Friends of the Earth that Captain Sensibles Ugly Sods, as we were collectively called, did somewhere north of Edinburgh. They must have been expecting a lot of people because they flew all the bands up from London; it was an odd bill also consisting of Van Morrison, Marillion, Van Morrison and Jack Bruce. We spent a happy evening getting ratted with Jack (he was drinking pints of scotch 'n' coke, his wife half pints of red wine. They spent the whole time completely pissed, when I asked him what gear he used he said "och, who cares, fuckin' anything!"),and when we arrived at the festival the next day it was clear that the attendance was woefully low, and the organisers were in for a severe financial bath. It had also been pissing down with rain for days, leaving the whole site a quagmire. We all pulled together to make the best of it, after all it was for a good cause, apart from Mr. Morrison. Captain and I were getting changed in the next caravan when we heard raised voices. Peering out thru' the rain we saw the upset promotors trudging thru' the mud, with some Van lacky shouting after them. It transpired that his rider specified his toilet paper had to match the colour of his towels. They had overlooked this, and Van refused to go onstage until it had been rectified. Altogether now..."what a wanker!"

In September there was another Damned reunion, but this time things didn't go quite to plan. Just 3 gigs into the American tour, at the 930 Club in Washington DC the shit hit the fan big time. At the end of the first set with Brian the band all piled into the dressing room for a short break before my slot, and suddenly all hell bnroke loose. Captain had jokingly introduced "New Rose" as a Guns'n' Roses song (they had covered it on "The Spaghetti Incident"), and Brian took exception. Suddenly everything came to a head and there was a flurry of bodies fighting in the tiny room - it was the one thing missing from the "Spinal Tap" movie. "I just do my job Brian. I just wanna get thru' this tour with the minimum of fuss. OK I'll never say anything onstage again" a very sober Captain was saying, but Brian was having none of it. However, all was not as it seemed. It transpired that the real beef was between Rat and Brian, not Captain, and Cap's comment acted as a catalyst.The upshot of it was that Brian flew home the next day - he'd had enough. This left us in something of a quandry, but not for long. "Bollox" somebody famously said, "this group's bigger than any one person!" So continue we did, with the set revamped and with yours truly supplying bass for the whole show for the remainder of the tour.


Japanese mag cover, 1991Japan was an eye opener. Although I'd been here with Andrew Ridgeley it was the first time I'd played live there, and the audience reaction was bizarre to say the least. Hordes of screaming fans shouting "Captain I love you!". "Day-veed!" "Paul-Paul!" Showtime was at 7 every night so we were all sober which made the reaction seem even more surreal. During the songs they'd go mad, standing up, shouting and screaming with hands over their ears, but between songs they'd sit back down again and were almosty silent. It was very off-putting at first, but we soon got used to it;there would be one massive scream for the encore and they'd then silently file out. We'd find them patiently waiting in the rain outside clutching little presents for us. It was all very sweet and made a pleasant change from showers of gob...

Back home we somehow managed to complete a somewhat disastrous Spanish tour without any promotors getting lynched - lack of organisation was an understatement, and I can't bring myself to add diary excerpts because its too depressing - and in December a short UK tour, including 2 days at Brixton Acadamy with The Ramones.

But still no new songs were forthcoming bandwise, despite all of us having many ideas that we'd mess about with in soundchecks. There was talk of what a great idea it would be to get back in the studio but... nothing. So in February 1992 we flew out to Greece for a couple of shows in Athens and Thessalonika, playing the same old set that was starting to get just a tad boring (the promotor memorably had a go at us because we played so badly, the plane had been delayed and we were slightly the worse for wear), and in March we flew out to Lyon. More shows followed in Montpelier, Paris, Bordeaux (where Brian had apparantly bought himself a small vineyard from his Guns ' n ' Roses proceeds) and Lille. I always liked touring in France, the punters were always up for a good bit of ze ol' rock 'n' roll, but it was to be the last Damned shows with Captain and Paul, France, 1992this lineup for some time, for there was little point in continuing without new material and we were all starting to go thru' the motions. Vanian had his own rockabilly outfit, the Phantom Chords on the side, and Captain and myself were happy touring by ourselves. That left Rat, who was musically getting into the heavier West Coast bands like Soundgarden that were coming thru at the time. Later in the year he managed to persuade Vanian to join him in yet another Damned line up - God knows how after all the slagging off, but I guess he needed Dave and I guess Dave needed the cash...

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paulgraybass.co.uk

 

 

Parts 1 & 2
- the 70's
Eddie & the Hot Rods

Johnny Thunders

Part 3 - the 80's
The Damned

Part 4 - the 80's
UFO

Part 5- the 80's
UFO & after

Parts 6 & 7
- the 90's

Captain Sensible, The Damned & The Hot Rods

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yellow Max, Ireland, with customised windows...

 

 

 

Damned US and Japanese Tour 1991

NYC The Ritz 20/9,
Boston Channel Club 21/9, Washington DC 930 Club 24-25/9, Atlanta Masquerade 26/9,
Tampa The Ritz 27/9,
Orlando Beecham Theatre 28/9, Jacksonville Milkbar 29/9, Pensacola Sluggos 30/9,
LA Palladium 3/10,
Tijuana, Mexico, 4/10
San Francisco I-Beam 5/10,
Tokyo Club Citta,11-13/10
Osaka Moda Hall,
15-16/10
Tokyo Club Citta17-18/10

 

 

Japanese tour pass

 

 

 

a,er, treasured memory from Captain. No rehearsals were forthcoming; instead I received this solo CD in the post. He'd put crosses by a number of tracks and written, rather charmingly I thought, "OY TOSSBAG... LEARN THESE FUCKERS"

 

 

 

US tour pass 1991

 

 

 



French pass 1992

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