The Soft Boys Biography

When Syd Barrett gave up music for art, another Cambridge musician emerged to take on his mantle. Robyn Hitchcock (3 March 1953, London, England) started out as a solo performer and busker before becoming a member of B.B. Blackberry And The Swelterettes, then the Chosen Few, the Worst Fears, and Maureen And The Meatpackers. It was with the last-named that Hitchcock first recorded (in 1976), although the results were not released until much later. His next group, Dennis And The Experts, became the Soft Boys in 1976. The Soft Boys’ first recording session was in March 1977, by which point the line-up was Hitchcock (vocals, guitar, bass), Alan Davies (guitar), Andy Metcalfe (b. 3 March 1956, Bristol, England; bass), and Morris Windsor aka Otis Fagg (drums). The original sessions remain unreleased but the same line-up also recorded a three-track EP - known as the Give It To The Soft Boys - for the local Cambridge label Raw Records. This was released in the autumn of 1977, after which Davies left and Kimberley Rew (b. England) was installed on guitar, harmonica, and vocals. The Soft Boys, now signed to Radar Records, released the single ‘(I Wanna Be An) Anglepoise Lamp’, but it was not considered representative of their innovative live work. Forming their own Two Crabs label they released Can Of Bees in 1979, after which they replaced Metcalfe with Matthew Seligman (ex-Camera Club). Jim Melton, who had been playing harmonica for a while, also left. Their remaining releases came on the Armageddon label and included Underwater Moonlight, an album that is considered one of Hitchcock’s finest moments.

The Soft Boys broke up early in 1981 and Hitchcock went on to enjoy an erratic solo career, recruiting along the way Metcalfe and Windsor to form the Egyptians. Rew joined Katrina And The Waves and wrote the classic ‘Going Down To Liverpool’ (later a hit single for the Bangles), while Seligman joined Local Heroes SW9 and continued to contribute to Hitchcock’s solo efforts. The Soft Boys have periodically re-formed to play reunion gigs, including an extensive transatlantic tour in 2001. During the same year, Matador Records released a superb expanded edition of Underwater Moonlight. Hitchcock, Rew, Seligman and Windsor recorded a new studio album for the label the following year.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.