The Vapors Biography

This power pop quartet, based in Guildford, Surrey, England, came together officially in April 1979, although an earlier incarnation had existed a year earlier. The common thread was Dave Fenton, a graduate who dabbled in the legal profession before turning to music. His first band, the Little Jimmies, was formed while he studied at Nottingham University. To his rhythm guitar and vocals were added the lead guitar of Ed Bazalgette and the drums of Howard Smith, both former members of Ellery Bop. The line-up was completed by former Absolute drummer Steve Smith, who switched over to bass guitar. An early Vapors gig was watched by the Jam’s Bruce Foxton, who was impressed by their gutsy pop, not unlike the Jam’s own style, and invited them to appear on the Setting Sons tour. Foxton also became the band’s manager in partnership with John Weller. After a promising but unsuccessful debut single, ‘Prisoners’, for United Artists Records, the follow-up, ‘Turning Japanese’, catapulted them to number 3 in the UK charts. In May 1980, New Clear Days was released. The most notable track was the single ‘News At Ten’, which underlined teenage insecurity with a power pop beat that recalled the Kinks. Magnets was a more adventurous album, with the lyrical focus moving from the Oriental to Americana. Unfortunately, the band were receiving few plaudits for their ambitious efforts, with most critics unable to move away from the earlier Jam comparisons, which were no longer valid. The band disappeared from the scene quickly; the most recent sighting of Dave Fenton was as the landlord of a public house in Woking, Surrey, while Steve Smith joined with ex-World Domination Enterprises bass player Steve Jameson to form Cut.

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