The Meteors Biography

The Meteors was the first UK band to combine punk’s energy with raw 50s rockabilly and invent a new musical form - psychobilly. In the USA, the Cramps had discovered a similar formula, but theirs was less violent and more dramatic. Together, they influenced a whole movement and an accompanying youth culture during the 80s, and have endured into the new millennium.

In the late 70s, P. Paul Fenech (vocals/guitar) and Nigel Lewis (double bass/vocals) were churning out rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll standards in acts such as the Southern Boys and, as a duo, Rock Therapy. Around 1980, drummer Mark Robertson was recruited, coinciding with a name change to Raw Deal, and they appeared on Alligator Records’ Home Grown Rockabilly compilation. After a name change to the Meteors, the band issued a debut EP, Meteor Madness, jammed with compulsive, raw rockabilly, with lyrics drawing inspiration from graveyards and vampiric legend, all performed in a crazed, headlong amphetamine rush to the end of the song. ‘Radioactive Kid’ followed suit, and In Heaven was issued on their Lost Souls label. Around the same time, the Meteors recorded an EP featuring a cover version of the Electric Prunes’ ‘Get Me To The World On Time’ under the guise of the Clapham South Escalators. Robertson left soon afterwards and was replaced by Woody, but after releasing demos, Lewis also departed to form the Tall Boys. Fenech was left to soldier on, bringing in electric bass player Mick White and Russell Jones for August 1982’s ‘Mutant Rock’. Another personnel change (Steve ‘Ginger’ Meadham joining on drums) preceded the Meteors’ second album, Wreckin’ Crew, early in 1983, featuring the previous single, a wild cover version of John Leyton’s ‘Johnny Remember Me’. That same year saw another departure, with White forming his own psychobilly act, the Guana Batz. His position was filled by Rick Ross for a national tour, captured on Live. Unfortunately, Ross left for the USA and in his place came Ian ‘Spider’ Cubitt, to record Stampede, ‘I’m Just A Dog’ and ‘Fire, Fire’. Monkey’s Breath, featuring new bass player Neville Hunt, surfaced in September 1985, alongside a cover version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’.

After two more unofficial offerings (Live II and Live And Loud), the Meteors covered Jan And Dean’s ‘Surf City’ and completed Sewertime Blues. Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit featured a cover version of the Stranglers’ ‘Go Buddy Go’. By this time, Spider’s place had been filled by Toby ‘Jug’ Griffin and Austin H. Stones briefly deputized on bass. Lee Brown (ex-Pharaohs) took on a more permanent role on bass, in time for another punk cover version in the Ramones’ ‘Somebody Put Something In My Drink’. Hot on its heels came Only The Meteors Are Pure Psychobilly, featuring new recordings of old ‘classics’. Newer material was included on Mutant Monkey And The Surfers From Zorch later that year, although ‘Rawhide’ proved to be another popular cover. Even more powerful was Undead, Unfriendly And Unstoppable, which benefited from new drummer Mark Howe. The release of ‘Please Don’t Touch’ proved that, despite waves of imitators, the Meteors were still the most vibrant psychobilly band around.

Despite further personnel changes, Fenech continued to lead the Meteors into the following decade. Several studio albums complemented the band’s enduring live reputation, so it was something of a surprise when, in the new millennium, Fenech announced they would be ceasing live performances. The final line-up of the Meteors, with Fenech joined by Wolfgang Hordemann and Shaun Berry, played their farewell concert on 18 November 2000 in Germany.

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

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