The story of a band....
(click on pictures for full size image in a new page)
It all started during 1981. Samson had recorded
the album "Shock Tactics" during January. For the latter part of 1980, there had
been horrendous managerial problems, and by 4th Feb., the band were free of their
ties. The band played a showcase at Londons Marquee club for prospective managers
in March, but felt that they were rapidly losing ground, as Iron Maiden were ready
to headline the Hammersmith Odeon. The band signed to new management , and just
as the album was to be released, Gem records went bust. The band managed to swing
a deal with Gems sister company RCA, and the album was released in time for the
June UK tour. The tour wasn't without its problems either. The routing was appalling,
so the tour was dubbed the "Dont give a fuck about the petrol bill" tour. This
legend, along with a map of Britain and the horrendous itinery was emblazoned
on the back of the tour shirts. The single "Riding with the Angels" was released,
and made No 54 in the national charts. The album received 4 star reviews in Record
Mirror and Sounds. A lot of the dates on the tour were medium sized clubs, so
Thundersticks cage was redundant for the majority of dates. During the tour, a
distinct faction had appeared between Thunderstick and the rest of the band. He
had been writing material that didn't really suit the direction that the band
was heading in, plus he wanted to become more Theatrical, whereas the rest of
the band felt that the image and mayhem was getting in the way of the musical
direction. Following a lengthy debate in July, Thunderstick and the rest
of the band parted company. His last gig with them was Wigan Pier on July 8th.
The Thunderstick image was laid to rest
for a while, and while plans were being made, Barry Graham continued his career
with The Sirens, Toltex 9 and Bernie Torme'. (To be covered later in the Barry
The plan was for a Theatrical band with
a female singer, with an Edgar Allen Poe, Dr Phibes, Alice Cooper type of Psychic
Horror image, rather than the overt Satanic image that was prevalent with
metal Bands at the time. It was felt that a female vocalist / co- Front person
would repair some of the damage caused to the image by the "Cambridge Rapist"
propaganda that had haunted Samson. What had happened, was that just as the Thunderstick
image had been finalized with the hood, there was a spate of rapes in the Cambridge
area of England, by a person in a Black Balaclava, with the word "Rapist" in large
letters across the forehead. The British music press soon picked up on this, and
they were often referred to as the band with the "Cambridge Rapist" drummer, as
if it was a cheap publicity ploy. He had been most upset by all of this, and felt
that the "Beauty and the Beast" image may give him some better press.
The first person to be recruited was his
Brother-in-law, bassist Ben.K.Reeve. They had played together in the 70's in Archer,
and later Oz. Following the usual recommendations and auditions, the first line-up
of the band included vocalist Vinnie Munro, and guitarists Neil Hay (ex Billy
Karloff and the Extremes), and Colin Heart, who had played with Barry in Mr Zero.
This line-up of the band wrote some material, played a couple of showcases,
and Played 2 shows at London's Marquee club during the latter part of 1982. The
British press weren't particularly kind to the band for the first show,even though
it was a sellout and the band went down really well, but by the second Nick Kemp
in "Kerrang!" stated that the theatricals were ok, but " When you have something
musically as promising as Thunderstick (the Band) have, I dont see any need ".
The band recorded some demos at about this time,and it became apparent that while
Vinnie looked and performed great live, it wasn't working in the studio, coupled
with the fact that she and Colin were "an Item", and emotional problems were getting
in the way of the band. They were replaced by Anna Marie Carmella Borg (vocals,
Maltese, ex The Chevrons)) and Cris Martin (guitar, ex Persian Risk), but not before some more demos were recorded,
with Bernie Torme' helping out on Guitar.
It was immediately apparent that the new
line-up was a vast improvement. Cris's precise style, and dirty Les Paul sound
opposed Neil's pyrotechnic style and clean Strat sound. Neil became "Wango Wiggins",
"Wango" for his playing style, and "Wiggins" from a Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
"Derek and Clive" sketch. The entry in the Iron Maiden family tree reference Neil
leaving to join Julia Fordham, and Wango taking his place is incorrect. This line-up
made the 12" ep "Feel like Rock and Roll?", but during rehearsals for the first
tour, Anna had a medical problem with her voice, and was unable to continue. Her
replacement was Jodee Valentine, from Maryland, Baltimore, USA. Although Jodee appeared on the cover and
credits for the ep, the vocals are actually by by Anna. The 12" single was self
financed, and released through Magnum music, on the Thunderstick-affiliated "Thunderbolt"
label. The band rehearsed for the tour, and the sound was much fuller than with
the old line-up. The show was very choreographed, with Thunderstick coming out
from behind the kit at various times, and physically attacking Jodee during "Blackwing".
After the tour, the band went into "Rock City" (owned by Gary Numan) at Shepperton
Studios to record an album. The album was recorded over Xmas and the New Year
83-84, produced by Barry Graham, and engineered by Barry Graham and Martin Adams
(Whitesnake etc.). The original title was "Inomine Patris" (In the name of the
Father) which was also the name of one of Barry Grahams' first bands in '72-73.
Again the album was self financed. During the recording, Barry fell out with the
record company, and found that tracks that he mixed late at night had disappeared
by the following morning. The band and record company parted, but Magnum still
issued the album, although with inferior packaging, and the revised title of "Beauty
and the Beasts" (a bad move, as the Go-Go's had just released an album called
Beauty and the Beat.) much to Mr. Sticks disgust.
Some more live dates followed, during which Cris
Martin became problematic. He was self conscious, and had never been comfortable
with the Imagery, and found it hard to deal with. He left the band, and was replaced
by Bengt Sorenssen, from Denmark. The band did some rehearsals and showcases, but
no live shows as such.
Barry got a deal for an another album with
Musicworks, and a second album was recorded, provisionally titled "Dont Touch,
I'll Scream", which remains unreleased until now, but may see the light of day
in the near future. The following tracks were recorded:-
Dark Night Black Light
You get me in Pieces
Dancing in the Street
Fly 'n' Mighty.
It was intended that "Dancing in the street"
(a cover of the Motown classic) would be released as a single as a taster for
The line-up on these recordings were Barry, Jodee
and Ben, and the Guitar parts were shared by Wango, Cris and Bengt.
Barry and Jodee went to the USA for 6 months to try to get a
deal. While they were there, they put Jodee's vocals on the 12" ep backtracks
for possible American release, but this was not to be. A couple of things of note
happened whilst out there. Iron Maiden were touring, and Barry managed to link
up with Bruce Dickinson, and they had a drink together and reminisced. Barry has
since said that he had not realised the sheer scale of the Iron Maiden production
until this point in time. Secondly, whilst watching Live Aid, Mick Jagger and
David Bowie performed "Dancing in the Street" and released it as a single, so
another idea quashed. Barry and Jodee returned to England, but the musical climate
had changed, and Bands like Bon Jovi, Europe, etc, were really taking off, and
he band were unable to secure any kind of Management or Record deals. No funds
were available for touring, so it was decided to put the band (and Image) on hold
Wango Wiggins became Neil Hay again, and joined
the (then) recently reformed Q-Tips, and later on played with the Ya Ya's. He
has played many sessions to date, and now enjoys a successful career Teaching
Music and writing for TV.
Cris Martin went on to Black Fox and Master. He
formed the Bon Jovi tribute band "By Jovi" in the mid-'80's, but then quit the
music business. He is now heavily in to U.F.O. research, and has recently had
a book published under his full name of Christopher Martin.
Ben K Reeve has been involved with techno/trance
music, and was involved in last years Rover car advert
Barry and Jodee reformed the band in
1988, with Dave Kilford on Guitar, and John Slight on Bass. They signed to the same management as Culture
Club, and after some writing/rehearsal sessions and various showcases, were
still unable to secure a Record deal or funding for a tour, so It was decided
to fold the band. Barry and Jodee went their seperate ways. Jodee returned to
the USA, and Barry worked in the Music business as Barry Graham, apart from
the 1991 and 1999 Samson reformations, where he became Thunderstick once again.