Monday, May 17, 2010

The Damned, Croydon and Deptford

The Damned were the first UK punk band to release a single (New Rose in 1976) and the first to get an album out (Damned Damned Damned in February 1977). The band had a strong Croydon connection. They played there first gig there, at a free festival, and bassist Captain Sensible (Ray Burns) was working as a cleaner at Fairfield Hall when he first met drummer Rat Scabies (Chris Millar).

But their early rehearsal studio was in Deptford. Their original manager was John Krevine, who owned the Acme Attractions shop in the Kings Road. The latter sold retro clothes and was a key hang out/breeding ground for early punk; Don Letts worked in the shop, playing reggae. According to Scabies: 'John Krevine saw this whole kind of group/punk thing going on and it was initially him who offered to manage us and it was him who had the warehouse down in Deptford that we used to go down and rehearse'. Captain Sensible recalled 'We rehearsed in Krevine's storage arch in Deptford which was an opportunity to purloin some of his retro garb while there'
(quoted in The Roxy London WC2: a punk history by Paul Marko).

So it may very well have been in a Deptford railway arch that one of my favourite tracks of all times was first written and rehearsed. For me the first 30 seconds of New Rose still constitute the most exciting introduction to a song imaginable - the opening quote from the Shangri-Las 'Leader of the Pack' ('is she really going out with him?') , the powerful drums, then Brian James's guitar chords, then the punctuating 'Ah' before the song takes off... perfection.

3 comments:

freesouthlondon said...

Lurid melodrama at its finest!

Wolfgang Moneypenny said...

Lurid melodrama at its finest!

Scott Wood said...

Totally agree with you on New Rose, it is rock 'n' roll perfected.