Bombed Out! 1980s Liverpool Bands and Eric’s Club – A Rapidly Disappearing Culture…

Bombed Out! 1980s Liverpool Bands and Eric’s Club – A Rapidly Disappearing Culture…

Above Photo: Peter Alan Lloyd (l) and John Kirkham (r): Pink Military Stand Alone onstage at the OLD Eric’s Club in Mathew Street, Liverpool.

 

UPDATE: I have added a revised version of this article with some different photographs here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/history/bombed-out-1980s-liverpool-bands-and-erics-club-a-rapidly-disappearing-culture/

 

During the writing of my ’70s-’80s Liverpool, Bands and Eric’s Club memoir, Bombed Out! and especially while researching photographs and articles for it, I became aware of a seriously worrying trend: the rapid disappearance from the internet of an astonishingly vibrant Liverpool Punk and New Wave music scene.

The fightback begins...

The fightback begins…

It was centred around Eric’s Club which opened in Mathew Street in Liverpool in 1976, and it gave rise to some nationally and world-famous individuals and bands, for example Elvis Costello, Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, Dead or Alive, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, A Flock of Seagulls, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Pink Military, Wah! Heat and many, many others.

Elvis Costello onstage at Eric's Club (RF Lewis flikr)

Elvis Costello onstage at Eric’s Club (RF Lewis flikr)

Some members of Eric’s joined big national bands at the time, like Siouxie and the Banshees, and other members went on to transform the next generations of British bands as producers and also as musicians – people like Clive Langer, Ian Broudie and Bill Drummond. To save this article from becoming a list of lists, just look up all three of those people (and that’s just THREE people from the whole Liverpool Eric’s/New Wave scene) on Wikipedia and you’ll see what I mean.

Ian "Lightning Seeds" Broudie and Jayne Casey in the same Big in Japan video.

Ian “Lightning Seeds” Broudie and Jayne Casey in a screen capture of an old Big in Japan video.

Eric’s and the 1980s Liverpool music scene had a major impact on British culture, not just in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when it was happening, but it continues today in British music.

(Screen capture) Bill “KLF” Drummond in Big in Japan nappy on the right (Future Siouxie and the Banshees drummer Budgie in the background on child’s drum kit). I can’t be sure but I think that’s Clive Langer on the left.

(Screen capture) England’s Dreaming: Bill “KLF” Drummond in Big in Japan nappy on the right, future Siouxie and the Banshees drummer Budgie in the background on child’s drum kit, and apparently that’s Dave Balfe on the left.

Interestingly, the three people I refer to above, Drummond, Broudie and Langer, also played in an experimental (with the emphasis on ‘mental’) Liverpool band, called Big in Japan, together with Jayne Casey, which was, er, big in Liverpool, but which subsequently imploded.

Bill Drummond offers stage act advice to The Smiths - Go with the flowers or the fucking fish - it's up to you.

Music guru Bill Drummond offers stage act advice to The Smiths in later life – ‘Go with the flowers or the fucking fish – it’s up to you’! (© theguardian.com)

I played bass in Pink Military Stand Alone with Jayne Casey, and then with Pete Burns in Nightmares in Wax, a band that subsequently changed its name to the more famous Dead or Alive, so I feel I got a good look at the Liverpool music scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s, especially working in Eric’s, hanging out there and going to see the biggest Punk and New Wave bands at that time performing in the club.

Keeping diaries of my time back then also helped in writing the book.

Holly 'Frankie Goes to Hollywood" Johnson playing bass in Big in Japan.

Holly “Frankie Goes to Hollywood” Johnson playing bass in Big in Japan.

An amusing international reminder of the power of Eric’s and the 1980s Liverpool scene came to me last night, in a bar in Bangkok, when I was serenaded by my former band member, Pete Burns, singing “You Spin Me Round” (I bet he’s not getting the royalties for it though).

Ian "Three Lions" Broudie in later musical life.

Ian “Three Lions” Broudie in later musical life. (© unknown)

So, what’s my problem?

It’s this…

A couple of years ago, a new club called ‘Eric’s’ opened on Mathew Street in Liverpool, partly in the Old Eric’s space. Ironically a member of Liverpool band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (remember the song “Enola Gay”, about the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima?) is a co-owner of it.

New Eric’s Logo – which incorporates the old one into it.

I say “ironically”, because it now feels that the “New” Eric’s club has effectively dropped an atomic bomb on the Old one and on the whole 1980s music scene centred around it, when it comes to carrying out internet searches, at least.

Old Eric's co-owner, Roger Eagle underneath the old club sign.

Old Eric’s co-owner, Roger Eagle underneath the old club sign. (© unknown)

Not only has New Eric’s cleverly incorporated the (presumably un-trademarked) Old Eric’s logo into its own (trademarked) logo, but by hosting bands in New Eric’s, it is pushing Old Eric’s club, and the whole 1980s Liverpool Band scene, right off internet search engines.

Do a Google Image search for “Bands onstage at Eric’s club” and you’ll see what I mean.

Most people doing that search wouldn’t have a clue that they are mostly seeing photographs of bands performing in “New” Eric’s, not the old one, and slowly I suspect the same thing will happen with all manner of searches that used to bring up references and links to Old Eric’s and the bands that played there.

Two of Eric's bouncers, Scott and Jimmy, even made it onto this single cover by the Glass Torpedoes, standing on the stairs leading down into the club.

Two of Eric’s bouncers, Scott and Jimmy, even made it onto this single cover by the Glass Torpedoes, photographed standing on the stairs leading down into the club.

I have nothing against the New Eric’s as a venue to host bands, but I’m concerned about the unintended consequences for internet researchers in future generations. I think it’s important to preserve the memory of the bands that played at Old Eric’s as well as to ensure its unique musical culture is not lost forever on the internet, swamped under a tidal wave of well-taken photos of modern-day bands in modern-day Eric’s.

Pete Burns and Paul Hornby (drums) of Nightmares in Wax onstage at Eric's Club.

Pete Burns and Paul Hornby (drums) of Nightmares in Wax onstage at Eric’s Club.

That’s why I’m really looking forward to producing my book, Bombed Out! which in part details that whole period, and to going live with the website to host articles for it, which I hope will push back against the burying of such an important part of Liverpool’s and British musical and photographic history.

Old Eric’s, and ’70s and ’80s Liverpool bands need to be put back on the internet map. And fast.

UPDATE: I have added a revised version of this article with some different photographs here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/history/bombed-out-1980s-liverpool-bands-and-erics-club-a-rapidly-disappearing-culture/

© Peter Alan Lloyd

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 www.bombedoutpunk.com © Peter Alan Lloyd

 

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2 Comments

  1. Phil Oates

    That’s Dave Balfe in the picture with Bill Drummond from the Cindy & the Barbie Dolls video. To help preserve Old Eric’s legacy I’m trying to collect together as many Eric’s handbills as possible in one place. http://www.liverpoolerics.blogspot.co.uk

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