Eric’s Club Liverpool – Punk’s Golden Years remembered in new book Bombed Out!
Above Photo: Peter Lloyd (left) – author of Bombed Out! – playing with Pink Military in Eric’s, Liverpool at the age of 17 in the summer of 1979. Guitarist John Kirkham is on the right.
The below is an edited version of an interview with Paddy Shennan of the Liverpool Echo. I have added photos into the text.
By Paddy Shennan.
Peter Lloyd didn’t just have a front row seat for one of the most important eras in Liverpool’s musical history – he was also on the stage for a decent part of it.
For the author of Bombed Out! Tales of ’70s-’80s Music, Punk, Eric’s, Bands and Beyond, was a bass guitarist in bands with two of this period’s most flamboyant characters and singers.
Towards the end of the 1970s, Peter, from Crosby, left the audience at Eric’s in Mathew Street to work in a variety of jobs there (including stage security) and, best of all, played in Pink Military Stand Alone with Jayne Casey, formerly of Big In Japan, before joining Pete Burns in Nightmares In Wax – ahead of Pete forming the chart-topping Dead or Alive.
In Pink Military Stand Alone, he replaced stand-in bassist Holly Johnson, of future Frankie Goes To Hollywood worldwide fame, and tells me: “He sulked and wouldn’t let me use his bass or amp!”
Peter Lloyd’s book is a more than welcome addition to the literature about Eric’s and Liverpool bands, and is full of fascinating details and anecdotes about his time in front of, and on, the stage.
It was a heady period. Recalling his debut as a glass collector, he writes: “It’s my first night working in Eric’s, and Elvis Costello’s buying me a f*****g drink!”
As to why he decided to write the book, and why now, the 52-year-old says: “I have always thought that extraordinary period of Liverpool music, set against the bitter 1980s recession in the city, has not been done in such a personal way before, and it struck me as an ideal way to tell two stories.
“First, of that rich 1980s music culture, centred around Eric’s, which I was privileged to have been a small part of, and which I still think is underdone, and also of how the recession blighted people’s lives in the city.
“It’s also a fair commentary on what many people who’d played in bands were suddenly faced with after their musical careers were over back then. And people all over the city, for that matter.
“I’m also intrigued as to how the recession, and particularly band members knowing their backs were against the wall, might have contributed to the outpouring of creativity, music and the commercial success of so many bands in the city at that time – as having nothing to fall back on is a pretty strong motivator!”
The author adds: “Also, I found all my old diaries when I was clearing out the loft in my mum’s old house a couple of years ago, and that was what made me decide to write it, as I read through them (expletives and all!)
“To me, it’s both a band book and a book about the city and the time.”
That period was full of big and colourful characters – and Peter worked closely alongside two of them in Jayne Casey and Pete Burns: “I think I was lucky to have played in both bands, especially getting into Pink Military as a totally unqualified bass player!
“I sometimes wonder how it would have gone had I stuck with Pete Burns and Nightmares, as I really liked playing for them – but some strange kind of fate intervened. I still feel enormously proud to have played in those bands, though.”
While Pink Military hardly troubled the scorers, it is intriguing to think what might have been for Peter if he hadn’t left Pete Burns and Co rather abruptly (you’ll have to read the book for the full details!) and instead ended up on Top of the Pops with a number one with Dead or Alive.
But Peter is philosophical about it all: “I was a flounce-off waiting to happen. It was always just a matter of time.”
His book is rich in recollections of an extraordinary period, but what are the memories and occasions that first come to mind when he’s recalling what he did during the punk years?
He says: “I think about the sheer adrenalin rush of playing live in well-supported bands at packed gigs, especially in Eric’s.
“There was the feeling of being part of an incredible music scene, but also, as a teenager, of growing up and experiencing life in the city.
“In St John’s Gardens, Bold Street and staying up all night after Eric’s had closed, with my girlfriend Liz, at the Pier Head.
“And wandering around deserted city centre streets at 4am, blissfully happy and loved-up, all set against the backdrop of punk, new wave, Eric’s and bands.
“Then there was the deeply worrying feeling of having nothing going for me after the band period had finished, and facing a lifetime of unemployment, while I’ll never forget walking back to Crosby along the deserted Dock Road in the early hours of the morning.
“Every time I drive to town I think ‘How the hell did you walk this distance three times a week?!’
“The answer to that is ‘Too many Red Witches (Pernod, blackcurrant and cider) in Eric’s and no taxi money left!’”
Peter, who became a lawyer in later life, now divides his time between the UK and Bangkok in Thailand, where he lives with his wife, Araya.
He stresses: “I really enjoy the time we spend in Liverpool, and can’t wait to go back whenever possible.
“With my brother and friends, I will always find my way onto Mathew Street for a beer and to look out onto the vastly-changed streetscape and think to myself “Did that all really happen?’”
Regarding a possible follow-up, he says: “A lot of people have emailed me, having read the book, and asked ‘What happened next?’ I might deal with that, if I can make it sufficiently entertaining.
“The book has had rave reviews from readers so far and I’ve been really surprised by the positive reactions, from former Liverpool band members, Eric’s goers, and people who were around in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”
Signed copies of Bombed Out! can be bought from News From Nowhere in Bold Street and can be ordered through Peter’s website www.bombedoutpunk.com It is also available from Amazon and Smashwords.
|www.bombedoutpunk.com||© Peter Alan Lloyd|