The Lurkers formed in West London in mid-1976, playing their very first gig at Uxbridge Technical College in December of this year, supporting Screaming Lord Sutch to an audience of just ten. At a time where American bands, such as the Ramones and the New York Dolls, the British beat boom of the sixties and Glam Rock acts like Slade and Sweet, the band quickly forged their own identity by taking on some inspiration. It is this unique brand of punk tunes, with lyrics encompassing subjects such as social unacceptability and personal politics, which launched them as one of the pioneering punk bands to play live in the first few months of the now-legendary Roxy Club in London.
The original line-up consisted of Pete Stride on guitar, Pete ‘Manic Esso’ Haynes on drums, vocalist Howard Wall and Nigel Moore on Bass. Nigel was very soon replaced by Arturo Bassick, becoming the line-up we are most familiar with. The band went on to support the Jam in February 1977, Eater in March and Slaughter and The Dogs in April.
By the time of the punk heyday of 1977, the band had built up a huge and loyal following, and were signed to Beggars Banquet Records, through whom their debut single, ‘Shadow’, was released. This single was voted by John Peel listeners as the twelfth best track of 1977’s Festive Fifty: The B-side, ‘Love Story’, voted at number 31. The Lurkers recorded four sessions at Maida Vale 4 Studio for John Peel at BBC Radio 1, and appeared on Top of the Pops, as well as various other media shows.
After penning the second single and its B-side, ‘Freak Show’ / ‘Mass Media Believer’, Bassick left the band to form Pinpoint, and was replaced by former Saints member, Kym Bradshaw, who then himself left before recording the third single. Nigel Moore returned for this recording: 1978s ‘Ain’t Got a Clue’ / ‘Ooh!, Ooh! I love You’, which was their biggest hit, reaching number 45 in the UK singles chart. The following month, the band’s debut album, Fulham Fallout, reached number 57 in the UK albums chart: the track ‘Streets’ from the album appearing on a 1977 compilation of early UK punk bands from a variety of independent record labels.
In January 1979, their fifth single, ‘Just Thirteen’ was released, which in 2001 was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time. Their single ‘I’m on Heat’ was included on a compilation from Polydor, ’20 of Another Kind’, which reached number 45 in the UK chart, and ‘Out in the Dark’ was later featured on the second volume.
Their second album, ‘God’s Lonely Men’ was not as successful as their debut. Due to changing musical tastes within the band, and the record company focusing on new signing, Gary Numan, The Lurkers called it a day in 1980. Still, just two years later in 1982, Stride reformed the band, signing to Clay Records, a Stoke-on-Trent based label who worked with GBH and Discharge. With Clay, they released four singles and one album, ‘This Dirty Town’, then calling it a day again in 1984, when lead vocalist, Mark Fincham, ran off to work the drag clubs of Berlin.
This was not, however, the last we would see of The Lurkers, as in 1987, Arturo had a chance meeting with the hugely successful German punk band, Die Toten Hosen, and discovered that they were Lurkers super-fans, willing to finance a comeback album. ‘Wild Times Again’ was released in February 1988, launching The Lurkers once again back onto the live punk scene. This friendship with Die Toten Hosen saw The Lurkers supporting the band in huge stadium gigs across Europe, Arturo himself coordinating the Hosen’s 1991 ‘Learning English’ album in London with a series of well-known punk artists of the time.
The Lurkers in 1990 – with Dan Tozer (drums)
Since this time, the band have continued to tour, not only regularly all over the UK, but also throughout Europe, Brazil, and Japan, amongst other places. The line-up has changed several times since 1987 to date, largely due to Arturo’s somewhat nomadic tenancies and the necessity to recruit members within his locale. In recent years, Nelly (The Fiend) on drums and Billy Gilbert (Chelsea) on guitar played many Lurkers gigs, including supporting a 14 day Buzzcocks tour: later with Dan Tozer (999) on drums, then Craig Casson (1977) on drums and Steve Racket (Hi Fi Spitfires) on guitar. In spite of the interchangeable membership, one constant has always remained, Arturo Bassick. Whilst the legacy of the band is primarily rooted in their late 1970s works, which are considered classic examples of UK punk, it is largely Arturo’s witty, outgoing, cheeky, ‘has-time-for-everyone’ demeanour that people think of when they consider The Lurkers.
With Nelly (drums) & Steve Racket (guitar)
With Cass (drums)
The band continue to perform on a regular basis at assorted venues around the UK and Europe, and are typically considered ‘staples of the scene’, as are 999, for whom Arturo also plays bass, at the many larger punk festivals that take place annually.
Arturo and Pete Haynes (Manic Esso) still remain the best of friends, having been in constant contact since 1977. Esso has worked in mental health, and enjoys a successful career as a writer, having had 4 books published, and several plays performed, all with impressive reviews. With each new Lurkers album release, Esso pens a set of lyrics to which Arturo composes the accompanying music:
Pete, Esso and Nigel still perform, but only in recording capacity as God’s Lonely Men:
Howard Wall hasn’t been heard from, nor seen, by any of the guys in 30 years.
The current line-up is Arturo Bassick on lead vocals and bass, Dave Kemp on guitar and Stuart Meadows on drums.
The Lurkers today
Arturo Bassick is known not just for being a member of The Lurkers and 999, but also Pinpoint and The Blubbery Hellbellies. He also performs his own unique take on punktry and western with The Blazing Saddles and as a solo artist, Big Art Peters.
Regularly asked what actually happened to the ‘original’ line-up, Arturo says:
‘None of them are interested in doing the band any more and you can’t hold a gun to their heads. Peter Stride has totally given up gigging and didn’t like touring anyway. Esso is enjoying success as a writer. Howard Wall hasn’t sung for any band since 1982, and like the rest of the old guys, I haven’t heard from him in many years. I still love playing, so like a lot of the other 1977, 78, 79 punk bands still out there, I’m the one early member who’s putting his energy into keeping the music alive’.
Dave Kemp has been cheeky guitarist of the band for over fifteen years, joining The Lurkers after a meeting of musical minds when Arturo moved to Lincoln.
On being full-time punk guitar chief, Dave says:
‘Although I haven’t been in many bands, punk, rock, and playing the guitar have always been a central part of my life: Music with power and passion! The last fifteen years have been a blast – other fantastic guitarists have also been in The Lurkers during that time, but I’ve played on two out of the last three albums, and get aÂ massive buzz from the energy and songs we play.”
Stuart Meadows joined The Lurkers in 2014, and is no stranger to the UK punk circuit, having played for Poundaflesh, Chimp Biscuit, English Dogs, The Moonthings and March to The Grave. Stuart also drums for 999 from time to time.
Of becoming the latest Lurkers ‘recruit’, Stuart says:
‘At the tender age of ten, after hearing the first wave of bands such as The Lurkers, to now be playing with the likes of an original punk rock protagonist such as Arturo Bassick is an absolute honour. So after enjoying being involved with the punk rock scene and all of its sub-genres for more than thirty years, it’s not something I can just turn my back on.‘
Preserved for prosperity here is the former website for the band.
We would like to thank Paul for all of his years of hard work on the site.