Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Johnno was a punk when we were all in our dads' bollocks
December 18, 2012 3:01 AM   Subscribe

He’s got a shaved head, piercings, tattoos, love of punk rock – and a pension book. Leicester’s oldest punk is a familiar sight in the city centre. His incredible story, however, is less well known.

The article is two-years-old, but he's still kicking and The Captain recently tweeted a photo of him and Johnno.

Some video of Johnno on stage with the band.

Johnno also features in this video from forgotten second-wave goth rockers Every New Dead Ghost.

The Damned didn't have many actual music videos for Top of the Pops, but here they are:
* New Rose (1976)
* Smash It Up (1979)
* Plan 9, Channel 7 (1979)
* Grimly Fiendish (1985)
* Shadow of Love (1985)
* Is It a Dream? (1985)
* Anything (1986)
* Gigolo (1986)
* Alone Again Or (1987)
* Eloise.

The Damned, of course, are still going, and recently celebrated 35 years of anarchy, chaos and destruction despite several break-ups, and here they are in 1977. And here's a Peel Session.

The Damned have a unique place in the history of punk music, particularly '77 punk as we know it today. They were the first to tour the states and probably the first band to release an obviously punk single . New Rose was, of course, contested as the first punk single, but it did beat out The Sex Pistols in the UK.

Trouser Press has a relatively complete history, and they released their last original record in 2008, although anniversary re-issues of Damned Damned Damned with a previously unreleased bootleg of the band’s very first gig at the 100 Club in 1976.

The band still tours, and has even dabbled in video games.

You can even learn how to dress the same way Mr Vanian did for a while in the 1980s when the band popped into some student housing near Scumbag College to save the world with pop music.

Bonus 1: a Time photo essay on early punk.

Bonus 2: Vanian has had a rockabilly-inspired band, The Phantom Chords and a TV show of sorts (Part1,Part2)

Some Damned trivia.

The Damned are now considered classic rock.
posted by Mezentian (52 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
That openingoff off New Rose; no matter what else the Damned did since, that's what's gotten them a place in rock history.

"Is she really going out with him?"

Then drums pounding.

Then the guitar comes in, snarling: BOOM.

Brilliant.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:21 AM on December 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile, while Johnno is the oldest punk in Leicester, all of the original punk rock kids are in their late fifties and early sixties now and just as wallowing in nostalgia through BBC 4 Punk Rock at the BBC documentaries as the boomers were doing before them and they'd sworn never ever to emulate...
posted by MartinWisse at 3:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


As someone who is enjoying the various BBC 4 Punk Rock at the BBC documentaries I am down with this.
Slightly ashamed, but down with it.
posted by Mezentian at 3:42 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


We thought there was no future, but there was a future.
What are you gonna do?
posted by Mezentian at 3:44 AM on December 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


We stopped a triple album, man!
posted by thelonius at 4:07 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was lucky enough to open for the Damned in 1999 or so, at a tiny little club on the Jersey shore called the Brighton Bar. I don't know how they got booked there (I heard a rumor the Damned balked when they saw it, but I never saw any evidence).

I, and everybody in my band, were huge fans. The other members even much more than I. We had decided to cover Beat Girl, as we were a surf band and it seemed outside enough that it would feel like a tribute and not a rip-off.

They soundchecked with Plan 9, Channel 7 for my band, the bartenders and some techs. I tried to keep the smile off my face but it was the Damned! Playing for me! Afterwards, most of the band dispersed but the Captain came over particularly to talk to the opening band. We told him he played well and exchanged other pleasantries. I told him of Beat Girl and he seemed non-plussed. I then asked him if they were playing Nasty the song they performed on The Young Ones.

"Oh you like that one? I don't think we're gonna pull that one out, but there's a funny story about that. After taping the episode, we all went out to a restaurant where a reporter was supposed to meet us. But the problem was, when he got there, we weren't there because we'd all gotten kicked out for walking up and down all the tables, kicking the plates of food off."

We said a few other things before parting ways, things I can't remember because I was trying so hard to commit that moment, the moment the best band that played on my the tv show I used to watch over and over came over to me, to ME, to discuss memories of things that happened when the cameras stopped rolling.

Later, before we played, I ran into Dave Vanian when I was running outside to get something out of our car and he came out of his tour bus. I told him of the Beat Girl cover and shook his hand, he seemed nice but quiet. I was the only one he talked to.

The show itself was great. Our performance was fine, and nobody boo'd or threw anything, and of course the Damned played great. But really, the night could have ended after that moment with the Captain and I would have been pretty happy.
posted by Brainy at 4:16 AM on December 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


Also, Jack Terricloth from the World/Inferno Friendship Society has this amazing story about Dave Vanian and pie.
IMFA: How about when you used to see him around town?

JT: Oh! When he was living in New Jersey you mean. Well, before he was married to Patricia Morrison (and I don't have to get into anyone's personal life especially if I don't know them, but) he was married to a girl from Whitehouse New Jersey somehow. He was hanging out in the area and this is almost exactly the same story which makes it funny...Me and all my punk rock friends were too young to get into bars at the time, so hanging out at dinners all night was the thing to do. When you're in New Jersey, and you're nocturnal, what else is there to do? There's this giant Vampire-looking guy hanging out, eating key-lime pie all the time. We'd see him all the time and of course we'd stare at him and.... well anyway, my friend Lamar Vannoy who is famous for Oi Oi Oi went up to him and said: "Don't you look like Captain Sensible". Which is funny because this is almost the same story and thinking this guy is just some poseur and he said: "Oh, have you had the misfortune of seeing my band?". Two of almost the same stories in a ten year increment, how crazy is that?


IMFA: This was at the Felix 9 dinner in Bridgewater?


JT: Felix Number Nine. That's right. Then for about the next five years, all the punk rockers in town ate key-lime pie because it was the cool thing to do. It's true. Trendsetter, Dave Vanian.
posted by Brainy at 4:19 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, a post on Mefi featuring Lesta, the worlds most boring city. I should know, I was born near there. Fortunately I don't live in Lesta - I live in the worlds most boring town, which is in Leicestershire.

Got into punk when I was older as I was only little when it broke. I remember the post-punk stuff (2 pints of lager and a packet of crisp / Gordon is a Moron / Tenpole Tudor / Blondie) more. Was always more of a pistols fan - the damned were a bit too kitsch and campy for me at that time.

Edit: "Johnno was a punk when we were all in our dads' bollocks" - Not me, I had escaped by that time.
posted by marienbad at 4:31 AM on December 18, 2012


Captain Sensible used to shave his testicles.
I know this for a fact.
He may still do.

That's pretty much my only Damned story, but they are damned nice folks by all accounts.
posted by Mezentian at 4:34 AM on December 18, 2012


Edit: "Johnno was a punk when we were all in our dads' bollocks" - Not me, I had escaped by that time.

Heck, I was a teenager (and feeling pretty old right about now).
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 AM on December 18, 2012


We thought there was no future, but there was a future.

However, there is also, always, no future. Every day, kids everywhere are realizing that there is no future. What they do with that is up to them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:09 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actual real punk, unlike your Offsprings and Green Days.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:51 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


We stopped a triple album, man!

Not quite.
posted by jokeefe at 7:28 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw the Damned (with the Dickies opening) at the Roundhouse last week. Great show, even if they are a bit of a nostalgia act these days.
posted by incster at 7:34 AM on December 18, 2012


The Black Album doesn't get enough love.
posted by cazoo at 7:35 AM on December 18, 2012


all of the original punk rock kids are in their late fifties and early sixties now

'Tis true. This was making the rounds of my demographic recently; it holds a special place in my heart along with a poster for a recent benefit entitled "Oh Cancer, Up Yours!"
posted by jokeefe at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Damned are on our short list of "bands to always see." Mr. Arkham has seen at least 3 of their "last tour ever" tours!
posted by JoanArkham at 7:50 AM on December 18, 2012


Oi! Blank Reg!
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2012


That TIME essay makes baby Joe Strummer cry.
posted by humboldt32 at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2012


"...we'd all gotten kicked out for walking up and down all the tables, kicking the plates of food off."

Who the hell does that?

Punks, I guess.
posted by ODiV at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2012


Great show, even if they are a bit of a nostalgia act these days.

That's an issue. Did they do any stuff from '93 onwards?
When I saw them they only really seemed to do stuff Sensible was involved with, although they did Curtain Call as a closer which was neat.

That TIME essay makes baby Joe Strummer cry.

As it should. Joe shuffled off this mortal coil on December 22, 2002.
posted by Mezentian at 8:05 AM on December 18, 2012


Help! Could someone help a poor Yank parse this phrase (from the first link, when Jonno explains why he was jailed for manslaughter):
"And then I was in a bar one night and someone took the micky," he says. Jonno hit him with a pick axe. He was jailed for nine years for manslaughter.
What's "took the micky"? Took the mic? Something else? And how does someone bring a fucking pick axe into a bar?
posted by mosk at 8:14 AM on December 18, 2012


What's "took the micky"?
Made fun of.


And how does someone bring a fucking pick axe into a bar?

That one, not sure. Being the UK I assume there were roadworks nearby.
posted by Mezentian at 8:21 AM on December 18, 2012



Here's the original 1967 recording of Alone Again Or by Love.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:22 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the original 1967 recording of Alone Again Or yt by Love.

Hippy!
posted by Mezentian at 8:24 AM on December 18, 2012


That's an issue. Did they do any stuff from '93 onwards?

Not that I recognized, anyway. Contrast that to The Fall, who I also saw recently. They played mostly recent vintage stuff, including a few new songs that will most likely end up on their next album.
posted by incster at 8:30 AM on December 18, 2012


Hippy!

You're welcome.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:32 AM on December 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


@ Mezentian - thanks!
posted by mosk at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2012


On the bright side, jokeefe, phony Beatlemania is back! And it's better than ever.
posted by thelonius at 9:25 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did they do any stuff from '93 onwards?

Yes. Some of it good, some of it not so good, some of it is arguably not even really them.
posted by snottydick at 9:43 AM on December 18, 2012


"Take the micky" = pull the leg, or, I guess in this case, fuck around with more seriously. Like you, I found the meaning less than obvious.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2012


I saw The Damned some time in the late 80s or early 90s, at a dinner theater in Phoenix. As far as I recall, it's the only time that venue booked a punk show and the scene was strange.

The place was full of enormous bouncers who yelled at anyone who tried to dance or even stood up. So there we are at a Damned show, seat-dancing nervously, with many of the house lights still on so the bouncers can make sure no one is having any fun.

And then Captain Sensible comes up the aisle, puts his foot up on the arm of my chair, and spends a chorus or so wagging his junk in my face. It was truly a night to remember.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dave Vanian's not a vampire. He's a driving instructor from Johannesburg.
posted by The World Famous at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I saw the Damned (with the Dickies opening) at the Roundhouse last week. Great show, even if they are a bit of a nostalgia act these days.

Hmm, was just thinking about the Dickies the other day- last time I saw them was in 1988, opening for the Ramones. I imagine Leonard sounds exactly the same as he did then, even though most of the rest of them are gone. The Damned- it's been even longer, I saw them with The Weirdos in 1986 at the Fillmore . I don't know how I would feel seeing either of those bands again. Probably cynical. And very old.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:33 AM on December 18, 2012


Heh. I found the Damned basically in a crabwise fashion. I had--I can't believe I'm posting this in public--bought the "Miami Vice II" TV soundtrack cassette, and it included "In Dulce Decorum" on it (albeit with the vocals stripped out, which I wouldn't learn until later). I thought that was a pretty cool tune, and so one day I spied "Anything" in the record store (in Lewiston, Idaho, of all fucking places), and picked it up. Now, "Anything" isn't really a great album, but it was interesting enough to young me that I started hunting for their earlier stuff, which eventually led me to things like "Grimly Fiendish," "Rabid" and "Neat Neat Neat" (sort of "New Rose Repurposed").

All of these things made me very happy, and I subsequently destroyed the Miami Vice II tape.
posted by Skot at 11:52 AM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


My band played with the Dickies a few months back, they sound great. Stan Lee is still in there with Leonard, but the other guys are youngsters. Saw a very depressing picture of Stan's classic yellow SG with the headstock broken off earlier this week on FB - must have happened on the trip back from the tour incster saw. :(

One of the best shows I ever saw was the first Damned "last ever" tour. Opened up with the first album with Brian James on guitar and the Captain on bass, then shifted the Captain over to guitar for the later material. Fuckin fantastic!
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's probably telling of my age and temperament that my favorite Damned song sounds a bit different than their norm, but then, I said Captain, and he said...oh I forget.
posted by sonascope at 12:25 PM on December 18, 2012


^Shortest sonascope comment in history
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:44 PM on December 18, 2012


I would like to read more about Johnno. Someone in England write a book about him please.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:45 PM on December 18, 2012


Meanwhile, while Johnno is the oldest punk in Leicester, all of the original punk rock kids are in their late fifties and early sixties now and just as wallowing in nostalgia through BBC 4 Punk Rock at the BBC documentaries as the boomers were doing before them and they'd sworn never ever to emulate...

Not me. I saw the Sex Pistols at Erics in '76 the week Anarchy in the UK came out, so I guess that makes me as original as anything. I wouldn't dream of watching any of that old tat on Channel 4.

Also, everything the Damned did after New Rose was awful. Personally, I cant hear them without being reminded of this.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:09 PM on December 18, 2012


Please don't compare the Damned to the Fall, as one is a forever-relevant, ever-evolving group that'll continue to surprise ever few years with yet another amazing collection of new songs while the other made a few half-interesting albums three decades ago, looks like they outfitted themselves at one of those Halloween superstores, and is called the Damned.
posted by item at 2:23 PM on December 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hi item. That was kind of my point, but I do have a soft spot for the Damned. I don't mind that they are just playing old stuff, since they never took themselves too seriously anyway.
posted by incster at 3:18 PM on December 18, 2012


^Shortest sonascope comment in history

What? He's just happy talking.

I feel so dirty.
posted by Mezentian at 3:32 PM on December 18, 2012


Wot?
posted by incster at 4:12 PM on December 18, 2012


The Dickies were great fun as well. I would have gone to see them on their own if they were headlining. The highlight was If Stewart Could Talk as always.
posted by incster at 4:29 PM on December 18, 2012


You call this a future?
posted by evilDoug at 7:01 PM on December 18, 2012


I took a cassette of Machine Gun Etiquette away on school camp in 1982 - it was a defining year.
posted by mattoxic at 8:01 PM on December 18, 2012


The article really glosses over the fact that he killed a man. He expresses no remorse.
posted by kdilla at 5:15 AM on December 19, 2012


mosk, when he says 'pickaxe' he probably means 'pickaxe handle', which are much easier to carry surreptitiously, and a traditional fighting weapon to boot (filling the same role as a baseball bat on the other side of the Pond).
posted by forgetful snow at 8:57 AM on December 19, 2012


The journalist doesn't quote him expressing remorse.
posted by ODiV at 9:30 AM on December 19, 2012


Captain Sensible's demented and thoroughly sing-a-longable solo work ("Brenda, Pts 1 & 2" is particularly suitable for belting out from the driver's seat of one's truck) is sort of peculiarly English in the same way it's not entirely insane that Robert Wyatt did a perfectly straight cover of "I'm A Believer" or a perfectly Robert Wyatty cover of the Chic song "At Last I Am Free."
posted by sonascope at 6:19 PM on December 19, 2012


Gah—wrong first link—had the wrong thing in my copy buffer.

"Brenda Pts 1 & 2" is clearly not a debunking of that fake Morgan Freeman quote that's making the rounds.
posted by sonascope at 6:26 PM on December 19, 2012


« Older On December 5th, Instagram's founder Kevin Systrom...  |  Jam Odyssey... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments