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Powerfully Inspirational: American Punk & New Wave Bands and Bombed Out!

Powerfully Inspirational: American Punk & New Wave Bands and Bombed Out!

Above Photo: The Bombed Out! book cover.

Buy a signed copy of the book here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php

For a book about the Liverpool Punk & New Wave scene, I’ve sold a surprising number of copies of Bombed Out! across the US too. From New York, LA and San Francisco, to buyers in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachussetts, New Jersey, Alabama, Florida, Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Illinois and a few other states.

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The Ramones, onstage at Eric's Club Liverpool in 1978, in an iconic photo of the band, by Ian Dickson.

The Ramones, onstage at Eric’s Club Liverpool in 1977, in an iconic photo of the band, taken by Ian Dickson. The Ramones appeared with Talking Heads at this gig, which has been ranked as one of the top 10 all-time Eric’s gigs.

In fact, after the UK, the US is by far the second-biggest market for my book, and a buyer in California recently suggested this might be because the story in the book (which obviously I won’t give away here) is very much an “American success story”, which chimes with US readers more than it might with readers in other countries.

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Me also onstage in Eric's Club Liverpool, in 1979 with Pink Military Stand Alone (I used this photo for the book cover).

Me also onstage in Eric’s Club Liverpool, in 1979 with Pink Military Stand Alone (I used this photo for the book cover).

This is great, because US Punk and New Wave bands’ importance to the British music scene can’t be overestimated, and of course these bands also receive many mentions in Bombed Out!

I have used a few photos of US bands playing at Eric’s Club in Liverpool, to illustrate this article.

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The B52s at Eric's, Liverpool, 1979 (© Hilary Steele)

The B52s at Eric’s, Liverpool, 1979 (© Hilary Steele)

Bombed Out! is a coming of age book with a massive twist. It’s about the Empowerment of Punk and about what Punk music and the dynamism associated with it brought into my own life. It’s a totally unique story, initially spanning my time in Punk and New Wave bands in Liverpool, having left school to join one called Pink Military Stand Alone at the age of 17.

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Me (white t shirt) with Pete Burns and Mick Reid, playing Eric's in 1980, in Nightmares in Wax (who later changed their name to Dead or Alive).

Me (white t shirt) with Pete Burns and Mick Reid, playing Eric’s in 1980, in Nightmares in Wax (who later changed their name to Dead or Alive).

It also details proceedings in Eric’s Club (the CBGBs of Liverpool).

Back then Eric’s was the epicenter of a vibrant Liverpool music scene featuring many bands and personalities who went on to have huge international success.

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Our band, Pink Military supporting the Cramps at Eric's in 1979.

Our band, Pink Military supporting the Cramps at Eric’s in 1979.

Elvis Costello, Echo & The Bunnymen, the Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, A Flock of Seagulls, Dead or Alive, Frankie Goes To Hollywood; Bill Drummond (KLF); the Lightning Seeds (Ian Broudie). People from all these bands hung out in Eric’s or worked there (as did I), and the club gave many of these musicians their first taste of playing live.

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The Cramps play Eric's in 1980. Our band, Nightmares in Wax supported them at this gig too, a year after I'd supported them in Pink Military.

The Cramps play Eric’s in 1980. Our band, Nightmares in Wax supported them at this gig too, a year after I’d supported them in Pink Military. (© David Bailey)

The book goes on to record my time with Pete Burns in Nightmares in Wax, which changed its name to the more famous Dead or Alive shortly after I (literally) walked away from the band, in highly unusual circumstances.

And then the story really takes off.

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Another view from the Cramps 1980 Eric's gig, looking out at the crowd. Our singer, Pete Burns, sits on the stage watching on, having just finished our set. (© David Bailey)

Another view from the Cramps 1980 Eric’s gig, looking out at the crowd. Our singer, Pete Burns, sits on the stage to Lux Interior’s right, watching on, having just finished our set. (© David Bailey)

The Cramps play an important role in the book, as it was after supporting them at gigs in Eric’s and in Leeds, in consecutive years (1979 and 1980), that my musical career ended in both the bands I played in. But of course they weren’t to blame for that – they were superb. A brilliant live band and fantastic, down-to-earth people.

And both Cramps’ Eric’s gigs where I played in the support bands were also named in the top 10 best Eric’s gigs, which I feel some pride in having been a small part of.

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me in Pn Pink Military, with John Kirkham on guitar, when we supported the Cramps at Eric's in 1979.

Me in in Pink Military, with John Kirkham on guitar, when we supported the Cramps at Eric’s in 1979.

Since the book came out, I have received a steady stream of positive comments from US buyers, some reprinted here with a selection of others from around the world. This is just some of the unsolicited feedback I’ve received about the book.

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Devo play Eric's.

Devo play Eric’s (note the tell-tale ‘E’ of the Eric’s sign just visible at the back of the stage).

I am deeply grateful for these emails and messages, and I know I have somehow (forgive the pun) struck a chord with the book.

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David Johansen (formerly of the New York Dolls) onstage at Eric's in 1978 (© Peter Alan Lloyd)

David Johansen, formerly of the New York Dolls, onstage at Eric’s in 1978 (© Peter Alan Lloyd). Note the duct tape on the (very low) ceiling, which you can see in many of the photos.

But for this article, I wanted to concentrate on the importance of American Punk and New Wave bands in Bombed Out!

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Iggy Pop at Eric's in 1979. I was working stage security and took these photos, like a star-struck fan. It was one of the two best gigs I ever went to in Eric's. (© peter Alan Lloyd)

Iggy Pop at Eric’s in 1979. I was working stage security and took these photos, like a totally star-struck fan – which I was. It was one of the two best gigs I ever went to at Eric’s; the other being The Clash. (© Peter Alan Lloyd)

It’s not just well-known bands like the Ramones and music icons such as Iggy Pop who play a leading role in the musical narrative of the book. Many other lesser-known (or less-remembered) US bands strongly feature in weird and wonderful ways too.

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Blondie in Liverpool after their Eric's gig. (Chris Stein)

Blondie in Liverpool after their Eric’s gig. (Chris Stein)

For example, The Dead Boys, who supported the Damned in December 1977 at only my second Punk gig in Liverpool, absolutely blew me away. I’m proud to say all these years later, a copy of Bombed Out! was delivered to their bass player Jeff Magnum’s home in New York – although I don’t know if he ever read it…

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Jello Biafra performs with the Dead Kennedys at Eric's Club Liverpool in 1978.

Jello Biafra performs with the Dead Kennedys at what had been Eric’s Club, Liverpool in 1980 (note the duct tape). By then Eric’s had been raided and closed, and renamed Brady’s.

Similarly, Los Angeles band the Dickies receive an honourable mention in the book, because it was at their Eric’s gig that I finally got up the courage to ask a beautiful and way-out-of-my-league Punky girl to go out with me. She subsequently went on to influence the course of my entire life after my band period spectacularly crashed and burned.

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The Dickies in London (Getty)

The Dickies in London (Getty)

I went to see many great US bands down in Eric’s, like like Wayne County and the Electric Chairs in 1979, but I’d forgotten many of them until I recently discovered my gig list. Back then, many nights were just a blur of booze, sweat, snogging, shagging and noise.

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Elvis Costello plays Eric's in 1978.

Elvis Costello plays Eric’s in 1978.

I used to have free membership and went almost every night Eric’s was open in 1979 and 1980, working behind the bar, collecting glasses or working stage security, if not actually playing there in the bands I was in.

I was introduced to Elvis Costello by club owner, the mercurial Roger Eagle, on my first night collecting glasses. Elvis was a member of Eric’s, and I was a massive fan of his. He didn’t disappoint, and I was knocked out by his friendliness and generosity (OK, he only bought me a beer, but that was like a major Yukon gold strike back then).

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An early Eric's flier advertising gigs by US bands Blondie, Wayne County and the Heartbreakers. Add The Clash and The Stranglers and that was just a 9 day gig roster down there!

An Eric’s flier advertising gigs by US bands Blondie, Wayne County & The Electric Chairs and The Heartbreakers. Add The Clash and The Stranglers and that was just a 9 day gig roster down there!

The story in Bombed Out! (and in the screenplay I have written based on the book) has been called ‘powerfully inspirational’, and this can be seen in some of the readers’ comments I’ve used to illustrate this article.

Bombed out american punk & new wave bands play UK liverpool gigs peter alan lloyd writer british punk new wave book

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers in London.

Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers in London.

The action in the book takes place in a city and a country decimated by vicious economic recession; where chronic unemployment and economic malaise stalked the city. It was a time when life chances were at a premium.

After my band period ended, I was also slung on the unemployment scrapheap, without qualifications and without a hope, unless I pulled my finger out and faced down some utterly intimidating realities.

It was a hard and bitter period that has never been forgotten in Britain.

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The Dead Boys receive a more than honourable mention in the book.

Loud and live: The Dead Boys receive an honourable mention in the book.

I’ve frequently been asked about the name, “Bombed Out.” It actually refers to two things: the destruction of Liverpool during the Second World War, when German bombers blitzed the docks and the industrial hinterland of the city, resulting in a barren post-war streetscape that was still very much a feature of Liverpool during the time chronicled in the book.

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Tanking Heads, one of the earliest bands to play at Eric's.

Tanking Heads, one of the earliest bands to play at Eric’s.

And secondly, the name refers to the unsympathetic economic battering British industrialised cities received in the 1970s and 1980s under Ronald Reagan’s ally, Margaret Thatcher. That’s also why she appears on the cover of the book.

And there’s an ironic link between me and Margaret Thatcher at one stage in the book too, hard as that is to believe.

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The Runaways, also played at one of Eric's first gigs.

The Runaways, also played one of Eric’s first gigs.

I should also add that the language is quite strong in the book. This was because I used contemporary diaries to write it, and these diaries were often written in times of great personal stress, desperation and crisis, and that was how I expressed myself back then.

There are also some graphically recounted sex scenes in the toilets of the club, which I frequently found myself engaged in back then (oddly, it was quite common).

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The Knack - I saw them play at Eric's in 1979. They did a fantastic set.

The Knack – I saw them play at Eric’s in 1979. They did a fantastic set.

You can buy signed copies of Bombed Out! from this site by clicking here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php Or buy it in e-book format from Amazon.

And finally, some other American Punk and New Wave-related photos from Eric’s or relevant to the book, which I thought I’d share:

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Iggy Pop plays Eric's in 1979. Again, taken by me when I was sitting on the stage holding back the crowd, when I should have been focussed more on crowd security. (© Peter Alan lloyd)

Iggy Pop plays Eric’s in 1979. Again, taken by me when I was sitting on the stage pretending I was some kind of solution to crowd security issues. (© Peter Alan Lloyd)

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The Ramones pose with a fan outside Eric's on Mathew Street, Liverpool.

The Ramones pose with a fan outside Eric’s on Mathew Street, Liverpool. (Ian Dickson)

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Oddly, this album also plays a part in Bombed Out.

Oddly, this album also plays a part in Bombed Out!, in terms of formative influence…

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As does this guy...

…As does this guy.

And finally, something I proudly liberated after the Iggy Pop gig at Eric’s and still have in my possession today – his set list…

Iggy Pop's set list from his 1979 Eric's gig (© Peter Alan Lloyd)

Iggy Pop’s set list from his 1979 Eric’s gig (© Peter Alan Lloyd)

Buy a signed copy of Bombed Out! here: http://www.bombedoutpunk.com/buybook.php

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or signed paperback copies from:
News From Nowhere, Bold Street Liverpool; Waterstones, Liverpool 1 or Pritchards, Moor Lane, Crosby.

 www.bombedoutpunk.com © Peter Alan Lloyd

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