Sham 69 are an English punk band that formed in Hersham in 1976. Although not as commercially successful as many of their contemporaries, albeit with a greater number of chart entries, Sham 69 has been a huge musical and lyrical influence on the Oi! and streetpunk genres. The band allegedly derived their name from a piece of graffiti that founder Jimmy Pursey saw on a wall. It originally said Walton and Hersham ’69 but had partly faded away, and made reference to when Walton & Hersham F.C. secured the Athenian League title in 1969.
The November 12, 1976 issue of NME notes that Sham 69 was rehearsing in 1976, although only Pursey would remain from this early lineup twelve months later. Sham 69 did not have the art school background of many English punk bands of the time, and brought in football chant backup vocals and a sort of inarticulate political populism. The band had a large skinhead following (left wing, right wing and non-political), which helped set the tone for the Oi! movement. Their concerts were notoriously plagued by violence, and the band ceased live performances after a 1978 concert at Middlesex Polytechnic was broken up by National Front-supporting white power skinheads rushing the stage.
Sham 69 released their first single, I Don’t Wanna, on Step Forward Records in August 1977, produced by John Cale (formerly of the Velvet Underground), and its success in the independent charts prompted Polydor Records to sign the band. Their major label debut was Borstal Breakout in January 1978, followed by UK Singles Chart success with Angels With Dirty Faces (reaching number 19 in May 1978) and If the Kids Are United (number 9 in July 1978). They weren’t taken from the group’s debut album, Tell Us the Truth, a mixture of live and studio recordings. The group had further chart success with Hurry Up Harry (number 10 in October 1978), which came from their second LP and first full studio album, That’s Life. The band’s popularity was enhanced by their performances on Top Of The Pops, and the band performed in the 1980 film, D.O.A..
The band eventually started to move away from punk rock, to embrace a sound heavily influenced by classic British rock bands such as Mott the Hoople, The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Faces. This was demonstrated by their third album, The Adventures of the Hersham Boys.
Sham 69 originally broke up after their fourth album, and Pursey moved in a heavy metal direction after working with the remaining members of the Sex Pistols for a short time, under the name Sham Pistols. Rick Goldstein, Dave Parsons, and Dave Tregunna joined the 1980s glam punk/gothic rock band The Wanderers with Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys before he formed The Lords of the New Church. Stiv Bators and Dave Tregunna recruited Nick Turner of The Barracudas and Brian James of The Damned to become Lords of the New Church. In 1981, Pursey collaborated with Peter Gabriel on the single Animals Have More Fun which was commercially unsuccessful.
In 1987, Sham 69 was resurrected with a different line-up, releasing the single Rip And Tear. If the Kids Are United was used in a McDonald’s advertising campaign, long after the rights to the band’s songs had been sold. By that time, Pursey was a vegetarian, and he appeared in the British media condemning the use of his song by what he considered a multinational abuser of animals and humans.
In 2005, the band gained media attention when If the Kids Are United was played during UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s entrance at the Labour Party Conference. As a result of this, the band was invited onto BBC TV’s current affairs programme Newsnight to sing a version of the song. Pursey sang altered lyrics, including Mr. Blair/We know you care/So bring them home/Don’t leave them there, referring to the troops remaining in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
In 2006, listeners to Christian O’Connell’s Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio voted overwhelmingly for the band to record a song to support the England national football team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Released under Sham 69 and The Special Assembly (O’Connell and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon were also involved), the song was based on the Sham 69 hit Hurry Up Harry, with the lyrics We’re going down the pub, changed to We’re going to win the cup! The resulting single, Hurry Up England reached number 10 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band’s first such hit in 26 years.
n late 2006, Sham 69 broke up, and Dave Parsons has stated his wish to independently continue as ‘Sham 69’. On January 26, 2007, BBC News announced that Sham 69 had split because of a bitter fallout between Pursey and Parsons.NME reported that a statement released by Parsons included the message: Sham 69 have left Jimmy Pursey on the eve of their 30th anniversary. The band had become increasingly fed up with Jimmy’s lack of interest in playing live and continually letting down both promoters and fans by pulling out of gigs at the last moment. Parsons and Whitewood have formed a new line-up with Tim V on vocals and Rob Jefferson on bass. This line-up has performed tours of the United States, played at many punk festivals across Europe, and released the album, Hollywood Hero, in August 2007. On 21 January 2008, Pursey officially announced the formation of his new band, Day 21, and relinquished any interest in the name ‘Sham 69’. Rob Jefferson (bass) has since left Sham 69 and has been replaced by the former U.K. Subs member Alan Campbell. Sham 69 have recently recorded a song for Millwall F.C. entitled Millwall Boys, which was released on 2 May 2010. they have also recorded a song For Portsmouth FC F.A Cup Final, a version of ‘Hurry up Harry’ entitled ‘Hurry up Harry Redknapp’.
|1978||Tell Us the Truth|
|1979||The Adventures of the Hersham Boys|
|1995||Soapy Water and Mister Marmalade|
|1997||The A Files|
|2001||Direct Action: Day 21|
|2007||Hollywood Hero (U.S.)|
|Western Culture (UK / Europe)|
|2010||Who Killed Joe Public|
|October 1977||I Don’t Wanna||Red London / Ulster||Step Forward
|January 1978||Borstal Breakout||Hey Little Rich Boy||Polydor
|April 1978||Angels With Dirty Faces||Cockney Kids are Innocent||Polydor
|July 1978||If the Kids Are United||Sunday Morning Nightmare||Polydor
|October 1978||Hurry Up Harry||No Entry||Polydor
|March 1979||Questions and Answers||Gotta Survive (live) / With a Little Help from My Friends||Polydor
|July 1979||Hersham Boys||I Don’t Wanna (live) / Tell Us The Truth (live)||Polydor
|October 1979||You’re a Better Man Than I||Give a Dog a Bone||Polydor
|March 1980||Tell The Children||Jack||Polydor
|June 1980||Unite and Win||I’m a Man||Polydor
|July 1987||Rip and Tear||The Great American Slowdown||Legacy
|February 1988||Outside the Warehouse||Outside the Warehouse (version)||Legacy
|March 1993||Uptown||Borstal Breakout||C.M.P.|
|October 1993||Action Time & Vision||Bosnia / Hey Little Rich Boy / Reggae Giro||C.M.P.
|2006||Hurry Up England||N/K||Parlophone|
The First, the Best and the Last (1980)
Kings & Queens (1993)
Lords of Oi! (1997)
The Punk Singles Collection: 1977-1980 (1998)
Laced Up Boots and Corduroys (2000)
Teenage Kicks (4 April 2005)
The Original Punk Album (2007)
Punk 77/2007 30th Anniversary (2007)
If The Kids Are United – The Very Best of Sham 69 (2004)
The Complete Collection: 3-disc’ (2004)
Live and Loud!! (1987)
The Complete Sham 69 Live (1989)
Live at the Roxy Club (1990)
Live in Italy (1996)
Live at CBGB’s (1998)