With their raw, enthusiastic immaturity, The Adverts were a bright but short-lived light of the punk era, and their bass player Gaye Advert (pictured) was one of the first female musicians of punk rock and became something of a pin-up in 1977.
The band were formed in 1976 by Tim “TV” Smith and Gaye Advert (real name Gaye Black), both from Bideford, a small coastal town in Devon. After relocating to London the two young punks recruited guitarist Howard Pickup and drummer Laurie Driver and The Adverts were born.
The Roxy, London’s first live punk venue, played a crucial role in The Adverts’ early career. They were one of the pioneering bands who played at the Covent Garden club during its first 100 days. The Adverts played at the club no less than nine times between January and April 1977.
In January 1977, after their first gig supporting Generation X, the band impressed Michael Dempsey so much that he became their manager. Their second gig supporting Slaughter & The Dogs was recorded and their anthem Bored Teenagers was included on the UK Top 30 album Live At The Roxy WC2.
In February, shortly after the band’s third gig, supporting The Damned, they signed a recording contract with Stiff Records. In March the band supported The Jam at the Roxy, and in April The Adverts recorded the first of four sessions for John Peel at BBC Radio 1. Days later, their debut single, One Chord Wonders, was released.
In August the band released Gary Gilmore’s Eyes, a controversial song based on the wishes of an American murderer that his retinas be donated anonymously after his execution. The record garnered much tabloid outrage – although the BBC apparently thought it was about the Australian bowler Gary Gilmour – and a place in the UK Top 20.
Surprisingly, the band’s follow-up single, Safety In Numbers (October), did not chart. The Adverts fourth single released in January 1978, No Time To Be 21, scraped into the UK Top 40.
Crossing The Red Sea With The Adverts (1978) was The Adverts’ debut album and was released by Bright Records in March. Unfortunately, despite releasing some more well-regarded singles, The Adverts were not able to maintain the momentum and their career stalled after the release of their second album,
Unfortunately, despite releasing some more well-regarded singles, The Adverts were not able to maintain the momentum and their career stalled after the release of their second album, Cast Of Thousands (1979), which was a commercial failure and attracted more than its share of bad reviews.
The album was a huge departure from Crossing The Red Sea, with the opening title track awash in sweeping orchestral arrangements, grandiose piano, wild synthesizer and massed choirs. Elsewhere, the album actually featured tubular bells!
They split up shortly after the accidental death by electrocution of their manager, Michael Dempsey. Their last gig was at Slough College on 27 October 1979. While Tim Smith continued in the music business, ultimately to release solo albums, Gaye gave up music and followed a career with Social Services while working as a visual artist.
Driver (real name Muscat) moved to Iceland – the country not the shop – and sadly, Howard (Pickup) Boak died from a brain tumour in 1997.
Tim ‘TV’ Smith
Gaye Advert (Black)
Laurie Driver (Muscat)
Howard Pickup (Boak)