Vocalist Mike Spenser arrived in London from Brooklyn in February 1975, met Zenon de Fleur (real name Hierowski) and joined a band called Chrome. By mid-1975 the pair had formed the Count Bishops, with the name taken from a Brooklyn street gang.
Cutting their teeth on the Pub Rock circuit playing alongside groups like Eddie & The Hot Rods and The 101ers, they signed to the newly-created Chiswick records and laid down their Speedball EP that showcased their 60s R&B roots via a selection of cover versions.
After Spenser’s departure, Zen and Johnny Guitar handled the vocals for a while, cutting an album and the single Takin’ It Easy b/w Train, Train for Holland’s Dynamite Records.
The single was licensed by Chiswick for the UK, where radio stations turned it over, helping Train, Train to garner much attention and respectable sales.
Johnny and Zen wanted to give up vocal duties and latched onto Dave Tice, who had fronted a successful Australian band called Buffalo with Paul Balbi, who had already joined the Bishops on drums.
They recorded Baby You’re Wrong and put out their first LP, The Count Bishops (1977). Bassist Steve Lewins departed shortly thereafter to join Wilko Johnson’s Solid Senders, and the Bishops picked up Pat McMullan who had left Belfast to play with Screaming Lord Sutch, among others.
While putting together studio recordings for a second album they found that a tape of a gig at the Roundhouse (originally intended for a live Chiswick sampler) was hot enough to be an album in its own right. Live was released in spring 1978.
The singles I Take What I Want and I Want Candy (both 1978) led the band to an appearance on Top of the Pops.
The band shortened their name in 1979 to simply The Bishops.
On 18 March 1979 – a few days after the release of their album Cross Cuts (1979) – Zen de Fleur was killed when he crashed his Aston Martin.
Zenon de Fleur (Hierowski)