Eddie & The Hot Rods formed in Rochford near Southend, Essex in 1975, originally as a garage band called Buckshee.
Singer Barrie Masters had been a tough amateur boxer as a schoolboy. Out of 54 bouts in the ring, he lost only eleven to become an undefeated schoolboy champion. He and guitarist Dave Higgs, bass player Paul Gray and drummer Steve Nicol got together through an advertisement in the local paper.
The group were aptly described as “high-octane”, and their mix of Pub Rock and Power Pop produced some genuinely great songs. During the summer of 1976, the group broke house records at the Marquee Club with a scorching series of raucous, sweat-drenched performances.
Signed by Island Records late in 1975, they issued the singles Wooly Bully and Writing On The Wall early in 1976 with Lew Lewis on harmonica.
Their onstage exuberance and power were well captured on a live EP, Live at The Marquee (July 1976), which included a clever amalgamation of Gloria by Them and Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones, and a cover of 96 Tears, originally by ? And The Mysterians.
They followed this with the Teenage Depression single, which went up against The Damned‘s New Rose and The Sex Pistols‘ Anarchy In The UK as the new wave swept into town in the autumn of 1976.
The three singles were reviewed head-to-head in the music press, with Teenage Depression gaining extra kudos for its barely concealed drug references (“I’m spending all my money and it’s going up my nose”).
The album of the same name broke the UK Top 50 late in 1976 – a meteoric rise for a band that had only formed the year before.
The arrival in 1977 of guitarist Graeme Douglas from the Kursaal Flyers gave the group a more commercial edge and a distinctive jingle-jangle sound.
A guest appearance on former MC5 singer Rob Tyner’s Till The Night Is Gone was followed by the brilliant single Do Anything You Wanna Do (1977), which provided the band with a Top 10 hit in the UK.
A fine second album, Life On The Line (1977), was their commercial high point, reaching #29 in the UK charts.
A major UK tour followed early in 1978 with support from Squeeze and Radio Stars. Proof of their clout was underlined by appearances in teen magazines such as Jackie and Look-In, but the band could not cement their position in the charts and a second smash hit never materialised.
A third album, Thriller, was released on Island in 1979 and broke the Top 50. Despite this, Island dropped the group and EMI picked them up.
The so-so Fish ‘n’ Chips album followed in 1981 and was released with little fanfare.
The group effectively disbanded the following year.
A decade later, the classic line-up of Masters, Higgs, Gray and Nicol reformed for a European tour, and the band returned to life.
By the start of the noughties, a new line-up was touring with Barrie Masters still in fine voice, joined by Simon Bowley (drums), Dipster Dean (bass) and Gary Loker (guitar).
Sadly, founding guitarist Dave Higgs was lost to cancer in 2013. Barrie Masters died suddenly in October 2019, aged 63.
Paul ‘The Kid’ Gray
Steve Nichols (Steve Nicol)