The Coyne brothers (Peter and Chris), who founded The Godfathers, grew up in South London in a large close-knit Irish family. Although they drew early inspiration from The Beatles and Elvis Presley, the Coynes became standard-bearers in the late-70s punk revolution.
Following a string of mostly unremarkable jobs broken by Peter’s three-year stint as a rock journalist, the brothers formed their own band, the ironically titled Sid Presley Experience in 1982.
The four-man group went on to enjoy some renown, releasing a near hit titled Public Enemy Number One and appearing on The Tube. Sadly, escalating tensions within the band led to onstage punch-ups, and the Coynes finally dismissed the offending members.
Subsequent auditions turned up Yorkshire natives Mike Gibson (guitar/vocals) and George Mazur (drums/vocals), and lead guitarist Kris Dollimore, from the island of Sheppey.
The reconstructed Sid Presley Experience played two British shows before hitting the US for a handful of dates in August 1985.
Upon their return, they dumped the name and became The Godfathers. Eager to get their fresh line-up on vinyl, the newly-named group scoured for a producer, finding a mentor in veteran engineer-producer Vic Maile, who had twiddled knobs on vintage sides by The Who and The Kinks and produced for Motörhead.
A string of singles followed on The Godfathers’ own Corporate Image label, including This Damn Nation, their vitriolic depiction of dole queue desperation, and their defiant anthem I Want Everything, which made strong inroads on the UK independent charts.
Encouraged by import sales in America, The Godfathers compiled their singles and B-sides, plus a version of John Lennon‘s Cold Turkey, for their first US album, Hit By Hit (1987).
Their major label breakthrough came not from the British record industry but from Epic Records in America who signed them to a global deal. The single Birth, School, Work, Death – an aggressively scathing indictment of the circumscribed futures faced by ordinary folk in Margaret Thatcher‘s Britain – was first released in England in October 1987 but failed to make a splash until it was re-released with the similarly named album in February 1988.
Eighteen years after their final studio album, Afterlife (1995), The Godfathers returned in 2013, battle-scarred but unrepentant with Jukebox Fury.