The Meteors were the first UK band to combine punk’s energy with raw 50s rockabilly and invent a new musical form – psychobilly. In the USA, The Cramps had discovered a similar formula, but theirs was less violent and more dramatic.
Together, they influenced a whole movement and an accompanying youth culture during the 80s, and have endured into the new millennium.
In the late 70s, P. Paul Fenech and Nigel Lewis were churning out rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll standards in acts such as The Southern Boys and as a duo called Rock Therapy. Drummer Mark Robertson was recruited around 1980, coinciding with a name change to Raw Deal.
After a further name change to The Meteors, the band issued a debut EP, Meteor Madness, jammed with compulsive, raw rockabilly, with lyrics drawing inspiration from graveyards and vampiric legend, all performed in a crazed, headlong amphetamine rush to the end of the song.
Their first full-length album, In Heaven (1981) was issued on their own Lost Souls label. Around the same time, The Meteors recorded an EP featuring a cover of The Electric Prunes‘ Get Me To The World On Time under the guise of The Clapham South Escalators.
Robertson left soon afterwards and was replaced by Woody, but after releasing demos, Lewis also departed to form The Tall Boys. Fenech was left to soldier on, bringing in electric bass player Mick White and vocalist Russell Jones for August 1982’s Mutant Rock.
Steve ‘Ginger’ Meadham joined on drums in time for The Meteors’ second album, Wreckin’ Crew (1983), which featured a wild cover of the Johnny Leyton hit Johnny Remember Me.
Mick White departed to form his own psychobilly act (The Guana Batz) and the bass position was filled by Rick Ross for a national tour, captured on Live (1983). He was replaced by Ian ‘Spider’ Cubitt for Stampede (1984).
By Monkey’s Breath (1985), Neville Hunt surfaced as the latest bass player, alongside a cover version of Creedence Clearwater Revival‘s Bad Moon Rising.
Sewertime Blues, Night Of The Werewolf and Don’t Touch The Bang Bang Fruit were all released in 1987, by which time The Meteors’ had worked their way through more bass players, including Toby ‘Jug’ Griffin, Austin H Stones and Lee Brown.
Despite further personnel changes, Fenech continued to lead The Meteors into the 90s and several studio albums complemented the band’s enduring live reputation – so it was something of a surprise when, in the new millennium, Fenech announced they would be ceasing live performances.
P. Paul Fenech
Steve ‘Ginger’ Meadham
Ian ‘Spider’ Cubitt
Toby ‘Jug’ Griffin
Austin H Stones