Described by John Lydon (Sex Pistols, PiL) as his favourite “old wave rock band”, this Ladbroke Grove union of Pretty Things drummer Twink and ex-members of Mick Farren’s Deviants drew from Jerry Rubin’s Yippie manifesto for a call-to-arms that was impassioned and exasperated.
Originally named The Pink Fairies Motorcycle Gang and Drinking Club (from a story by Deviants’ manager Jamie Mandelkau), they were an underground band and usually played gigs for free, often with Hawkwind, for whom they sometimes supplied musicians.
Their reputation for drug taking and general debauchery spread faster than knowledge of their music until they secured a contract with Polydor and released Never Never Land (1971).
What a Bunch of Sweeties (1972) was an impressive offering, its highlight being Walk Don’t Run, a track beginning with salacious languor, punctuated by crashing chords before it launched into high energy rock & roll and culminated in a long instrumental passage.
Other outstanding numbers included Pigs Of Uranus, which had a zany lyric set to rockabilly, and a creditable version of The Beatles‘ I Saw Her Standing There.
The album spent one week at #48 in the UK album chart, the nearest the Fairies ever came to commercial success.
When Paul Rudolph left to join Hawkwind on a full-time basis, the band used a series of temporary guitarists until Larry Wallis from UFO agreed to join. The new line-up made Kings Of Oblivion (1973) for which Wallis wrote or co-wrote all the material, shifting The Fairies style towards hard rock – indeed City Kids, a Sanderson/Wallis number, was later covered by Motörhead as the B-side of their eponymous hit single, and Wallis served in the original incarnation of that band.
Ongoing management and financial hassles destroyed the band’s morale and, despite Twink’s brief return, they split up before the end of 1973.
The Fairies reunited for a gig at London’s Roundhouse in 1975 and, encouraged by their reception, tried to relaunch their career, but without much success. For the rest of the decade, they suffered innumerable line-up changes and short disbandments, while their recorded output was limited to occasional singles on small labels.
In 1978 Twink rejoined to make an EP featuring a new version of Do It! as well as Psychedelic Punkaroo which harked back to The Fairies circa 1971.
Suddenly in 1987, The Fairies began playing gigs again. They also made an album – Kill ‘Em And Eat ‘Em – but it was well past its sell-by date and the band’s subsequent demise was cause for little sadness.
Twink (John Alder)