Skrewdriver were formed in Blackpool in 1976 by Ian Stuart Donaldson after he saw The Sex Pistols in Manchester. The band later changed into a skinhead band and then became one of the first White Power bands, playing a leading role in the far right ‘Rock Against Communism’ movement.
Although the original band had a reputation for attracting violence at their concerts (Bob Geldof was reportedly knocked unconscious by a friend of Donaldson at one concert), they did not openly support any political party.
In 1978, Donaldson moved to Manchester, where he recruited guitarist Glenn Jones and drummer Martin Smith. This line-up toured extensively, but certain venues were reluctant to book the band because of their reputation as a skinhead band.
Performing largely for a skinhead audience, the first versions of the band released one album and two singles on the Chiswick label.
This version of the band split up in January 1979 after a concert in Warrington, but Donaldson resurrected the name Skrewdriver in 1982 using new musicians.
The reformed Skrewdriver eventually became openly supportive of far right-wing groups, after a period of denying such claims. Donaldson eventually described himself as a neo-Nazi, saying: “I would describe myself as a British National Socialist, not a German one, and so don’t think I’m at odds with British patriots.”
The band became associated with the National Front and British National Party and raised funds for them (and affiliated organisations) through the White Noise record label. They released records on Rock-O-Rama Records, a record label that became known for far-right sympathies.
Skrewdriver was instrumental in setting up Blood and Honour, a network of bands promoting militant neo-Nazi ideas through music and concerts.
Some members of the original Skrewdriver did not like the new direction in which Donaldson took the band. Roger Armstrong of Chiswick Records stated: “It is a shame that the name was dragged through the gutter like that. The other three guys in the band were really pissed off too. Grinny the drummer came from solid northern socialist stock. When they made records for us, Ian Stuart showed no signs of fascism”.
“The skinhead image was a “maybe in hindsight misconceived” fashion thing. It was cooked up by a bunch of us, including the band’s then management and the photographer Peter Kodik.”
However, John “Grinny” Grinton later stated in an interview that he had no problem with the new Skrewdriver and that he became a member of the National Front along with Donaldson.
Ian Stuart Donaldson
John “Grinny” Grinton