Eric Goulden grew up in Newhaven, near Brighton. From there he went to Hull Art School in northeastern England until he was drawn to London in 1976 by the then-waning pub rock movement.
After a succession of jobs that included cleaning toilets in Greenwich, working as a coffee bar assistant at Butlin’s and working as a quality control inspector in a lemonade factory, he wound up as one of the first signings to Stiff Records.
In many ways, Eric was the embodiment of punk’s DIY ethic: awkward, rough, fearlessly enthusiastic and occasionally inspired.
“I’m one of those cunts that brings tapes into record companies,” said a nervous and slightly tipsy Eric as he delivered his demo tape to Stiff‘s offices in summer 1977.
The cassette in question had originally housed Eric Clapton‘s Rainbow concert, over which the young bedroom bard had recorded a selection of his songs on a tape recorder in his Wandsworth bed-sit – among them Whole Wide World.
Two weeks later ‘Wreckless Eric’ was signed to Stiff and recording the track at Pathway Studios with Nick Lowe producing.
The song became one of the most enduring British songs of the New Wave era, encapsulating the bittersweet post-Kinks pop suss which drove Eric’s Stiff career for two years and continued to define his work in the future.
By the 1980s, he was disillusioned and fronting the Len Bright Combo for the Saturday Live show, before decamping to France and resurfacing (post-breakdown) as the Hitsville House Band for a Mark Radcliffe session in 1986.
Newly-wed to American singer-songwriter Amy Rigby, Goulden released a duet album with his new wife in 2008.