The History of Bad Manners
The early tours and a tragedy
SKA'n'B & Loonee Tunes 1980-81
In 1980, the band were able to seriously tour the UK and Europe/Scandinavia for the first time. Magnet, their record label knew the band were winners but had been cautious about the release of Special Brew. They had wanted to 'soften up' and prepare the British people for the arrival of the Fat One and his gang and they had decided to do it with NeNeNaNaNuNu first followed by Lip Up Fatty. This formula had worked. TOTP had promised an appearance if NeNeNaNaNuNu reached the dirty thirty and it got to 28. Bad Manners therefore went on TV. Lip Up Fatty had a second and far more effective chart performance. When Special Brew was released later in 1980, the band hit the number three spot. Special Brew had in fact been conceived within three minutes in a rehearsal room when the band were armed with their minds and a pallet of Special Brew Beer. It was certainly a charting prospect then and it pays the band good royalties to this day, thanks to its popularity with biscuit companies, TV chefs and Sainsbury's adverts. Special Brew was the third release from SKA'n'B, the band's debut album. This LP contained many classics including Inner London Violence. Initially, the boys were going to call that track In A Luncheon Voucher…
After all this chart success, the band, for some unexpected reason were sent to FINLAND. The reason for this remains obscure to this day. Some people have argued it was because Special Brew is part of the Scandinavian CARLSBERG scene. Whenever they were doing well, Magnet Records always seemed to send them to Finland! In any case, the Finnish tour was a great success. Thousands of people were waiting at Helsinki airport when they arrived, with banners and cheers, and the band performed their expanded repertoire alongside Iron Maiden at a huge festival were they went down very well. It was during this tour that Magnet Records sent gifts of champagne and telegrams informing the band of their Top 3 success with Special Brew.
As well as Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, there was England, Ireland, Spain and Italy in 1980, during the Year of the Fatty. The band's imaginative ways of turning the property of other people, hotels and venues into their own finally caught up with them in Italy however and they were escorted to the airport to ensure they left. Buster and co had even stopped the bus on the side of the road one day to sell items they had decided to move from one place to another. Talk about throwing a brick through someone's window then asking them how far it had gone… Buster had also received a life-time ban from Italian TV for indecent exposure (mooning) while performing. He had been informed that his Holiness Pope John Paul was watching the set and decided to treat the Papal seat to a view of his own. The band was saved on one occasion when Chewitt was indisposed. Roger Lomas therefore played drums - badly. In one venue, the mayor, local councillors and chief of police ordered armed police to make fans sit down rather than dance. Bizarre!
In Spain, Bad Manners saved and protected the brother of Madness' Chas Smash when he truanted from the French Foreign Legion! They got that boy home…
Back in Britain Lorraine charted and the band were recording their second album - Loonee Tunes. This next offering contained classics such as Echo 4-2 on track for the first time as well as Just a Feelin', Suicide, El Pussycat, Ivor the Engine (Undersea adventures of…), Doris, Spy-I, Tequila and many, many more. The Bonzo influence was clear in the closing track Just Pretendin'. The record was made in Wales and in Coventry. On the sleeve notes were the full lyrics to every song, as well as photo credits that showed each band member when they were either babies or toddlers, including an infant matchstick-skinny Buster Bloodvessel. The inner sleeve also featured items from Alan Sayagg's extensively weird postcard collection and other collections in general. There was a man taking a crocodile for a walk, as well as British political leaders at the cenotaph on Rememberance Sunday. The infamous Todd Browning feature called FREAKS had been banned from cinemas in 1933, for THIRTY YEARS. The film featured pinheads, human snails and eels, halfmen, hermaphrodites, midgets and cripples. Loonee Tunes therefore featured a still from the film showing all the main characters and billed them as the Magnificent Seven. The band were obviously working very hard and playing very hard.
During the Irish tour, Alan Sayagg became unwell. He had a nervous breakdown. He had to go home. For some time he was unable to work and after his time in hospital, an eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia was arrived at. Sayagg was never fully 'well' again after this event and between 1980 and 1992, he would have to enter periods of retirement from the band before returning again. The incident had an important effect on the other members of the group and it was not really until the Gosh It's tour of 1981 that Sayagg would return to full-time work with the band. When he did it was excellent.
However, it is the case that Sayagg more or less left the band in 1993 with a permanent right to return whenever he was well. Today Alan is receiving good care and attention and a number of Bad Manners friends and relatives keep in contact with him. In the periods of his absence, there have been only three other harmonica players. Jerry Tremaine played for a short period in the mid 1980's followed by the highly talented Stevie Smith. In 1994, childhood Sayagg fan David Turner took on the role of resident Sayagg-inspired harmonica player and has filled the spot ever since, much to the concern of many band members apart from Buster…