The History of Bad Manners
The end of the American Adventure and another tragedy
The thing that finally shook them up was the final and ill-fated tour of the 1980's. Eventually and owing to great dissatisfaction with the promotion of their album in the United States, Buster and co. tore up their contract in America and returned home to the UK. They had called into a record company HQ and were enraged when the staff there did not know who Bad Manners actually were. Until their obligations to their recording company were over, they would go 'underground' and 'unsigned.'
The bad news was not finished however. The final tour had been gruelling and taxing on everyone. Several members had colds and influenza but in the case of older Jimmy Scott, complications set in and not long after the band got back to Britain, Jimmy developed pneumonia and died. Naturally, the band tried to raise money for his family and his funeral expenses by performing benefit gigs. They even contacted Sir Paul McCartney to inform him that one of the people behind a Beatles' song was dead. Macca is said to have given £1000 to the appeal fund in an act of generosity.
It was after the death of Jimmy Scott and the Portrait wrangles that the third piece of bad news arrived in the form of a massive VAT bill. It was the unpleasant duty of Louis Cook to have to inform band members that their performance fees must be cut from c.£300 per night to £30 per night. Bad Manners would have to now gig to pay the tax bill. Never a nice line of work. Stevie Smith left the band not long after.
Out of adversity came forth a new phoenix-like Bad Manners… 1988-1992
In actual fact, these difficult times proved to be a great opportunity. Bad Manners were forced to re-think and re-position their focus and direction owing to the challenges created by the American Adventure. Firstly, Buster decided the band needed a 'kick up the bum' and created a smaller and alternative outfit for his musical talents - Buster's All Stars. A key player in this project was the excellent producer and bassist Nicky Welsh who was to pen a number of excellent new Bad Manners tracks in the late 1980's and early 1990's. Buster's All Stars played smaller venues across the UK and Europe while the original Bad Manners reflected on their future direction and worked off the tax bills. Eventually, with the smell of a SKA revival looming c.1988, Buster merged Bad Manners and Buster's All Stars together and created an all-new Bad Manners.
As a result of this merger, several original members left. Paul Hyman decided that he would take up a good job offer in a City finance house. His childhood sweetheart had also accepted his proposal. Brian Tuitt left shortly before the band were due to perform in Finland, drumkit in tow apparently. David Farren's jaunts around the world had cut him out of some discussions and re-thinks and his dismissal was regretted in some respects but has never held subsequent back his artistic career. He has been a much sought-after brand-labelling artist and the Lucky Lotto Lady was his design. David also continues to lead his own outfit called the Jam Professors. Andrew Marson was not invited to join Buster's All Stars in 1987/88 and decided to call it a day. He was a gifted wood worker and joiner in any case and is a carpenter according to recent news, somewhere in the East End.
This left Buster, Martin Stewart (keyboards), Winston Bazoomies (stage eccentric, loony and harmonica), Chris Kane (tenor sax) and Louis Alphonso (guitars) to pick up the trail with new people such as song-writer/producer Nicky Welsh (bass) and a number of brass/percussion players, including the excellent Alan Perry. Perry was a saxophonist who had gone to school with Buster and also knew the original trumpet player Paul Hyman. You will see his name on the credits for the song 'Return of the Ugly' on the 1989 album of that name. Alan Sayagg had made a welcome return after his previous 4 year absence.
Bad Manners line-up c. 1988-1992 was varied and inter-changeable but the following people played in the band and/or Buster's All Stars :
Buster Bloodvessel: Vocals
Louis Cook: Guitars
Dave Horn: Guitars
Paul Seacroft: Guitars
Nicky Welsh: Bass
Mark Pinto: Bass
Perry Melius: Drums
Stephan Hobbs: Drums
Chris Kane: Tenor Sax
Ian Fullwood: Tenor Sax
Matt Godwin: Tenor & Baritone Sax
Jan Brahms: Trombone & bass trombone
Rico Rodriguez: Trombone
Scampi Alto: Sax
John Preston: Trumpet
Alex Arundel: Trumpet
Alan Sayagg: Harmonicas
'The Billy': Harmonicas
Martin Stewart: Organs/Keyboards
Johnny Tee: Violins/Strings
The Blue Beat phase and new recordings 1988-1992
Between 1988 and 1992, this all-new and very extended version of Bad Manners recorded a number of albums including Eat the Beat, Return of the Ugly and Fat Sounds. They toured Europe, Scandinavia and the USA constantly, as well as building up a rock-solid college campus, night club and larger venue following in the United Kingdom.
Veteran Bad Manners guitarist Louis Cook was given the honorary status of having the right to come and go from the band while he completed his French philosophy and language degree. Louis had to live in France for a major portion of his degree but this did not prevent him from joining the band in Europe during selected gigs, nor did it stop him getting to the UK on occasion
The band was absolutely kicking and the inter-changeable and flexible line-up led to some unfair comments charges including 'retro band' or 'Buster's pick ups' etc. In actual fact, the band had been through traumas between c.1985-1988 and the period 1988-1992 was a settling down period. Other bands would have been content to give up and die. Buster and his varied line-up refused to do so.
Their forays into the charts were lesser known but nonetheless fantastic. Buster acquired the Blue Beat label and went independent as a recording artist and someone who could give other, younger bands their first opportunity inside a studio. Longsy D came up with This is Ska which featured Buster. The single charted in 1989. The Blue Beat album Eat the Beat was recorded in 1988 and featured many tracks that would later appear on Return of the Ugly (1989) which was a vehicle for the band's new live material, while Skaville UK (Nicky Welsh) missed the charts by one millimetre of a cat's whisker. Bad Manners were back on the scene as the new and younger audiences began to rub shoulders with older and more seasoned fans.
Final departures before a firmer footing.., 1991-1992
The band was to go through one more important shake-up before it settled down into a period of complete stability and firm-footings c.1992-1998.
In c.1991-1992, The Selecter, a former leading 2-Tone outfit, had reformed and its singer Pauline Black had been assisted by Martin Stewart and Nicky Welsh of Bad Manners in breathing life back into a band that had been dead for some years. All three musicians believed that their careers needed to move in a new direction and so Martin and Nicky left Bad Manners. They continue to perform and record with Black's Selecter to this day but their professional association with Buster was now finished. Nicky also leads and records through Big Five, featuring Jenny Bellestar among others.
On a matter of public record, probably the biggest wrench for the band was the almost permanent departure of the wonderful and magical Winston Bazoomies (Alan Sayagg) due to long-term illness in 1993. Something along the lines of an amazing music-hall character and Bad Manners institution, Sayagg was the original harmonica player and stage eccentric/loony and had always been a favourite with the fans. His departure was probably more important to the band on a personal basis than any other change in the early 1990's. Buster and Sayagg went back to toddler days together. Since the later 1980's, Alan had been back performing with Bad Manners whenever he could. He had entered a new phase in his career by wearing the traditional suit and yellow sunglasses but he had added a rubber Elvis wig to surreal effect. He often sat on a settee live on stage and directed the band during Ivor the Engine and King SKA FA.
The Welsh/Stewart episode was an important wrench for the band in that once again, Buster and the remaining members were left to reflect on their future and direction. They needn't have worried. They continued to gig and record without mercy and with great enthusiasm.