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Sham 69

While most of the early British punk bands spoke of working-class concerns -- primarily unemployment and the shrinking U.K. economy, which was leaving a generation with nothing to do and nowhere to go -- many of the pioneering groups had working-class credentials that were suspect at best; the Sex Pistols' career was being molded by a haberdasher and would-be artist, while the Clash were led by the son of a diplomat. Sham 69, however, was different; proletarian and proud of it, Sham 69 was the voice of the people in the first wave of British punk, and if they were never as fashionable as such contemporaries as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Wire, or the Jam (who, in their early days, shared Sham's provincial outlook and "we're with the kids" fan solidarity), they enjoyed a long run of chart successes and were a major influence on the street punk and Oi! movements which followed.

Sham 69 was formed in the working-class community of Hersham (in Surrey) in 1975 by singer and lyricist Jimmy Pursey; the name came from an ancient bit of graffiti celebrating a local football team's winning season in 1969. From the start, Sham 69's politics were populist, and their sound accessible; straight-ahead four-square punk with a hard rock influence and lyrics that often used sing-along slogans in their choruses, such as "If the Kids Are United" and "(Gonna Be A) Borstal Breakout." The band went through a revolving cast of musicians early on before settling on the lineup of Pursey, Dave Parsons on guitar, Albie Slider on bass, and Mark Cain behind the drums. They began scaring up gigs where they could, and began playing the notorious London punk venue the Roxy on a regular basis, where they built up a loyal following. Step Forward, a small independent label, released the band's first single, "I Don't Wanna," in September 1977. The success of the single and the band's growing fan base prompted Polydor to sign the band in the U.K., and their first album, Tell Us the Truth -- one side recorded live, the other in the studio -- was released in early 1978. (Sire released the album in the United States, and it would prove to be the only Sham 69 album released in America until the late '80s.) By the time the album came out, Albie Slider had left the band and Dave "Kermit" Tregenna took over on bass. Sham's second album, That's Life, was released in the fall of 1978, and featured two major hit singles, "Hurry Up Harry" and "Angels With Dirty Faces"; and as many of the first wave of U.K. punk bands were beginning to peter out, Sham 69's popularity continued to grow.

However, there was a fly in the ointment for Sham 69; the band's rowdy, sing-along attitude began attracting a violent and undiscriminating audience, and fighting became increasing common at the band's live shows. The group also found their gigs were becoming recruiting grounds for Britain 's extreme right-wing (and racist) political party, the National Front; while Pursey often spoke out against the NF, for some reason it was an association that wouldn't go away. While the group's third album, The Adventures of the Hersham Boys, was a commercial success (as were the singles "If The Kids Are United" and "You're A Better Man Than I"), the increasing violence at concerts made it harder to tour, and Pursey began producing other bands and investigating new musical directions.

(Drummer Mark Cain also quit the band, with Ricky Goldstein taking over on percussion.) After the group's fourth album, The Game, received a lukewarm reception from both reviewers and fans, Pursey opted to split up Sham 69 in mid-1980. Pursey went on to a solo career, briefly working with former Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, while Dave Parsons and Dave Tregenna formed a short-lived band called the Wanderers with former Dead Boys vocalist Stiv Bators. After "the Sham Pistols" failed to work out, Pursey recorded a series of ambitious but commercially unsuccessful solo albums, and Tregenna joined the Lords of the New Church. In 1987, Pursey and Parsons assembled a new edition of Sham 69; Pursey continues to tour and record with Sham 69, while also pursuing an acting career and recording solo material. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

punks original sham 69
Sham 69 is one of the many bands I like. Tell us the truth, rich boy, evil way. Those songs are really badass
anwl2003
I totally agree with Punk Guy with the Stars in His Eyes and as a Skin myself {not racist} I find it offensive that all skins are put in the same group. Most racist bands are METAL and not skin and if they are skins they soon turn to metal.

Long live skins :)
Interesting # on the band name lmfao.. doesn't 69 stand for something? ; )
I havr oi tattooed on my b*** from the 90's can I don't regret it and I'm 38 now
Sham was my exposure to good Oi! I couldn't get into it before I ran across their music
mariah.vavra
"Original" skins were known for paki bashing so racism has always been alive in the skinhead scene some just took it farther. Skins are racist f**k the fake self hating sharp red scum
sham69 is the sickest, gnarlyest band ever!! its real punk and everyone knows it!!
If the Kids are United. This should clear up any thoughts that these guys might not be racists. Also Boss Gregory is right, Skinheads were a fashion movement. And it was originally a black thing, geniuses.

Also Antifa is the way man, better than being a sheep. Besides, as the brits say, my granddads never listened to Fascists, they shot them. Both of them. So f**k off racist skins. Antifa and Oi for life.
Skinhead is a fashion movement, not a political movement. It was about having the best Fred or Ben Sherman and listening to reggae you doofus. Well at least it was before punk. Anyway, society will survive well enough with out skinheads getting involved in politics.
nbhooligans
You f**ks spent so much time being Antifa/anti racist you allowed your country to fall apart.. I love the Skinhead Culture, been one for 16 yrs but at some point y'all have to actually FIGHT FOR SOMETHING other than who's got the sweetest fred perry, or your country will fall apart around you.
oi,oi,family - t h a n k you- Amazing and unforgettabl e and no where near racist. I love Sham 69. Music evolved for me when as a kid I was exposed to Sham69.I would be a different person without this great experience.
I know nothing of this band, but always liked 'em when they came on public radio back in the day. Just different... . . . in a good way.
" The group also found their gigs were becoming recruiting grounds for Britain 's extreme right-wing (and racist) political party, the National Front; while Pursey often spoke out against the NF, for some reason it was an association that wouldn't go away." - Britain's Sheer Terror! LMAO!
Shout Oi Oi Oi!!!!
looking for that punk in your face essence? well here it is. straight early street rock n roll from the uk. these guys are the prime example of we don't care about you either, they werent looking for pop charts and being rememberd as popular, they were fed up with the high end controlling them,.. they wanted change, and they wanted it now. voice of the working class, voice of the people. OI OI OI
Whoever posted bellow me doesnt know squat about good punk rock. This is a prime example of punk rock.
kind of dull and
forgetable
great guitar ballads & solos, one of the best I've heard yet
It's funny you should mention "panzy a** gay punk" because right before Sham 69 I was listening to Pansy Division. But I've never heard them on the radio. Huh. I guess maybe you were trying to be funny. Well, hey, good effort.
OI OI OI
THESE GUYS ARE A PRIME EXAMPLE OF GOOD PUNK ROCK
SHAM 69 IS REAL PUNK!!! Not like this panzy a** gay punk that's being played on the radio..
sham (69) IS A OK IN MY WORLD
agutierrez19 9 1
Oi Oi Oi!

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