Strangeways - Ada Wilson(vocals-guitar), Bas Snaith(vocals-guitar), Bob Marsden(vocals-bass) and Ringo Higginbottom (drums) - were actually formed in Wakefield (UK) from a band called Sidewinder, started by Ada & Ringo and a couple of schoolmates, in the latter part of the 70s. They played a few local dives, performing numbers by the likes of John Fogerty & Peter Green, before the days when 'pub-rock' was as yawningly commonplace as it is now. The music scene was in that stagnant state that tends to emerge between each decade, waiting for something new and radical to kick its blubbery arse. By 1975 the discerning music lover only had lumbering dinosaurs like Wishbone Ash, King Crimson, Yes and Supertramp, cock-rock, trippers like Gong & Hawkwind or the pomp of Genesis (sans Gabriel) and ELP... you still had Bowie of course... but music had become so inert that something eventually had to give.
After the Pistols, Clash, Damned and Heartbreakers played Leeds Polytechnic in 1976, The F Club and other venues sprouted up in the city, and every city in England, along with a host of local groups
who were mainly making it up as they went along. There followed a period of some confusion, when most tried to get all the codes of this new phenomenon right, mainly failing miserably. The 2 schoolmates left Sidewinder to follow their true calling and Bas & Bob were recruited into the fold. Strangeways were born.
In their respective bands they had been playing a mixture of Bowie, Groundhogs, Be-Bop Deluxe (also from Wakefield), Golden Earring, Santana, Status Quo (yeah, I know) until they too heard the call. Like most punk recruits, they gave away almost their entire record collections, immersing themselves entirely in this new movement.
Strangeways managed to get it more or less right eventually, but they laughed much more than they sneered and wanted to wash everything in three-part harmonies and melody. Powerpop was a term much maligned at the time, but thatıs undeniably what they were.
As their appeal spread further and they started to gain praise from the national music press for their live performances. Strangeways toured/gigged rigorously, playing with many major names across the UK, including The Ramones, Johnny Thunders and David Johanssen of the New York Dolls, Graham Parker and The Rumour, Suzi Quatro(!), Judas Priest and The Pretenders.
After a year of intensive gigging, playing some real dives all over Britain, they were eventually snapped up by Real Records (nee Anchor). Anchor stablemates were The Tourists (who went on to become The Eurythmics) and The Adverts,who gave us the marvellous Gary Gilmour's Eyes.
When Strangeways signed the contract, Ringo was 17, legally too young to sign, and still took his washing home to his mum. In fact. all the band still lived with their parents. They got £10,000 as an advance and blew it on a 'proper' van, drums and amps, hopelessly dud guitars, over-priced brothel creepers, Johnson suits and leopardskin-print drainpipe troos. In a feature in Sounds magazine ­ (penned by Dave Hepworth, who went on to host The Old Grey Whistle Test and edit Smash Hits magazine) ­it was noted that they giggled a lot. That was part of the attraction, but also the problem, really. An inability to take anything remotely seriously. They had the world at their feet but they they were wearing outsized clown's shoes. Bas told Sounds he wanted to be famous enough to appear on Parkinson with Rod Hull's Emu, and was described as an unholy West Riding cross between Joe Strummer and Eric Morecambe.

Their first single "Show Her You Care" was recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios in London in 1978. During one of the many lulls that occur in every recording session, the guys, out of sheer boredom, were seeing who was the most supple. Whilst Ada (NOT the most supple) was on his back, his arms outstretched and his toes touching the floor behind his head, in walked the legendary Beatles producer, George Martin. What Ada didn't realise (but the rest of the band AND George Martin did) was that he (Ada) had a small hole in the crotch of his trousers - a hole through which his hairy little testicles were now protruding. Faced with this, Mr. Martin returned rapidly from whence he came, leaving the producing to John Leckie. How to win friends and influence people .. or, 'Never Mind the Bollocks Mister Martin, tell us about the 'other' Ringo'. Dave Lee Travis (or somesuch) played the single once or twice and it sank without trace.

During their many visits to London, they slept at The Madison Hotel, which seemed to be exclusive to Yorkshire and Irish Groups (not to mention 'working girls'). It was six quid a night to sleep eight of the band in one room. No extra for the cockroaches. "Bono Was Here, it said, in cheap biro, above a single bed, crammed into a room with seven others."

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"Feargal Sharkey shags your women, it said (as if), over the communal bath with a bottle of Vim instead of a plug, next to the sign: Warning: Do Not Get Out of the Bath Wet ­ Live Cables Under the Floorboards. Ringo Higginbottom was (as all drummers are) the butt of all the band's juvenility, and they'd do things like moving his bed out into the corridor, or dipping his hand in a cup of water when he was asleep, to try and make him piss himself. And once, yes, one other night, some freshly-squeezed turds did end up in his shoes. Ah, the excesses of the rock'n'roll life. Does anyone remember The Members?(Sound of the Suburbs) - one of them was sick in the Strangeways transit van. To reciprocate, one of Strangeways' buddies (who is now a Times journalist) copiously vomited onto the pristine floor at Billy Idol's party, reinforcing the 'oiks from oop north' reputation.
They also dossed down at the Real Records office on Wardour Street (just up from The Marquee club) from time to time, which handily, was below that of Sire Records. One morning, they took over 20 copies of Talking Heads: 77' into Cheapo Cheapo Records for beer money. Bas still has a great collection of early Ramones (white labels), the aforementioned TH, Richard Hell and The Voidoids, Flamin' Groovies - all 'borrowed' from Seymour Stein's office above. Times were hard.
The Pretenders were label mates on Real Records. Singer Chrissie Hynde is featured singing "Wild Thing" (in French) on a bonus track on the album, recorded just before she got her band of wayward minstrels together. Dave Hill (head honcho at Real ) ­ confirming that intuition is worth more than ability ­ signed her up. She came down to the studio once with Strangeways and recorded the aforementioned "Wild Thing".
Within a week James-Honeymann-Scott, Pete Farndon and Martyn Chambers arrived, slick professionals to a man. They didnıt giggle. James was a coke fiend, Pete a rather secretive heroin addict, and Martin a drummer (nevertheless a great guy - certainly the most approachable). They played their first-ever gig supporting Strangeways at Unity Hall in Wakefield, which is where the "Brass in Pocket" story was born. In the communal dressing room, amongst the de-rigour debris and detritus, Chrissie drawled : "Hey, whose trousers are these?" They were hanging over the back of a chair. Ada said: I'll ave 'em if there's any brass in't pocket. "Brass in pocket?' she drawled, what's that?"
The Pretenders released their first platter, "Stob Your Sobbing", a week later. Suddenly the tables turned and Strangeways were supporting them. "We've written this song, sneered James-Honeymann-Scott, hoovering up a fat line of coke in the dressing room in Manchester or Newcastle or somewhere, a month afterwards, called "Brass in't Pocket." "Aye, lad, smiled Pete Farndon, who never made a show of doing what he was into publicly. "I'll bet thatıs gonna be shit," said Bob quietly to Ringo. It was the first Number One of the 80s. A year later both James and Pete were dead.
Strangeways second single, "Wasting Time/All the Sounds of Fear" was produced by Tommy Erdelyi, aka Tommy Ramone. Bas's guitar parts were played on John Entwistle's (The Who bassist) black Gibson Les Paul, through two (yes, TWO) Marshall 100watt stacks, both on FULL power, whilst the bass and drums were stripped to a raw minimum. This 'Ramonisation' of the Strangeways sound turned 'All the Sounds of Fear' into a powerful anthem and that song really ought to have been pushed more as the A side of the single. The feedback during the intro of the song was 'played' by Tommy.
Other highlights of the bandıs brief career included a residency in Paris (Le Rose Bonbon, not too far from The Moulin Rouge) where they played great gigs to a packed house, drank too much wine,
parlayed avec gorgeous Parisienne belles and ate bread from a cockroach-inhabited basket in a cockroach-inhabited café.
Back in England there was an appearance on the Granada kidsı TV show ŒGet it Togetherı hosted by one Roy North, formerly the sidekick to the infamous glove-puppet fox, Basil Brush! Filmed playing it live ­ all John Cooper-Clark buoffants and cheekbones, they were refused the loan of a guitar strap by the miserable, sedentary Get It Together house band , who by their baleful looks of distaste regarded Strangeways as scruffy punks - not 'proper' musicians like they were. In desperation, Bas used an old school tie of Bob's to hold up his guitar. Half way through the song the tie snapped and Bas had to play hunched over, his guitar balanced on one knee, the rest of the guys in hysterics. Meanwhile, in Coronation Street at that time, Alf Roberts was in a coma, so they chatted to him and Ken Barlow in the Granada Studios canteen (to make sure he was OK) and lit the ignoramus Freddy Starr's cigarette in the corridor. Gigging in London at the time of the show's airing, the band watched it on a TV in a shop window somewhere on Shaftesbury Avenue.
Getting nowhere, totally eclipsed by their stablemates The Pretenders, Strangeways played their last ever gig to a rapturous packed house at Wakefieldıs Dolly Grayıs in 1979.