Arthur 2 Stroke and the Chart Commandos

Hear the Arthur 2 Stroke and the Chart Commandos Live at Banwells LP in its entirety – just click here now!

1979-1983
Arthur 2 Stroke- vocals
Tim Readman-electric guitar and vocals
Steve Nash-trumpet and vocals
Stevie Lee-congas and percussion and vocals
Ian Thomson-bass and vocals
Ross Winning-trumpet and vocals
Grahame Easthope-tenor sax and vocals
Pat Rafferty-keyboards and vocals
Davey Bruce-drums
…also featuring Davey Baird-tenor sax and Petey Poops-other saxes

I met Steve ‘WM7’ Nash when we were both studying occupational therapy at Newcastle Poly in the late 70’s. He came to see me play in a folk rock band called Pigs Might Fly and we had several tequila and beer and mish mosh moments after that. I went to Canada in 1979 for 6 weeks and when I came back he invited me to join him and his new buddy Arthur 2 Stroke in a punky pop group on bass. After a few gigs at the Gosforth Hotel, at the now legendary Anti Pop Monday punk nights, with Naughty Norman on drums, I moved on. Then I got a call to say Arthur was going to impersonate Wavis O’Shave at a gig at the Music Machine in London to cash in on the mighty wave of media attention the Wavis album Anna Ford’s Bum had started. They even got on the front page of the Sunday People with Andy Pop pulling the strings and making the large false nose that Arthur wore in order to disguise himself as Wavis. The Wavis backing band (which included Pat Rafferty on keys and Ian Thomson on bass-later both members of the Chart Commandos) was dubbed ‘The Hooters’. Then I wandered off again to play folk music for a bit and one winter’s night ended up going to a gig upstairs in the Lonsdale pub in West Jesmond for the Arts Dept.of the Poly. Arthur had by now been bitten by the Dexy’s Midnight Runners bug and was steering the band in the direction of personal fitness and soul music-more my cup of tea really. He invited me to play right there and then and I jumped at the chance. We did Midnight Hour and a few other soul classics and he had horns and everything -not on his head- in the band. Then we started rehearsing 5 nights a week and playing as many gigs as we could. We got a residency at the Cooperage after the Junco Partners vacated Thursday nights. We packed the place week after week. We played universities, colleges, and stuff like that and sold out every show. It was mayhem. We made people dance. MADE THEM!!!! We got on the telly a few times and won the best band competition on BBC One’s Colour Program. It was a fine time to be in Newcastle as Viz Comic was emerging and there was lots of creativity in the air. Chris Donald fromViz Comic did all of our posters, record sleeves and promo. Halcyon days indeed! Andy Pop got us a couple of record deals and we spent our advances in the pub and Arthur bought a Sunbeam Alpine sports car. We recorded two singles: the Who Who Song b/w I’m Not Sorry and Hawaii Five-0 b/w Heart of Stone. Hawaii Five-0 was produced by Mickey Gallagher from Ian Dury’s Blockheads and became a regional hit and was hugely popular as a dance number with the punters. They would bring canoe paddles to gigs and climb up on the tables to do the ‘paddle dance’ when we played it. We opened up for Ian Dury and The Blockheads at the Edinburgh Festival…and then we started playing in the working men’s clubs which were the only places you could make regular money playing music in the North-East in them days. We managed to do the impossible and play our own material and a bunch of relatively obscure covers in rooms where top 40 cover bands were the norm. We played with strippers, ventriloquists, magicians, female impersonators, the bleedin’ lot mate! They all lapped it up-we were the biggest thing on the circuit by a country mile. Then we did a live LP ‘Live at Banwells’ which we sold offstage in quantities. Then the toll of playing constantly – 3 nights every single weekend plus midweek shows had to be paid. We stopped writing new songs. We stopped rehearsing. We were just playing for the money. So I quit and then the band split up. I started writing songs with Steve Nash and we formed Watt Government. Thirty years on, Arthur and WM7 are back together and playing gigs in Newcastle as I write. There’s more videos of A2s and the CCs on YouTube. Help yourselves!