Recently reformed , the MEMBERS are back to play at the Vive Le Punk festival in Leamington Spa in April. We take a look at the history of this classic band.
From the late ‘70s to the early ‘80s, THE MEMBERS successfully (and not so successfully) created a reggae infused punk rock living. Pushing them to limits and constantly changing line-ups, but underneath it all they were a good band, so let’s see how they managed it...

- Punk rock band, The Members were formed by Nicky Tesco in 1976 in Camberley, England.

- After being caught by a studio owner typing up a song at a London party, Nicky was asked to bring his band to the studio and do an audition.

- Nicky didn’t have a band so he quickly recruited a few band members; Gary Baker (guitarist), Steve Morley (Bassist) and Clive Parker (CP Snare)

- The line-up quickly changed as Morley and Parker were ejected from the band due to friction on a school trip! Morley was replaced by Chris Payne, and Parker by Adrian Lillywhite.

- Clive Parker went on to join several different bands, one of which (The Planets), supported The Members at the Camden Centre and Moonlight Club.

- Nicky Tesco later requested that Jean Marie Carroll, aka JC Carroll, join the line-up for his writing abilities. This added more friction to the band and Tesco-Carroll became the “leaders” of the band.

- After recording several demos, ‘Fear on the Streets’ became the first recording to be released. It was featured on the first punk compilation made by Beggars Banquet. The track was produced by Steve Lillywhite’s brother.

- In 1978 The Members officially released their first single – ‘Solitary Confinement’. This, because of the JC Carroll’s influence on the band, had a more reggae than punk sound to it.

-Eventually Gary Baker left the band, which left only Tesco and Carroll from the original line-up. The pair then recruited, what would be the final line-up; Nicky Tesco (vocals), JC Carroll (vocals & guitar), Nigel Bennett (guitar), Chris Payne (bass) and Adrian Lillywhite (drums).

- In 1978 the band signed with Virgin Records and in ’79 they recorded ‘The Sounds of the Suburbs’ with Steve Lillywhite’s helping hand. This was their best known song in the UK.

- The next single, ‘Offshore Banking’, didn’t have the same success and coursed diverse responses around the world.

- 1979 saw the release of first album, ‘At the Chelsea Nightclub’. Although it was tipped for the top, it didn’t do nearly as good as it was expected to.

- The follow-up album, ‘The Choice is Yours’ (1980) also managed to sink without much attention. Luckily for them, the band had gained enough success in the US to keep them going.

- 1983 saw the release of their last album, ‘Going West’, recorded without a recording deal. The album featured the successful single, ‘Working Girl’.

- After their last tour of the US in ’83, Tesco left the band and went on to appear in a few films by Aki Kaurismaki. He also worked with fictional band the Lenningrad Cowboys, recording a couple of songs.

- The Members broke up soon after Tesco left. In 2006 they briefly reformed for a birthday party for JC Carroll with Gary Baker on guitar.

- Nicky Tesco now works as a music journalist for the magazine, Music Week. He also regularly appears on 6Music’s Roundtable.

- The Members performed a reunion gig at The Inn on the Green, on January 26th, 2007. This was to celebrate the 50th birthdays of Chris Payne, Nigel Bennett and Nicky Tesco’s wife.

- Presented by Phill Jupitus, the gig featured all the songs from At the Chelsea Nightclub along with several other hits.

- February 2009 saw the release of ‘International Financial Crisis’ - the re-make of 30 year-old song, ‘Offshore Banking’. It was released through Smash the System Recordings.

- Throughout 2009, JC Carroll and Chris Payne will be touring as The Members with the odd appearance from Nicky Tesco and Nigel Bennett.

- Between 1978 and 1982, The Members released 8 singles and 4 albums.

- And in total there have been 10 members of The Members throughout their lifespan as a band.

‘International Financial Crisis’ is out now on Smash the System.

Sure to be the finest old-school festival of the year, the first VLP festival will be punk and proud. Taking place at the Leamington Assembly on April 26th, ANTI-NOWHERE LEAGUE will headline with the line-up completed by UK SUBS, THE MEMBERS, 999, THE LURKERS, VICE SQUAD, THE VARUKERS and SECTION 13. Doors are 3pm-11pm  and tickets are £20 from the box office at 01926 523 001 or at Vive le punk! More on the festival in next month’s Big Cheese.

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