Calvin Shulman - Lead Vocals Damon Shulman - Bass
Adrian Strokes - Guitar Mike Lindsey - Drums
Simon Lindsey - Keyboards


At the last census there were 643 punk bands named Chaos. This version, from Portsmouth, secure minor footnote status by dint of employing an eleven-year-old bass player, Damon Shulman, who later played formed The Working Stiffs. Chaos, who played in and around the Portsmouth punk scene of the late 70s whenever they could cadge a spot on the bill, also featured his elder brother Calvin, now a sub-editor at the Times. Chaos was very much a family affair – the Shulman brothers’ father was one Phil Shulman of Gentle Giant fame. “I was a child,” Damon confirmed to me. “I'd been learning how to play instruments from a very early age, but that isn't so surprising given my family history. Punk music or playing in a band would have completely passed me by if it hadn’t been for my brother, Calvin. He is six years my senior and had already formed a band with his friends at Portsmouth Grammar. They were called the Sticky Fingers and contained the members of Chaos plus one more guitarist and minus me, of course. Their set was chiefly Rolling Stones and Who covers. I am told that their sound was unwittingly punk anyway. When I was about ten I did actually see them playing at a place called the Drayton Institute, which ran various events like youth discos.“

 “Though punk hadn't really hit Portsmouth at that time, my brother and his mates were aware of it through magazines, TV and radio, and were palpably influenced. They were pretty sharp kids and soon adopted a completely punk approach, kicking out two square bears and renaming their band Chaos. To be honest, I really don't know why they thought of getting me into the band. It must have been simply because I knew how to play the bass. There must have been a shortage of grown up bass players at the time. There was certainly no premeditated commercial plan behind it. I can remember Calvin and Mike Lindsey auditioned me at home. I was asked to play 'Live With Me' by the Rolling Stones. I played it, and my performance was greeted with approving nods. I was pretty chuffed, though it is weird. I mean, it sounds so uncool having a junior school kid in a hard-hitting punk band. As I said, the rest of the lads were genuinely on the money original punks, possibly some of the first punks in Portsmouth. I would've been privileged to speak to them let alone be in their band.”

 Nevertheless, Damon’s enthusiasm got the better of him at his first gig. “We were booked to play at Waterlooville golf club. It turned out to be a club presentation. The audience was full of suited wide boys and clown-faced disco girls. There a few local dignitaries dotted about as well. The set started without too much controversy, as we did a few up-tempo Who covers. Then we did one of our own songs and I think the moment must have got the better of me - I gobbed in a girl’s face. If I'd have been a few years older and slightly bigger, I'm sure someone would have filled me in. There was a bit of a commotion but we continued to play. However, by the end of the next song the whole audience had taken exception to our aggressive demeanour. We were dispatched by the wide boys with a chorus of 'Off, off, off’ etc. They carried on for ages after we'd left the stage. To be fair they were probably expecting something a little nearer to Donna Summer and certainly wouldn't have wanted to be spat at.”

 A more suitable and appreciative audience was to be found at Portsmouth’s first punk venue, the Rotary Club. “We had our first 'real' gig there. It was a three-band line-up. There was us, a band called Alice and Staa Marx. Alice looked and sounded suspiciously hippy-like but Staa Marx were tremendous. The whole band sat and watched us doing a sound check. When we finished they clapped and cheered us. That gig was packed, bursting at the seams. There was a small dressing room for the bands. Alice had a woman lead singer. I recall she looked a little like a cross between Janis Joplin and Tin Tin. She certainly gained my immediate attention and respect in the dressing room as she stripped naked in order to don her stage garb. It was disarming to say the least, bearing in mind I was only eleven. The gig itself was great. My brother opened by shouting, ‘Hello we're The Chaos, we're from Portsmouth and this is ‘Life Today’, then I'd steam in with a bass riff. Four bars later the whole band smashed in. The whole place lurched forward. The lighting rig fell on us and we were pushed back as people jumped on to the stage. The gig had to be stopped. The lighting rig was broken so a group of skinheads held the lights up for us until the rig was fixed. It was a great night.”

 Not all the established bands were as welcoming as Staa Marx. “We played with The Lurkers at Waterlooville Community Centre. They wouldn't let us set up our gear on the stage, so we had to push together about a dozen tables and set up on the dance floor. Actually, I went out to get some sweets with my brother’s girlfriend and our keyboard player before the gig and on the way back we were chased down the road by some old twat dressed in teddy boy gear. He must have felt really hard chasing two teenagers and a boy down the road. But there you go, antipathy towards punks (whatever their age) was palpable even in Waterlooville.”

 Then there was their nationally covered support to Sham 69. “We played with Sham 69 at Clarence Pier. The voice of youth, Jimmy Pursey, barely acknowledged our presence. Still, Pompey did us proud and gave us a rousing reception. We had established a loyal, loud and large following by then. I think someone threw a beer glass at Sham 69. The NME did an article on us after that - something about 'kiddies liberation' and 'punks getting younger every day'. Of course, they focused on me being only eleven, but got mine and my brother's name the wrong way round, calling me 'precocious Calvin'.” 

They also managed a few out of town shows. “We were supporting a band called Sore Throat at the Camden Palace. We had our own dressing room. Sore Throat's lead singer came in and offered us some drugs. I think it was some kind of cannabis resin. Obviously, we were horrified and turned the offer down. However, Mike our drummer, not wishing to appear aloof, reciprocated by offering a line of Cadbury’s Fruit ‘n’ Nut. I don't think he got a response.”

 Sadly, there isn’t much formally recorded, though there are some practice tapes. “I think we genuinely had a few good-ish songs. Calvin used to write most of the lyrics while I wrote most of the music, believe it or not.” Some of the Shulman-Shulman originals included ‘Life Today’, ‘I Hate America’, ‘Protest March’, ‘Losing The Human Race’, ‘Barnham Boys’ and ‘Pogo Pete’, while Stokes would contribute ‘All Out Action’ and Simon Lindsey ‘Society’.


 Damon Shulman

Live at the "Music Machine", Camden Palace, London 1978 supporting 'Sore Throat'.


Adrian Strokes

Mike Lindsey Calvin Shulman Damon Shulman




Damon Shulman

Calvin Shulman Adrian Strokes


Damon Shulman at Clarence Pier, Southsea 1978. Damon Shulman taking off at Clarence Pier, Southsea 1978.



Thanks to 'Alex Ogg' for the above article.




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