"One, two, three, four…..
Volt Affection were formed in early 1977 at 'Hardye’s School' in Dorchester from the remains of two other school bands, "Banty Rooster" and "Short and Curlies"
I was the drummer in "Short and Curlies", it was my first band and we had supported "Banty Rooster" at a couple of parties at Stratton and Charminster village halls in the summer of 1976. We both played similar Stones/Bowie/blues/R&B covers.
Things started to change musically for me when my mate 'Ian Warner' played me The Damned’s New Rose and Neat Neat Neat during a geography lesson. He’d recorded the songs from John Peel’s Radio 1 programme. This would have been about September 1976.
The early punk music seemed to polarise things, with some loving it (me, for example) and others still preferring Yes, ELP and Wishbone Ash.
Things accelerated to an uncontrollable level when Ian brought Anarchy in the UK (on the EMI label, too) and played it full blast on the art room record player. It started a riot which culminated in me writing SEX PISTOLS in three foot-high luminous paint across the room’s rather cheesy alpine mural, much to the dismay of art teacher 'Mike Bowman' but delight of his colleague 'Robin Daniel'.
It was then my school days were numbered....
Ian and his elder brother Brian, who played in "Banty Rooster", wanted to go in a different direction and asked me if I’d like to be their drummer. I like to think it was because they were impressed by my Moon-esque destruction of "Banty Rooster’s" drummer 'Jerry Walker’s' Premier kit at the Charminster gig.
Other recruits soon followed and the initial line-up was as follows:
Ian Warner, vocals. (Not the greatest singer, but charismatic, drop-dead gorgeous and a great frontman)
Brian Warner ( Incredibly clever and a gifted jazz guitarist)
Phil Legg ( Another talented guitarist and ruthlessly ambitious, as was to be proved later)
Andy ‘Granny’ Ridge: (Again, really bright guy and brilliant guitarist, but with, er, a complex personality and several issues with absolutely everything)
Bruce Litson: (Bassist, hopelessly unreliable but so lovable you could forgive him anything.)
Nick Horton: Drums
Ian, Granny and myself were 15/16 and supposed to be studying for our O levels. Phil, Bruce and Brian were all two years older and looking forward to their A levels. We used to rehearse in one of the Portacabins at the school until complaints from elderly neighbours living 20 miles away ended that. We also used to rehearse in my mum and dad’s bedroom at our house in Chapelhay, Weymouth. This was brought to a sudden end when one of the many friends of the band popped by and kindly carved ‘PUNX ROOL OK’ with a penknife on the side of my mum’s wardrobe. Thanks.....
However, we were soon proficient enough to start playing live. Private parties at first during the summer of 1977 and then soon after, as we built a considerable following of school mates, offers of paid gigs.
Our set list consisted of some of the following songs;
Star, Rebel Rebel: David Bowie
Waiting for the Man, White Light/White Heat, Sweet Jane: Velvet Underground
Shot by both sides: Magazine
Search and Destroy, No Fun: Iggy and the Stooges
Sympathy for the Devil: Rolling Stones.
Jet Boy: New York Dolls
Blank Generation: Richard Hell and the Voidoids
Police and Thieves: The Clash
Get Up Stand Up: Bob Marley
Looking after number one: Boomtown Rats
Violence: Mott the Hoople
My Generation : Patti Smith’s version of The Who’s song.
.. and eventually quite a few of our own songs, but I can’t remember any of them, they were that good.
As you can see, not exactly hardcore punk, but we were popular with a lot of the punks in Weymouth and Dorchester because, at that time, we were the only band playing that kind of music, and playing it like our lives depended on it. Pubs and clubs were reluctant to offer us gigs because of our ages and our youthful fans but we managed to pack "The Antelope" in Dorchester quite a few times and were subsequently offered a residency at the unbelievably dreadful "Tavern club" which is now "The Lounge" in Dorchester.
Monday nights, during the winter of 77/78, the coldest, bleakest winter in living memory and the town was cut off for a few days because of the snow. No wonder nobody came!
We used it as a paid rehearsal with free beer, stolen from behind the deserted bar. We also trashed the dressing room.
Things were a lot better in Weymouth where we played at 2Baxters" (now "Goldfingers") every Wednesday during, June, July and August 1978., sometimes with Yeovil Anarcho-Punks "The Mob", who were good mates.
We also staged our own gigs, hiring the "Upwey Memorial Hall" and the old "St John Ambulance Hall" on Westway Rd. I distinctly remember carnival night being so packed at "Baxters", the St John Ambulance were called to help a few fainters out from the sweat-soaked basement. I also remember a stressed-out Granny trying to punch Phil, who had been teasing him all night, missing him, and then throwing his guitar at him and storming off down the street. Not bad for an opening number.
We also regular played at "The Moonshine club", beneath the "Prince Regent", for the hundreds of rather gorgeous French, German and Dutch language students. It felt like Beatlemania to me.
'Volt Affection' all came to an end in late 1978 when Phil moved up to London, taking our hard-earned PA and mixing desk with him, and made quite a career in the music business, playing in "Essential Logic" with former "X-Ray Spex" sax ace 'Laura Logic' and later producing hit singles for 'Des’ree' and knob-twiddling for 'The Rolling Stones' on many of their early 80s albums.
I moved to London because of my job, Brian had already gone up to Oxford University and was replaced by rock god 'Rich Hall' (Huge bouffant hair, drove a red Triumph Herald convertible, his girlfriend was a model, and he played a Flying V. He later had a few hit records in Japan with his Bristol-based band 'The Electric Guitars' and made a small fortune on the royalties.)
Granny was in therapy before going to Cambridge University and was then back in therapy, Ian soon followed me up to London and Bruce was wondering where we’d all gone. Bassists, eh?
Looking back, it was a fantastic time and I wouldn’t change it for the world. "
The above gig advert appeared in the 'Dorset Echo' on the 29th July 1978.
Thanks to Charlie Mason
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