Barbed Wire part 1

Issue 0
[Continuing my musical reminiscences...]

Fast forward to the end of the 1970s: I'd been married and was now single again - and desperately needed a project! On a visit to Exeter to see my friends Steve (on the Flying Post) and Wendy and Dave and Jude I came across a couple of fanzines - Dat Sun and Worthless Words - and wondered why Guildford didn't have one like them. There were plenty of bands to write about, and I was certain there were lots of people eager to write about them. The post-punk scene was thriving, with pubs like the Wooden Bridge, Royal and Star putting on gigs regularly, but the only outlet for them was the Surrey Advertiser and its Go-Ahead Generation page in the Wednesday edition.

So, I rallied my musical chums and put the idea to them. Gus Garside came up with the name and I drew the cover of issue one, dateline December 1978/ January 1979 (or Number 0 as it was called, in Crumb's Zap comic style!). Other contributers included KT Ekberg, who worked at the Surrey Ad, Dave Ambrose, 'Mustang' Sally Clark, the mysterious Virginia (who revealed herself recently as FaceBook friend Virginia Black Nearerdark), and Sara Elliot at work (IPC Science and Technology Press where I was Deputy Editor of Energy Manager) who typed it all out. The first one even included a pub guide by 'Egon Rooney' (Clive Young), but the most valuable content in retrospect was the forthcoming gigs list on the back page, which told the readers that Brighton band The Piranhas were playing the Royal every Friday night, and that The Vapors were playing at Scratchers (The Three Lions in Farncombe) on Sunday 14 January. It ran to 16 pages and was printed by Sprint - one of the criticisms it got from other, photocopied, fanzines was that it looked too professional!

It sold for 30p in record shops such as Bonapartes in Phoenix Court and also carried a few ads. I took most of the photos and did a bit of artwork here and there. Not many sold! First article, on p3, was on Who Invited Them? by Ian Walker, starring Sev Lewkowicz (now resident in Brighton). Other articles featured The Piranhas (Katie Ekberg), Crisis (Virginia), The Volunteers (Sally Clark) and Liza Minnelli (Katie Ekberg)!! Plus gig write-ups (including the Be Stiff Route 78 tour, the one with Wreckless Eric), record reviews by all and sundry and a gossip column called 'Notes on Notes' mostly written by Gus.

The second issue (Vol 2 No 1) came out Feb/March 1979 and was printed in an architects' office (SBT) after hours by Sharon Whittaker, who also shared Nick's flat where I was living, and her boss Mrs Hook: I pasted up the typewritten text onto boards using Cow gum and put squares of black paper where the photos would be - any other embellishments were drawn in ink directly onto the camera-ready copy. In return I was given the pages as negative film and stripped the half-tones into the clear holes made by black squares of paper using sellotape. The printed sheets were later folded with the back of a spoon, collated and stapled by mostly me on the floor of my flat on York Road. On the cover were The Vapors, Andy Latimer of Camel and the Golden Age of Metro. I remember first seeing the Vapors at the Royal after abandoning a gig at the Wooden Bridge. It was love at first hearing: Alan 'Bed and Breakfast Man' Neve was dancing at the front and they just blew me away - I've been a big fan ever since. Gus had the main feature - on Camel, Virginia wrote about Metro, centre spread was on Rubber Flowers by NW (?) and there was a review of Brighton classic album Vaultage 78 by Ellen Jones. And Sev got his own column.

Barbed Wire ran to six issues, the last one in May/June 1980. It never sold well - most got nicked - and we were eternally grateful to Rough Trade for taking 50 copies cash in hand, and we sold the odd ad to record shops, barbers and sound studios. One great spin-off was getting into gigs for free on the guest list - and free records, tho they generally got kept by the reviewers. More later...


More photos on Flickr.

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