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|King Kurt were formed in 1981 with Jef Harvey on vocals and were originally called Rocking Kurt and the Sour Krauts (so named because they used to give away saurkraut at the early gigs to the audience) Add Paul Laventhol (Thwack) and John Reddington on guitars, Rory Lyons on drums, Bert Boustead on bass and school boy Maggot on a borrowed Sax from the ILEA and you got the unique band who's tunes would still be appreciated over two decades later.|
Jef left the band in 1982 to go to Birmingham and Smeg (previously of Smeggy and the Cheesy bits) was found in Brighton to take over lead vocals. This 6 piece outfit hit the psychobilly scene big time with their original sound, humour and style.
Playing mostly at the 101 Club in Clapham in the early days, the messy antics started on the night that Jef left . The rest of the band decided to turn him into a cake and smothered him in flour, eggs and shaving foam, and the fans just carried it on from there.
Most of the songs were based on the antics of Kurt the Rat, who was infact a real life rat that lived in Rory's front room.The Rat and Rodent Club was formed late 1982 and you could get a whole Saturday nights entertainment at the 101 in the form of sausage juggling, baked bean eating competitions, Smeggy fire breathing and a cheap haircut, all for 50p, unless you were a student and then it cost you ?1.50.
Their first independant release was Zulu Beat on Thin Sliced Records which was produced in various coloured vinyl and limited edition hand drawn covers. It was reported in Sounds that the flip side "Rockin Kurt" was recorded in Paul's living room!
By 1983 their popularity had increased and they were signed to Stiff Records. Their debut album Ooh Wallah Wallah, was produced by Dave Edmunds and October 1983 saw them appear on TOTP with Destination Zulu Land which reached no 36 in the charts. Bet the BBC didn't know what hit them, what with Rory dressed as a Zulu Warrior, Paul wearing a kilt split to the thigh with fishnets, John's horns and Bert's hair reminiscent to a skunk. Smeg looked very dapper in his suit until Rory poured a bucket of gunk over his head and Maggot quickly followed with a bag of feathers. Recently shown on TOTP2 the presenter made comments like "when this band came on, we played a joke on them and took the mirrors out of the dressing room" and "they didn't know what they looked like, god bless 'em" HOW RUDE!!! Maybe he should have taken a look at the audience!
King Kurt continued to release records - most of the singles came in 7", 12", picture disc and coloured vinyl. Next album was Big Cock, aptly named because of the giant rooster on the cover. Even so WHS still banned it because it was not suitable to sit on their shelves. Each record cover came with the highly colourful artwork depicting KURT THE RAT in different scenarios, which in turn were then printed onto t-shirts, and sold in hundreds at gigs. It has been said that King Kurt sold more t-shirts than records.
King Kurt gigs were an experience and a half. The band's stage outfits over the years included 50s ballgowns worn with Dr Marten boots, banana print suits, convicts outfits, heavy metal rockers compete with long hair, vicars in tights and even The Belle Stars. Of course, they expected their fans to follow suit and at many of the early gigs, admission for males was only if you had a dress on! On stage drinking games usually started off the night with many willing volunteers getting up to drink beer through a long tube. Oh I can still hear the dulcet tones of Smeg shouting "Pipe in the bucket, 5-4-3-2-1 SUCK!!!!" Of course, those that failed, got a bucket of the coloured gunk chucked over their head. This, added to all the flour, eggs and baked beans that were already being chucked around the venue, made for a very messy evening. As they matured they progressed to Tequilla Slammers which resulted in the band hitting the headlines due to many of the contestants being rather ill afterwards.
King Kurt toured extensively, they were also big in Europe, USA and Japan and disappeared from our fair isles to please their massive fan base abroad.
It was a sad day when I received the newsletter from the Rat and Rodent club telling me that King Kurt had split up (around 1987/8).A couple of members went on to form THE KURTS who released only one record - Bye Bye Baby. I remember bumping into Maggot and Smeg sometime later at a gig, who told me they were at that time in a band called FISH TANK GRAVEL.
You cant hold a good band down and King Kurt were touring again from 1992-1996, the line up consisting of Smeg, Paul, Maggot, Billy and Daniel; and many albums got rereleased and reedited on CD.
In the past year or two there has been a rekindled interest in King Kurt. Don't know if it's got anything to do with all of us born again scooterists and psychos wanted to reclaim our lost youth, but King Kurt records and memorabilia are trading hands for large figures of money leaving many of us wondering where all our KK stuff went. I've even seen t-shirts on Ebay - how they ever survived a typical gig let alone the 80s is beyond me.
Smeg (showman extrodinaire) brought back the sounds with I CANT BELIEVE ITS NOT KING KURT and belted out all the old King Kurt classics to a very appreciative audience at the Woolacombe Scooter Rally in 2002. Ably backed by members of I Cant Beleive it's not Punk - Ulysses, Dave and Damian on bass and guitars, Andy from the Riffs on trumpet, Keef on drums, and guest vocals from Jonah, Neil & Tony.
Website: King Kurt
Alcoholic Rat (CD, Harry May)
Big Cock (CD, Harry May)
Billy (EP, Stiff)
Ring Dang Do (EP, Polydor)
Slammers (EP, Stiff)
Big Cock (LP, Stiff)
Road To Rack And Ruin (LP, Ralph)
The Last Will And Testicle (LP, GWR)
The Last Will And Testicle (LP, GW)
Billy (Single, Stiff)
Billy (Single, Stiff)
Destination Zulu Land (Single, Stiff)
Destination Zulu Land (Single, Stiff)
Slammers (Single, Stiff)
Zulu Beat (Single, Thin Sliced)
Zulu Land (Video, 0)