Athletico Spizz ’80 in session for John Peel – April 30, 1980 – BBC Radio 1 –
Athletico Spizz ’80 to kick off the week. In session for John Peel at BBC Radio 1 and recorded on April 30, 1980.
Spizzenergi formed in the late 1970s by lead vocalist Spizz, the band changed its name every year, subsequent names including Athletico Spizz 80, Spizzoil and The Spizzles.
They are notable as the first band to top the newly created UK Indie Chart early in 1980 with the single “Where’s Captain Kirk?” More than two decades after its release, it was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time.
Spizz attended Arden School, Knowle, near Solihull, a comprehensive school in the West Midlands, and was inspired by the burgeoning punk rock movement. After a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig at Barbarella’s in Birmingham, he jumped on stage and sang, leading to a recording deal. He was already performing (solo) by 1977. Spizz soon got together with like-minded guitarist Pete Petrol (real name Pete O’Dowd), with whom he released a few singles during the height of punk’s popularity. In 1978 Palmolive, drummer with The Slits, joined the band, then named Spizzoil, for a few gigs.
The band supported Siouxsie and the Banshees, among others, and later toured as a headline act in many European countries.
Their lineup in late 1979 consisted of Spizz on vocals and guitar, Mark Coalfield on keyboard and vocals, Dave Scott on guitar, Jim Solar (real name James Little) on bass guitar and Hero Shima (real name Suresh Singh) on drums. With a distinctively new wave sound, as Spizzenergi they became the first number one band on the newly formed UK Indie Singles Chart in January 1980. BBC Radio 1 disc jockey John Peel described “Where’s Captain Kirk?” as… “the best Star Trek associated song”. Spizz created the artwork for the single cover using felt pens. This was the peak of Spizz’s commercial popularity.
This lineup continued as Athletico Spizz 80, gaining a considerable following. They became the only band to sell out the Marquee Club for five consecutive nights (with a sixth alcohol-free, matinee show). “Where’s Captain Kirk?” was featured in the 1981 live music film Urgh! A Music War. This material was shown occasionally on late-night American cable TV, and may have helped prolong Spizz’s fame. The band released an album entitled Do a Runner on A&M Records, to mixed reviews.
Spizz was noted for his annual name change policy, which ceased when the Guinness Book of Records failed to recognise his claim that he had recorded and released the greatest number of recordings under different names (though the book’s deputy editor, Shelagh Thomas, nevertheless confessed to owning “Where’s Captain Kirk?”). American stadium rockers R.E.M. (who started their band in the early 1980s) recorded a limited edition version of “Where’s Captain Kirk?” in 1992, which they gave to fan club members.
After the demise of Spizzenergi 2, Spizz embarked on several solo projects (as SpizzOrwell and performing on The Last Future Show) and played guitar for Heaven 17. In 1985, he toured with backing tapes and female backing singers as Spizz and the Astronauties. After a dance mix of Where’s Captain Kirk? in 1987, he had no significant chart success.
In the event you missed them the first time around or they’ve slipped off your radar, here’s a reminder what they were all about during their formative period and to wonder why they were so underrated at the time.
Some things you just can’t explain.
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