The Damned





WE ARRIVE in dingy damp Blackburn and meet The Damned just as they're being issued with writs for an unplayed gig earlier in the tour (for which they weren't to blame). The writ-server leaves after being given a poisoned drink. A message arrives from the local nick that a young girl who's attached herself to the tour is, in fact, a runaway. The guitars have been left at the previous night's bash in Birmingham. It gets worse. Rat Scabies begins his anti-journalist tirade:

"There's no such thing as an honest journalist. You've been ordered here to do a hatchet job. Some other paper sent a boy to interview us. We did it in a pub. He got legless, went out to the bog and came back all white saying he'd just puked." I tell him he's not being very positive.

"But I am being positive. I know you've been sent here under orders to do a hatchet job."

This doesn't help our rapport. I hadn't met or written about the band before and I came with an open mind and an interest in what they had to say. Scabies' insults only enforce the nasty rumours about him. I wonder why I bothered to come.

Ordered to write? Nobody has ever ordered me what to write. Do Nems (their management company) order the Damned what to play? If Rat wants a hatchet job he goes the right way about getting one but he should also remember that such wounds can be self-inflicted.

It is not difficult to detect the other group members finding his obnoxious attitude unnecessary and annoying. The Scabies press paranoia spreads to the tour manager who generally does his discreet best to be uncooperative and ensure that we know we're not welcome. The next day we arrange to follow the luxury coach to Stoke and stop en route at a suitable photo location. It comes as no surprise when the Damned carrier speeds away at 80 miles an hour and all the camera helping hours of daylight are wasted.

To continue reading this article and to discover many more (over 140,000 words-worth!), purchase Mick Sinclair’s Adjusting the Stars: Music journalism from post-punk London. 


mick sinclair

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