'You get booed before you play a note. we are one of the few bands that can get that strength of reaction off people...' Stoner, 1975
Even 30 years after the fact, Doctors Of Madness are a difficult band to categorise. Kid Strange's blue hair, Stoner's Frankenstein make up, Urban Blitz's unearthly violin, their songs of alienation and late night hedonism gone bad, for the conservative pre-punk audiences of 1975 all of this was hard to digest. Arriving at a time when the Doctors' overall weirdness was too much for the reactionary climate of the music scene, neither did the docs fit the bill when punk, a movement the band had been in many ways a precursor, precluded any tolerance for songs over 3 minutes, Blitz's violins, or Strange's lyrical articulacy.
'I think I had William Burroughs's medical maniac Dr. Benway in mind. I like that strange contradiction between the notion of the trusted Doctor and the reality of the psychopath. As a piece of typography THE DOCTORS OF MADNESS is too long to make an impact on a poster or in a headline, and to lazy sub-editors and photographers who want a 'theme' or costume picture, our name was a gift; 'Mad, these new Doctors of Rock', you know the sort of thing. Within a couple of years we had lost count of how many photographic stylists had arrived at a photo session weighed down with armfuls of white coats, stethoscopes and hypodermic syringes, saying 'I've had this great idea for the shoot'; Fortunately we soon learned quickly how to tell these lame-brains 'no thanks'
The Doctors arose from the wreckage of kid's previous band, 'Great White Idiot' in 1973. That band had dissolved in a near riot at their hundred club gig where the stage had been rushed by a hostile audience, but Strange did not let go of his ambitions; inspired equally by the Velvet Underground and the writing of William Burroughs, and buoyed by a degree of self belief that led him to rate himself alongside Lennon and Dylan as a songwriter, Kid believed himself a star from an early age.
Retaining Great White Idiot's drummer Pete Di Lemma, Strange set out to find new musicians to help him realise his aims, a process which took a couple of years, before the Doctors Of Madness lineup solidified with bassist stoner and classically trained violinist urban blitz. at a gig in twickenham in 1975, kid threw a chair into the audience, which landed on the already injured foot of Bryan Morrison, partner of a high profile management duo with Justin De Villeneuve. the Doctors were exactly what they had been looking for. The pair had been alerted by a friend to the talents of Strange & co, and were impressed with the Doctors' conviction - "One of the first things that attracted us' said De Villeneuve, 'was a question of attitude. It was a real 'fuck you' to the audience'.
A deal with Polydor was secured and the Doctors were put through their paces in intensive rehearsals prior to the recording of their debut album 'Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms'. When launched into the public eye the Doctors were taken by many as a bit of an affront; 'Late Night Movies' airbrushed cover captures well their unnatural, alien qualities. The Doctors are observing their own mirror image which stares vacantly back from the screen of some fleapit cinema. Kid's languid figure dominates, a haughty, 6'4 blue haired oddity. Releasing the album at the end of 1975 at the height of uk rock's denim-waistcoated conservatism, the Doctors elicited a good deal of hostility; supporting Status Quo that new year's eve at the Olympia, the band were pelted with mince pies by the dandruff-riddled hordes. 'They have no sense of parody' commented Blitz. And yet some people out there were ready for the Doctors.