EXPLORING MADNESS (part 1)
Beginning Beside The Wall
'This is where the story starts, this is where the action ends,
this is where it all begins - by the wall' By The Wall - Richard
'And there on the wall in words eight feet tall they're
advising you all to join parties and watch the T.V.' Triple
Vision - Doctors Of Madness.
'Up against a wall there's no limit to the things IÕll
sink to and staggering insane there's no limit to the
things I'd d-d-d-drink to' No Limits - Doctors Of Madness.
1. Weird Scenes Addict (Waiting In Leeds '76)
first crossed paths with the name 'Doctors of Madness'
in late 1975. They where tipped by one of the rock papers to
be one of the three bands to watch out for in '76. I
decided to give all three a try and planned to buy their first
releases. First came Boxer (all I can remember is an advertisement
of a fit young lady sporting a pair of boxing gloves and not
a lot else). The second had the rather lacklustre name of Charlie
(they turned out to be a rather uninspiring rip off of Queen).
The third were The Doctors of Madness. These looked the most
interesting to me as my other favourite bands in '76
were the theatrical and bizarre Split Enz and the wacky and
eccentric Sparks - I was a certified Weird Scenes Addict.
names, blue hair, electric violin, horror make up - The Doctors
certainly fit the weird category. The only problem was that
the gutter press described their music as dirge. Even a weird
scenes addict needed some imaginative words and an infectious
in early 1976 I got my chance to find out for myself, because
they where supporting one of my then favourite bands, Be-Bop
Deluxe at Leeds University. I went to the gig with my two best
mates, Mark (Smit) Smith and Rob Matley. Whilst eagerly waiting
for the Doctors of Madness to appear some music was played -
what the hell was it? I had no idea it wasn't like anything
I had ever heard. Then I picked out the electric violin... .surely
not, I thought. I remember saying to Smit 'this can't
be the Doctors album - itÕs not dirge!'.
Doctors of Madness suddenly appeared on stage. Kid Strange,
a gangly giant of a man, with blue hair and a KID shaped guitar.
Stoner on bass, complete with skeletal Frankenstein face paint.
The amazingly named Urban Blitz, resplendent in boiler suit.
Finally, in full support, came Pete Dilemma, the bleached blonde
We were totally transfixed by the eerie, almost horrific spectacle.
The sound of Urban's violin filled the air with roller
coaster crescendo of sound, 'Tapping my feet on main
street, counting the stars in the sky, stretching my arms and
inspecting my palms, and I'm waiting..' sang the man.
This confirmed that the beautiful, but intense music, played
earlier, was indeed the Doctors. Madness maybe, but dirge no
way! Adding to this theatre of intensity was the strange stare
coming from the Kid. It took a while to realise he had false
eyes painted on his eyelids - definitely weird!
Smit and I were in total awe - we took a quick glance to see
what Rob was making of this mesmerising performance. To our
surprise Rob had his Parka hood up (looking more like a demented
later day Kenny from South Park). 'The sound is even
better like this,' he said with pride (and we thought
the Doctors were weird!).
songs ranged from a melancholic drip, drip, afterglow slow to
100 miles per hour pre Punk Punk (was Waiting the first ever
real British Punk song?) Again I dared to let my eyes leave
the stage to gauge the reaction of the crowd. It seemed pretty
extreme. People had a dramatic reaction - love it or hate it!
The guy behind me had a tape recorder running barely visible
through a gap in his coat (boy would I have loved a copy of
Many of the songs were later recognised as being from their
first album, but one cool line was to stay on constant playback
inside my head until the final track on the final Doctors of
Madness album. The line was 'Dooowwwwnnnn, Dooowwwwnnnn'.
It was sung in a style that is best described as akin to the
swoop of a hungry vulture on a dying rodent.
This tuned out to be the last song from the set 'mooooorrrre,
mooooorrrre' screamed those in love and awe. The Doctors
of Madness obliged with a touch of Lou Reed.
After the Doctors encore we hung around waiting for the so-called
main event, only to be informed that Be-Bop Deluxe wouldn't
be playing. Believe it or not we got a full refund, which meant
that we saw the greatest band of all time for free! The story
on the street was that Be-Bop had been to record Ships In The
Night for Top Of The Pops and got stuck in traffic on the return
journey. The irony is that Be-Bop Deluxe probably did themselves
more harm then good. They missed the chance to capture and harness
the energised Yorkshire 'home' crowd - warmed
up so much that we were practicably alight! Be-Bop fell from
favour with the three of us and never recovered. The Doctors
- well the legend grew to the extent that even as long as 26
years later Richard (Kid) Strange is still one of my top two
favourite artists of all time.
to testimonials index