For a couple of years at the beginning of the Nineties, the Wildhearts were the band on everybody’s lips in Britain; on the cover of all the rock magazines, smashing up media offices and grabbing headlines in national newspapers. They were even on Top of the Pops.
The band started when Ginger (David Wallis) was kicked out of the Quireboys for being rather a bad influence, so he decided to start his own group with him playing all the lead guitar parts, writing the songs and even reluctantly taking over the position of lead singer. So there was no chance of him being fired again. A few other lead singers were initially tried but nobody fitted in.
So a band was put together with CJ (Christopher Jagdhar) on guitar and harmony vocals, Danny McCormack on bass guitar, while Dog’s D’Amour’s Bam was kidnapped to fill the drum stool. Bam subsequently returned to the Dogs and was replaced by Stidi (Andrew Stidolph), who, after recording the first album, was himself replaced by Ritch Battersby. This is the line-up that most consider to be the classic Wildhearts.
Ginger produced the goods in the song writing department, combining such influences as The Beatles, Yardbirds, Metallica and punk rock. The result was spikey rock with meaning. Demos were recorded and submitted to various record companies. East West finally got The Wildhearts to sign on the dotted line but then did not really seem to know what to do with them.
Eleven of the best demos were compiled and without re-recording were put out on vinyl. The album cover was a picture of Ginger’s face in an oil bath wrapped in barbed wire with a giant cockroach crawling out of his mouth. This was 1993 before Photo- shop, but it was thought a better idea than some of the others put forward. The album was re-released in 1994 with the addition of the superfast hit single “Caffeine Bomb”.
The songs, in their rough and ready state, certainly had a roguish charm and were lapped up by an already growing fan base. A stunning guitar solo on the song “My Baby Is A” was laid down by the great rock guitarist Mick Ronson (sadly it was to be his last contribution to the rock & roll recording world.)
All of the songs concerned Ginger’s life experiences, which meant that most people of his generation could not only rock along to the music, but also relate to the lyrics. The opening track referred to Ginger’s apartment in London while the remaining songs follow a similar theme of girlfriends, drinking, hangovers and general rabble rousing.
The Wildhearts headlined the second stage at 1993’s Monsters of Rock Festival above such bands as Terrorvision and Skin. The album only reached number 46 in the album charts but it still remains highly influential.
A bright future seemed to beckon but if nothing else, The Wildhearts (and Ginger in particular) are masters of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The next album, cunningly titled P.H.U.Q., got to number 7 in the charts but during the recording of it Ginger, in a moment of madness which he was soon to regret, fired CJ and thus upset the balance of the band. It was a blow from which they never recovered.
These days The Wildhearts occasionally get together for irregular reunions, but the early magic is gone.
Greeting from Sh*tsville
Shame on Me
The Miles Away Girl
My Baby Is A…
News Of The World
Drinking About Life
Love U Til I Don’t
Ginger – lead guitar and vocals
CJ – guitar and harmony vocals
Danny McCormack – bass guitar and vocals
Stidi – drums