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THE ROCKING HUMDINGERS CLUB - 1981 to 1983


The Rocking Humdingers Club was a fairly short lived affair with the first member enrolled in April 1981 and the last in December 1982 prior to the band splitting up in 1983. Created as the band left SIre for EMI with the release of “It’s Going To Happen” members received a membership card and members badge, as featured above, along with regular newsletters.


Here’s a copy of the original letter that was sent out to anyone enquiring about the club.
 

The Undertones and Me

I was always really into music.  I can remember buying glam rock singles from WH Smith as early as 5 years old.  In 1977 when I was 11 I went to stay with my older Cousin in Grayshott.  He had become heavily into a new type of music that he told me was called  ‘Punk.’  I overheard a conversation between our mums in the kitchen.  My cousin had just bought an LP by a group called The Clash and, according to his mum, it was not music at all but just a horrible noise.  I listened to the LP and thought it was really good.  Over the next couple of years my cousin (who I thought was perfect!) introduced me to lots more bands including SLF, The Ruts, Siouxsie and the Banshees etc. 

The best thing he introduced me to, however, was John Peel .

From the age of 13 I would religiously listen to John Peel every night.  My parents insisted I went to sleep at 10pm which was, unfortunately, Just when his show started.    I would listen quietly on a little radio under my covers.  It was at this time that I heard ‘Teenage Kicks’ for the first time.  I was just blown away, not so much by the tune (which was just great) but by that razor edged guitar sound, which even sounded amazing on my little radio.  I was hooked. There was no looking back.  All the other bands paled into insignificance.   No band had that wonderful guitar sound or Feargal’s distinctive voice.

My dad was unemployed at the time and so things were tight.  I didn’t get pocket money.  I would buy a loaf of bread on the way to school on Monday morning and hide it in my locker.  Every day I would eat 3 or 4 slices of bread so I could save my dinner money.  This is how I began to fund my ‘Undertones’ record purchases.  My first was, of course, Teenage Kicks.

For my birthday I asked for money from everybody so I could buy the debut LP.  I bought it from Boots and thought the cover was just amazing.  A black and white photo of the band sitting on a wall.  They just looked so cool. Unfortunately side 1 of my copy was damaged.  ‘Family Entertainment’ and ‘Girls don’t like it’ jumped all over the place.  I was absolutely gutted but couldn’t bring myself to take it back.  After a couple of months I finally decided to return it and get a replacement.  I didn’t have my receipt so just had to blag it.  The woman in Boots said she would replace it but the record had been re released in a different cover.  I didn’t like the new sleeve and even though the new release had two extra tracks, ‘Teenage Kicks’ and ‘Get Over You’ I kept my faulty copy because I loved the cover so much.

From then on I became obsessed.  My whole life was The Undertones. All my school books were covered in pictures of the band.  In French lessons, when asked to speak I would try and talk about the Undertones, In Design and Technology I made an Undertones wall plaque, In Art I would paint the Undertones, in Geography we were asked to do a project on exotic places.  Whilst my friends chose Hawaii or The Greek Islands I chose Derry, much to the confusion of my teacher.   

I became known as a complete Undertones freak.

Then one day I saw in Smash Hits an advert for the Rocking Humdingers Club.  I was so excited.  It took 3 weeks worth of dinner money to afford the joining fee.  After sending the money off I received my membership card, badge and a signed photo of the band.  I couldn’t believe I had an actual signed photo.  On the day I received it I just sat in my bedroom staring at it for hours.  This became my most treasured possession.  My next Design & Technology project would be to make a frame for the photo.  I continued to receive newsletters from the RHC, each time getting more excited to read it before I set off for school.  I then received a signed Christmas card from the band which was just amazing – My heart was pounding as I looked at it.  What fan club actually had the band sending out personally signed items to their members?

Then something amazing happened. A newsletter arrived giving out new tour dates.   They were coming to the Southampton Gaumont – my local theatre!  I just couldn’t believe my luck.  I nagged my parents until they gave in and drove me to the Box Office the following Saturday morning.   I bought 2 tickets (£3.50 each), one for me and one for my best friend, Rod.  Rod also liked the Undertones but his mum would not have agreed to him going to such a concert.  On the way to the theatre my dad picked Rod up from outside a local church rather than his house.  Rod had told his mum that he was going to a talk about ‘Classic books’ at the local library.  I can remember praying in the car that we wouldn’t break down.  Any other time would be fine but not now – please God. 

Seeing the Undertones that evening was one of the most exciting moments of my life.  Even now I still feel a sense of excitement thinking about it.  As I sat there watching the support band (Orange Juice) I just couldn’t comprehend I was about to see Feargal and the gang.  And then they came on.  They didn’t disappoint.  It was amazing.  That razor edged guitar sound was just as good live and Feargal was on top form.

My obsession continued, I would stay up late listening to new Undertones sessions on John Peel, save my dinner money to buy their latest single or LP. I would eagerly await the next RHC newsletter checking the post every day.  I also got my name published in Smash Hits requesting the lyrics of Mars Bars.  I had gained a reputation at school as being the Undertones kid.

Although I liked  ‘Positive Touch’ it didn’t have that same sound I fell in love with on the first LP or even on Hypnotised.  I have to admit I was then slightly disappointed with ‘The Sin of Pride’ as that razor edge guitar sound had completely disappeared.  I was upset when the band split but the disappointment of ‘The Sin of Pride’ had somehow softened the blow.

I’m now 44 and work as a school teacher in a local comprehensive.  I’m Head of Design & Technology  so those Undertones projects at school all those years ago must have put me in good stead! 

So, well over 25 years later am I still in love with the Undertones?  Absolutely!  I still have a copy of the first LP on CD in my car. While driving to work you can sometimes hear ‘Billy’s Third’ or ‘I Gotta Getta’ blaring out.  My Rocking Humdingers memorabilia is now tucked away in the loft.  The only evidence of the obsession is my copy of Teenage Kicks on Good Vibrations proudly framed and displayed on the landing at the top of our stairs.












Neil Waite   Feb 2011



Michael Bradley, 'childhood hero' was the inspiration for me to try and learn the bass guitar. However using a home made bass guitar made by my mate Trev the closest I got to playing anything vaguely recognisable was OMD's Enola Gay and gave up due to sore fingers and not being able to afford a decent bass!


I was also the only kid at school with 'the undertones' logo painted on my army surplus rucksack (the 'Arrow' logo). Being the School's only Undertone's fan I painfully recall one English lesson where the Head of English used lyrics from 'My Perfect Cousin' to show the declining standards in music writing since the 60's, in particular the lines "..... He's gotta degree in economics, Maths - physics and bionics, He thinks that I'm a cabbage Cos I hate university challenge" .... All much to the amusement of the rest of the class ..... bar the Undertones fan!


Best wishes


Adrian French January 2011




I have numerous friends from the Rocking Humdingers Club and who I met in the early eighties (at Various Undertones gigs across the country) that I am still in contact with (e.g. Nottingham, Newcastle , London). One Rocking Humdinger was my girlfriend for 3 years! This has since been added to by meeting new friends (Leeds, Luton, Derry etc) who are equally as passionate about the Undertones as I am.


I have loads of stories that I can recount, such as:


The gig in Brighton where the fire alarm went off half way through the set and when we went back in there were twice as many people in the venue!


When Feargal sang 'My Perfect Cousin' to a young lad with glasses in the front with his mum and then felt guilty that he may of upset him invited him backstage and made me take off all my button badges I had on my coat (including my Rocking Humdingers badge) to give to the lad. He was made up! I wasn't, but didn't really mind!


When a support band trooped on stage half way through the Undertones set in their underpants to put them off!


Got stabbed accidently by pen when pogo-ing at Undertones gig in Tourhout.


Derek Owen (Derek the scouse) January 2011




I got sent a question sheet with my membership and I remember I got a handwritten reply from John O’Neill. It took pride of place on my bedroom wall for years. Unfortunately I have moved house several times since then and most of my stuff got lost somewhere along the line. i do still have all my original vinyl though and still play it a lot.


I think me and my mate (who was also a member) sent a photo in. We were sat on her bed against a backdrop of all her posters, waving our copies of Hypnotized in the air grinning madly at the camera. We were about 16 then. How time flies!  Most of the girls at our school thought we were weird being so obsessed with a 'lads' band. they were all into disco!


Mel Chase January 2011




Well what a cracking night we had seeing the Undertones return to York for part of the 35th Anniversary Tour.  The last time I had seen the Undertones in York had been in a small sweaty club at the rugby league ground grandly called the Pop Club.  That was a rather majestic night in May 1979 when as a broke student I convinced a friend to come with me to see Derry’s finest.  Not only were the band brilliant but I found a fiver which we hastily drunk!  Feargal was in splendid form as were the rest of the band.  As the gig finished and the lads put away their stuff a small group of kids approached the band.  Next thing we knew the gear had been set up again and the band began teaching the intrigued fans how to play one of the songs.  Fantastic – the spirit of 1977 bottled in my memory forever.  By the time I next saw them in ’81 at Middlesbrough Town Hall they had all but conquered everyone with their fabulous singles.  However, a long lost psychedelic classic must be The Sin of Pride released in 83..  What a brilliant album which is well worth digging out – I played my vinyl version last week and had forgotten just how inventive and original it sounded! And it has stood the test of time so well.

 

Last nights’ set was brilliant and the crowd responded spectacularly.  I was delighted that the 1st album was played in its entirety – and in the version I bought back then in May ’79 with the white cover and no Teenage Kicks or Get Over You.  Why would I need those anyway I’d bought the singles! The surprise last night was You’re Welcome and the delight of Thrill Me which was sung word perfectly by everyone around me – showing that the more recent material is still bringing delight to many. Paul McLoon did a grand job last night not to bang his head on the ultra low ceiling of Fibbers. 

 

Many many, thanks for the opportunity to see the lads with the spirit of Rocking Humdingers – the t-shirt and boxed set will be very much enjoyed with the next generation of fans – my son Robbie loving the show and audience reaction.

 

The pictures I took of the event capture hopefully some of the atmosphere and the thrills we all had remembering our teenage dreams.  So hard to beat.


David Major April 2011








 

Memories from original Rocking Humdingers members