B-Movie formed in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire during 1978 from
the ashes of local punk band The Aborted. Originally calling themselves
Studio 10 after a local hairdressing salon, the inaugural line-up
of Steve Hovington (vocals/bass), Paul Statham (guitar) & Graham
Boffey (drums) quickly changed their name to B-Movie following
Steve's discovery in an art book of the Andy Warhol painting of
the same name.
The band played their first gig on a rock against racism bill
at Sutton in Ashfield swimming baths which was organised by their
soon to be manager - John "Yank" Fritchley. A local miner with
a penchant for American cars, Fritchley was essentially a sixties
mod who saw B-Movie as his meal ticket in the mod revival that
was just around the corner. However the band were into Tubeway
Army and not Quadrophenia and refused to wear the parkas he bought
them! Despite his obsession Fritchley did have some plus points
- a car with a trailer and some money. Obviously this meant the
band were now mobile and could also afford to record a demo tape.
They recorded 4 songs at Chris Cook's 4 track studio in Mansfield
- Blue Lady, Drowning Man and In The Halflight and the ska-ish
sounding I to keep Fritchley happy!
Armed with a demo the gigs started to come in - particularly memorable
are support slots at The Sandpiper in Nottingham with the Angelic
Upstarts & The Smirks. After the less than popular reaction they
received from the punk crowds it was a relief when Fritchley told
them he had secured them a gig in a nice cathedral town.
B-Movie played The Cornhill Vaults in Lincoln several times over
the next few months and it enabled them to develop their sound.
At one of these gigs they supported local heroes The Cigarettes
who were managed by Martin Patton & Andy Stephenson. These two
local entrepreneurs were trying to get their fledgling Dead Good
record label off the ground and were looking for bands to appear
on a compilation album they were putting together.
Their adventures in sound recording would begin here as the band
found themselves in Studio Playground in the village of Wragby
to record two tracks Refugee & Man on a Threshold for the compilation
album that was to be called East.
Although generally pleased with the recordings the band felt that
the overall sound was a bit thin and decided the only solution
would be to recruit a keyboard player.
An advert was placed in the Mansfield & Sutton Recorder but they
only had one reply! After a successful audition the applicant
- Rick Holliday - was asked to join the band. With this new dimension
their sound developed naturally and they moved from three minute
new wave songs to much more grander motifs. The band were developing
an epic approach to songwriting, using classic themes but with
modern sounds and attitudes.
B-Movie played their first gig as a four-piece at the Red Lion
Music Bar in Mansfield on 01st January 1980. They began to attract
the interest of the local press and their name started to get
around - they were starting to get noticed.
Reviews of the B-Movie tracks on the East compilation had been
favourable and Dead Good suggested that the band record an EP.
The band decided to record The Soldier Stood Alone, Drowning Man
& Soundtrack - so back they travelled to Studio Playground.
Dead Good was beginning to make a name for itself with its reputation
for quirky releases and Andy Stephenson uttered the immortal words
"anything is possible in the music business". He then planted
the seeds of doubt in the band's mind about John Fritchley being
the right manager.
After another Lincoln gig it all came to a head after Fritchley
insisted that he appear in the publicity shots with the band!
An argument then ensued and Fritchley drove off leaving the band
stranded. They spent the night on the floor of the Dead Good office
after agreeing that the best option was for Andy Stephenson to
The Take Three EP was released on 11th July 1980 to positive reviews
and even a play on the BBC Radio 1 John Peel Show. To tie in with
their appearance at the Nottingham Festival a session was arranged
with Radio Trent and the band recorded Spirit of the Age, The
Walking Dead, Aeroplanes & Mountains, as well as the first ever
recording of Remembrance Day.
All the songs were over five minutes long - each epic and grandiose
in quality. The band realised that if they were to make a breakthrough
they needed a short, sharp pop song that could be their next single.
Steve came up with the title Nowhere Girl from an Angela Huth
novel of the same name. He played around with some chords and
in a few minutes the song was written. He took it to rehearsal
where Rick came up with a synth motif to go over the top.
They played it live to Dead Good who liked it and agreed to it
being the next single. However the band had more ambitious plans,
to be precise a six track EP - Nowhere Girl @ 45rpm on one side
and five tracks @ 33rpm on the other - a kind of single and an
album rolled into one!
Dead Good thought it was a great idea and again sent the band
back to Wragby where the songs were recorded live in one take!
The band were still teenagers led by a desire to have a good time.
The new recordings showed a young indisciplined band fired by
a passion to create great music. They weren't cool calculated
careerists and they really needed someone representing them who
had the same zany, fun-loving attitude.
It was at a The The / Cabaret Voltaire gig at Retford Porterhouse
where they first met their future mentor. Stevo was a DJ at the
Chelsea Drug Store in London where he hosted a futurist night.
Steve took a along a copy of the Radio Trent session to the Porterhouse
gig and handed it to Stevo asking him to give it a listen.
Steve didn't expect anything to come from and was amazed the next
day when Stevo called saying he liked the tape and wanted to put
the band on at a London gig he was arranging.
In the next weeks issue of Sounds magazine B-Movie found themselves
in the Futurist Chart with The Walking Dead along with Vice Versa
(soon to be ABC), The Human League and Clock DVA!!
Everything seemed to be going to plan but then suddenly there
was a spanner in the works. The "Nowhere Girl EP" was scheduled
for release in November 1980 but due to an error at the pressing
plant only 850 copies were pressed. It was immediately deleted
and became a collectors' item overnight.
Despite this setback they now had Stevo on their side and he was
beginning to build up a coterie of weird and unusual acts through
his club DJ'ing. His masterplan was to release a compilation album
featuring the best of these.
B-Movie played their first London gig at The Bridgehouse in Canning
Town with Blancmange as support but this new music had not filtered
through to the masses as yet and this birth of futurism was witnessed
by a privileged few. Afterwards Stevo presented them with a management
contract and they signed it there and then as they knew Stevo
was their passport to better things.
This new relationship with Stevo caused friction in Lincoln and
the Dead Good chapter in the B-Movie story was brought to an abrupt
& somewhat inconclusive end. Stevo had big plans for B-Movie and
the other band he managed - Soft Cell from Leeds. He'd decided
to call his record label Some Bizzare after a Frank Zappa quote
and thus the compilation album he had planned would be called
The Some Bizzare Album.
Stevo began talking to several major labels about what was to
be the most gloriously brazen demo of all time. The A/R fraternity
began to fall for Stevo's outrageous self-confidence and eventually
he sorted out a licensing deal with Phonogram.
Twelve acts were assembled and they each sent in one track. The
B-Movie offering was a newly recorded song called Moles which
had become a live favourite. It was by far the rockiest track
on the album and had very little in common with the other acts
except maybe a willingness to experiment.
The Some Bizarre Album was scheduled for release in February 1981
and would feature the vinyl debuts of Depeche Mode, The The, Soft
Cell & Blancmange. All of these acts went on to considerable success
so the album could be viewed as the musical equivalent of the
Dead Sea Scrolls!
Stevo created enough of a buzz about B-Movie within the music
industry for Phonogram to offer them a small advance leading on
to a bigger deal. Tracey Bennett, the head of A & R at the Phonogram
owned Deram label, had heard the Nowhere Girl EP and he really
liked Remembrance Day. Bennett felt that the band had real potential
and he suggested that they re-record it with a top producer in
a London studio.
B-Movie were completely oblivious to the business side of things
& were totally unaware that Stevo had made it a condition of the
B-Movie deal that Phonogram would also have to sign his other
band - Soft Cell!
The band found themselves booked into Scorpio Studios with the
neo -legendary Mike Thorne as producer. His remit was to turn
the overlong Dead Good version of Remembrance Day into three and
a half minute pop song!
Basically the song was re-arranged with a new, almost improvised
ending, guitars were overlaid in a completely different pattern
to the original and new piano & synth lines devised. The result
was breathtaking and totally beyond the band's wildest dreams.
As things stepped up a gear Paul Boswell became their agent and
he sorted out some support slots with new EMI signings Duran Duran.
The gigs went well and the band received good reviews from both
the NME and Sounds.
Remembrance Day was released following the tour and a week later
it had entered the UK chart at No 96. The single was receiving
unanimously good reviews but was being ignored by daytime radio
- it seemed that the record company did not have a strategy to
get the record into the upper reaches of the chart.
B-Movie then headlined the Some Bizzare event at The Lyceum in
London after Soft Cell, Blancmange, Depeche Mode & The The failed
to make an appearance although they had been billed! Playing to
an audience of 3000 people, B-Movie delivered a blinding set.
Two days later they were in the BBC Maida Vale studios recording
a session for the BBC Radio 1 John Peel show. They laid down four
of their favourite live numbers Polar Opposites, Welcome to the
Shrink, Escalator & All Fall Down.
On 2nd April 1981 the band recorded a further BBC Radio 1 session
, this time for the Richard Skinner show. As the broadcast time
of the show was early evening the band decided to go for a more
pop sound. The band recorded Nowhere Girl, The Devil in Me, Love
Me & Disturbed (which had echoes of the darker Peel session tracks).
The result of these sessions, gigs & media interviews (NME, Sounds)
was to push Remembrance Day to No 61 in the UK chart. Unfortunately
the momentum the band had built up stalled at this point and their
label failed them by not giving that extra push needed to get
the single into the Top 40. The next week the single dropped to
No 65 and that was the end of that!
Undeterred B-Movie demoed a new song Ice, which they wanted to
release as a double A-side with Polar Opposites, at Stanhope Place.
Deram rejected this idea so the band headed back into a cheap
studio in Mansfield and made a demo of Marilyn Dreams & a cover
of Pink Floyds' Julia Dream.
Again Deram still weren't convinced but Stevo was in a strong
bargaining position. Soft Cell were beginning to pick up favourable
live reviews and there was talk of them covering an old northern
soul record. Deram saw they could kill two birds with one stone
and get Mike Thorne to produce two singles at the same time. Recording
took place at Advision Studios, with the b-side Film Music Pt1
written in the studio, Rick exploiting the use of Mike Thornes'
synclavier on both B-Movie tracks to get those weird sounds. As
strange as it may seem both Marilyn Dreams and Tainted Love were
mixed almost simultaneously!
A session was recorded for Capital Radio including Polar Opposites
& Ice (the whereabouts of the master tapes are unknown and this
session is presumed lost forever) a week before a sell-out show
at The Venue.
Stevo however seemed more interested in Soft Cell who had a real
buzz going around Tainted Love. He wasn't convinced about Marilyn
Dreams but supported the band on their decision and kept right
out of the creative process.
B-Movie were more alarmed about Deram's marketing of the band
as pretty boy types - both Steve & Paul gracing the pages of teen
magazines Oh Boy & Jackie. Everyone in the band felt that the
label were totally missing the point of what B-Movie were about.
More UK dates came & went with the usual mixture of bad sound
and the odd disaster. The 10th July 1981 saw the release of Marilyn
Dreams but the patent lack of enthusiasm from Deram was clear
to see. The national reviews in NME & Sounds were not good but
the regional papers were much more upbeat - "chirpy electronic
nostalgia destined for the charts" quoted one.
The following month was a nightmare for B-Movie as the single
only reached a dismal No 99 in the UK chart whilst Soft Cell hit
the dizzy heights of No 1 with Tainted Love. They had to swallow
their pride and take their place as the number two act in Stevo's
B-Movie had to shake things up a bit and fight back. They had
got a name for themselves in the business despite one near miss
and one flop single. The first step was to get a bass player in
so Steve could concentrate on being the frontman. God knows why
but the band plumped for an Italian waiter called Lou Codemo -
who it later materialised couldn't play bass!
Next up, the band were booked to play the Futurama 3 Festival
at Stafford Bingley Hall. B-Movie were suprised to find themselves
fourth from the top of the bill below Simple Minds, Bow Wow Wow
& Martian Dance. They went down really well and the reviews of
the gig were good.
Songs were being written thick and fast - Steve & Paul even found
time to do some more recording at Chris Cook's 4-track back in
Mansfield. Though never actually played live by B-Movie the three
songs recorded - Deep Sleep, Trash and Mystery & They Forget -
still retained a certain charm and an eagerness to experiment.
The band continued to tour visiting Norwich, Manchester, Torquay
and Derby before playing The Days of Future Past Festival in Leeds
with Classix Nouveau & The Gang of Four.
By December Remembrance Day had been voted onto John Peel's Festive
Fifty and the bands' student following continued to grow with
more gigs at universities and polytechnics across the UK.
Meanwhile Soft Cell were No1 in just about every country in the
world with that song - this meant that things at Some Bizarre
had changed - Stevo handing the task of looking after B-Movie
to his secretary Marion!
B-Movie were now rehearsing in Nottingham where they wrote a new
song Scare Some Life Into Me which reflected the increasing apathy
and despair felt by everyone in the band. Thoughts turned to the
next single and Nowhere Girl along with some new songs (of which
Scare Some Life Into Me was the best) were demoed at Wragby. Lou's
bass playing being replaced by a sequenced bassline as he could
not play in time.
On a cold dark December morning they embarked on their first European
tour - Amsterdam, Lieden, Hemstede, Nijmegen & Apeldorne in Holland,
Koningshukte in Belgium, Paris & Lyons France and Barcelona &
Madrid in Spain. The news came through whilst on tour that Deram
had agreed that the next single would be Nowhere Girl. On their
return from tour B-Movie met up with producer Steve Brown and
got to work at Trident Studios in Soho. It was decided to sequence
the bass line so Lou's playing was not required but he did come
in useful when he was sent out to find a girl to do some manic
laughter on the intro. He returned with an Italian tourist who
did her bit - other strange sounds like the bashing of ashtrays
and synthesized explosions were added in this spontaneous atmosphere.
The drums were played live and the piano track on the extended
version was one of B-Movie's greatest moments - a real pianist
on a Steinway grand. A friend from Nottingham called Maria provided
the sweet harmonies in the middle section whilst Paul eventually
got to play the delightful Spanish guitar solo. The end result
was a brilliantly crafted pop song that Stevo declared would break
1981 had been a phenomenal year, a rollercoaster ride of ups and
downs, which had ended on a real high.
Nowhere Girl was scheduled for release in March 1982 and a tour
was planned to coincide with this. In keeping with the more sophisticated
sound the band decided that Lou needed replacing - his bass playing
being much too limited and not fitting with their ambitious plans.
A replacement was spotted playing with a band called Everest The
Hard Way - an Edinburgh based outfit who were on the verge of
splitting. His name was Mike Peden - both Steve & Paul thought
he was the best bass player they had ever seen. Steve asked Mike
if he fancied coming to a rehearsal and for all intents and purposes
B-Movie had a new bass player.
Mike Peden approached B-Movie with caution - it was a job to him,
he wanted paying and he would not join the band on a permanent
basis. He was an expensive luxury - one B-Movie couldn't really
afford and with his fluid fast finger bass style the band's sound
A new song Mediterranean came together over an incredibly complicated
bass part - the band were swimming in new waters and were in danger
of getting out of their depth. Graham struggled with this new
arrangement, his simple drumming style contrasting unfavourably
with Mike's complex basslines. The rest of the band made the mistake
of seeing this as a sign of weakness on Graham's part and the
seeds of doubt about his technical ability took flower. Nevertheless
a new set was ready by March including further new material like
Amnesia, The Great Divide & The Promised Land. During late March
these four new songs were recorded as a session for the BBC Radio
1 David "Kid" Jensen show.
The tour followed with gigs in Stoke on Trent, Bath, London, Canterbury,
Brighton, Leicester, Manchester and Retford. Nowhere Girl began
to pick up airplay and receive some great reviews - joint single
of the week in Sounds. Following the week of release it debuted
at No 90 in the UK chart, the week after jumping up to No 70.
More gigs followed - Durham, Coventry and Birmingham - reviews
came thick and fast, even daytime play on radio stations was achieved.
When the chart positions were announced everyone was shocked -
No 68. Up only two measly places - all that effort, all those
hopes dashed. They had given their best shot but it had not been
The following week it was all over as Nowhere Girl dropped two
places - the only solace being reports filtering through from
America that the song was beginning to pick up significant airplay.
Even when the single shot up three places to No 67 the next week
nothing could shake the band out of their despondency.
A USA tour was booked and the band flew to New York. The high
expectations together with the immense disappointments coupled
with out of control behaviour took their toll on Steve. A combination
of drugs and paranoia ended up with him being hospitalised for
the night. The next day they headed for the first gig in Philadelphia,
then on to Washington before returning to New York for a gig at
The Danceteria. More gigs followed in Buffalo, Toronto, Montreal,
and Detroit. Returning to New York the band played The Peppermint
Lounge before heading to the beach resort of Margate. Two more
gigs followed before Steve was ill again and once more admitted
to hospital. Steve flew back to England alone - mind, body and
soul torn apart it had been the worst experience of his life.
So what now for B-Movie ? Their singer was a nervous wreck, band
moral was at an all time low and something had to change. Regardless
of the drug related problems the music was suffering. Back in
Mansfield after a period of reflection it was decided that the
only solution was to oust Graham Boffey. It was a cruel and wrong
decision made without much common sense. The real B-Movie died
with the unjust sacking of Graham - all the momentum had stopped.
Things with Stevo were not good, the band existing in name only
- they still had a record contract but very little else. Managing
to somehow pick up the pieces an all new Mansfield rhythm section
of Martin Smedley (aka Winter) on bass and Andy Johnson on drums
Rehearsals commenced, Steve went back to college and Rick was
working on a solo project with his girlfriend Cindy Ecstasy who
had sung on the Soft Cell hit Torch.
The band appeared on the Yorkshire TV show Calendar performing
Remembrance Day but their relationship with Stevo was coming to
an end. The last straw being the demo the band had recorded at
The Point Studios in London. The tracks were like The Doors in
their Soft Parade period - watered down pop. Stevo listened to
the tape for less than twenty seconds, took it out and threw it
against the wall - in his mind the band were finished.
They were in Rick's mind too - he'd been thinking about leaving
for some time and after a rehearsal he announced he was leaving
to work full-time on his solo project Six Sed Red.
Paul turned to Steve and said to Steve the moment Rick walked
out of the door "the show goes on - with or without Rick", B-Movie
were still alive.
In October the band did a mini-tour - Paul was now on keyboards
and a new recruit - Ady Hardy installed on guitar. The gigs -
Hull, Coventry, Aberystwyth, Retford & Salisbury - were surprisingly
well attended, with the band being practically mobbed at the last
This it turned out would be their last UK gig for sometime. Whilst
at home everything looked bleak, some very encouraging noises
were being made abroad. Nowhere Girl was in danger of becoming
a hit across Europe whilst in America it was No 1 in the Rockpool
As 1982 ended there were still grounds for hope. Whilst the band
had all but disintegrated, belatedly their music was winning them
fans in the most unlikely places and when Paul Boswell told them
he had booked them a tour of Israel they began to believe anything
was possible in the music business...
part two to follow