The Wild Boys were originally formed by Roddy (Radiation) Byers in the mid 70’s, before he left the band to join The Specials. His younger brother Mark, along with John Thomson and Rob Lapworth took over the band, recruiting Tony Lynch on drums. They began furiously rehearsing and honing their craft, biding their time before taking to the stage with an incredibly tight set. That quickly caught the attention of local audiences and national record companies, gaining them a growing following and recognition as a tour de force on the Coventry music scene.
Coventry in 1980 was caught in the spotlight of the success of the Specials and a number of the Wild Boys songs written by Roddy Byers were recorded by the Specials. However, Jerry Dammers didn’t think that Byers song “We’re Only Monsters” was right for The Specials, so the Wild Boys new line-up immediately seized it and made it their own.
The A side of the 1980 single ‘Last one of the boys’ was a song written by Johnnie Thomson, the lead singer and rhythm guitarist. But it was the B-side, the Roddy Byers penned live favourite ‘We’re Only Monsters’, that caught the public imagination and garnered the most radio play, receiving multiple plays on UK radio stations, including spins on the John Peel show and the Radio 1 morning rush hour slot. It was also spotlighted on Emperor Roscoe’s Round Table show, dissected and evaluated by a panel of high-profile celebrity judges.
The exposure from this airplay saw the band begin to play larger venues, undertaking a tour of London venues, headlining shows at Malvern Winter Gardens and in their hometown at the Lanchester Polytechnic Freshers Ball, and attracting offers of support slots with UB40, The Selecter and The Specials.
The profile of the band continued to rise rapidly and they were approached to write and perform songs in the Belgrade Theatre musical ‘Risky City’, a dark look at the violent underbelly of Coventry.
After the initial run in the smaller Belgrade Studio, the show moved up to the Belgrade main theatre, which also saw bassist Rob depart for a successful career in photography, to be replaced by Garry Cox, poached from local band Protégé.
However, by this point the pressure had begun to tell and the band started to fall apart. After a run of chaotic, alcohol fuelled shows and in 1981 they decided to call it a day, leaving behind memories of incendiary performances and a legacy of great songs.
Label: Reminder Records