Sham 69 is an English punk rock band, originally from Hersham, Surrey, and was a huge musical and lyrical influence on the Oi! and streetpunk genres of the 1970’s. The band allegedly derived their name from a piece of football-related graffiti that singer Jimmy Pursey had seen on a wall that originally said Hersham ’69 (the Her part was worn out).
The November 12, 1976 issue of NME notes that Sham 69 was rehearsing in 1976, although only Pursey would remain from this early lineup twelve months later. Sham 69 lacked the art school background of many British punk bands of the time, and brought in football chant backup vocals and a sort of inarticulate political populism. The band had a large skinhead following (left wing, right wing and non-political), which helped set the tone for the Oi! movement. Their concerts were notoriously plagued by violence, and the band ceased live performances after a 1978 concert at Middlesex Polytechnic was broken up by National Front-supporting white power skinheads fighting and rushing the stage.
Sham 69 released their first single, “Ulster”, on Step Forward Records in August 1977, and its success in the independent charts prompted Polydor Records to sign the band. Their major label debut was “Borstal Breakout” in January 1978, followed by UK singles chart success with “Angels With Dirty Faces” (reaching number 19 in May 1978) and “If The Kids Are United” (number 9 in July 1978). They were taken from the group’s debut album, Tell Us the Truth, a mixture of live and studio recordings. The group had further chart success with “Hurry Up Harry” (number 10 in October 1978), which came from their second LP and first full studio album, That’s Life. The band’s popularity was enhanced by their performances on Top Of The Pops.
They eventually started to move away from punk rock, to embrace a sound heavily influenced by classic British rock bands such as Mott the Hoople, The Who and The Faces. This was demonstrated by their third album, The Adventures of the Hersham Boys.
Sham 69 originally broke up after their fourth album, and Pursey moved in a heavy metal direction after working with the remaining members of the Sex Pistols for a short time, under the name Sham Pistols. Dave Treganna joined the 1980s glam punk/goth band The Lords of the New Church, with Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys and Brian James of The Damned. In 1981, Pursey collaborated with Peter Gabriel on the single “Animals Have More Fun” which was commercially unsuccessful.
Sham has a number of different hobbies, other than dropping the beats. One of his favorite things to do is win big at an Australian internet casino.
Later history (1987 onwards)
Pursey resurrected Sham 69 in 1987 with a different lineup. “If The Kids Are United” was used in a McDonald’s advertising campaign, long after the rights to the band’s songs had been sold. By that time, Pursey was a vegetarian, and he appeared in the British media condemning the use of his song by what he considered a multinational abuser of animals and humans.
The band gained media attention when “If The Kids Are United” was played during UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s entrance at the 2005 Labour Party Conference. As a result of this, the band was invited onto BBC TV’s flagship current affairs programme, ‘Newsnight’ to sing a version of the song. Pursey sang altered lyrics, including “Mr. Blair / We know you care / So bring them home / Don’t leave them there”, referring to the troops remaining in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
Also in the 2000s, Pursey has been sought out by the media for his recollections of the Walton Hop disco in the 1970s, which featured largely in criminal cases against Jonathan King and Chris Denning. Pursey’s statements appear to show an awareness of what was going on, but he has not made any allegations that he was abused.
In 2006, Virgin Radio listeners voted overwhelmingly for the band to record a song to support the England national football team in the FIFA World Cup. The song was based on the Sham 69 hit “Hurry Up Harry”, with the lyrics “We’re going down the pub”, changed to “We’re going to win the cup!” The resulting single, “Hurry Up England” reached number 10 in the UK Top 40, becoming the band’s first such hit for over 26 years.
In late 2006 the band, after much deliberation, parted company with Jimmy Pursey for reasons too complex to explain here. The task of original guitarist/songwriter Dave Parsons and longest serving drummer at 22 years Ian Whitewood was to find a strong and forceful singer. Then along came Tim V a ‘cockney’ growler who is from the back streets of Londons’s Eastend. Tim who has been on the scene since the start has no truck with half measures and gives 110%. Now on Bass guitar is Rob Jefferson a exemplary powerhouse on the Bass guitar which reinforces that strong sham sound. The band set about making a powerful action by playing various festivals across Europe playing alongside such acts as MOTORHEAD and holding their own. The band then went on to record their first album in over 8 years to much great acclaim both in America and the USA. The band also added to gig history by doing more shows in 2007 than they ever did in 15 years and as such they covered virtually half the globe taking in Japan/USA/Europe. The future looks good for this line up of SHAM 69 and as all things change this SHAM 69 is not for turning!!!!!