Thursday, August 03, 2006

The UK says good-bye to TOTP!

The final TOTP aired in London. Music stars past and present remember the good times

Interviews by Dave Simpson and Dorian Lynskey
Saturday July 29, 2006
The Guardian


Top Of The Pops was crucially entwined with our career. We were most remembered for Merry Xmas Everybody (1973), but the first time we were on I was frightened. The DJ presenters had huge egos: these guys were opening supermarkets for thousands and were even bigger stars than the bands. But then you'd see Pan's People looking bedraggled in the morning and the sets all held together with sticky tape, and it demystified it. We thought, "We can rule this." We had a reputation as a phenomenal live band and we took that on to the show. We played the songs and Nod [Holder] really sang them, so it felt alive and exciting, even though we weren't plugged in.

There was a lot of rivalry. When we first went straight in at number one [with Cum On Feel The Noize], I remember walking in and other acts went quiet. Ray Davies came up to me in the BBC bar and said, "Don't keep doing the same thing", and I hummed his hits at him and said, "It didn't stop you!" He threw Coca-Cola over me and it all kicked off. We were banned from the BBC bar for months. Jimmy Savile gave me the best advice: "Always remember the tide comes in and goes out again." We were regular blokes who treated it like a night's work and had a pie afterwards, and I think that's why people loved us. But we went to town on the outfits, especially Dave Hill. He'd get changed in the bogs and every time he came out I held my head in my hands. Someone said, "Have you seen the state of your guitarist? He looks like a metal nun!"
Jim Lea

Spice Girls

Top Of The Pops magazine coined our nicknames - I get called Baby Spice even now. I thought Top Of The Pops was an amazing show: when I was young, we'd all have sleepovers to watch it. So when we went on that first time, I thought, "This is it!" Doing Wannabe (1996) freaked me out. Marilyn Manson was standing watching us. I forgot the words. I've been on countless times, but I never got over that feeling of excitement. You'd have a dressing room so close to your heroes you could hear them talking. I saw Diana Ross. I nicked George Michael's name tag. One time we ran into Prince's dressing room, pushing our way past the bodyguards, going, "Priiiiiince ..."
Emma Bunton

Happy Mondays

When we played Hallelujah in 1989, we never realised that us and the Stone Roses appearing on the same Top Of The Pops would become a seminal moment. But I do remember getting back to Manchester and people telling us all the bars had set up screens specially to watch it, so it was a big deal. I'd wanted to be on Top Of The Pops ever since I was eight and saw David Bowie performing Starman with a blue acoustic guitar. I remember bumping into Tina Turner. We'd been given £1,000 each by the record company to buy new clothes; I spent £300 and pocketed the rest. I think everyone was heavily "sedated". I vividly remember being sat in the BBC garden and Shaun [Ryder] and Ian [Brown] were chuckling, plotting to swap drummers. I think the BBC rumbled it.
Paul Ryder

New Order

It was the only time in the show's history that a band appeared on the show and
the single went down in the chart the following week. Foolishly, we insisted we
would go on only if we could perform live. So they had to inspect everything
and put "BBC approved" stickers on our plugs. All the other bands were telling
us how they'd always wanted to do it live, but we made a complete balls of it.
Blue Monday [1983] was never the easiest song to perform, anyway, and everything went wrong. The synthesisers went awry. It sounded awful. When we did Thieves Like Us, I remember hearing the camera crew going, "Oh my God, this lot don't move a muscle and the bassist's chewing gum!" I suppose we were trying to rebel. I think everyone harbours a secret fantasy of going on with a loaded machine gun and taking half the audience down.
Steve Morris

The Kooks

My mum was actually on Top Of The Pops before me, dancing in the studio audience to the Rolling Stones - I think that was the golden age. By the time we got on, something had been lost. The quality of bands had declined, and the press and media around it seemed more important than the music. I don't think it ever recovered from people like Andi Peters getting hold of it [in 2003].

When you're on it, you wait around all day and then you have to mime - you feel ridiculous. You should jump around because you're excited and into the music. Trying to do that to a recording of your own song is as rubbish as standing in front of the mirror with a tennis racket.
Max Rafferty

The Stranglers

We were on it almost every year, which was amazing considering the kind of band we were. My fondest memory was being accused of trashing someone's dressing room - a boy band, I think. I only broke the door. Because we were on a lot, me and Hugh [Cornwell] had a dare to see who could pull a Pan's Person, but we were too angerous for them, I think. Everyone kept their distance from us. We'd take the piss out of it - because we thought miming was bollocks, we'd do really bad lip-synching. Once Jet [Black] started sawing through his bass drum and this EMI rep didn't realise it was live and she ran on saying, "You can't do that!"
Jean-Jacques Burnel

The Human League/Heaven 17

The record companies tried everything to get their acts on Top Of The Pops, but usually you had to be in the Top 40. In the Human League, we really needed a hit so covered a Glitter song, Rock 'n' Roll Part 2. It went in at 62, but somebody must have pulled a string because we got on the programme. So 19 million viewers had the spectacle of this weird austere electronic group from Sheffield.

By the time we were in Heaven 17, it was the full-on New Romantic era. Us, Duran and Spandau saw it as a continuation of the glam Top Of The Pops we'd grown up with. We donned Antony Price suits, but it was a time when even 40-year-old singers suddenly came on in eyeliner. To make it look hip and exciting, the producers had exotic dancers in cages and people whooping. I remember watching Elvis Costello doing Shipbuilding, a very desolate, anti-Falklands song, and in the middle there's all these people going, "Whoooooo!"
Martyn Ware

Gary Numan (Tubeway Army)

In those days, every time I went out of the door I was making mental notes. Does his singer talk to the crowd? Does such-and-such work with an audience? I noticed everyone stared at the camera on Top Of The Pops, so I decided to look only at the camera during certain lyrics. It was effective, but a lot about that first appearance, when we did Are "Friends" Electric [1979], was a happy accident. When I turned up at the studio, I had spots, so the make-up ladies gave me some very pale-looking make-up to cover them up. The whole white face thing became very powerful. I kept the image.


One of the best memories we have of the whole Invisible Band campaign [album released in 2001] was the infamous pie- and shaving foam-flinging episode on Top Of The Pops. I remember people being slightly apprehensive about doing it, but it ended up being even more fun than filming the video. It's a tragedy that an institution like Top Of The Pops has been allowed to fall into such disrepair that it has been axed.
Dougie Payne

The Housemartins/ The Beautiful South

Our first time [Happy Hour, 1986] was all a bit mad. We were still playing gigs to 300 people, so TOTP was a big step up. I remember looking out to see if there was anyone in the audience who might like us, and we couldn't see any. The Beautiful South have been on maybe 30 times. When you got on, you knew you had a hit, so it was often the crowning moment, but watching it became less of a thrill because the value of the charts is less. You used to think, "Ooh, who's gone in at 39?" Now it's top three or nothing.
Paul Heaton

The Jesus And Mary Chain

I grew up watching the likes of T-Rex and David Bowie on TOTP. That this one day could be me seemed like a wild fantasy. I never understood that whole punk thing of not doing TOTP; personally, I would have loved to have seen the Clash on the show. I don't remember much about our one and only appearance [1986]. We were all pretty nervous and, to us, nervous equals drunk. I remember having a couple of cans in the Blue Peter garden and being astounded by the lack of security - how these alcoholic rock'n'roll types were allowed to stumble around these kiddy TV sets with no one seeming the least bit concerned. Still, in typical Mary Chain fashion, we managed to piss everybody off without even trying, and were never asked again.
Jim Reid

The Kinks

Our first performance on TOTP was in Manchester and it was the first time I had flown on an aeroplane. I was terrified. My least favourite time was when we performed Autumn Almanac. I thought to myself as we were playing, "I'm too old
for this." I was 23 at the time. I wrote a song called Top Of The Pops because
it became part of the music vocabulary. I have fond memories of it. The show
was at its best when it was less corporate and more like fans of the music it
Ray Davies

Manic Street Preachers

It was a gigantic deal, TOTP. The first time we did it was incredible. I just felt like, "I'm never going to work again, Grandma!" When we did Faster [1994], Richey [Edwards] wanted me to wear a balaclava. Because we were all dressed in army regalia, it felt like we were parodying the use of legitimate power, like
the special forces. It didn't enter our heads that people would see it as an
Irish paramilitary symbol. The BBC never said, "Take that off." When there was
a reaction, we were quite shocked, to be honest. They told us it was the most
complaints they'd ever received.
James Dean Bradfield


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