The Moors Murderers

The history of The Moors Murderers, the phantom punk band that included Chrissie Hynde and Steve Strange.

In June 1977, Soo Catwoman announced that she was starting a band called the Moors Muderers: “The Moors Murderers thing was a big joke to be honest. I was joking about getting a band together called the Moors Murderers and doing sleazy love songs, I had no idea he [Steve Strange] would actually go out and do it. …” Strange claimed to be part of a band called the Moors Murderers in order to do a photo shoot for German magazine Bravo. Catwoman says she was also present but left the shoot. Steve Strange may have played a gig with The Photons under the Moors Murderers monicker supporting The Slits at an NSPCC benefit concert at Ari Up’s school in Holland Park circa Christmas 1977. After the gig, Steve Strange asked Dave Goodman (who had worked with the Pistols and Eater) to produce their song “Free Hindley”. On 8 January 1978, The Sunday Mirror published a piece on the band (“Why Must They Be So Cruel?”) based on an interview which had taken place at Goodman’s office in Fulham. The four band members were wearing pillow cases on their heads. According to Goodman, they included Strange, Chrissie Hynde and Nick Holmes (Eater’s roadie who is believed to have played guitar on “Free Hindley”).

In mid-January 1978, the Moors Murderers featured in Sounds, wearing bin liners over their heads. They played a few songs for the journalist (“Free Hindley“, “Caviar and Chips”, “Mary Bell” and “The Streets of the East End”). Following the Sounds showcase, the band played the Roxy on 13 January 1978, supporting Open Sore. Steve Strange was on vocals (calling himself Steve Brady) and Hynde was on guitar. Bob Kylie (Open Sore): “They were terrible! Absolutely dreadful!” On 28 January 1978, Strange told Sounds that he had left the band.

The Moors Murderers probably never released a record, but some tracks seem to have been recorded.

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The Flowers of Romance

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Will Parkhouse, “I Do Not Believe in Love: Viv Albertine On Life Post The Slits,” The Quietus 25 February 2010

“The first time I met Sid, we were outside a pub and even though I couldn’t play I said, “I wanna get a band together,” and he immediately said, “Oh, I’ll be in a band with you.” And I was so touched, because at that time, guys didn’t want to do what girls did. For a cool guy like Sid to want to be in a band with a girl was forward-thinking. I don’t think Johnny Rotten, Mick, or any of those other guys would’ve answered that.

We arranged to meet, went to a squat and rehearsed all through the summer of 1976 — the hottest summer on record for a long time — and emerged at the end of it absolutely white, and without one song. Nothing. [Cracks up] And we were in that basement for hours every day. I remember Sid jumping up and down, doing that pogo thing, tooting away on the sax, and Palmolive [Paloma Romero who later joined The Slits and the Raincoats] was on drums for a bit, and a girl called Sarah [Hall] on bass. I couldn’t play guitar at that stage and we were thrashing about and it’d be a bit embarrassing. And that was it, the whole summer, nothing, not one song.”

From Jon Savage‘s The England’s Dreaming Tapes (Faber, 2009)

Lee Black Childers: “Oh yeah, they would have done fine. …It was a combination of Ramones and Sex Pistols. Very much the 1-2-3-4 syndrome” (p. 96).

Viv Albertine: “There was me, Palmolive, a girl called Sarah. We were rehearsing in Jo Faull’s squat. That was probably how I got to know Sid, he wanted to be in a group or something, and I said to come down, he was going to be the singer. John thought up the name, The Flowers of Romance, and it was the hottest summer, ’76, we spent it all indoors in this bloody squat, every day. We did have discipline.
It was a bedroom band. We couldn’t keep time, Sid went from being a singer to also playing saxophone. I wrote my first riff which was quite good, which turned into ‘So Tough’. Even when people came in who could play, it still didn’t get going for some reason. It was a bunch of interesting-looking people, and we’d get interviewed when we’d never done anything and could hardly play. We’d go into pubs in Notting Hill and Soho, and people would come up and interview us. Jonh Ingham and others” (pp. 290-91). Sid sacked her because she “wasn’t giving enough to it” and “couldn’t really play (p. 292). Viv also mentions plans to team up with Siouxsie (p. 301).

Marco Pirroni: He was going to play bass for the band. A rehearsal was arranged but never took place because of the infamous glass-throwing incident at the 100 Club which led to Sid being locked up (p. 358).

Steve Walsh: He met Sid at The Clash’s ICA gig, who asked him to join the band as a second guitarist. “I used to go up to Davis Road to this squat, with old grannies living downstairs, and we’d rehearse till about five in the morning, taking speed”. He explains that he moved into the squat and the band also rehearsed at The Clash’s place: “Things must have gathered steam. I moved into this place in Davis Road, and through the autumn we started rehearsing more, although we never got it together at all, we never found a drummer who’d play without a hi-hat.” He talks about taking speed and “playing the same riff for hours and hours” (p. 374). He explains that everybody had been kicked out of the band by the time Sid joined the Pistols, talks about the effect drugs had on the band and says that he “didn’t feel it was going to happen”: “The group fell apart. A lot of the equipment was nicked, guitars and amps just went missing”. They only had one song (“Belsen Was a Gas”) as far as he remembers: “I think it was just an excuse for hanging about. Being in a band — or being seen to be in a band — was quite important. There was a lot going on, we used to go out every night. We’d go to Louise’s” (p. 378).

Dave Goodman: The Sex Pistols would jam a bit when they got on stage “and it turned into something they called Flowers of Romance, after Sid’s first band” (p. 421).

Wikipedia
Punk 77 (includes scans of the interview the band did for the first issue of Skum in early 1977)