Mick Crudge should think about writing a book. He’d have plenty to put in it.
The frontman of punk band The Fits has seen more in his musical career than most, from skinheads kicking seven bells out of each other, busking in the Underground, to living in a car in America for six years.
And now there’s a new chapter in the adventure story – after a break of almost three decades, The Fits, with Crudge still going strong at the age of 50, are back performing again and in the midst of writing a new album.
But for the benefit of younger readers who don’t know the back-story, we’d better return to the start.
Crudge was a teenage-musician at the time punk hit town.
“I remember being in a club in late 76, early 77 and hearing Pete Schofield (a famous Blackpool DJ) saying he had this new song and he played Anarchy In The UK. It completely blew me away,” recalled Crudge.
“Then I saw Adam and The Ants play Norbreck Castle and that was it, everything changed for me – I wanted to be in a band.”
Crudge formed The Fits in 1979. Four days later they had their first gig, supporting Section 25 at Bispham Community Centre.
“Thinking back it must have been absolutely bloody awful,” said Crudge, who went to Millfield and Tyldsley schools. “We probably couldn’t even play our instruments properly. We were just surfing that real euphoric anyone-can-do-it wave and it was where it all started for us.”
In an era when punk was huge, The Fits quickly became one of the biggest bands on the local scene.
“There was a fantastic feel in Blackpool at the time and we played gigs everywhere – youth clubs, church halls,” added Crudge.
“All over town there were actors and writers, a lot of young people – we were blessed to be in this area because it was the place to be. Other bands wanted to come to the resort.”
The band’s first single was “You Said We’d Never Make It” (released in 1981). Barry Lights, owner of a second-hand record shop on Lytham Road, sold out the initial run of 1,500, so he reissued it on his own label. The single reached number 2 in the Sounds Punk Chart and The Fits were off and running.
An album (You’re Nothing, You’re Nowhere) followed and two EPs – The Last Laugh and Tears of a Nation – cemented the band’s reputation. They were signed by Crass’/John Loder’s Corpus Christi Records and relocated to London.
But with success came a downside – namely growing violence at the band’s gigs.
“In the original days of punk everybody was in the same boat it was one for all and all for one,” Crudge explained. “But as time went by it became tribal. You had different factions, skinheads, straight rock ’n’ roll punks, and there was some awful violence at gigs.”
Disillusioned by the scene, The Fits split in 1985. They changed their name to Pure Pressure and carried on gigging, enjoying a particularly fruitful time in Spain.
That band eventually broke up too, Steve and co-writer, drummer Steve Withers, deciding to go their separate ways after 14 years of living and writing together.
So what did Crudge do next? Took a flight to America and lived in a car, obviously... “I bought a 1973 Chrysler New Yorker with a 440 engine and drove up and down the country, just sleeping in it,”
After eventually returning home, Crudge busked in underground stations before getting an email from punk star John Robb asking him to play at his Rebellion festival in Blackpool.
A few calls later and The Fits were reformed.
The best news of all for Fits fans is there’s another chapter or two yet to come.
*The Fits latest EP – Lead On – is available at www.facebook.com/THEFITS or www.thefits.co.uk