Sham 69 was formed in 1975 with the members Jimmy Pursey, Neil Harris, Albie Slider, Billy Bostik and Johnny Goodfornothing. The band played at many of the famous punk hotspots during this time, performing fan favourites such as ‘Borstal Breakout’ and ‘Hey Little Rich Boy’.

By late 1977 the band line-up was changed on advice of the management. Guitarists Goodfornothing and Harris were replaced by Dave Parsons, and Mark Cain replaced Bostik on drums. Slider stayed on to record the first single, ‘I Don’t Wanna’ – produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground; the success of this single on the independent charts saw Sham 69 signed to Polydor Records. Bassist Slider was replaced a few months later with Dave Tregunna. This line-up stayed stable until 1980 when Cain left and was replaced by Ricky Goldstein.

Thanks to the popularity of punk rock in the UK at the time, Sham 69 scored a string of five consecutive top 20 singles with ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’, ‘If The Kids Are United’, ‘Hurry Up Harry’, ‘Questions And Answers’ and ‘Hersham Boys’, some of which were performed on Top of the Pops. The band’s first three albums, ‘Tell Us The Truth’, ‘That’s Life’ and ‘The Adventures Of The Hersham Boys’ charted at numbers 25, 27 and 8 respectively.

However, like the times, punk began to lose its bite and many bands either broke up or started making new wave music. Sham 69’s gigs were often plagued by violence and this played a major part in the band’s demise in 1980, just after the release of its fourth album, ‘The Game’. Many fans saw this as a sell-out as the band tried to evolve into a new style of its own, heavily influenced by classic British rock bands. Pursey went off to pursue various projects including a solo career, whilst Tregunna and Parsons formed The Wanderers with the late Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys. Later, Tregunna and Bators would form Lords Of The New Church with Nick Turner of The Barracudas and Brian James of The Damned.

In 1987, Pursey and Parsons reformed Sham 69 with Ian Whitewood on drums, Andy Prince on bass, Tony Bic on keyboards and Linda Paganelli on saxophone. They released an album called ‘Volunteer’ which was as far from a punk album as it was possible to get; to cement this change in style, the band’s comeback show was at London’s premier goth club, Slimelight. The next album, 1991’s ‘Information Libre’, saw the band move back from the synthesisers and processed drums to a more standard rock sound, though keyboards were still a major part of the songs – this time played by Patricia de Mayo. This album produced just one single, ‘Uptown’.

The next album, ‘Kings & Queens’, was made up of re-recordings of the 70s material with a couple of new songs thrown in for good measure. This, as well as jettisoning the keyboards and saxophones and the addition of new bassist, Mat Sargent, marked a more concerted effort by the band to return to its punk roots which continued with ‘Soapy Water and Mister Marmalade’ in 1995 and ‘The A Files’ in 1997. In 2001 Sham 69 released ‘Direct Action: Day 21’, which took influences from the alternative rock scene at the time and was a cross between a punk and a Brit pop album.

Over the next few years, the band’s activities began to slow down. But, in 2006, the band was approached by Virgin Radio DJ, Christian O’Connell, to re-work a version of ‘Hurry Up Harry’ into ‘Hurry Up England’ (featuring Blur guitarist Graham Coxon) as an alternative football anthem for England’s entry in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. On 18th June, the single became their first to chart in 28 years debuting at number 10 in the UK chart, two places below the official song of the England squad, ‘World at Your Feet’ by Embrace.

In October 2006, the NME published a statement by Parsons that read: “Sham 69 have left Jimmy Pursey on the eve of their 30th anniversary. The band had become increasingly fed up with Jimmy’s lack of interest in playing live and continually letting down both promoters and fans by pulling out of gigs at the last moment.”

In the aftermath and upon the attempt to disentangle the band’s business affairs, the real extent of the mishandling of the band’s shows, business and reputation made them realise the damage that had been caused and the management team was sacked in order to bring all business dealings in-house.

Parsons and Whitewood continued as Sham 69 recruiting Tim V on vocals and Rob Jefferson on bass. This line-up worked hard to restore Sham 69’s reputation, performing tours of Canada and the United States, playing festivals across Europe, and releasing the album, ‘Western Culture’ – or ‘Hollywood Hero’ as it was known in the U.S. – in August 2007.

After re-establishing itself with promoters and agents around the world and having them witness the impact Sham 69 made on audiences, it wasn’t long before the band received requests from all around the world and embarked on tours of Australia and Japan, and played one-off shows in Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand. In 2008, Sham 69 became the first UK band ever to tour China, which was filmed as part of a documentary called ‘This Band Is So Gorgeous’. By 2009 Jefferson had been replaced on bass with U.K. Subs’ Al Campbell and the band released the album ‘Who Killed Joe Public’ in 2010.

In July 2011, Parsons left the band and was replaced with founding member Neil Harris and Tony Feedback from Angelic Upstarts. A new bassist, John Woodward, was also recruited. This line-up went on to tour relentlessly and released ‘Their Finest Hour’ in 2013 after which Feedback was replaced with Paul Brightman who recorded the album ‘It’ll End In Tears’ in 2015. In 2018, Neil Harris passed away but Ian, Tim and Paul continued as a single-guitar line-up and Ryan Monshall was recruited on bass. Sham 69 continued to play around the world until the Covid-19 pandemic stopped them; however, they still managed to record the album ‘Black Dog’ in 2021.

The current line-up consists of Ian Whitewood, Tim V, Paul Brightman and newest recruit, Tom Austin-Morgan on bass, and is gearing up for the future. This line-up plays with real purpose, belief and positivity – something it feels is needed in these post-pandemic times.