DJ Taylor: The Piptones were quite an item

 

Share

Only the most punctilious connoisseurs of early 1980s pop history remember the Piptones, but they were quite an item in their day – an all-too-meteoric flight, alas, conducted towards the fag-end of the first Thatcher administration. Dave Lee Travis made them his "morning platter" in a week otherwise devoted to the sinking of the General Belgrano, and their solitary album, Surfing with the Piptones, reached No 27 in the chart in the early months of 1983. Sadly an appearance on Top of the Pops had to be cancelled when Eric, the singer, contracted erysipelas.

But they were a proper band, with a manager, a tour-bus and a fan club. Janice – a star-truck 19-year-old with a bubble perm and rather too prominent teeth – was the fan-club's secretary. All that was 30 years ago, and the Piptones have long since dispersed. Eric is an electrician. Baz (guitar) runs a bed-and-breakfast in Totnes. Darren (drums) is in the antiques trade, while Julian, "the posh one" (bass), is thought to be teaching somewhere. On the other hand, if the band last appeared on stage at the West Runton Pavilion, Norfolk, as long ago as 1985, then their fan club, mysteriously, is still going strong.

There are not many of the original Piptonettes left – 67 at last count – but no one could say they weren't kept informed. A Christmas card wings out every year, along with a newsletter offering details of the boys' personal lives. Occasional letters from Japan, where the group undertook their one overseas tour – are answered with remorseless indefatigability. And every six months Janice writes to the music company that owns the copyrights urging the advantages of a Piptones Greatest Hits.

Why does she do it? Well, they were great days, the early 1980s, with their spandex trousers and synth drums, and Janice – grey-haired now, her children all grown up – regrets their passing. Around the time of the Miners' Strike, she even managed to go out with Darren for a month or two, but it never came to anything. As for the Piptones, they appreciate Janice's efforts while remaining slightly wary. There is talk of the band reforming to play an 1980s revival package third on the bill behind the Human League and A Flock of Seagulls. It will mean winkling Julian out of his private school and fixing Eric's medication, but Janice is on the case: an innocent obsession which it would be unworthy to deny.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women-only train carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes  

Women-only carriages would be an insult to both sexes

Katie Grant
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style