Skrewdriver in Stockholm, Sweden
White power rockRock Against Communism
The Klansmen, Tumbling Dice, White Diamond|
Ian Stuart DonaldsonPhil Walmsley
John "Grinny" Grinton
2 Band Members
4 External links
The early years
Skrewdriver made their first live appearance in February 1977, supporting French act Lil' Bob Storey, at the Manchester Polytechine. After the success of their first the band ventured to London for the weekend to record a single for Chiswick. Their debut single 'You're So Dumb' was a tirade against drugs. It was a brave contrast for a new band making its way in a music industry so predominantly in favour of the use of drugs. Everything appeared to be going in the right direction and the band found that the local press in Blackpool were taking notice of the group.
Three weeks into the release of the new single, Chiswick boss Ted Carroll told Melody Maker of this delight with the seven inch and his belief in the band. "Skrewdriver is a band we like. They have had no press coverage and it is not yet available in the bigger stores but more than four thousand copies have already been sold."
Skrewdriver made their debut on the London live scene on, Saturday 16th of April at the Roxy Club. The band certainly made their mark, and received favourable reviews in the network of Punk fanzines. The band were on the bill at The Music Machine club in Camden, the last day of June 1977, along with 999 and Ireland's Boomtown Rats. Both support groups came on and went down really well, then The Boomtown Rats appeared and found a less than appreciative audience. This was a hard-core Punk crowd and they didn't appreciate the Rats brand of watered down New Wave Pop. On top of this Bob Geldof, later on Band Aid fame, was strutting around the stage impersonating Mick Jagger.
This really annoyed Ian Stuart who at the time was talking with 'Big Vince', a hardcore Punk with a violent reputation. Ian told Vince to "dock that wanker Geldof". The audience had already started throwing bottles, but when Vince began to walk up the stairs to the stage, Bob Geldof thought he was coming up to join him singing. "Whack!" the next thing he knew, Geldof was knocked to the floor.
This was 1977, the year of Punk. Skrewdriver were on stage at least once a week and had become very popular, especially with the Skinheads that had latched on to their gigs. One of the Skinheads regulary turning up was Grahame McPherson, a sixteen year old, better known as 'Suggs' . Ian would often go out drinking with his crew, the 'North London Skinhead Elite', which consisted of Suggs, Chas Smash, Toakes, Chalky and most of the faces that appeared on the first Madness LP. Ian decided to give Suggs a job as Roadie, there were no wages, but it meant that he didn't have to pay to get into gigs.
In an interview Ian did for Melody Maker in 1977 he was asked if Skrewdriver were a non-violent band, shocking the reporter Ian replied "No, No, I actually enjoy fighting. Fighting was the only thing to do in Blackpool. There were no rock concerts, you had to travel to Manchester or Liverpool for that. Blackpool is for pensioners." At a time when people were telling the group to distance themselves from their Skinhead audience, Ian and the boys reverted to their Skinhead ways. Punk had become fashionable and was losing much of its cutting edge. Skrewdriver were perhaps showing a little naivety and un-beknowingly playing into the media's hands. .
Next release was a double A side singe, Anti-Social / 19th nervous breakdown, and came out October 1977. Following that by a few weeks was the LP All Skrewed Up and then a month or two after that Chiswick would produce the band's third single Streetfight / Unbeliever. The Streetfight seven inch never made it past the planning stages, perhaps due to the bands ever increasing violent reputation or through Chiswicks growing dis-heartenment with them.
The first week of November 1977 All Skrewed Up hit the shops. Selling at two and a half pounds, the album consisted of twelve original compositions + a cover The Who. The new year didn't bring any change of luck for Ian, when attending a Fairport Convention concert, was involved in a fight with bouncers and received a beating, needing thirty-two stitches in a back wound.
Still avoiding London, the band made their first venture into Europe, headlining at the Gibis club in Paris. Chiswick were constantly telling Ian that they would bet nowhere as a Skinhead band. Music journalists wanted Ian to make a statement distancing the band from their Skinhead following, this Ian had tried hard to avoid.
In 1979, the band was based in Manchester. The new set failed to please NME (New Musical Express paper) and also failed to delight Chiswick records who sent Roger Armstrong up to Manchester as a prelude to recording the second LP. The new material that included 'Built Up, Knocked Down', was a disappointment as far as Roger was concerned. Skrewdriver had left the Punk thing behind and with it they left any hope of further recordings with Chiswick. Ian was eager to get some of this new material out on vinyl and so struck up a deal with Manchester's TJM records to release a single. The seven inch featured a line-up of Ian, Kev, Glen Jones and new drummer Martin Smith. The foursome recorded Built Up, Knocked Down, Breakout and A Case Of Pride. The record certainly cast a new light on Skrewdriver's musical prowess, but unfortunately for the group, the music media totally ignored it. Perhaps it wasn't surprising considering the theme of the title track, Built Up, Knocked Down, was a direct attack on the music business.
Disillusioned with all that was happening with the band, Ian had started to get involved with the National Front. He liked being a Skinhead and could see nothing wrong with being patriotic. He was heavily influenced by a Lancashire Skinhead known as 'Scully of the End End', nicknamed so because he spoke with a dodgy Cockney accent. Ian had no love of blacks and his experience with them during his time in London had done nothing to alter his feelings on the matter. Almost all the Skinheads he knew were that way inclined, so he joined up and it wasn't long before he was a leading activist in Young National Front section.
Eventually Ian could see nothing coming of the band, so he decided to call it a day and return to Blackpool. As far he was concerned he could not see where he could now take the band, it was a decision that he made reluctantly.
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In 1980 Ian returned to London and stayed at a squat with Ron Hartley. He also spent more time with Suggsy of the band Madness. While in the capital, he was also knocking around with people from the London National Front. After much deliberation and discussions with the YNF leader, Joe Pearce, he said he'd consider reforming the band and join the newly launched Rock Against Communism.
RAC was formed as a direct response to the success of Rock Against Racism. Ian said he'd play at their debut gig at Conway Hall in Holborn, but failed to show on the night. Melody Maker sent journalist Vivien Goldman to check it out. The bands that played were White Boss and Dentist, two Punk groups who had nailed their colours to the post of RAC. Ms Goldman was told that Skrewdriver were supposed to play 'but had to bow out due to record company pressure.' This was the final nail in the coffin of Skrewdriver. Any mainstream commercial credibility they had retained had just gone out of the window. The stage had never been far from his mind and again he thought of starting a new group. He began to write new material, this time his lyrics were tinged with the patriotism that had so engulfed his soul. The hurt he felt at the hands of the music industry while with Skrewdriver was apparent and took up much of his writing subject. Ian toyed with the idea of forming a band called simply 'Britain', but in the end vied for resurrecting Skrewdriver.
In the summer of 1982, Ian decided to start the band once more. His first job was to find a new line-up and there was no trouble recruiting his new bassist Mark French and drummer Geoff Williams from the remnants of South London's very own racist Skinhead band, The Elite. "Skrewdriver Needs YOU!" Screamed the advert placed in an August edition of Sounds magazine. The ad for budding Skinhead guitarist promised a European tour and a record deal. Within days the vacancy was filled by Mark Neeson, better known as 'Lester'. With the help of Mickey French, The Last Resort shop owner who had already set up a line of Skrewdriver T-shirts, the band went into the Workhouse studios in South-London to record some new tracks. Two songs, Boots & Braces and a revamped version of Anti-Social, were recorded for a compilation LP called 'United Skins' and another two, Back With A Bang and a new interpretation of the 1977 song, I Don't Like You, for a new single.
Back With A Bang received a favourable review in Sounds, although the question of the band's political persuasion was again under the spotlight. Even though Ian was by then heavily involved in the activities of the National Front, he was reluctant to totally push it with the group.
Back With A Bang became the Skinhead anthem of the early eighties and the Last Resort shop was doing a roaring trade in selling this twelve-inch single. On the seventh of October Skrewdriver played their first gig in nearly three years, at the One-hundred Club on London's Oxford street. The gig was a prelude to the much publicised 'Back With A Bang' concert two weeks later at the same venue. Both gigs went well and earned the group a regular slot at the One-Hundred club.
Nationalist tracks, such as Don't Let 'Em Pull You Down, were indicative of where Ian was taking the band. Unpopular with the music press but music to the ears of the NF and BM (British Movement) Skinheads that made up most of Skrewdriver's audience. Ian also doctored some of his old songs to represent his new direction. Government Action had the line 'You've got to be old to get money' changed to 'You've got to be black to get money' . The group all wore Union Jack patches on their flight jackets and after only a couple of gigs, Ian had the group kitted-out in an all black, fascist style, Skinhead uniform.
In 1983,The NF were keen to re-launch Rock Against Communism and so set about arranging a concert in Stratford, East London. On April 2nd 1983, over 600 fans turned up to see Skrewdriver supported by The Ovaltinees and Peter And The Wolf.
1985 saw the release of the LP : Blood and Honour.On the LP, Ian tackled subjects as diverse as drugs (Needle Man), soviet tyranny (Poland), Rudolf Hess's imprisonment in Spandau (Prisoner Of Peace) and the hustle and bustle of daily life (One Fine Day). This was interspersed with a more general theme of racial pride. Later in 1985 saw Ian Stuart and Des Clarke being arrested for an brawl that happened in London between Skrewdriver members and a black street gang. Both Ian and Des recieved 1 year in jail.
Throughout the 1980's Skrewdriver recorded many albums and toured across the UK and into Europe.Also Ian released a few solo LP's including a line up that became known as the Klansmen.
In October 1991, Skrewdriver was invited to play a concert in Germany for the Re-Unification.One day before the show,members and local Skinheads, fired up on beer attacked a Youth Center that was a hang out spot for leftists and socialists.In the affray 1 young man was stabbed, and did survive.Ian was released, but the rest of the band weren't so lucky. The concert went ahead as planned, with Ian being back by the German band Storkraft.Over 2000 skinheads from all over Germany attended this memorable gig.
Battle of Waterloo
On September 12 1992 at a national organisers meeting, Blood and Honour decided an event was needed to gain maximum publicity and bring their profile, message and operation back into the national spotlight. It was unanimously decided to stage a massive concert in London, England’s capital city, the like of which had not been seen before and in the run up to the concert use every media outlet available to achieve the initial aims, it was felt whatever happened on the day as long as Blood and Honour raised its profile and got the massive media coverage and advertisement that was envisaged it was a win win situation, as it happened the event and media coverage generated was to surpass all expectations.
The 12th of September was chosen as the date of the concert and immediately efforts were made to advertise the concert on a scale not seen since the Main Event gig in 1990. A massive fly poster campaign was launched with the legend “Skrewdriver: Back In London” emblazoned across them, were put up all over the UK. Blood and Honour units pasted them up everywhere and local media in Newcastle, Bristol, Birmingham, Nottingham and even Glasgow ran articles on the coming concert, in London the media went into overdrive. All the main Communist/anti-patriotic groups were informed of the concert by “distressed” members of the public phoning up contact numbers, distressed members of the public who were in fact Blood and Honour members from Chingford assigned with the task. Others on the phone list included the Good Samaritans, Salvation Army and numerous left-wing councils in London, who were told of fears that the concert was in their area.
To further maximize publicity and confrontation Waterloo railway station in Central London, one of the busiest stations in Europe, was chosen as the redirection point and put in bold letters on the concert posters, in reality most concert goers would be directed to the gig through a series of local regional organizers and pre-arranged phone calls that would direct the firms to the real venue. It was also planned to send some football firms and security to Waterloo, to direct any freelance concert goers, foreign comrades and those just interested in the concert and to deal with the expected counter demonstration. It had long been a communist tactic in Britain to disrupt patriotic events in our nation by turning up early and occupying the redirection point en mass, this was a tactic Blood and Honour were not only aware off but one they were banking on.
A few days before the event the national press picked up on the story. “Secret Nazi Pop Show Set to Fan Race Hate” proclaimed the Daily Star. Ian Stuart appeared on London LBC radio where he was interviewed by Richard Little-John. Ian with his world famous tongue in cheek humour played down the trouble aspect stating he only wanted to play his music to his supporters and wished that he could be left alone to get on with it. Little-John responded by wishing him well.
The night before the concert on national television the BBC2 “youth current affairs” programme Reportage ran a long piece on Blood and Honour and the planned concert using the piece to heavily advertise the planned Communist counter demonstration its meeting point and times.
In another incident on the Friday night while Ian Stuart was sitting in a pub in Nottingham when a negro gang walked in and one then proceeded to glass him in the side of the face, inflicting a wound that needed internal stitches and knocked out three teeth and said “Right, the gig’s off you Nazi bastard”.While this left wing mob might have previously had some luck in intimidating our old and frail with violence and intimidation it only spurred Ian to go on and give what many say was his best ever performance.
On the day of the concert the organizers secured the venue, the Yorkshire Grey in Eltham South East London and the British Movement Leader Guard who had been given the job of securing the venue and local area went into action. A Blood and Honour security unit left to face the fire at Waterloo, well aware the media were all ready reporting that a large Communist mob was violently attacking the first skinhead arrivals and a mini riot was in progress. Whether pre-planned or by a stroke of luck the police immediately arrested the B&H Chief of Security Kirk Barker and his unit on their arrival at Waterloo, later charging them with violent disorder charges. Their arrest initially threw everything into chaos.
The Communist counter demonstrators had had everything their own way all morning, numbering up to a thousand the police had let them roam the surrounding area of the station picking off small groups of skinheads at will and as the Reds boasted afterwards the police stood by as they threw hundreds of bottles and bricks at the outnumbered skinheads and when they could attack them did so “with anything we could lay our hands on”. By early afternoon the reds had successfully charged the beleaguered skinheads twice forcing them back in a rear guard defensive action that meant if you didn’t stay within the group you were in serious trouble. But as time passed all the skinheads in the area had slowly become one group and despite many injuries they had managed to keep the massive Red mob at bay. At this point the two hundred police officers on duty that day had been quite content to sit back and watch the disorganized skinheads, most of whom were unfamiliar with the station and its surroundings with many from abroad take a beating while leaving the reds alone, but this was all about to change.
At 3.15 the Reading to Waterloo train came into platform fifteen and on it were two large hooligan firms; West London Blood and Honour comprising skinheads from all over the west side of London and the Chelsea Head Hunters, the arrival of these two groups inside the station and as luck would have it into the very heart of the Communist mob and coincidentally the arrival on Waterloo bridge of the combined force of West Ham, Millwall and Portsmouth football casuals shortly followed by an advance party of the BM Leader Guard was to put to an end to any chance the Communists thought they had of physically “beating the fash” that day, far from it. Order was restored in the ranks. One police officer on duty described the days proceedings as “the demonstrators had it all their own way in the morning but once the skinheads really started arriving, the tables turned and we had to take preventative measures”.
The firms who arrived in the station itself started picking the demonstrators off immediately, suddenly the reds were no longer dealing with small groups of stragglers on unfamiliar territory but with two firms of seasoned street fighters on their own turf, television footage shows A.F. and a group of Headhunters offering far bigger numbers of reds out and when they declined, literally chasing them out off the station concourse. At the same time the reinforced group on Waterloo Bridge, now organised and as one charged the Communist mob for the first time of the day, chanting “skinhead, skinhead” and “Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil” as they ran, the reds caught off guard or just in total panic fled, the few that stood their ground were soon surrounded and shown no mercy, that now famous charge accounting for most of the people hospitalised that day, outnumbered, outgunned but victorious! While the police had taken no action after the two red charges once the skinheads attacked and started taking ground they mobilized and moved in to keep the two sides apart, the skinheads and football casuals who had now taken control of the inside of Waterloo station were escorted out and herded into the main force of patriots now numbering about five hundred. All the trains running to and from Waterloo were canceled. Waterloo Bridge was brought to a stand still during the running battles.
A Policeman on the scene told the Press “It was like Custars last stand”. In the battles aftermath, two policemen were hospitalized, thirty three arrests were made for public order offences and offensive weapons, of which most were from the demonstrators, forty four people were hospitalised twelve of which were reported as suffering from stab wounds all of whom were demonstrators and two cars were badly damaged.
With the red mob now more than content to lick their wounds behind police lines and spend their time chanting most of the skinhead firm began making their way to Eltham, a none to easy task as the police had cancelled all trains from Waterloo to the gig, but in actions that are now legendary in patriotic circles many stayed in the Waterloo area and had “fun” all evening picking off the Communists as they left to go home. In Eltham the Yorkshire Grey with its massive hall more use to international boxing matches was heaving with patriots while search parties travelled in mini buses deep into the night running stranded groups of comrades from various locations around London to the venue. In the aftermath the police estimated over two thousand skinheads had arrived in London for the concert but due to “fire regulations” which they strictly enforced only eight hundred supporters were allowed in the venue at any one time, many being stranded around town.
While two hundred police officers were sent to police the red demonstration and re direction point during the day over five hundred in full riot gear were sent to police the venue and the surrounding area. After the days events at Waterloo it was obvious if the one thousand plus strong red demonstrators couldn’t crush a mob of skinheads numbering no more than five hundred at their biggest point, there was absolutely no way they’d venture any where within the radius of the concert. At first the police wanted to try and stop the concert, maybe because of orders from above or at wounded pride from their inability to contain the skinheads from so successfully attacking the red demonstrators during the day.
With news the police had ordered the bar to close, the security boarded up all the windows and doorways to the venue and a firm of two hundred or so went outside to face the massed ranks of riot police armed with CS gas, a stand off ensued and a very tense time only ended when the police relented and allowed the bar to reopen and concert to go ahead, the only stipulation being only eight hundred patriots would be allowed in the venue at any one time. The atmosphere was electric in the venue. Three bands were to play that evening Skrewdriver, No Remorse and Dirlewanger from Sweden who had managed to bypass all the security at the British airports and red demonstrators to attend. With five hundred riot police baying to shut the concert down outside, it was decided Skrewdriver would play first and if the police tried to stop proceedings during their set, well it just wouldn’t happen. Taking the stage Ian was in no mood for compromise and immediately opened his set with Back with a Bang a song about the re-emergence of the skinhead scene in London, straight after this opening song Ian began the first of his speeches that are now held in global skinhead folk lore.
“Right, last night we were in a pub in Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, a gang of niggers walked in. The first one glassed me straight in the fucking mouth, three teeth less and a few stitches in the mouth and said:
“Right the gig’s off you Nazi bastard”. Is the gig off? – Is it Fuck! And now we’ve got the fucking police outside telling us the gig's off. Who’s orders are those bastards taking? We're British and European people here to listen to a fucking concert, while them wankers outside are telling us we cant have one. When down the fucking road Public Enemy are saying kill Whitey – they’re allowed to fucking play. You’ve got the Pogues down the other side of the road saying bomb the British people, up the IRA – they’re allowed to fucking play. So why are the fucking pigs telling us we’re cant have a gig in our own country? Fuck’em – this ones called Tomorrow belongs to me!”.
Ian was said to have sung that night like it was the last thing he was going to do. The entire audience held onto to his every word and between each song Ian gave a running commentary of defiance and pride.
The event was featured on television and newspaper reports from Greece and from Australia to Germany. The British press had the pre-planned field day. The “Battle of Waterloo” was the title of almost every article. Initially the leading reds feebly tried to claim Waterloo as a victory but the facts slowly filtered through with police, other reds and independent eye witnesses all telling another story. Within days no TV programme or newspaper was complete without a rent a mob red complaining about the lack of police protection or savagery of the skinheads. “Something must be done to stop them” was said during a Parliamentary debate on the growing skinhead phenomenon and battle of Waterloo. “This has got to stop before it gets out of hand” said Mick Stone of Anti Fascist Action in the Echo, B&H’s main red opponents on the day. “The fact that they have advertised the concert is a show of the Neo-Nazis increasing confidence”. Jon Heddon, also of the so called pro violent by any means necessary AFA also told the same paper that “there was two hours of chaos. The police presence was badly planned and there was a lot of confusion.”
An Anti Nazi League spokesman claimed “It was a scene of total carnage with National Socialists openly carrying knives and stabbing any demonstrator they could get there hands on, people were literally running for their lives, while the police stood by.”
Despite all the odds Blood and Honour successfully advertised and held the biggest ever skinhead concert the capital had ever seen. The event threw up a massive national debate on how to contain the growing skinhead threat on the streets, but more importantly for 28 the whole concept of racist music came into question and the public eye. Tony Parsons, a long time music critic wrote “Oi! as played by Skrewdriver and their kind is punk without the theatrical overtones, punk without O levels, punk that has never been to art school. This is the genuine voice of council estates. Real working class music. Unlike every musician since Elvis, Oi! bands don’t play with the mythology of danger. They were and are the real thing. It isn’t pretty.”
The End of Skrewdriver
On 10 July 1993, Stuart and Skrewdriver played their final concert in Waiblingen, Germany for the Kreuzritter für Deutschland. On the morning of Thursday, 23rd of September 1993, Benny, a friend of Ian received a phone call. It was Ian asking if he'd be able to see him that day. Benny explained that he'd better not come round as the police had phoned and were on their way to discuss the confiscated beer from the Euro Aryan Fest. He asked about the evening and said he intended to go to a Bikers pub near to him called The Durham Fox. Benny said he couldn't, but he'd promise to see him the following day. In the evening, Ian met up with Cat, Dickie, a Skinhead called Boo, and a ginger haired fellow by the name of Rob. The five of them took Ian's car to Burton where they'd meet up with a couple of local Skins and have a drink at the Royal Oak in the Market Square.
There was nothing particularly different about this evening, to his friends Ian was not only their inspirational leader, he was also good fun to be around and enjoyed a good laugh. The lads decided to a call it a day just before eleven, there was a gig planned for the following Saturday and still a fair bit to organise. Rob hadn't been drinking so he took the command of the car and the five sped off back along the A38 to Heanor.
They had just overtaken a car, on a stretch of road near the Toyota factory in Burnaston, and were moving back into the nearside lane at about fifty five miles an hour, when suddenly something happened. The steering wheel lost control and suddenly the car was heading for the central reservation. Ian grabbed the wheel saying to Rob "Don't try and kill me, I've got a gig on Saturday."
There didn't seem to be any real danger and the comment was said as more of a joke, than out of fear. The next thing they knew the car had swung back across the road onto the grass verge spinning over and finally smashing into a ditch. It happened so quick. Cat, still dazed from the crash, said "What's happened here?" the seriousness of the incident was not ringing through. Gathering his wits about him, he looked over at his brother Dickie and said to Rob (the driver), who'd just come round, "He's in trouble."
He then glanced around at the others. Immediately he said "Boo's dead." They both looked at Ian and the full extent of what had happened began to dawn on them. "Fuckin' hell" Cat blurted. Positioned in the middle of the back seat, with Dickie on the right and Boo to his left, Cat had endured the accident more successfully than his friend. The impact had penetrated the left side of the VW Polo where both Ian and Boo were sitting.
The emergency services arrived and the lads were taken straight to hospital. Boo was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. Ian was rushed to Queens medical Centre in Nottingham, with severe head injuries. There he failed to regain consciousness and died at twenty minute to eleven on the Friday morning 24th September 1993.
Ian Stuart Donaldson - vocals, Guitar
Phil Walmsley - Guitar
Ron Hartley - Guitar
Kev McKay - Bass
John "Grinny" Grinton - drums
Various others have appeared on Skrewdriver albums:
Mark Radcliffe (prior to Skrewdrivers switch to RAC)
You're So Dumb - 1977
Anti-Social - 1977
Built Up, Knocked Down - 1979
Back With A Bang - 1982
White Power - 1983
Voice Of Britain - 1983
This Is White Noise (1 Track) - 1984
Invasion - 1985
The Showdown - 1989
Johnny Joined The Klan - 1988
All Skrewed Up - 1977
Hail The New Dawn - 1985
Blood and Honour - 1986
White Rider - 1987
Boots and Braces - 1987
Voice Of Britian - 1987
We've Got The Power (Live) - 1988
After The Fire - 1988
Warlord - 1989
The Strong Survive - 1990
The Early Years (Vol. 1&2) - 1990
Live And Kicking (Live) - 1991
Freedom, What Freedom? - 1992
Hail Victory - 1994 (postum)
Ian Stuart Solo
No Turning Back - 1988
Slay The Beast - 1990
Patriot - 1991
Patriotic Ballads with Stigger - 1991
Justice For The Cottbus Six - 1992
Our Time Will Come - 1993
Fetch The Rope - 1988
Rebel With A Cause - 1989
Rock'N'Roll Patriots - 1991
The Reaper - 1991
The Power and The Glory - 1993