site last updated on: 16.12.06
Back in 1975 a gang of school pals from East Belfast fed up with the state of the music that was being played on the radio and on TV(3 channels and no MTV or VH1 in those days kids) decided to form their own band. They were all fans of the 'glam rock' bands which had ruled the pop charts for the previous four years, but it was losing its glitter and becoming increasingly bland. The members of the band were Brian Young, Ronnie Mathews, Graham Marshall, Leigh Carson and Drew Brown. They had a name for their band: RUDI.
The name came from a single by a cult early 70s group called the JOOK , they had released a single in 73 called ' Oo Oo Rudi ' wich was a favorite among the members of the fledgling band.
The band began to get a set of songs together, glam classics from their record collections with a few sixties nuggetts. Drew and Leigh soon departed and a mate called Johnny Stewart was brought in on bass. During 76 punk was rearing its spikey head, liking what they were hearing and becoming interested the band had a change of direction a new high energy sound and a new image was adopted by the band.
Unable to get regular gigs the band would book hotels for private partie parties, hotels such as Glenmachenand the Girton Lodge became punk venues for a night to the shock of the management and staff. By 77 their set was an energic mix of glam/punk/sixties covers spiced up with a few originals. In October 77 the CLASH were due to play the Ulster Hall Belfast, it was the first major gathering of N.I. punks(this was the night I found out there was a lot more people than me and my mates into this music in Belfast), at the last minute the gig was cancelled do to the insurance being withdrawn, the punks reacted by trying to block Bedford Street and a confrontration broke out between the police (RUC) and the punks, this became the inspiration for RUDI's most popular and notorious song "Cops" with the chant SSRUC and the chorous 'we hate the cops'. The song was not a political statement but the bands reaction to the situation outside the venue.
Shortly after Johnny Stewart left the band and Gordon Blair joined on bass. In January 78 they played a gig with another Belfast band, the Outcasts , at the Pound in the audience was Terry Hooley a man who would go on to form the ' Good Vibrations ' label named after his record shop. Fanzines were springing up everywhere and RUDI were regular features, and on a number of issues the cover stars.
Later in January a support slot to the Buzzcocks turned into a headline spot when the Buzzcocks got stranded on the other side of the Irish sea when their van broke down(Feb.2.78) and another support slot this time along with Stiff Little Fingers, they are on second and before the Adverts(this was my first encounter with RUDI live and what a show!) the band put in a fantastic performance, glammed up in bondage boiler suits and wearing make up they tore through a set now consisting of a large number of originals and finishing with "Cops", they destroyed the Adverts, they were seriously dull in comparaison.
The first RUDI appeared soon after in april it was the punk classic "Big time/N°1" and I challenge you to name a better debut 45 believe me they are very few, the song was originally going to be given away as a free flexi with a fanzine but the band discovered they could do a proper vinyl single for the same costs, so with help from Terry Hooley the 'Good Vibrations' label was born and "Big time" was its first release. A new venue was to open its doors during 78, the world famous "Harp Bar" soon became the punk mecca in Belfast.
RUDI decided to try their luck in London, they were doing good, they were playing well, getting excellent reviews and getting their name know but it turned sour after broken promises by Malcom Mc Laren(Sex Pistols) and Bernie Rhodes(Clash) and the SPG breathing down their necks, they came home to Belfast. In their absence another single was put out, " Overcome by fumes ", it is part of a double single( "Battle of the bands" ) e.p. which featured 3 other bands: Outcats , Idiots and Spider . At Christmas 78 they played a couple of great gigs with their new buddys the Raped , the band were none the worse for their London experiences and after attending the gigs i thought they were tighter than ever.
1979 and the band are being filmed for a segment in the forthcoming N.I. punk movie " Shell Shock Rock " being made by John T Davis, they also played the Dark Space Festival in Dublin with another up and coming group called U2 .(i wonder where they are now). The " I spy" ep was released with its classic intro of the 'James Bond' theme onthe title crack it was another instant hit with fans and critics alike. Theymade another journey to england and did some gigs and recorded demos and sessions for BBC Radio 1, but prior to going to England Gordy was sacked and the reverted to a three peice with Ronnie switching to bass. Gordy later turned up playing bass for the Outcats and the " Shell Rock Rock " moviewas finally on the screen. After returning back to Belfast the band appeared with the Undertones in an edition of the BBC 2 youth programme 'Something Else' , the show was broadcast in early 1980, they recorded a blistering two song set " Who you / The pressure's on ".
During 1980 the band split from " Good Vibes " accrimoniously after they failed to release the " Who you/Pressure's on ", single to capitalise on the TV exposure the songs had received, no reason was ever given and the single was only bootleg recently. In 1981 RUDI signed a recording contract with a new label called " Jamming ", the label was funded by Paul Weller (The Jam), during their time on " Jamming " they put out two singles, the first was " When I was dead " ep, it came with a limited edition insert. The second was " Crimson " and they also added a keyboard Paul Martin of Pretty Boy Floyd and The Gems . Each single had sold better than the last and they had supported the Jam on a few dates of their " Transglobal unity express tour " everything was going well when bad luck struck yet again, the Jam were splitting up which meant the "Jamming" label would be wound up. In Brian Young's own words " this was one kick in the teeth to many" and RUDI called it a day.
Ronnie, Graham and Brian re-emerged as Station Superheaven a punk/raw 60s soul mix with wild noisy guitar like the MC5 and they were neraly signed by Tamla Motown but that's a story for another day.
Brian continues to this day as frontman with Belfast rockabilly kings the Sabrejets. Ronnie and Graham both quit the music biz and Gordon was last heard of in a cult Australian band called 'Dave Grainy & the Coral snakes', as for the rest of the boys I don't know anything. RUDI were head and shoulders above all the other N.I. bands they had a fantastic of original songs and were a cracking live unit, but they just didn't have the luck to take them to the next level and certain stardom. I saw the band live a lot of imes, and they were and still are one of my all time favorite groups, they influenced a lot of people to join/start their own bands in Belfast and beyond including me(the Producers)....someday Brians going to write the defintive version of all this in a book, warts and all, the sleaze and the scandal, all the secrets and deceptions and I can't wait so be prepared.