The Rise And Rise Of Jameson Raid by John Tucker
It was in 2009 that this story begins. Up until then, Jameson Raid had been pretty much consigned to the history books where they sat next to the event from which Messrs Ace, Dark, Kimberley and Smith had taken their name; the one a conflict in the Transvaal which kicked off at the end of 1895, the other a cult band from the Midlands who’d racked up just two EPs and a track on the NWOBHM compilation album, Metal for Muthas 2, before drifting into obscurity. But this is a story with a happy ending, and most stories with a happy ending need some magic; in this case the magic came in the shape of the title track of the band’s first release, the ‘Seven Days Of Splendour’ EP. The single has become a cult classic – everyone knew of it even if they didn’t actually own it – and is highly revered amongst NWOBHM fans.
Jameson Raid’s Terry Dark takes up the tale. “In 2009 we discovered that the band was still alive in people’s memories and two dedicated websites appeared without any involvement from us. At almost the same time Roxxcalibur contacted us and asked if they could cover ‘Seven Days Of Splendour’ on their upcoming album which features some of the best songs from the era. Shadow Kingdom Records then contacted us with the idea of making the ‘Just As The Dust Had Settled’ album. High Roller Records also released the album in vinyl form and suddenly we were getting offers of doing real gigs. O2Academy, Hard Rock Hell & even Download.
But we’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves here. Jameson Raid’s roots go back to 1973 when bassist John Ace and guitarist Ian Smith played together in Spectaté II at school in Sutton Coldfield. Their first gig took place on 26th August 1975 under the generally disliked name Notre Dame. “We only used the name once, at that gig in Sutton Coldfield,” Ian confirms. “Boz (Roadie Nick Freeman) “ came up with the name Jameson Raid which he’d heard in History classes in school, we liked it and that was that.” Former Hoi Polloi singer Terry Dark joined in December 1976 and Stewart the Guitarist left a few days later, Jameson Raid’s most well-known and well-respected line-up was complete.
“The thing about the NWOBHM,” suggests Phil, “is that back then a significant part of the magic of the music for all of us, band and fans alike, was the fact that we were all young and were utterly certain that we could do anything, and achieve whatever we wanted. Rock music expressed the power and pace of all that youthful confidence. “
Like so many NWOBHM bands, as mentioned above Jameson Raid left little tangible evidence of their existence first time around – just 1979’s ‘Seven Days Of Splendour’ EP (c/w ‘It’s A Crime’ and ‘Catcher In The Rye’) and another EP ‘End Of Part One’ (also known as ‘The Hypnotist’) which featured ‘The Hypnotist’, ‘The Raid’, ‘Gettin’ Hotter’ and ‘Straight From The Butchers’) released the following year. And then there was the album track: ‘Hard Lines’ submitted to EMI for inclusion on their NWOBHM sampler ‘Metal For Muthas Volume II – Cut Loud.
Tired of the struggle against a tide of apathy, Ian and John played their final gig with the band in Birmingham in July 1980; had they hung on, the rise of the NWOBHM would almost certainly have meant easier-to-find gigs and more acclamation. But enough was enough. Terry and Phil carried on, bringing in guitarist Mike Darby and bassist Peter Green. In 1981 the guitarist was replaced by James Barrett, who in turn gave way to Steve Makin in 1982. The four-track ‘Electric Sun’ demo cassette (‘Electric Sun’, ‘Run For Cover’, ‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ and ‘Gettin’ Hotter’) was made available, but later that year both vocalist and drummer left so the band was effectively over.
The first (reunion) gig at the Robin 2 in Bilston took place on Sunday 18th July 2010, with the O2Academy gig the following Friday. It had been thirty years since Terry, Ian, John and Phil had shared the same stage together. “The last time was at Bogart’s in the summer of 1980,” confirms Ian. “The atmosphere was superb as usual for a JR gig in Birmingham and everyone had a great time. The crowd knew it was our last gig though. One guy rather bizarrely said afterwards ‘you can’t split up; what am I going to tell my kids?’ We used to break entrance recordsat Bogarts when we played there and before any band could beat us they closed the place!”
The end of the month saw Jameson Raid in Germany for the Headbangers Open Air festival. “We hired a house via the internet about an hour away and were dumbstruck when we arrived to see in old-fashioned ironwork above the door ‘1895’,” says Terry. “This apparently was the year the house was built, but was also of course the year of the Jameson Raid in South Africa. A truly mind-numbing coincidence! We had no idea what to expect from Headbangers Open Air –but I was just amazed by the reaction.
‘Seven Days Of Splendour’ has been chosen by Rock Hard magazine as one of the best metal songs of all time,” says Terry. “So now, as the writer, I am extremely proud of this unexpected development, and the whole band is very honoured.” The irony is that ‘Seven Days Of Splendour’ came close to not being the band’s first release at all as, according to Ian, “there were many older songs that in a way deserved to be issued first.”
The band issued a teaser 3 track CD called 9 Reasons in 2014 & in 2015 “Uninvited Guests” a completely new studio album with 11 new tracks which has been extremely well received everywhere. (See reviews elsewhere on this site.)
The final words go to Terry: “…… still awed by the respect given to Jameson Raid and can only assume that it’s the power of the songs and their presentation that has created this effect.Many thanks to all our fans.”
Also: Many thanks to John Tucker who wrote most of this history: www.johntuckeronline.com
John Tucker is the author of ‘Suzie Smiled… The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ and co-author of Biff Byford’s autobiography ‘Never Surrender (Or Nearly Good Looking)’ and Brian Tatler’s autobiography ‘Am I Evil?’ plus ‘Neat & Tidy’ & ‘Whitesnake. The definitive biography.’