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In The Beginning...
Mar 1986 to Sept 1988
Oct 1988 to Dec 1989
Jan 1990 to Apr 1991
May 1991 to Jan 1992
Feb 1992 to Aug 1993
Sept. 1993 to Feb 1994
Mar 1994 to Nov 1994
Dec 1994 to Dec 1999
Jan 2000 to Dec 2000
Jan 2001 to Dec 2003
Jan 2004 to Dec 2004
Jan 2005 to Dec 2005
Jan 2006 to Apr 2006
May 2006 to Oct 2006
Nov 2006 to
Sept 2008
Oct 2008 to Sept 2009
Oct 2009 to Dec 2010
Jan 2011 to Dec 2011
Jan 2012 to Feb 2015

In Memoriam
Rob Jones
Martin Gilks

Around the beginning of February, the group left the UK for a tour of America supporting Siouxsie And The Banshees. The group say that they really enjoyed the tour for the effect it had on them to dispense with the trivialities of setting up for a gig and simply get up on stage and play. The pressure of being a headline act was off them, and consequently, their sets were often shortened to just 40 minutes.

To coincide with the tour Polygram released 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats' as a single in America - for which a rare appearance as musical guests on the popular David Letterman late-night chat show programme was secured. With the other members not wishing to appear due to an excessive intake of alcohol the night before, Miles performed the track with the in-house group. Feeling that the track, at around 2½ minutes, was too short the backing band fleshed it out a bit with additional instrumental breaks and vocal assistance. Despite being regarded as an excellent rendition of the track, footage of the performance has never been seen in the UK and a soundclip did not emerge on the Internet until 2005. Martin Gilks, upon hearing he could have earned an appearance fee of £150 by being on the show that day, was reported to have expressed more than a little regret.


Whilst on the tour, the band also played their own headlining dates during gaps in the Banshees' touring schedule. Due to many of their fans being unable to see them as a result of the prohibitive 21+ licensing restrictions in many of the venues that Siouxsie played, the band arranged a series of gigs held at record store car parks, including one at Tower Records in California.


The Ritz show is two-thirds of the way through The Wonder Stuff's support tour with Siouxsie And The Banshees and, although the cabalistic hordes of wannabe witches may not be the perfect Stuffy audience, Miles and Co.'s Goth-grabbing tactics appear to be working well. No Sisters Of Mercy cover versions for these boys, no sir. The Stuff get 40 minutes to poach punters, and they go for the hard, fast and right-between-the eyes approach.

'Red Berry Joy Town' and 'A Wish Away' have already flashed past at full throttle before Miles finds a moment to politely inquire "How the fuck are you?" By the time 'Circlesquare' and 'Cartoon Boyfriend' have beamed past, the wedge of generic rock lads down the front are well into their human volleyball 'bodyswimming' act.

Maybe it's not having the pressure of carrying the whole evening, but the Stuff seem especially focused and relaxed. Gilks, dapper in pale blue knee-length shorts, nonchalantly flicks around the drum kit. Clifford, dapper in black shorts, bounces with the bass lines. Treece and Bell, dapper in long trousers, trade banjo lines and gnarly riffs. Hunt, also dapper, in a black windcheater-esque jacket, suggestive of a man who's just got off his bicycle and popped in out of the rain, hits all the right notes, and keeps the verbals down to the odd jolly jibe.

"I've got one piece of advice for you tonight," he tells a hushed hall in presidential tones. "Just stop buying records by The Farm. They don't get any better. They just stay consistently shit."

Oddly, there is not a single dissenting voice raised. With the entire venue united by a shared Farmophobia, the Stuffies power on through the crème-de-la-crème of their back catalogue, harvesting eyeliner victims by the song. 'Golden Green', 'Size Of A Cow' and 'Don't Let Me Down, Gently' are delivered with enough ebullience to thaw out the iciest of Ice Queens. 'Donation', with Hunt yawping "motherfuckers" through a megaphone and jigging like a boxer, is fiery enough to squeeze juice out of Ice-T.

As they turn their collective heel on the spotlights, the Siouxsie-ettes in the balcony are starting to fiddle with their 'Stiff Stuff' clogged hair, and wondering whether a nice clean 'bob cut' like Miles' might not be a good idea. The Anti Nowhere League's 'I Fuck Sheep' is still the best-selling 'button' on The Ritz's badge stall, but there's a new one saying 'Miles Lives!' which is starting to do good business.

Roger Morton, New Musical Express


Back in the UK, 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats - "The Motion Picture" video' was released. Filmed as a documentary about the group (spanning the period between June 1990 to November 1991), it featured the videos for the singles released from 'Never Loved Elvis' plus live tracks, behind-the-scenes banter, interviews, and some previously (officially) unreleased material such as 'Room 512', 'Sing The Absurd', The Jam's 'That's Entertainment' and an extract of Steppenwolf's 'The Pusher'.

With the success of their third album and the popularity gained from a string of successful singles and concert dates, the video went straight into the Number 1 position in the UK video charts. Initial plans were for the video to feature more live performances and interviews, but these were cut out prior to final mastering of the movie and opportunities to see tracks such as those recorded at the Minsthorpe High School gig were lost. Although artwork proofs for the longer version of the video exist, it is doubtful whether any copies of the actual video itself were produced.

If the group had got their way, this chart-topping video would also have been joined by a budget-priced album of tracks taken from the documentary including live, rare and re-recorded material. Unfortunately, Polydor weren't so keen on the idea, preferring to keep the work back for use on future album or single releases and choosing instead to simply use the 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats' single as promotion for the video and 'Never Loved Elvis' album.


It was whilst on their tour of the States, watching the success of their new long-playing video from afar, that Miles awoke in his bunk whilst in Newhaven after one booze-fuelled night to find himself - or rather his underpants - covered in blood. "There was a ludicrous feeling of pride," he recalls. "I thought, I'm a real boozer now! What must've been a pint of blood was all over them. I thought, Jesus, boy, this is too much plonk - your arse can't cope with it and has exploded."  The incident led to Miles penning a new track entitled 'A Great Drinker', also aimed as a tribute to the American cult poet & author, Charles Bukowski. Miles' love affair with the writings of Bukowski - whose most famous work was the 1987 film Barfly which starred Mickey Rourke as Bukowski's alter-ego, Henry Chianski - had developed after NME writer, and Wonder Stuff fan, James Brown had given Hunt one of his (Bukowski's) novels. The work of Bukowski led to Miles discovering John Fante and both of these authors would eventually turn out to be the inspiration behind another song, 'Hank and John' during which Miles namechecks titles of some Chinaski/Bukowski books - [Dreams From] Bunker Hill, Dago Red, Bring Me Your Love, Ham On Rye and Barfly.

Prior to their Atlanta gig, Tommy Roe turned up wanting to join in when the group sang his song, 'Dizzy'. Miles: "We had to, like, decline, 'cos it's hard enough to get across what we do in 40 minutes without confusing everybody totally with Tommy Roe." On initially meeting the Stuffies however, Roe was heard to enquire "where's this Vic Reeves fella?" Hearing that Vic was actually a comedian, Roe seemed to take great offence - "so he thinks my song's funny?".


Following their return from America in March, the group made their first UK appearance of the year. Leicester University was the venue for a tribute gig for an ex-roadie, Spike, who had earlier died in a car crash in Germany. The gig was billed as featuring the Milltown Brothers, Crazyhead, The Wonder Stuff and A Very Special Guest - the results of which can be heard on the bootleg album 'The Very Special Guest'. The 'very special guest' referred to was Loz Hardy of Kingmaker who filled in for Malc who had been taken ill with the flu. Called up only a few days days before the gig in front of a thousand people, aside from a brief soundcheck this was the first time Loz had played with the group and the other members of Kingmaker all stood in the front row of the crowd hurling abuse! It was during the soundcheck for the gig that the group premiered a new track for those able to attend, an acoustic number called 'Cabin Fever'.


The Summer of 1992 found the group playing at various festivals in Europe, and the band confirmed a headline appearance at The Reading Festival. Being a headlining act at the Reading Festival should have been one of the high points in the band's career, but was not the case. Malc remembers how the gig felt to him, "We got away with it, but that's not what you go to do. Going on so late with no soundcheck, the pressure of headlining, and having to entertain the crowd for an hour and a half, it's very difficult. At some stages you could tell the crowd were losing the sound." However, Miles recollection of the event was that "it was a thrill to do - I thought the audience were absolutely fantastic. I was happy with the gig, but maybe that was because I was drunk." Indeed, in Miles' own words at a later date, 'A Wish Away' "was shit" and he apologised for "one of the most incredibly poor performances in rock". They did, however, give a taste of things to come when they publicly aired new track 'Cabin Fever' at the festival, though this version saw more of a full group contribution compared to the version soundchecked at the Leicester gig.

To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the festival the group also donated a track to 'Reading: The Indie Album', a compilation album featuring tracks by artists who had appeared at the festival. As the group didn't feel happy to follow the lead of other artists on the album and use a previously released track, they recorded a new track - 'Room 512'. An acoustic version of the tracks, played and sung by Miles, was originally featured in the 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats' video although Martin Gilks appears onscreen playing the guitar having been taught the chords to the track only a few hours previously.

Shortly after the Reading Festival, and to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Spastics Society, the NME (in conjunction with the charity) released an album featuring modern-day artists covering a selection of number one singles from the past 40 years. The Stuffies elected to cover 'Cuz I Luv You', a track which originally reached number one on October 30th 1971 when recorded by fellow Midlanders, Slade. However, when they began to rehearse the track Miles found he had difficulty getting the lyrics right so he contacted Slade's Dave Hill who faxed over the correct lyrics to Miles in the studio. "It was done the same way we do any cover version," Miles explained, "We play the seven-inch on the multi-track in the studio and then copy it. When we did 'That's Entertainment' we even copied the mistakes on the drums."  The Slade cover also features on a sampler for the album, 'Ruby Trax Gems'.


The Stuffies in the new Far Out Recording Studios, London '92With the festivals over and work on the new studio finally finished (once an air-conditioning unit had been installed after they found out that it became a sauna in hot weather!) the group spent time demoing new material for their fourth album. Sessions were interrupted only briefly by an appearance, at London's Town & Country Club show on October 10th for XFM Radio. The station, partly owned by The Cure's Robert Smith, were attempting to provide a specialist radio station for the capital and, initially, secured a four week trail broadcast to gauge audience responses and ratings verdicts to see whether the station would be viable. The group performed a short thirty-five minute set on the final night of the station's four week broadcast. Admission (by T-shirt only) cost £7 and the band were supported by, amongst others, The Frank & Walters. The set opened with 'Radio Ass Kiss', premiered three new songs plus 'Cabin Fever' and, as part of the encore, Miles co-hosted a celebrity raffle with comedian Sean Hughes before the band closed the show with 'Don't Let Me Down, Gently'.


Having finished work on their last album in 1991, of which almost half of the tracks had been written around 18 months previous when Rob Jones was still part of the group, the group had a massive collection of subjects and ideas that could be put to music - not forgetting the tracks that had been planned for the abandoned 'Welcome To The Cheap Seats' soundtrack album. As a result, the group came up with over 30 tracks that they considered to be worthy of recording sparking rumours that the next album would be released as a double album? "It's a terribly sort of dinosaurish thing to do really," rued Miles in an interview in Guitarist magazine. "I think music like ours has a short attention span, so to ask anybody for more than 40 minutes of their time is a bit much. We're old fashioned in that way; a single should be like two and a half / three minutes and an album should have 12 tracks. That's the rules, and we stick to them."

After trying out all of their ideas, the group moved to the Greenhouse Studios in London to begin recording tracks for the new album with Pat Collier, producer of 'The Eight Legged Groove Machine' and 'Hup', back at the production controls. Partway through the proceedings, Miles briefly took time out to appear on BBC Radio Five's Fantastic Voyage - a radio version of the cult 1970's film in which a crew in a submarine were miniaturised and injected into a human body to travel around and find out more about it. During the broadcast, Miles performed a solo rendition of 'Sing The Absurd'.


In April 1993, Miles gave an interview on BBC Radio 1FM's Evening Session programme in which he hinted that the group were planning on making keyboard player Pete Whittaker a full-time member as he was now becoming an important part of the group both in the studio and on stage. He also bought along a tape to the interview for broadcast on-air which contained an exclusive track that final mixing had only recently been finished, 'I Wish Them All Dead' - an attack at the Man Boy Love Association, a paedophile ring in the US.

By the end of May, the recording sessions were finished with just a few final mixes remaining. To try out the new material, the group played some European venues where they appeared alongside Hothouse Flowers & Leonard Cohen at the Rock In Vienna Festival, Anthrax, Rage Against The Machine & Suicidal Tendencies at the Berlin Rock Festival and Status Quo at their Le Zenith gig in Paris. They then returned to the studio in mid-June for more mixing work. At first they brought in Matt Wallace, who had previously worked with Faith No More, but things didn't work out as hoped and the group eventually opted for Mark Stent.

Within a couple of months, the album was completed with just the final tracklisting and running order to be decided upon. This was eventually determined as a result of the group, their management, Polydor representatives and close friends writing down what their ideal track listings from a list (and tape) of all the tracks recorded and then choosing the most popular tracks from the responses. Keen not to waste those that didn't make it onto the album, it was decided that any singles released from the album would come out as four track cross-format EP's with the single title track included alongside three (or more in some cases) of the tracks.


The group began preparing for a September release for the album, with a single to come out shortly beforehand when, on July 30th, it was announced that Rob Jones had been found dead in his New York apartment at the age of 29. Despite the ill-feeling and animosity that had developed between the group members, this was a double tragedy for Miles as there had already been a death in his family only days before.

Though they hadn't seen or heard much of The Bass Thing since his departure at the end of 1989, they hadn't forgotten him completely and there was always something that would spring up from out of nowhere and remind them of him. A book called 'Rock Talk' by Jim Driver collected together stories from various groups about tour experiences and Miles contributed a chapter taken from one of his US tour diaries in which he had included the line "it was Bob's birthday yesterday, but I never said anything to anyone 'cause I didn't know how they felt about it."


A Midland pop star has died suddenly in America. Rob Jones, a founder member of rock group The Wonder Stuff, is believed to have suffered a heart attack. He was just 29. Jones is not thought to have been suffering any illness and was attempting to get over the break up of his marriage to American wife Jessica.
The bass guitarist, from Kingswinford, near Dudley, had moved to New York in 1990 after quitting the group. Jones formed The Wonder Stuff in Stourbridge in March 1986 with singer Miles Hunt, guitarist Malc Treece and drummer Martin Gilks. He played on two albums and four Top 40 hits, including 'Who Wants To Be The Disco King?' and 'Don't Let Me Down, Gently'. Jones, better known as 'The Bass Thing', provided the backbone of The Wonder Stuff's early sound and was a cult figure amongst their fans. Singer Miles Hunt recalled the night Jones finally left the band after a gig in December 1989. "The final night was sad. I remember leaving the bar of the Holiday Inn in Birmingham and using one of my friends as a crutch. I was quite tearful and so was Bob. He stayed up till 6am, got a lift to Heathrow and went to America. I never saw him again."

Jones settled down in New York and attempted to form a band called The Bridge And Tunnel Crew. Despite plans to tour and to bring the group to the UK, the whole enterprise fell apart with the deterioration of Jones' marriage. The Wonder Stuff release a new album at the end of September.

Gurbir Dhillon, Sunday Mercury

Although little news had come out about Rob since he left for New York, having cut off contact with his family and most of his friends, Rob and Jessica's songwriting had eventually led to them forming a group called The Bridge And Tunnel Crew. With Rob on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, the group had been preparing to approach US record companies to get a recording contract and had recorded an excellent demo tape. Sadly, the relationship between Rob and Jessica had started to sour resulting in them splitting up earlier in the year driving Rob into depression although they still remained close friends. With at least one label expressing an interest in them, Rob contacted a small number of the Wonder Stuff's road crew telling them that his group had been given a slot at the legendary CBGB's in New York and asking them if they could get any UK record labels interested in attending the gig in order to try to pick up wider interest for the group. Sadly, with the passing of the driving force behind the group, the labels withdrew their interest and the tracks that were recorded have never been heard outside of Rob's close family and friends.

Whilst Rob's mother organised a small service in the UK for his family and friends, Jessica, as his legal next-of-kin, arranged for Rob to be cremated in New York. His ashes were scattered at a number of locations where she felt Rob would have been at home - close to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, near the Parachute Drop at Coney Island and, bizarrely, in a flowerbed by the swimming pool at Tammy Wynette's house as Rob was a big fan of her music. As Rob's time with the group had drawn to an end, he had made no secret of his dislike for the UK and how he had felt that America, and New York in particular, had started to feel more like home for him.


At the end of August, The Wonder Stuff played an exclusive gig at Birmingham's Irish Centre for members of their fan club. This would be the first time that they had played most of their new material to a home audience though it wasn't until nearly three-quarters of the way through the set that Miles mentioned Rob, dedicating the track 'Piece Of Sky' to him. Although never intended to be a tribute track for anyone, the lyrics now seemed so much more poignant and many of the fans regard this is Bob's track. The majority of this gig can be heard on a bootleg CD, 'A Tribute To A Bass Thing', though the gig was never meant to be a tribute performance.