We got the news today that Barrie Masters, the lead singer with Eddie and the Hot Rods, had died suddenly. He was 63. The Rods were still performing until recently, although he was the only remaining member of the original band.
You may never have heard of Eddie and the Hot Rods. Their moment of chart fame was short-lived. But for a generation of mid 70s teenagers who would soon discover punk, they were important. They, along with Dr Feelgood, got us loving two, three minute rock’n’roll songs again, as I explain in the extract below from my music book “I Was There – A Musical Journey”. In my case there is no doubt that they paved the way for punk, and that paved the way for so much more.
And Barrie was a wild ball of energy on stage, the likes of which I hadn’t seen before. I’ve seen a few since, and still do today; but Barrie and the Rods were the first in my world.
This is what I wrote. It was mixed up with Dr Feelgood.
They called it pub rock. It changed everything.
Suddenly all those extended solos, those high pitched harmonies, those stories of demons and wizards seemed a bit… turgid.
We didn’t ditch metal overnight, and some, like Flob, never lost the faith in Sabbath and Heep. Good on him. A loyal man, knew what he liked and stuck to it. But the Feelgoods took me on a ride that ended, as for many others, with punk. The music was familiar enough – not hugely different to Quo really; in the same mould as The Faces as they bashed out “Pool Hall Richard”. As we moved into ‘76, Eddie and the Hot Rods emerged and took us even closer to what would become punk. They were like the Feelgoods, from the same South Essex area, but younger and even faster. They put out a four track EP, “Live at the Marquee” featuring Bob Seger’s “Get out of Denver” which became the soundtrack to my school life. I played that tune every morning before I did my “A” levels in 1977. It was just so upbeat, so defiant – with that song firing me up I could achieve anything. The rest of the EP was a rumbustious delight too: Q and the Mysterions’ “96 Tears” and a rowdy medley of Them’s “Gloria” and the Stones’ “Satisfaction”.
We went to see Eddie and the Hot Rods at Leicester Poly in 1976. It was the sweatiest, raunchiest gig I’d ever experienced. The Rods’ album “Teenage Depression”, was just out of this world – razor sharp rock’n’roll, with, for a 17 year old, lyrics that were just perfect for sticking two fingers up to the world. It included a great live version of The Who’s “The Kids are Alright”, though the one I loved most was “All I Need is Money”. Hundred miles an hour riffing, laddish lyrics blurted out at the same speed. Comic book macho. But so upbeat – to this day it makes me smile whenever I hear it, either out loud, or just in my head…
… The Rods went a bit rock after “Teenage Depression”, but in doing so made the one single which they will always remembered for: “Do Anything You Wanna Do”. It reached No 9 in August 1977. It was a real rallying cry, with a riff lifted from something by the Who – probably the “Kids are Alright”, which they’d covered on “Teenage Depression”, as a live take. I loved the single at the time, with its simplistic themes about doing your own thing and fighting the system, but it wasn’t the same Rods who’d paved the way, like the Feelgoods, for the punks. It was a pop song, their one big shot. It didn’t lead to a pop breakthrough, and the punks coming through stole their rock’n’roll thunder. They went on for a while like the Feelgoods, but they’d had their moment. A moment to be proud of though: a seminal, catalytic moment.
Rest in peace Barrie, and thank you for your inspiration.