C86 Show - Indie Pop

The Red Guitars with Lou Duffy-Howard

August 27, 2019

The Red Guitars special with Lou Duffy-Howard in conversation.


The Red Guitars were an English indie rock band active from 1982 to 1986. Based in Hull, the Red Guitars' first single "Good Technology" was a minor hit, selling 60,000 copies. Their singles "Marimba Jive" and "Be With Me" both reached number one on the UK Indie Chart.

Jerry Kidd (born Jeremy Kidd, vocals) and Hallam Lewis (guitarist) met in 1979 at a Community Arts programme in Hull. The two formed the short-lived project, Carnage in Poland. After several line-up changes, including the addition of Mark Douglas, the band changed their name to the Czechs, billing themselves as 'eastern European reggae'. After more line-up changes, including the departure of Douglas, the Czechs abandoned their name and reggae sound, becoming the Red Guitars.

Playing a mixture of punk, blues, electrified folk and African rhythms, the Red Guitars built a small but loyal national following, playing mostly benefit shows for left-wing causes.[citation needed]

In 1982, the band recorded their first single "Good Technology". In keeping with the band's anti-corporate ideology, the Red Guitars released the single on their own record label, Self Drive Records, selling 60,000 copies.[citation needed] The video to "Good Technology" was broadcast on the cult 1980s Channel 4 music TV show The Tube, as part of the show's Hull music special.

Constant touring to support follow-up singles "Fact", "Steeltown" (The John Peel Session version of which also featured on the Four Your Ears Only EP – an aural collection which included Luddites, Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry and Party Day) and "Marimba Jive",[3] added to the daily pressures of running a record label resulted in internal pressures in the Red Guitars, culminating in the departure of Kidd in 1984, two months after the release of debut album Slow to Fade. The band continued on without Kidd for a further two years, bringing on Robert Holmes for vocals, but failed to achieve the previous critical or commercial success, although "Be With Me" also reached the top spot on the UK Indie Chart in May 1985.

The Red Guitars disbanded in 1986 after their appearance at the Pukkelpop festival near Hasselt, Belgium. Two of the ex-band members, Hallam Lewis and Lou Howard, formed another group, The Planet Wilson. They were joined by Grant Ardis (drums and ancillaries). Howard was still on bass and Lewis on guitar and vocals. In 1988 they released the album In the Best of All Possible Worlds (on Virgin Records) and in 1989 they released the album Not Drowning but Waving (on Records of Achievement). Jerry Kidd released a solo single "Petals and Ashes (a song for Emma Goldman)" in 1985 (on Self Drive Records), after leaving the Red Guitars: it had a mix of "Crocodile Tears" on the b-side. Lewis went on to run a recording studio in Hull. Holmes released a solo album in 1989, entitled Age of Swing, and has released a series of recordings since 2015 on YouTube under the title "Robert Holmes Channel Two"

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