Armless Teddies were originally formed in the early eighties by Pigeon
(otherwise known as Jip, Pidge, Lord Pigeon De’ath or many other monikers)
who was joined quickly by Polly on bass and Mark James on guitar. Pigeon
played drums and attempted to sing. Their first gig was supporting The
Calamity at Focus on 1st October 1984 whose line-up was Steve ‘76’ Bulley
on vocals, Sean Wastell on guitar, Si Smith on bass and Murray Blake,
later of Kronstadt Uprising fame, on drums (yes drums). The Calamity really
embraced the early punk spirit in the sense that they could not play a
note and were just thrown together for a laugh. Both bands rehearsed together
in Pigeon’s bedroom on the day of the gig, which was the first time Murray
had heard the songs!
Steve promptly joined the Teddies on vocals after that first gig, and
after another 4 gigs with that line-up, he swapped jobs with Polly. The
Teddies were booked to support the Exploited at the Pink Toothbrush in
September 1985, but neither Polly or the Exploited turned up. The gig
went ahead anyway with Steve & Pigeon sharing the vocals and the set strung
out with some impromptu Damned covers. A legend was born that night and
although Polly did the next gig (the infamous Focus Theatre riot with
the Burning Idols), he left soon after and the Teddies embarked on a year
of furious gigging with the 3 man line-up gaining musically and winning
fans with every step.
Teddies were characterized by their energy, outlandish stage behaviour
(mainly Pigeon), mix of musical styles and elaborate punk/fantasy artwork
on their posters. Of course, their lyrical content reflected Pigeon and
Steve’s beliefs as well and covered mainly animal cruelty, war and the
struggles of the down-trodden – giving a serious lyrical edge to their
outgoing, fun stage presence.
During 1986 regular gig-goer Al (Sir Alice Naed) started to join them
on stage and eventually joined the band as full time vocalist. Al’s presence
and between-song patter really took the Teddies to the next level and
enabled Pigeon’s wild drumming, Steve’s funky bass and Mark’s brooding,
powerful guitar to develop the band into a formidable musical unit. Damned
covers became more regular set-enders, as did a full-on cover of Flux
of Pink Indians’ 'Tube Disasters' but the set was still loaded with original
songs covering anarcho-punk ('Man Enough', 'Fields Are Green', 'New Clear
Product'), reggae ('Down on Your Luck') and even rock instrumentals ('Serenade').
band didn’t do a lot after 1986 except for some metal collaborations and
a fresh round of London gigs with the ’86 line-up in the first half of
1988. They also did 3 re-union gigs in 1992, '93 and '94 which were probably
some of their best and biggest gigs!
Most people know that Pigeon departed this world on Remembrance Day 1995
after being hit by a car outside the Pink Toothbrush. His personality
and presence will never be forgotten however, and anyone that knew him,
the Teddies or his later brainchild Nuclear Anarchy plc has had their
life irrevocably brightened. Much of his enormous talent lives on through
people that he influenced.
After 1988, as mentioned, Pigeon formed Nuclear Anarchy (the Nukes) and
played bass with them until his death, when Steve took over the job. Pigeon
and Steve also played together (on the right instruments) in Steve Hooker/Rob
Moore creation The Upsetters, as well as No Matter What and Columbo until
1995 (Steve stayed with them until 2004).
this time Pigeon also played for a number of other bands and Steve had
spells in Steve Hooker & The Shakers (1987) and Vulture Squadron. Mark
formed Death By Chocolate and has played for many Southend bands/projects
including Columbo for a time and recently Dirty Water. Al went into stand-up
comedy, radio and acting and pops up on our TV screens from time to time.
The Teddies left no recordings except for a demo recorded in 1986 at Indigo
Blue in Chelmsford containing 'Torture Town' (a song about the Porton
Down monkeys) and the instrumental 'Serenade'. 'Torture Town' was Mark’s
singing debut. Many rehearsal and gig tapes still exist and could make
it on to a CD one day if the quality can be cleaned up.
by Steve '76' Bulley