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Group Members: Mark Cain
All Music Guide:
While most of the early British punk bands spoke of working-class concerns -- primarily unemployment and the shrinking U.K. economy, which was leaving a generation with nothing to do and nowhere to go -- many of the pioneering groups had working-class credentials that were suspect at best; the Sex Pistols' career was being molded by a haberdasher and would-be artist, while the Clash were led by the son of a diplomat. Sham 69, however, was different; proletarian and proud of it, Sham 69 was the voice of the people in the first wave of British punk, and if they were never as fashionable as such contemporaries as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Wire, or the Jam (who, in their early days, shared Sham's provincial outlook and "we're with the kids" fan solidarity), they enjoyed a long run of chart successes and were a major influence on the street punk and Oi! movements which followed.
Sham 69 was formed in the working-class community of Hersham (in Surrey) in 1975 by singer and lyricist Jimmy Pursey; the name came from an ancient bit of graffiti celebrating a local football team's winning season in 1969. From the start, Sham 69's politics were populist, and their sound accessible; straight-ahead four-square punk with a hard rock influence and lyrics that often used sing-along slogans in their choruses, such as "If the Kids Are United" and "(Gonna Be A) Borstal Breakout." The band went through a revolving cast of musicians early on before settling on the lineup of Pursey, Dave Parsons on guitar, Albie Slider on bass, and Mark Cain behind the drums. They began scaring up gigs where they could, and began playing the notorious London punk venue the Roxy on a regular basis, where they built up a loyal following. Step Forward, a small independent label, released the band's first single, "I Don't Wanna," in September 1977. The success of the single and the band's growing fan base prompted Polydor to sign the band in the U.K., and their first album, Tell Us the Truth -- one side recorded live, the other in the studio -- was released in early 1978. (Sire released the album in the United States, and it would prove to be the only Sham 69 album released in America until the late '80s.) By the time the album came out, Albie Slider had left the band and Dave "Kermit" Tregenna took over on bass. Sham's second album, That's Life, was released in the fall of 1978, and featured two major hit singles, "Hurry Up Harry" and "Angels With Dirty Faces"; and as many of the first wave of U.K. punk bands were beginning to peter out, Sham 69's popularity continued to grow.
However, there was a fly in the ointment for Sham 69; the band's rowdy, sing-along attitude began attracting a violent and undiscriminating audience, and fighting became increasing common at the band's live shows. The group also found their gigs were becoming recruiting grounds for Britain 's extreme right-wing (and racist) political party, the National Front; while Pursey often spoke out against the NF, for some reason it was an association that wouldn't go away. While the group's third album, The Adventures of the Hersham Boys, was a commercial success (as were the singles "If The Kids Are United" and "You're A Better Man Than I"), the increasing violence at concerts made it harder to tour, and Pursey began producing other bands and investigating new musical directions.
(Drummer Mark Cain also quit the band, with Ricky Goldstein taking over on percussion.) After the group's fourth album, The Game, received a lukewarm reception from both reviewers and fans, Pursey opted to split up Sham 69 in mid-1980. Pursey went on to a solo career, briefly working with former Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, while Dave Parsons and Dave Tregenna formed a short-lived band called the Wanderers with former Dead Boys vocalist Stiv Bators. After "the Sham Pistols" failed to work out, Pursey recorded a series of ambitious but commercially unsuccessful solo albums, and Tregenna joined the Lords of the New Church. In 1987, Pursey and Parsons assembled a new edition of Sham 69; Pursey continues to tour and record with Sham 69, while also pursuing an acting career and recording solo material.
Sham 69 are an English punk band that were formed in Hersham in 1976.
Sham 69 have been a huge musical and lyrical influence on the Oi! and streetpunk genres. The band allegedly derived their name from a piece of graffiti that founder Jimmy Pursey saw on a wall. It originally said Walton and Hersham '69 but had partly faded away, and made reference to when Walton & Hersham F.C. secured the Athenian League title in 1969.
Early history 
The 12 November 1976 issue of NME notes that Sham 69 was rehearsing in 1976, although only Pursey would remain from this early line-up twelve months later. Sham 69 did not have the art school background of many English punk bands of the time, and brought in football chant backup vocals and a sort of inarticulate political populism. The band had a large skinhead following (left wing, right wing and non-political), which helped set the tone for the Oi! movement. Their concerts were notoriously plagued by violence, and the band ceased live performances after a 1979 concert at Middlesex Polytechnic was broken up by National Front-supporting white power skinheads fighting and rushing the stage.
Sham 69 released their first single, "I Don't Wanna", on Step Forward Records in August 1977, produced by John Cale (formerly of the Velvet Underground), and its success in the independent charts prompted Polydor Records to sign the band. Their major label debut was "Borstal Breakout" in January 1978, followed by UK Singles Chart success with "Angels With Dirty Faces" (reaching number 19 in May 1978) and "If the Kids Are United" (number 9 in July 1978). They weren't taken from the group's debut album, Tell Us the Truth, a mixture of live and studio recordings. The group had further chart success with "Hurry Up Harry" (number 10 in October 1978), which came from their second LP and first full studio album, That's Life. The band's popularity was enhanced by their performances on Top Of The Pops, and the band performed in the 1980 film, D.O.A..
The band eventually started to move away from punk rock, to embrace a sound heavily influenced by classic British rock bands such as Mott the Hoople, The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Faces. This was demonstrated by their third album, The Adventures of the Hersham Boys.
The band broke up in 1979 following Jimmy Pursey's departure to the Sex Pistols. This was after their fourth album, and Pursey moved in a heavy metal direction after working with the remaining members of the Sex Pistols for a short time, under the name Sham Pistols. Rick Goldstein, Dave Parsons, and Dave Tregunna joined the 1980s glam punk/gothic rock band The Wanderers with Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys before he formed The Lords of the New Church. Stiv Bators and Dave Tregunna recruited Nick Turner of The Barracudas and Brian James of The Damned to become Lords of the New Church. In 1981, Pursey collaborated with Peter Gabriel on the single "Animals Have More Fun" which was commercially unsuccessful.
1987 and later 
In 1987, Sham 69 were resurrected with a different line-up; Ian Whitewood on drums and Andy Prince on bass releasing the albums Volunteer & Information Libre and singles "Rip And Tear", & "Outside the Warehouse". Andy Prince went on to join the Magic Mushroom Band and Whitewood was replaced on drums by Sonny Boy Williamson who played on the "Soapy Water & Mr Marmalade" album and the singles "Uptown", "Action Time & Vision" and "Girlfriend"
In 1995 Ian Whitewood returned on drums and former Chelsea (band) bassist Mat Sargent was recruited. This line-up recorded the albums The A Files & Direct Action:Day 21 and the single "Swampy". "If the Kids Are United" was used in a McDonald's advertising campaign, long after the rights to the band's songs had been sold. By that time, Pursey was a vegetarian and he appeared in the British media condemning the use of his song by what he considered a multinational abuser of animals and humans.
In 2005, the band gained media attention when "If the Kids Are United" was played during UK Prime Minister Tony Blair's entrance at the Labour Party Conference. As a result of this, the band was invited onto BBC TV's current affairs program Newsnight to sing a version of the song. Pursey sang altered lyrics, including "Mr. Blair/We know you care/So bring them home/Don't leave them there", referring to the troops remaining in Iraq after the 2003 invasion.
In 2006, listeners to Christian O'Connell's Breakfast Show on Virgin Radio voted overwhelmingly for the band to record a song to support the England national football team in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Released under "Sham 69 and The Special Assembly" (O'Connell and Blur guitarist Graham Coxon were also involved), the song was based on the Sham 69 hit "Hurry Up Harry", with the lyrics "We're going down the pub", changed to "We're going to win the cup!" The resulting single, "Hurry Up England" reached number 10 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming the band's first such hit in 26 years. However this caused some controversy as a band from Romford, England, called Mottys Sheepskin had already recorded this as an England World Cup anthem with all proceeds going to a cancer charity. The band had obtained permission from Pursey to release the song officially and were unprepared for what happened next. Several days later, on his Virgin Radio Breakfast Show, O’Connell played a version of "Hurry Up England" by Pursey.
2006 break-up and aftermath 
In late 2006, Sham 69 broke up, and Dave Parsons stated his wish to independently continue as 'Sham 69'. On 26 January 2007, BBC News announced that Sham 69 had split because of a bitter fallout between Pursey and Parsons. NME reported that a statement released by Parsons included the message: "Sham 69 have left Jimmy Pursey on the eve of their 30th anniversary. The band had become increasingly fed up with Jimmy's lack of interest in playing live and continually letting down both promoters and fans by pulling out of gigs at the last moment". Parsons and Whitewood continued as Sham 69 with Tim V on vocals and Rob Jefferson on bass. This line-up performed tours of the United States, played at many punk festivals across Europe, and released the album, Hollywood Hero, in August 2007.
Pursey and Sargent formed a new band Day 21 with Rev & Snell from Towers Of London. The band was named after the last Sham 69 album and also to avoid confusion with the fans over the name Sham 69. Day 21 recorded an album titled "4:10am" which was not released, a single "Having It Rock And Roll" was released in 2008.
Rob Jefferson (bass) left Parsons Sham 69 and was replaced by the former U.K. Subs member Alan Campbell. In 2009 Sham 69 was the first major punk band to tour China. They released an album titled Who Killed Joe Public in late 2010.
In May 2011, Parsons stated on his website that he had disbanded Sham 69, although this was disputed by the other members.
In July 2011, Pursey announced on Twitter the re-formation of most of the 1977 line-up, comprising Pursey, Parsons and Tregunna. This meant that there were two active bands using the same name. In June 2012, Pursey registered the name as a trademark, although this does not guarantee exclusive rights.