Cov musicians Jim Pryal and Kevin Harrison e mailed me this morning with new of the legendary Cov Punk singer /
front man - Gus Chambers, who passed away at the age of 52 on October 13, 2008. Sadly it was believed he took his own life.
The news has impacted on the Cov scene with Pete Chambers (who wrote a tribute in the Coventry Telegraph) saying that tributes and messages were pouring in from friends and Cov musicians and many others who had worked with him or have known him and his music.
Gus Chambers was singer with the Coventry punk band - SQUAD having stepped into the shoes of Terry Hall who left to join the Specials. By 1981 he was fronting 21 Guns who made a single for the Neville Staples record label - Shack Records. Their single was Ambition Rock (although I think there was another single too which I have in the loft somewhere - (not having a record player to play it on anymore!) - Will dig it out and see at some stage.).
"Gus later moved to America and formed Sons of Damnation, finally joining the no messing high-energy metal band Grip Inc. They were formed by former Slayer drum-king Dave Lombardo. They released three brooding albums in the mid to late 90s - Power of Inner Strength, Nemesis, and Solidify - and finally came back with a fourth entitled Incorporated in 2004, which was greeted as a true return to form by the critics." says Pete Chambers.
Pete also says of Gus "his punk-crazed stage antics were quite opposite to the real man - Gus was a thinker, and a great believer in fairness and racial equality, though to some, he was just a punk. Of late, Gus was part of the sonically-superb Mantra Sect. "I've been very lucky in my career," said Gus. "I have had the privilege of playing in front of thousands of people at festivals like Rock in Rio and the Dynamo Festival in Holland. Nothing though brings back fonder memories than playing in front of maybe 20 or 30 people in The Hand and Heart or the back room of The Swanswell."
In 2002 Gus contributed to punk site giving a good insight into the development of the punk scene in Coventry -
You can view it HERE
In the article he tells how he was advised by a mate in 1976 to go and see Roddy Radiation and the Wild Boys (Roddy obviously later went on to the Specials) and from then on was hooked. He says that punk in Coventry "started out very small and not many places to go, there was about 15 to 20 Punks all coming from different walks of life but getting together to be a part of the scene. The only pub that allowed punks in at the time was a gay pub and the student union bar at the Lanch Poly sometimes let us in, non students would get hassle etc."
The pub was the Rose and Crown - "the punk scene started to grow very quickly and was being accepted which lead to more pubs in Cov becoming punk friendly, some pubs let us put our own records on their juke boxes, a punk disco started at the weekend at the Rose and Crown, the Bear Inn become a big punk hang out, a mainly metal disco up stairs in The Golden Cross started to play punk rock and a couple of night clubs started to have punk rock nights. The first one was The Cottage, Wednesday was punk night sometimes letting local bands play. Monday nights at Mr Georges became a great venue for live bands, a lot of national acts played there plus many local bands had the chance to play ,this helped play a big part in building the local scene. Local bands started to hire out back rooms in pubs, places like The Heath, The Hand and Heart, and up stairs in the Domino played a big role in keeping music live also musicians who didn't have a record out, had no management and all that other record biz bull had the chance to book a gig and play( after all thats what punk rock was all about .) Early punk and new wave bands which contributed to the local scene in Cov. were The Flys, Roddy Radiation and the Wild Boys, The Squad, The Urge, The Automatics( later to become ska band The Specials ) The Vietnamese Babys, Gods Toys, The Pink Umbrellas ( fronted by 80ts pop Icon Paul King ) and a couple of years later came Riot Act, Oi band Criminal Class and various ska bands, The Selector. Swinging Cats."
A quick Google of his names shows there are quite a few tributes on the net to Gus Chambers - here are a couple -
Probably the best tribute to and way of remembering Gus Chambers is through his music, and, thanks to the Brave words site, I've found a quite a few videos of Gus singing with Grip Inc and one with Mantra Sect. Here are a few below but you can find of Grip Inc on You Tube.
GUS CHAMBERS dynamic vocals with GRIP INC......
"The clip features performance footage that was shot on May 8, 2008 at The Three Tuns in Coventry. MANTRA SECT bassist Wendy X said in an online posting, "What Gus did at the beginning while we were rehearsing was very typical of him! I thought he would ask me to change that bit but he loved the clip being on there. He made us laugh a lot."