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24 September 2014

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Coventry pop band King
Mick, Tony, Paul and Jim made up King

Pop into the Past

Local music expert Pete Chambers continues his look at local pop music with a spotlight on the Doc Martens' sporting King. Remember, Pete goes into more detail, and you can hear the music, every other Friday on the Bob Brolly Show.

Facts on King

During his time Paul wore an array of Doc Marten boots, some of the most unusual were a pair that included flashing lights in the souls and a custom-made gold pair. Even the teeny mag Smash Hits got in on the act and published a ‘how to paint your DM’s like King' guide.

Back in 1985 a rookie music journalist called Pete Chambers was asked to be the President of The King fan club, after much thought I declined. Less that 12 months later King had split and I realised I had actually made the right decision.

Paul King went on to be a VJ at MTV then VH1. He is now an executive producer at the station.

The first rock show Paul ever attended was at Coventry’s Apollo Theatre in 1973 where he witnessed David Bowie in full Ziggy Mode, many years later Paul would play at the venue as part of King. I’m pleased to say I was at both gigs!

In a new feature on the Bob Brolly afternoon show on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, local music expert Pete Chambers takes a look back at the best in pop music from the past and present that came from our area.

Every other Friday from 3pm, Pete will be on air to talk about the bands, singers and songs that made Britain swing during the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. You can also take a trip down memory lane with the songs themselves.

This week, Pete looks at King, who enjoyed massive chart success in the mid-90s and spawned several copycat fans, who sported Dr Martens and spiky mullets. Fabulous!

King, by Pete Chambers

As the 2-Tone dream began to fade in the early 1980s, Coventry folk began to wonder what would be the next big thing to emerge from the city. Enter Paul King, a flamboyant front man who along with the band's insightful manager Perry Haines had a bold blueprint for success.

Although slightly less iconic than 2-Tone (Paul called it multi-tone) they would still create their own fashion statement and tantalise us with some clever lyrics, and some high quality music.

Created from the remains of the ever-so-good Reluctant Stereotypes, The Raw Screens honed and perfected their act and then switched their name to King.

Coventry pop band King
King on the 1985 Christmas Top of the Pops

From a rather slow start the momentum increased and in January 1985 Coventry was back on the music map with the anthemic Love & Pride. It was a song designed to be instantly in your face, even beginning with its own chorus for maximum impact.

Although it would famously stay at number two in the charts throughout February, held back by Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson of all people,  it was a song that gave the overall scheme and intent of the band in just one record. All the meticulous planning was paying off and a support slot with Culture Club had done the band no harm at all.

For me they were almost the perfect pop band. With the enigmatic Paul King using all he had learnt at Coventry Drama School up front, with painted Doc Martens aglow, he made the stage his own. When you watched King it was always hard to take your eyes off Paul, such was his presence.

It wasn’t all Paul King however, Jim Landsbury also cut an interesting figure with his guitar hero dynamics and Mick Roberts with some nifty keyboard work, was the musical backbone of the band. Listen to King now and see just how underrated he actually was. Finally Tony Wall was always there, holding it all together on his trusty bass guitar.

Paul King at Highfield Road
Paul King at Highfield Road

The whole King experience was to last a little over a year although in that time they would enter the charts again with four more powerpop songs (including Won’t You Hold My Hand Now and Alone Without You).

When it was over and our multi-coloured Martens began to look a little passé, Paul embarked on a solo career and Coventry was left with another fine musical legacy.

Listen in on 19th August and hear Bob Brolly and Pete Chambers talk to Coventry’s own Paul King about the band and his subsequent career in TV presenting and production.

Paul King will be talking about his career when he appears on the Bob Brolly show on 19 August along with Pete Chambers.

last updated: 08/08/05
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