The Damned are the band that broke punk in the UK. Their single 'New Rose', released in October 1976, is considered to be the very first British punk track. The b-side was a thrashed out cover of The Beatles 'Help'.
The band had only formed a few months previously, when Captain Sensible (real name Raymond Burns), Rat Scabies (Chris Millar), Brian James (Brian Robertson) and Dave Vanian (David Letts) were drawn together by the emerging new music scene. They were dismissed as the support act for the Sex Pistols' Anarchy tour, but made up for it by being the first UK punk band to tour the US.
The Damned weren't as angsty as many of their contemporaries, they had a love of the theatrical that meant they were not taken as seriously. After their second album 'Music for Pleasure' they were dropped from their record label Stiff. They split in 1978, but Sensible, Vanian and Scabies reformed a year later to make the album 'Machine Gun Etiquette.' Captain Sensible is probably the most famous member, known primarily for the track 'Happy Talk' which went to No.1 in the early 80s.
"I think I was apprehensive about it, because I hadn't seen them before or met them; but, in fact, when we got to the studio, I'm not sure who was more apprehensive, them, about being in a BBC studio, or me about working with them.
"The amusing thing was quite a few other people had heard that the Damned were in, and every now and again we got people creeping in through the door, looking in through the window to see if they were being sick all over the place or spitting at us. Which they weren't at all, of course; they were four of the nicest blokes I ever got to work with."
- Jeff Griffin (In Session Tonight by Ken Garner)