Tigertailz biography


Last updated: 18 November 2008

No, they're not Spinal Tap. Despite a line-up that revolved faster than one of those kids' spinning tops, Tigertailz established themselves in the late 80s and early 90s as one of those bands who were classically, 'big in Japan'. They had silly poodle-perms and were responsible for 16% of the hole in the ozone layer.

When Tate and Welsh put an advert in Cardiff's Spillers Records in 1983 for a guitarist, Pepper answered their call and the nucleus of the band was established. Local guitar hero Phil Harling then Jim Dovey arrived to take turns as frontmen, recording demos and playing early gigs.


  • Kim Hooker: vocals, guitar
  • Jay Pepper: guitar, vocals
  • Pepsi Tate: bass, vocals
  • Matt Blackout: drums, vocals
  • Phil Harling: vocals, guitar
  • Jim Dovey: vocals
  • Ian Welsh: vocals
  • Stevie James (Jaimz): vocals
  • Keith Tosh: guitar
  • Steve Pearce: drums
  • Ace Finchum: drums
  • Cy Danahar: guitar
  • Andy Skinner: drums
  • Jon Lee: drums
  • Greggz 'Karnage' Russell: guitar
  • Darayuz Kaye: bass

Their early demos, although not commercially released, were getting them shows: they rode on a wave of American-flavoured rock music taking the volume of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and melding it with the bubblegum glam of the Sunset Strip and Hollywood Boulevard.

A second guitarist, Keith Tosh was added, but he didn't last long, and left in 1984 with Dovey who'd come to the end of his tenure as frontman. Moving up from putting ads in local music shops, Pepper and Tate placed advertised for a new frontman in the national Sounds magazine. Stevie Jaimz (their zpelling) from Crash KO answered the call.

A stable line-up was anathema to the band, so they decided schoolfriend Welsh wasn't cutting it on drums. Tokyo Blade's Steve Pearce stepped in, recording the Shoot To Kill Demo. Pearce was then replaced by Ace Finchum.

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But now their career gathered momentum, based on Shoot To Kill. They released it as a single on their own TT Records, and toured extensively in support of the release, not only in the UK but also Germany and The Netherlands. The single sold a few thousand copies and interest was piqued among record labels.

It was 1987 when Tigertailz signed to the rock specialists Music For Nations, who at the time had Metallica, Poison and Stryper. The time was ripe for hard rockers as Motley Crue and Guns N' Roses were setting sales records across the world. In just two weeks they recorded their first album, Young And Crazy and released it in November 1987.

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Their relationship with frontman Stevie Jaimz was beginning to deteriorate as his drink-fuelled behaviour caused more and more controversy and bad feeling. He was asked to leave. Back in their early days, Tigertailz had lost out to fellow Cardiff band Rankelson in a battle of the bands event, but it was Rankelson's vocalist Kim Hooker who now joined the better-known band.

It might come as a surprise to some, but in 1989 Tigertailz pre-produced their second album with Spiritualized-affiliated Cardiff alternative legend Tim 'Thighpaulsandra' Lewis. They then went elsewhere to record what would become Bezerk, their most successful album.

Bezerk spawned several singles which were rock chart hits, and the parent album reached the UK top 40. A video, Bezerk: Live 1990 was shot at a hometown gig at Cardiff's St David's Hall and the London Astoria.

Pepper and Tate travelled in 1990 to do US press work, joined by Tim Lewis and Lewis' then-bandmate Jon Lee. Lee would play on some Tigertailz b-sides before joining Feeder and achieving some degree of stardom before his untimely death in 2002.

In 1991, with grunge gaining steam and the alternative rapidly becoming the mainstream, Tigertailz sacked Finchum. He was replaced with local drummer Andy Skinner, and the band released an odds-and-sods collection for their devoted Japanese fanbase, entitled Banzai.

But domestically, time had crept up on them. Their third album, Wazbones, took years to complete. They left Music For Nations. Their American label and their manager had a bust-up which meant the album was shelved. And they'd spent over $200,000 on it.

It all proved too much for Pepper, who left in 1994, despite the band reclaiming rights in the record. Wazbones was re-recorded with new guitar Cy Danahar and was re-released in 1995. By that point Guns N' Roses Use Your Illusion albums had killed over-the-top, glam-influenced rock music.

Tigertailz never did a Motley Crue and went grunge. They never did a Guns N' Roses and imploded. They stuck to their guns and were honest in their musical quest to bring glam, sleaze, pop and, yes, cheese to British hard rock. Sanctuary have re-released some of their records, the post-Darkness appetite for classic rock meaning that the likes of Tigertailz are being re-evaluated.

And just to complicate matters, Stevie Jaimz has rejoined Ace Finchum on the touring circuit with new members Greggz 'Karnage' Russell and Darayuz Kaye.

Meanwhile, Jay Pepper, Pepsi Tate, Matt Blackout and Kim Hooker continue to tour as Tigertailz.

In 2006, Tigertailz released Bezerk 2.0, which was critically acclaimed, including a 4K rating in Kerrang!

In 2007, they followed it up with Thrill Pistol, back with the never-released US version of Wazbones.

In September 2007, bassist Pepsi Tate succumbed to cancer and died at the age of 42, much missed by the Welsh music scene.

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