The Adicts - Biography
The Adicts are an English punk band best known for their Clockwork Orange-inspired look and crowdpleasing singalongs. Singer Keith “Monkey” Warren, guitarist Pete Davison and his brother, drummer Michael Davison, formed Afterbirth & the Pinz in Ipswich, Suffolk, England. They think it was late 1975, but concede that they might have formed early in 1976. “Some say ‘75, some say ‘76,” Warren says in the bio at the Adicts’ official website. “I think I have a flyer from March ‘76, but before that we had played our first show in a scout hut in Aldeburgh, Suffolk—not exactly top of the list for all-time top punk venues! We strung a rope across the room to keep the ‘crowd’ back and had a motorbike for a lighting rig.” Bassist Mel Ellis joined the band after original bassist Graham “Killer” Sewell lost a finger.
Afterbirth & the Pinz then changed their name to the Adicts and developed a distinctive image. According to Warren, it was 1978 or ’79 before the band started to dress in white boiler suits and black bowler hats, after the droogs in Stanley Kubrick’s film version of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Warren also began painting his face white, blacking his eyebrows and drawing on a blood red grin borrowed from Batman comics’ The Joker.
The Adicts’ first release was the straightahead punk EP Lunch with the Adicts (1979 Dining Out), which reached #2 in the UK independent charts. The EP’s success led to a November 1979 Peel session. Lunch credits Mel Ellis on second guitar and Tim Hocking on bass; Hocking is not mentioned in the Adicts’ current bios, and it is unclear how long he played in the band. Ellis plays bass on the self-released debut LP Songs of Praise (1981 Dwed), which includes “Viva La Revolution.” Sound of Music (1982 Razor), featuring the single “Chinese Takeaway” and the self-mythologizing “Joker in the Pack,” reached #2 in the indie charts and #99 in the pop chart.
The band appeared on the British kids’ show Cheggers Plays Pop in 1983 performing their new glam-rock singalong “Bad Boy” (1983 Razor), a small hit in Britain. The show billed and introduced the band under the more wholesome-sounding name The Fun Adicts. Sire Records, who then signed the band, also had misgivings about the name, and the mannered new wave single “Tokyo” (1984 Sire) came out under the name ADX. The Adicts returned to their former name and label on Smart Alex (1985 Razor), whose title track and opening cut—a punk version of “Ode to Joy”—again refer to A Clockwork Orange. Smart Alex reached #7 in the indie charts.
The Adicts recorded their fourth album in Germany and released it on a German label: Fifth Overture (1986 Gamma). The band focused on touring for the remainder of the 1980s and did not record a new album until 27 (1993 Cleopatra), which was followed by a lengthy hiatus. The Adicts have continued to work together regularly since recording Rise and Shine (2002 Captain Oi!) in Ventura, California, and the band has expanded to include Mel’s brother John “Scruff” Ellis on second guitar and “Fiddle” Dan Graziani on violin. After Rollercoaster (2005 SOS), the Adicts re-recorded their debut Songs of Praise for a 25th anniversary edition (2008 I Used To Fuck People Like You In Prison) that also includes a CD of the original recording and a making-of DVD. Schecter Guitars produced a Pete Dee (Davison) signature guitar in 2009, and the Adicts released Life Goes On (2009 I Used To Fuck People Like You In Prison).