“Up yours, up mine, but up everybody’s, that takes time. But we’re working on it.” (10cc: The Worst Band In The World, 1974)

I am in the worst music video ever made. It is not up for debate; neither is it likely to be surpassed at any time in the future. To be fair, I’m not the sole recipient of this not so coveted award. The whole band are in it. But, just to rub salt in my celluloid wounds, I wrote the bloody song too. To clarify things, here’s what I found by Googling “Singles released from 2XS.”

Madness coverGames“The lead single, Love Leads To Madness, reached number 3 in South Africa and the song itself was a US radio staple peaking at number 19 on the Billboard Rock chart. The second single, Games, failed to chart elsewhere. The third one, Dream On, was a European hit released in early 1983 by Phonogram/Vertigo reaching number 1 in Poland, number 2 in Switzerland, number 4 in Austria and number 15 in Germany. Initially written by Billy Rankin and recorded as a demo in 1979 with an additional verse being penned by Manny Charlton in 1982 during the recording of 2XS, Dream On became one of their most popular tracks.”

Oh, if only we could end it here, but that would be to leave out the cringeworthy details. When Phonogram/Vertigo informed us of Dream On’s imminent release in Europe, we were midway through the first part of the 2XS North American tour and, to be honest, we’d expected it. Madness and Games hadn’t exactly set the heather alight, so why not? “We need a video ASAP,” a telegram from Germany said and thus began a Comedy of Errors. I’m paraphrasing John Lennon here, but this only happens when you’re too busy to keep your eye on the ball, i.e. someone else takes the ball and runs with it. Whoever this someone was, they’d decided the only time we had to shoot a video would be after the final gig of the tour in Pasadena CA, which just so happens to be near the film capital of the world.

Dream On

Dream On video shoot, LA 10.82
Dream On video shoot, LA October 1982

In this world, there was part of a film set left over from a movie called Battle Beyond The Stars which starred Richard Thomas (or John-Boy Walton to us) and we could use it to make our very own Sci-fi music video. I don’t recall who was in charge, or who we were listening to here, but I will refer to him as Bawjaws for the rest of the story. Bawjaws must’ve had an English-based upbringing cos I distinctly remember him referencing Sci-fi puppeteer, Gerry Anderson, when he said our spaceship would be similar to Fireball XL5, but instead called Fireball 2XS. That way, we could wear 2XS on our spacesuits creating a subliminal message for viewers of the video to buy the album. Bawjaws was off his trolley, but he hadn’t finished yet.

“Who’s your frontman?”  “Me!” said our frontman, raising his hand. “Right. You’ll be Captain Kirk,” said Bawjaws. “Wait. Shouldn’t that be Steve Zodiac?” I interjected, showing my knowledge of all things Fireball XL5. “Button It!” said Darrell, so I did. “You’ll be Captain Dan,” (some of you will get that) was Bawjawscompromise “And there’ll be a hot chick as your love interest.” After calming Dan down, cos he’d already gotten shit from his wife over the Madness video, we agreed this sounded like a good plot. Even Bawjawsludicrous observation that we’d all need a ton of makeup to look good was grudgingly accepted after another few drinks. We were all drunk. We had to be. But, Bawjaws still wasn’t finished.

“There’s a Dwarf involved.”

Dream On video still
Dream On video still October 1982

Later, back at the rooftop bar of our hotel, we had an after-video party for all the cast and crew. Not the hot chick, obviously. She’d bolted as we’d scared her away like we always did to hot chicks, everywhere. Darrell really hit it off with the dwarf, even stifling a laugh when the wee guy ordered a ‘half pint.’ It was when Big D broached the subject no one should ever broach to someone not in Big D’s position that things got out of hand. After establishing, in mutually agreeable terms, that his new Bestest Buddy was about the same height as your average six-year-old, Mr Master of Decorum enquired, “So, are you hung like a six-year-old?” All hell broke loose. The poor guy climbed down from his chair and challenged not just Darrell, but everyone in the bar to a ‘square go.’ (Any non-Scots here, Google this term.) In summing up, despite being the worst music video ever made, Dream On became a really, really BIG hit.

Lights, Camera, Action!

“What kind of strings do you use?
Free ones.”
(Pete Agnew interview with Guitar magazine, 1982)

I think I can speak for most musicians here but, when you’re struggling to make ends meet, it’s hard to afford the basics. Drum sticks, guitar picks and strings, cables and microphones, everything costs more than you were usually earning. So much so that I used to boil my old rusty guitar strings just to play a few more gigs before having to replace them. My first strings deal was with Rotosound, due to certain members of the Zal Band having connections to a popular beat group called SAHB. During the CBS period, I went back to buying my own after exhausting the stockpile of freebies I’d put aside from the Mountain days. The Rotosound connection got reconnected when I joined Nazareth and, over the years, we changed affinities dependent on levels of popularity, working both ways. My last strings deal was thanks to Mick Box of Uriah Heep who recommended Picato to me as the only company who’d endorse you for life. Last time I checked, they’d still deliver a dozen sets of 009 gauge to my house despite the fact I haven’t played in any capacity with anyone of note for decades. To a guitar player just starting out, that would be awesome.

Buddy Holly Tribute
Buddy Holly Tribute 1980

Speaking of guitars, my relationship with Washburn of Chicago began at the outset of my Naz career. Manny had already established a connection, and my first TV show with Nazareth on STV featured one of their models. Likewise, on my Buddy Holly tribute. My Washburn Gibson Explorer lookalike appeared on the Love Leads To Madness video. I’d previously lost two gold top Washburns in one night to the ferocious audience of the Cobo Hall, Detroit who gave me the option of either being dragged into the mosh pit or just unhooking the neck of the instrument they’d locked hands with.

Washburn Explorer in Love Leads To Madness video 1982
Washburn 12 string 2XS tour 1982
Photographer's business card ft. Washburn 12 string 1982
Washburn advert 1982
Washburn 335 blonde 2XS tour 1982
Tartan Washburn 335 Brandywine Club, Chadds Ford PA 4th November 1983
Picato strings advert 1993
Love Leads To Madness
Greg Bennett RIP
Greg Bennett

My real relationship with Washburn, however, began when I got to know their marketing guy, Greg Bennett, much in the same way as Darrell had become friends with Bill Ludwig III at Ludwig Drums, but with more guitars. Greg and I hit it off when he rescued me from the wrath of Phil Collins at the Whitehall Hotel, Chicago in 1981. All I said was, “I preferred the Peter Gabriel era Genesis.” Slap! “Let’s get you outa here, Bill.”  “What did I say wrong, Greg?” I asked later while he introduced me to his family at their home. “Everything Bill,” he replied. From then on, I always stayed at the Bennett house when we were in Chicago. On one such night, Greg had me bring my beloved Gibson 335 and began measuring its neck, frets and weight. What resulted was the Washburn 12 String I still own and I defy anyone to find an easier, more comfortable 12 String to play. The guy was, and still is, a genius. So much so that he now makes his own brand of guitars which sell for $15,000 plus.

Tartan Washburn
Tartan Washburn 335 1983

Trust established, Greg took the same dimensions from the Gibson and created two versions of it as Washburn’s. One with a whammy bar, one without, but both featuring the finish of my Scottish clan’s tartan (MacLean for those interested) which I began playing on Naz’s next tour of the US. A&M would use the Washburn/Plaid/Mel Gibson/Freedom! connection later but, for now, I’d found a company able to make free stuff I could actually endorse.

Why, you may ask, was Pete Agnew not involved with Washburn in any capacity? Well, back in the mid-’70s, he’d ‘borrowed’ an Alembic Bass from The Who’s John Entwistle and then managed to avoid ‘The Ox’ on every occasion, despite us sharing drinks at many an airport bar. “Oi, you C*nt! Where’s my Bass?” He still has it, still plays it, still endorses it when asked: “What kind of Basses do you use?”

“Free ones.”

John Alembic
John Entwistle with an Alembic. “Oi, you C*nt! Where’s my Bass?”
“Cos if you think you are a Star. For so long they’ll come from near and far. But you’ll forget just who you are. You ain’t the Nazz, you’re just a Buzz. Some kinda… Temporary…” (Mott The Hoople: Hymn For The Dudes, 1973)

Big things were being expected of 2XS. In particular, the reviews were welcoming it as a return to form after the disappointing Fool Circle album and the even more scathing, ‘What the fuck was that?’ eyebrow-raising reception of Malice in Wonderland. We even had a new stage design commissioned, which never made it beyond the drawing board, and plans were afoot to hit the US touring circuit hard. Our American agents advised caution since many previously huge bands had been losing their arses recently as the public were changing their alliance to younger, up-and-coming bands with something to prove. Nazareth were neither young, up-and-coming or had anything to prove so, after a short and not altogether successful few weeks of gigs in true and tested areas of America, the writing was on the wall. For the first time since their early days with Deep Purple, the option of a support tour was thrown out there.

Billy Squier
Billy Squier

Unused 2XS tour stage
Unused 2XS tour stage design 14th April 1982 © Plumbline Designs

The rest of the guys had never heard of Billy Squier, but I had. He’d supported Whitesnake at the Glasgow Apollo in May 1981 and a few of my mates were very complimentary of young William Haislip Squier. Besides, by the time we were to join him on tour, his 3rd album, Emotions In Motion, was atop the US Rock charts. This didn’t impress my bandmates, who reckoned we’d blow him off the stage every night but, from memory, I believe we only managed this once. On December 10th 1982 to be precise at the Cobo Hall, Detroit where we’d played to sell-out crowds in our own right numerous times before. If there was a US city Nazareth could claim to be popular in, Detroit was it. Initially, we were booked to play the 5,000 seater Fox Theatre on the same night as Billy’s Cobo Hall gig, just to avoid us having to support him in this town. Both our agencies argued that this would be counterproductive and would hurt ticket sales for both shows. Eventually, it was proposed that Nazareth would headline the Cobo, but Squier’s management strongly objected, citing the fact that it was his PA and lights we’d be using. By this time we’d struck up a friendship with Billy and his band and had even tried convincing the man himself that switching the billing would be the smart option all round. “But it’s practically sold out, man, and it’s my name on the ticket,” was his reasonable counter to our “We’ll blow your arse out of Detroit, man.”

2XS North American tour 82
2XS North American tour 1982

In the end, we went on first. As agreed beforehand with Greg from Washburn, I kept far enough away from the audience to only lose one guitar to the mosh pit and we got our usual Cobo Hall reception. It would’ve been within our rights to have stormed Billy’s dressing room and taunted, “Follow that, man!” but we didn’t have to. Instead, by the time the headliners took to the stage, it was littered with hundreds of flyers, many in the shape of paper aeroplanes thrown with pinpoint accuracy and all stating the same message “Hey Squier! Now You’re Really Messin’ with a Son of a Bitch! Detroit Nazareth Fans.” Later that night, in my room at the Hotel Pontchartrain, I spent a few hours alone with a slightly dejected, but very drunk Mr Squier. After accusing Naz of orchestrating the whole fan flyer event and complaining about having his arse blown out of Detroit, he seemed to mellow somewhat. We laughed about it until the radio in the background started playing his current hit single, Everybody Wants You. Billy leapt from his chair and proceeded to turn it up.

I learned a valuable lesson that night.

“Roses are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet, I’m gonna break your face!” (Police Squad: Ring of Fear, 1982)
A&M promo 82
A&M promo 1982

This may come as a surprise to some of you peace-loving readers, but Nazareth loved a good fight. Not a fight with rival bands disputing their position on a festival bill, our road crew always settled those, usually with hammers. No, I mean fighting each other. Usually, alcohol was involved. Actually, alcohol was ALWAYS involved but, regardless of the situation and outcome, all would be forgiven in the morning, or just never mentioned again. And, when I say Nazareth, I mean Dan, Pete and Darrell. I came close a few times but it’s safe to say Manny, John and I never had six bells knocked out of us in the heat of a drunken brawl. Manny would always get out of the barroom/hotel room/car park ‘rammy’ at the first sign of trouble. “Something BAD is gonna happen, I’m outa here!” was his response to something about to kick off. I, on the other hand, being from Glasgow, would stick around to watch. (Hey! Don’t judge me, sometimes it was worth it.)

Brooklyn Zoo advert
The Aquarian Weekly November 1982

On November 19th 1982, before rejoining the Billy Squier tour in Syracuse the next night, we were booked to play the Brooklyn Zoo, a club gig which was only there to pay for band/crew expenses while we were in New York. I remember spending an enjoyable afternoon with Manny visiting Manny’s Guitar Store in NYC trying out an assortment of vintage Gibsons. Pete, on the other hand, spent the day getting pished. The gig was a late one and, by the time we got to the dressing room, he was in serious trouble. To be honest, I’d never seen Uncle Pete like this. Sure, he’d been happily tipsy before, but he was always able to speak in sentences before a show. During our opener, Dan had barely managed to get, “Sent a telegram todaaay!” out before altering the second line to, “Haw! What the Fuck, Pete!” Our bass player was trying to shove him off the stage into the audience physically. I was next. He gestured me to join him at the mic for backing vocals on Razamanaz then nudged me over the monitor wedge. Manny got similar treatment. John had his keyboard rack shaken during a solo and Pete threw a pint at Darrell while questioning his drum skills. Big Mistake! By the time we got back to the dressing room, a queue was forming. Even Manny was armed with an empty beer bottle and, for once, wasn’t letting this lie. “You’re all a bunch of C*nts and canny play for Shit!” was Pete’s departing comment. I say departing cos beer-soaked Darrell offered a final solution to the quickly escalating problem. “Pete. If you don’t shut the fuck up now, I’ll lamp ye, so help me! Stop Talking Now!”  Ach, you’re so full of…” Whuppp! Darrell was true to his word and Pete went down with a direct hit to the face… before leaping straight back up and uttering the immortal response: “That’s right! Hit me with ma back turned!” He then passed out, fuck me, so would anyone. Big D had a powerful left hook. Big Harry took Pete straight to hospital cos that Whuppp was going to require some stitches. We went back to the hotel, relieved it was all over. Except it wasn’t.

2XS promo sticker
2XS promo sticker 1982

The following morning, despite various attempts by Harry, Pete wouldn’t answer his door. In desperation, Big H took it off its hinges and then informed us at breakfast that Pete was quitting the tour. Back on the tour bus, I was called to an emergency meeting. Remember, we had a sold-out support slot to fulfil this very night and we had no bass player. Cutting a long argument short, I was eventually sent up to the back lounge of the bus pleading, “What the Fuck Guys?” armed with a cassette tape of our set, and Pete’s Alembic bass guitar. “You’ve got 3 hours. Learn it, or we’re gettin’ sued for a no-show.” That night we played as a 5-piece, but anyone thinking it was easy for yours truly can go and take a running fuck to yourself. Try playing the bass part of This Flight Tonight, yes the whole 3 minutes with Pete Agnew’s (okay technically John Entwistle’s) bass then keep playing it for another 45 minutes while all the muscles and blood vessels in your right arm have seized. Let me know how that works out for you.

Pete returns complete with Band-aid and black eye 20.11.82
Pete returns complete with Band-aid and black eye 21st November 1982

Next day, at the hotel, I went for a draft beer in the bar and, while sticking my poor shredded fingers into the glass, I heard a familiar voice from across the room. “Hey, Billy Boy! I heard you did alright last night. Thanks for covering for me.” After a brief silence, I composed myself enough to say:

“Does Darrell know you’re still talking?”

“There’s only the quick and the dead. I want to know who’s layin’ down.” (Rose Tattoo: The Butcher And Fast Eddy, 1978)

What can I say about John Locke?

John Locke

All-round lovely guy. Funny, intelligent, easy-going. A laid-back typical Californian health nut who’d survived the late 60’s acid-fuelled music scene, but only just, according to the man himself. Hell, he’d actually known Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix personally and, when Canadian Neil Young moved into the area and wanted piano lessons, John Locke obliged. His obsession with fitness and diet was no doubt due to being fucked up multiple times and having had hallucinations only an acid trip could induce. (Well, apart from seeing Pete Agnew looming at him through the dry ice that night at the Brooklyn Zoo. What a mindfuck that must have been for the poor guy.) Above all, John Locke was a brilliant keyboard player who could play things on the piano at which most of us could only marvel. He’d be an asset in any Rock band.

Personally, I hate keyboards in Rock bands. They take up too many frequencies. Take The Doors, for example, as John and I debated several times. Because their keyboard player used bass pedals, they never needed a bass player, which to me is utterly so NOT a Rock band. My idea (not shared by Mr Locke) of a keyboard player in a Rock band would be to tie his left hand behind his back and tape all the fingers of his right together. As the two new members of Naz, John and I struck up a relationship from day one of rehearsals with me being the go-to guy for all things ‘correct chord progressions’ and he being the, “Whoa! Turn down, Bill! I can’t hear myself playing the wrong chord progressions!” Pete famously referred to me as having ‘pink ears’, uncorrupted by years of excessive volume abuse. That would change soon but, it’s fair to say, John and I complimented each other in not getting in Manny’s way, sonically.

Where we differed right from the outset was our preferred method of payment for our services. John’s first involvement with Nazareth was as a session player on The Fool Circle album. He had a house, presumably with no mortgage, on Montserrat itself and only a few miles from Air Studios so he’d charged session fees which he continued to do during the following two years. I, on the other hand, had been on a weekly retainer with Delta Records, which Naz were happy to take over the payments of, but I had a young family and a mortgage I was keen to fulfil. Occasionally, we’d both get together in a hotel room and discuss our situation, but here’s the other difference between John and the rest of us. He wasn’t Scottish. Add to that (or due to that) he rarely joined the band and crew in the hotel bar or someone’s room after gigs to get as we’d put it, “Pished.” By the time the 2XS tour was happening, John wanted more. I’d try to reason away my position of, “I’m a new boy. What right do I have of being taken into record deals/publishing contracts they’d acquired due to hard work and global success before I was even aware of girls, kids or mortgages?” John disagreed. As far as I’m aware, he had made his mind up to quit before the tour was over. Luckily for me, we had one more memory to share before I’d never see John Locke again. It’s a sobering thought but, as I write this, it occurs to me that no matter how much you live the healthy life and stay in peak condition physically, mentally and spiritually, nothing saves you from that bastard we call cancer.

Now for that final John Locke memory.

Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens
Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens

On December 9th 1982, we found ourselves at the Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens as part of a three-band bill. Aerosmith, Nazareth and Rose Tattoo. Openers led by the wonderfully named Angry Anderson were suffering badly from the hostile crowd who thought it was fun to throw hundreds of beer bottles at the Australian outfit. John joined me at the side of the stage to witness what we rightly believed to be Rock and Roll Suicide.

Then things changed.

Rose Tattoo tour staff pass 9.12.82
Rose Tattoo tour staff pass Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens 8th December 1982

First, the bass player started to snatch bottles in mid-flight and throw them back indiscriminately into the audience. Then, the guitarist and even Angry himself did likewise. People fled for their lives. Others took direct hits, but the bottle throwing stopped almost immediately, and Rose Tattoo ended up getting a standing ovation, fuck, even an encore. John turned to me and said, “Jim Morrison used to do that.” We went on next and got our usual fanatical Toronto reception, then John and I headed back to stage-side to see if Aerosmith were doing alright. They were but, as we flashed our ‘Access All Areas’ passes, we noticed a lone figure at the bottom of the stairs having problems. It was Steven Tyler, who was trying to remove a needle from his arm but, due to the shakes, was not doing a very good job of it.
“Shit!” said John. “He’s in trouble. Stay close, don’t let anyone see.”
“Okay,” I replied and what happened next is testament to John’s experience from his acid house days.
“Hey Man, you okay?”
“Get this outa me. I can’t Fuckin’ see it.”
“No problemo. Hold still man. Gimme your arm. That’s good. Now stay calm. Bill?”
“When I say ‘Now,’ yank that syringe straight out, okay?”
“What?” By this time Aerosmith’s tour manager Bob had spotted us and tried to intervene, but John Locke kept his cool.
“I got this, Bob,” to which Bob responded with “Holy Shit! What the Fuck, Steven?”
To cut a long story short, John yelled “Now!” and I yanked that needle straight out, thus allowing Steven Tyler to return Walking This Way for the rest of the gig.

But it gets better.

Angry Anderson
Angry Anderson

Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens advert 8.12.82
Toronto Maple Leaf Gardens advert 8th December 1982

On the way back to our dressing room, we encountered Angry Anderson himself and congratulated him on his band’s unique take on crowd control to which he replied, “Aw thanks, mates. Listen. I’m a huge lifelong fan of Dan McCafferty. Any chance I could get backstage with you lot and say hello?” A few minutes later, his wish was granted.

“Hey, Dan,” said John. “There’s someone here to meet you.”

“Hello, Dan,” said the wee Australian. “I’m Angry.” Dan looked quite concerned before replying: 

“What aboot, Son?”

“They say I’m crazy, but I have a good time. (Joe Walsh: Lifes Been Good, 1978)

Jay CrawfordJay Crawford should’ve been a Rock Star.

Jay was the compère on my live debut and first TV show with Naz on STV and, as a presenter with Radio Forth, he joined us for a week or so during 1981’s American tour with the intention of doing a documentary ‘On tour with a Rock Band’ for the station. His bosses thought this a great idea, and it was, right up til he sold his recording equipment to buy some high-quality weed.

Jay Crawford should’ve been a Rock Star.

Kirkintilloch Herald 9.2.83
Kirkintilloch Herald 9th February 1983

So, when in early 1983, after we’d finished the 2XS/Billy Squier tour and John Locke had thrown in the towel, Jay asked us to help Radio Forth with a charity fundraiser for the Edinburgh Sick Children’s Hospital, we readily agreed. We put on a gig at a local club known as Coasters which Radio Forth would broadcast live on St Valentine’s Day and it was the first time we were to play as a five-piece. Personally, I was more than pleased at the prospect cos, apart from Nazareth, I’d always been part of a band with just 2 guitars, bass and drums.  At some point, I remember the idea being floated of me playing keyboards on a few songs, but I kicked that into touch swiftly enough. Never in the history of Rock and Roll has a guitarist in a band said, “You know what guys? I think I’ll stop playing this sexiest of instruments at colossal volume at the front of the stage and go sit up the back tinkling the ivories. I believe it may get me the attention of more girls.” Well perhaps Keith Emerson did once but, by all accounts, he was a shite guitar player. Manny’s guitar playing remained, for the most part, unchanged in the new 5-piece arrangement, but what was I to do about the massive loss in sonic tones and frequencies missing due to John’s absence? Get some new pedals? An Octivider might’ve helped increase my guitar’s depth and range as would have the new Guitar Synth Manny was currently raving about, but no. I simply ordered another Marshall 50W amp with matching cabinets and got louder. Problem solved and, in my opinion, we sounded more like a Rock Band again. Oh, some of you may be wondering what we did with John’s expensive keyboard equipment.

Well, in the spirit of ‘Jay Crawford should’ve been a Rock Star’ we sold it to buy some high-quality weed…


MCA Records promo shot backstage at Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983
Coasters ticket 14th February 1983
Sounds 17th February 1983
Bravo 24th February 1983
Dunfermline Press 25th February 1983
Kerrang March 1993 (picture taken at Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983)
Unknown German music magazine. Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983 (Barry in crowd far right)
Promo shot backstage at Coasters, Edinburgh 14.2.83

Back To The Trenches at Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983

Gatecrash at Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983

Boys In The Band at Coasters, Edinburgh 14th February 1983