Punk rockers The Damned may have never happened if it hadn’t been for the Johnny Moped Band, writes Graham Walker.
Never heard of them?
Well that’s all about to change following a Sheffield Doc/Fest screening of Basically, Johnny Moped - the story of Captain Sensible’s first band.
But the film, made by his son, Fred Burns, is focussed on leasd singer Johnny, featuring interviews with the Captain, plus other former band members, including Chrissie Hynde.
Now there are hopes for a wider release for the film and possibly a TV screening.
VIDEO: Press the play buton to watch Captsain Sensible and his son in conversation with The Star’s Graham Walker at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Proto-punk of the 1970s was a burgeoning youth subculture defined by volatile friendships and fall-outs. This particular “subculture”, however, is responsible for producing Johnny Moped, a band that is often cited as the pioneers of punk music.
Amongst their former members are Captain Sensible and Chrissie Hynde, the latter of whom was fired - twice! - before she formed the hugely successful band, The Pretenders.
At the centre of the power chord-maelstrom was Johnny Moped the man himself, an unstoppable “sonic terror” behind the mic who was caught in a battle of loyalty between love and music.
The band’s fate was ultimately sealed when they self-sabotaged the one gig that would have led to a record deal. Recounting the sloppy rebelliousness of the time and their current rebanding plans are the original members (including Hynde) and scenesters, whose anecdotes chronicle the rise, fall, and return of Johnny Moped.
The Captain, now aged 59, famed for his signature red beret, glasses and that quirky chart-topper Happy Talk, told The Star: “I’m proud of my son for making this film. It could lead to a band reunion, if for one night only. That’s a possibility.
“We used to play in the back garden. our singer Johnny Moped would pop up out of a dustbin, painted green. Other bands in Croydon were learning to play current hits. We couldn’t play a note and we thought we were superior to them. We were loathed and reviled.
“The Damned and punk rock, when it arrived, we were in pole position. We had bags of attitude and a fair amount of lunacy. We didn’t care that people hated us.
“We never considered it for fame or money. We just enjoyed it and that’s what music should be all about.”