Doctors of Madness
|Genres||Proto-punk, rock, art rock, punk rock|
|Labels||Polydor Records, Ozit Records|
|Members||Richard Strange |
Dave Vanian (1978)
Doctors of Madness were a British protopunk art rock band active as a recording and touring band from 1975 until late 1978. They found cult level acclaim and recognition, but had little commercial success. Later they became cited as a pivotal influence on the early British punk rock movement.
To provide a platform for his musical ideas and compositions analysing urban culture neurosis and systems of control, Strange joined forces with Urban Blitz (electric violin, baritone violectra and lead guitar) Stoner (vocals, bass guitar) and Peter DiLemma (vocals, drums) to provide the link between the early 70s progressive rock and glam rock of David Bowie and Roxy Music, and the later 70s punk rock of the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Doctors of Madness cited The Velvet Underground and writer William S. Burroughs as major influences on their music which fused avant-garde hard rock with warped quasi-classical tones.
The band toured extensively in Great Britain and in continental Europe; gigging in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. Their stage shows incorporated costumes, props, make-up, projected backdrop images, smoke, strobe lights and theatrical spot-lighting and also taped sound effects.
Between 1975 and 1977, Doctors of Madness recorded three albums for Polydor records - Late Night Movies, All Night Brainstorms produced by John Punter, Figments of Emancipation recorded at Abbey Road studios with producer John Leckie, and Sons of Survival. A posthumous compilation, Revisionism, was released in 1981, the band having split in late 1978. The first three albums were re-released on CD by Ozit Records. A single, 'Bulletin' backed by 'Waiting' was released in 1977.
Doctors of Madness were BBC Radio John Peel Show featured artists on 25/11/76  and received British television exposure during 1975/76 on the Twiggy Show and also the Janet Street-Porter Show
Their support acts during their heyday included The Sex Pistols (Middlesbrough 1976), The Jam (London Marquee on several occasions 1976), Joy Division (as "Warsaw" Manchester 1976) and Simple Minds (as "Johnny and the Self Abusers" Falkirk 1976). Furthermore Richard 'Kid' Strange was best man at Dave Vanian's (of the Damned) wedding. Julian Cope of The Teardrop Explodes, Spiritualized, the comedian Vic Reeves and Richard Jobson of The Skids, now a film maker, have all acknowledged their appreciation of the Doctors of Madness music. Vic Reeves said '"If you have never heard the Doctors of Madness, you should. Musically they are the Velvet Underground, New York Dolls with shades of glam, hippie, prog and punk all rolled into one, yet are still totally original. Vastly underrated, they should have been huge. Pure genius"
Early in 1978 Urban Blitz was ousted from the band after musical and personal differences, and was briefly replaced by singer Dave Vanian of punk rock band The Damned, who had recently split, albeit temporarily.
Richard Strange, Stoner and Peter DiLemma continued as a trio until October 1978 before disbanding due to withdrawal of record company support. Recognition of Doctors of Madness influence on the emergence of British punk rock was documented in the book "An Unauthorized Guide to Punk Rock: The Early English Scene, Including the Deviants, the Doctors of Madness, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Clash"  published in 2011.The bands reappraisal as an important influence in British punk rock prompted their albums to be re-released in 2002 on CD.
Richard Strange has promoted Doctors of Madness music in recent years with performances in Japan  backed by ex-Pogues multi-instrumentalist David Coulter and local band Sister Paul in 2003, and also performances in Leeds and Doncaster UK  with bassist Stoner in 2006.
The Doctors of Madness reunited in October 2014 for a one-off performance as part of Richard Strange's "Language is a Virus from Outer Space", a cross-artform centenary celebration of satirical US writer William S Burroughs . Joe Elliott of Def Leppard made a guest appearance  duetting on Suicide City . Stoner tragically died just one month after the October 2014 reunion and received a prestigious obituary in The Times newspaper citing his contributions to music.
In May 2017 Cherry Red Records release a comprehensive 3 CD boxed set of the entire recorded works of the Doctors of Madness entitled "Perfect Past- The Complete Doctors of Madness", and the release will be celebrated with a string of live performances by the band, featuring Richard "Kid" Strange, Urban Blitz, and the Japanese rhythm section of Susumu (bass) and Mackii (Drums) from the band Sister Paul. This lineup will also tour Japan in September 2017.