Combat 84

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Combat 84
Also known as The 7th Cavalry
Origin Chelsea, London, England
Genres Oi!, Punk rock
Years active 1981 - 1984
2000
Labels Victory Records
Rock-O-Rama
7th Cavalry Records
Step-1 Records
Past members 'Chubby' Chris Henderson
'Deptford' John
Jim Moncur
Brownie
John Fisher
F.T.
Suds

Combat 84 were an English Oi! band active during the early 1980s. Formed in 1981 in Chelsea, London by skinheads 'Chubby' Chris Henderson and 'Deptford' John Armitage, Combat 84 rose to national prominence after being featured in a controversial 1982 BBC Arena documentary about the skinhead movement.

Career[edit]

The band was originally composed of Chris Henderson (vocals), 'Deptford' John Armitage (bass guitar), Jim (guitar) and Brownie (drums) and played their first gig supporting The Last Resort at the Walmer Castle, Peckham.[1] The Last Resort's lead singer, Roi Pearce (later of The 4-Skins) liked the band and agreed to produce a two-song demo tape with them.[1] These sessions resulted in the songs "Soldier" and "Combat 84", which were favourably received in the music press, leading to the band being described as 'the new Sham 69'.[2]

In 1982, the manager of The 4-Skins, Gary Hitchcock attempted to get the band signed to Secret Records, then home to The 4-Skins, The Business, Infa Riot and The Exploited, although the deal fell through at the last minute, prompting Combat 84 to sign to Victory Records for the release of their Orders of the Day EP.[2] Former Business drummer John Fisher replaced Brownie for the recording of the second (1983) EP, Rapist.

More right-leaning, lyrically than many of their punk rock and Oi! peers, Combat 84 received much criticism for recording a song that advocated capital punishment for rapists ("Rapist"), and a song that supported nuclear weapons and criticized the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and reds ("Right to Choose"). Guitarist Jim stated in a 2000 interview that the latter song was intended in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and as a homage to Vietnam War movies.[1] Other lyrical themes included unemployment, inner-city violence, war, and slavish followers of fashion.

Controversy erupted around the band after they were featured in a 1982 BBC Arena documentary, during which Henderson made racist comments. His views were not shared by the other band members; in the same documentary, 'Deptford' John commented on the similarity in living situation between black and white working-class youths in early 1980s Britain.[3] Footage of crowd violence at a gig was also broadcast in the documentary. This led to the breakup of the band, as their newly earned bad reputation discouraged venues from booking the band. Gigs were then often played under the pseudonym The 7th Cavalry to avoid the stigma of the Combat 84 name.[1]

Victory Records, wanting little to do with the band at this point, compiled an album of studio recordings (intended for the band's debut album) and bootleg-quality live tracks and licensed it to German label Rock-O-Rama Records for release as Send in the Marines in 1984. The record was disowned by the band, which split up soon after.[1][2]

In the intervening years, Combat 84 were frequently labelled as a neo-Nazi, white power or Rock Against Communism (RAC) band,[3] a charge which has been denied by 'Deptford' John and Jim, noting that the band's songs contained no racist lyrics, nor were they ever aligned with any far-right political party, although 'Deptford' John noted in a 2001 interview with the "Pissed and Proud" fanzine that he believes in free speech and whilst not supporting it, that RAC music should be allowed a platform - as "people should be allowed to say what they want".[1][4]

Aftermath and reunion[edit]

'Deptford' John and Jim went on to roadie for and play with the U.K. Subs and The Exploited, and John Fisher played with former members of The Last Resort in The Warriors. After retiring from the music business, Chris Henderson became more involved with football hooliganism, and eventually led the Chelsea Headhunters in the mid-to-late 1980s, writing the book Who Wants it? about his experiences with Colin Ward.[5] He owned a bar in Pattay, Thailand and died on 31st October 2013. In 2000, the band reformed without Henderson for the release of the Tooled Up EP, released on their own 7th Cavalry record label. 'Deptford' John took over vocal duties, with Jim on guitar, and 'F.T.' and 'Suds' on bass and drums respectively.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Send in the Marines (1984)
  • Death Or Glory (1987, with The Last Resort)
  • Charge of the 7th Cavalry (1989) (posthumous live album, released on Step-1 Records)
  • Orders of the Day (2000) (posthumous collection containing all studio recordings, released on Step-1 Records)

EPs[edit]

  • Orders of the Day (1982)
  • Rapist (1983)
  • Tooled Up (2000)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "www.punkoiuk.co.uk : Combat 84 Interview". Punk & Oi! in the UK. 02/10/2000. Retrieved 2009-02-10.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ a b c "Orders of the Day" liner notes. Step-1 Records. 1999. 
  3. ^ a b "S.C.A.B. Interview: Combat 84". Retrieved 2009-02-11. [dead link]
  4. ^ "COMBAT 84". Pissed and Proud. 2001. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 
  5. ^ Lowles, Nick (December 1999). "macintyre.com - Headhunters unmasked". Searchlight Magazine. Retrieved 2009-02-11. [dead link]