The Adverts

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The Adverts
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Punk rock
Years active 1976 (1976)–1979
Associated acts
  • T.V. Smith's Explorers
  • Cheap
Past members
  • Tim Smith (T. V. Smith)
  • Gaye Black (Gaye Advert)
  • Howard Boak (Howard Pickup)
  • Laurie Muscat (Laurie Driver)
  • Jon Towe
  • Rod Latter
  • Tim Cross
  • Paul Martinez
  • Rick Martinez

The Adverts were an English punk band who formed in 1976 and broke up in late 1979. They were one of the first punk bands to enjoy chart success in the UK, and their lineup included Gaye Advert, whom The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music called the "first female punk star".[1]


The band was formed in 1976 by T.V. Smith (Tim Smith) and Gaye Advert (Gaye Black). Smith and Advert were both from Bideford, a small coastal town in Devon, and were later married.[2] After relocating to London the two young punks recruited guitarist Howard Pickup (Boak) and drummer Laurie Driver (Muscat), and the Adverts were born.[3]

The Roxy, London's first live punk venue,[4] played a crucial role in the Adverts’ early career. They were one of the pioneering bands who played at the club during its first 100 days. The Adverts played at the club no less than nine times between January and April 1977.[5] In January 1977, after their first gig supporting Generation X, the band impressed Michael Dempsey so much that he became their manager. Their second gig supporting Slaughter & the Dogs was recorded, and their anthem "Bored Teenagers" was included on the UK Top 30 album The Roxy London WC2. In February, shortly after the band's third gig supporting The Damned, they signed a recording contract with Stiff Records.[6] In March, the band supported The Jam at the Roxy.

In April, the Adverts recorded the first of four sessions for John Peel at BBC Radio 1.[7] Days later, their debut single, "One Chord Wonders", was released. The single, "a headlong rush of energy", was recommended by both Melody Maker and Sounds.[8] Understanding the band's limitations, the song's lyrics, composed by TV Smith, were likeably self-deprecating:

I wonder what we’ll play for you tonight
Something heavy or something light
Something to set your soul alight
I wonder how we’ll answer when you say
‘We don’t like you – go away
Come back when you’ve learnt to play

The Adverts were a prolific live act. Their first nationwide tour was with Stiff labelmates the Damned. The tour poster read, "The Adverts know one chord, the Damned know three. See all four at…"[9] Later they would support Iggy Pop on tour, as well as conducting their own headlining tours in Britain, Ireland and Europe.[6]

Original UK 45 rpm single picture cover: The Adverts - Gary Gilmore's Eyes (the original Anchor release)

In August, the band released the first of their two UK Top 40 hit singles. Lyrically, "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" was a controversial song based on the wishes of Gary Gilmore, an American murderer, that his eyes be donated to medical science after his execution. Sounds described it as "the sickest and cleverest record to come out of the new wave".[10] Years later, it was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time.[11]

After the tabloid-fuelled controversy surrounding the single, and an appearance on Top of the Pops, the Adverts became big news. Observers focused on frontman Smith and bassist Gaye Advert. Reviewers noted Smith's songwriting ability. He was said to have "captured the spirit of the times few contemporaries could match".[12] Another reviewer described Smith as the band’s "raging heart, spitting out the failsafe succession of songs which still delineate punk’s hopes, aspirations and, ultimately, regrets".[6] In contrast, Gaye Advert's reputation was more fleeting. She was "one of Punk’s first female icons".[2] Her "photogenic" looks, "panda-eye make-up and omnipresent leather jacket defined the face of female punkdom until well into the next decade".[6]

The band’s follow-up single, "Safety in Numbers", did not chart. A fourth single, "No Time To Be 21", scraped into the UK Top 40. A month later, their debut album Crossing the Red Sea was released. It has since become one of the most highly regarded albums of the punk era, with Dave Thompson calling it "a devastating debut, one of the finest albums not only of the punk era, but of the 1970s as a whole",[13] Trouser Press calling it "the equal of the first Sex Pistols or Clash LP, a hasty statement that captures an exciting time",[14] and several other writers including it in lists of all-time greatest albums.[12][15][16][17]

Despite releasing some more well-regarded singles, the Adverts were not able to maintain the momentum and their career stalled after the release of their second album. The band members at the time were also threatened with lawsuits by former members Pickup and Rod Latter and Howard Pickup, who objected to the band continuing to use the Adverts name without them.[18] They split up shortly after the accidental death by electrocution of Dempsey, manager.[2] Their last gig was at Slough College on 27 October 1979. After the band ended, T.V. Smith continued with Tim Cross as T.V. Smith's Explorers, then Cheap, and finally as a solo artist from the 1990s onward.

In regards to their legacy, critic and author Dave Thompson argued that "nobody would make music like the Adverts and nobody ever has. In terms of lyric, delivery, commitment and courage, they were, and they remain, the finest British group of the late 1970s".[19]

Former members who have died include Cross (died 9 July 2012),[20] and Pickup (died 11 July 1997).[21]


Studio albums[edit]

Other releases[edit]

  • Live at the Roxy Club (1990, Receiver)
  • The Wonders Don’t Care: The Complete Radio Recordings (1997, Burning Airlines)
  • The Punk Singles Collection (1997, Anagram Records)

Appearances on various artist compilations[edit]


  • "One Chord Wonders" / "Quickstep" (29 April 1977, Stiff Records BUY13)
  • "Gary Gilmore's Eyes" / "Bored Teenagers" (19 August 1977, Anchor Records ANC1043) UK No. 18[22]
  • "Safety in Numbers" / "We Who Wait" (28 October 1977, Anchor Records ANC1047)
  • "No Time to Be 21" / "New Day Dawning" (20 January 1978, Bright Records BR1) UK No. 34[22]
  • "Television's Over" / "Back from the Dead" (10 November 1978, RCA Records PB5128)
  • "My Place" / "New Church" (1 June 1979: RCA Records PB5160)
  • "Cast of Thousands" / "I Will Walk You Home" (19 October 1979, RCA Records PB5191)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Larkin, Colin (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of 70s Music. London: Virgin Books. p. 9. ISBN 1-85227-947-8. 
  2. ^ a b c Strong, M.C. (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Edinburgh: Canongate. p. 4. ISBN 1-84195-335-0. 
  3. ^ Joynson, Vernon (2001). Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk. Wolverhampton: Borderline Publications. p. 27. ISBN 1-899855-13-0. 
  4. ^ Joynson, Vernon (2001). Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk. Wolverhampton: Borderline Publications. p. 11. ISBN 1-899855-13-0. 
  5. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Punk. Ontario: Collector’s Guide Publication. pp. 61–62. ISBN 1-896522-27-0. 
  6. ^ a b c d Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 146. ISBN 0-87930-607-6. 
  7. ^ The Adverts’ John Peel Sessions on BBC Radio 1;
  8. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Punk. Ontario: Collector’s Guide Publication. p. 64. ISBN 1-896522-27-0. 
  9. ^ Buckley & Ellingham (eds) (1996). Rock: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides. p. 8. ISBN 1-85828-201-2. 
  10. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Punk. Ontario: Collector’s Guide Publication. p. 65. ISBN 1-896522-27-0. 
  11. ^ Mojo (October 2001) - 100 Punk Scorchers , Issue 95, London;
  12. ^ a b Larkin, Colin (1994). All Time Top 1000 Albums. Enfield: Guinness Publishing. p. 237. ISBN 0-85112-786-X. 
  13. ^ Thompson, Dave. "Review of Crossing the Read Sea on Allmusic". 
  14. ^ Young, Jon & Robbins, Ira "Adverts", Trouser Press, retrieved 2 January 2010
  15. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). 10 Star Album List in 'Alternative Rock'. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 817. ISBN 0-87930-607-6. 
  16. ^ Dimery, Robert (2005). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. London: Cassell. p. 404. Smith did not deal in simple sensationalism, and his songs suggest a rebel with a cause: 'No Time to Be 21', 'One Chord Wonders', and 'Bored Teenagers' all served as anthems for the blank generation 
  17. ^ The Guardian (November 2007). 1,000 Albums To Hear Before You Die. London. Although lacking the impact of the Clash or Sex Pistols, the Adverts defined punk's sound with 1977's self-mythologising single, One Chord Wonders. Also containing the chart hit No Time to Be 21, their debut packs enough snotty-nosed indignation to make anybody long to spit at a policeman. 
  18. ^ "Adverts Closedown", Smash Hits, EMAP National Publications Ltd, November 15–28, 1979, p.9
  19. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Punk. Ontario: Collector’s Guide Publication. p. 63. ISBN 1-896522-27-0. 
  20. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 2012 July To December". Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  21. ^ Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1996 - 1997". Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  22. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 15. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  23. ^ Roberts, David (1996). British Hit Albums (7th ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 366. ISBN 0-85112-619-7. 
  24. ^ Roberts, David (1996). British Hit Albums (7th ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Publishing Ltd. p. 354. ISBN 0-85112-619-7. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Life & Times of T.V. Smith by Dave Thompson (Private, 1988)

External links[edit]