999 (band)

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999 performing live in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2010
Background information
OriginLondon, England, United Kingdom
Years active
  • 1977–1982
  • 1983–1987
  • 1993–present
Associated acts
  • Nick Cash
  • Guy Days
  • Pablo LaBritain
  • Arturo Bassick
Past members
  • Jon Watson
  • Danny Palmer
  • Ed Case

999 are an English punk rock band, formed in London in December, 1976.[5] From the period of 1976 to 1985, the line-up of 999 consisted of Nick Cash (vocals, guitar), Guy Days (lead guitar), Jon Watson (bass guitar) and Pablo LaBrittain (drums). (As a result of injuries sustained in a motor accident, LaBrittain was temporarily replaced by drummer Ed Case aka Paul Edwards in 1980.) Jon Watson left the band in 1985; being replaced by Danny Palmer, who remained with the band until 1991. Palmer was replaced by Arturo Bassick, who remains the bass guitarist with 999 to this date.

Between 1978 and 2007, 999 released fourteen singles and twelve studio albums. Five of the singles released by 999 between 1978 and 1981 charted within the Top 75 in the UK Singles Chart, with one further single released by 999 in 1978, "Homicide", charting within the Top 40. In addition, as a result of extensive touring in the United States in the early 1980s, the band's third and fourth studio albums: The Biggest Prize in Sport and Concrete, each charted on the U.S. Billboard 200.

Despite having formed in 1976, 999 have only experienced two permanent changes to their original line-up[6] and has continued to record and play live to the present day, leading AllMusic to describe the band as "one of the longest-lived groups of the punk era."[7]


Named after the UK's emergency telephone number, 999 was founded in London by singer and guitarist Nick Cash, and Guy Days. Cash and Days are brothers.The former was a member of the pub rock band Kilburn and the High-Roads, and the latter was a session guitarist who played on some of the band's demo tapes.[8] In late 1976, they placed an advertisement in Melody Maker for band members and ended up turning down Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Jon Moss (Culture Club) and Tony James (Generation X).[9] They recruited Jon Watson on bass and Pablo LaBritain on drums, LaBritain having briefly played with the Clash.[10] The band that eventually became known as 999 performed their first concert at the Northampton Cricket Club in January 1977.[11] After experimenting with several different band names, the band became 999 in May 1977.[12]

999 button, Toronto-the Edge Club present

999 soon established themselves as a powerful live act on the London punk scene and became regulars at the Hope and Anchor, Islington.[8] On the strength of their well received, self-financed debut single, 999 were signed to United Artists Records around the same time as the Buzzcocks.[13] "I'm Alive" became a firm favourite in the punk clubs.[14] The band's second single, "Nasty Nasty", was cited nearly 20 years after its release as a seminal punk single.[15]

Their self-titled debut album, produced by Andy Arthurs, was released in March 1978. One retrospective review claimed it "demonstrated their limitations as well as their strengths. The 45 cuts like "Me And My Desire" and "Emergency" demonstrated the latter, but the album lacked that special ingredient, uniqueness or originality to make it stand out from the crowd."[16] The album reached No. 53 in the UK Albums Chart. The following year, the song "Emergency" from the album appeared — alongside songs by bands like The Jam and The Stranglers — on the punk compilation 20 of Another Kind. That album reached No. 45 in the UK chart. Years later, "Emergency" was included in Mojo magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.[17]

The band's second album, Separates was produced by Martin Rushent. One reviewer lists it as one of the best punk albums of all time.[18] In the United States, a slightly altered version of Separates, re-titled High Energy Plan, became the band's first American release.[19] In October 1978, a month after the album’s release, 999 recorded their only session for John Peel at BBC Radio 1.[20] 999 also played at Front Row Festival, a three-week event at the Hope and Anchor in late November and early December 1977. This resulted in the band’s inclusion, alongside the likes of Wilko Johnson, The Only Ones, the Saints, The Stranglers, X-Ray Spex, and XTC, on a hit double LP of recordings from the festival.

999 toured widely in the United States and the band was rewarded when their albums The Biggest Prize In Sport and Concrete charted on the Billboard 200. In the US, "Homicide" and "Hollywood" garnered frequent rotation on Rock of the 80s format radio stations like KROQ in Los Angeles. According to Dave Thompson, "For many Americans, they were the first to actually bother with the backwoods, playing places which other Brit bands hadn't heard of, and returning to them again and again. And while no one knows how many American bands were first inspired to take up arms by 999, those that did still wear their loyalties loudly."[21]

Despite a number of minor hit singles, the band's critical appeal in Britain had begun to wane. Their stock was lifted temporarily with the arrival of the self-released Face To Face. 999's popularity continued to decline steadily, leading to the group disbanding twice in the 1980s, reforming soon afterwards. They have since released several albums and continue to tour, including playing at the 11th Antifest in 2005. Bassick also plays for The Lurkers.[22]


  • Original: Nick Cash (b. Keith Lucas, 6 May 1950) – vocals and guitar; Guy Days – guitar and vocals; Jon Watson – bass; Pablo LaBritain – drums.
  • End of 1979: Ed Case temporarily replaces an injured LaBritain on drums.
  • Spring 1980: LaBritain returns after injury.
  • Split up in 1982 but reformed in 1983.[23]
  • 1986 Watson leaves. Danny Palmer replaces him on bass
  • Split up in 1987 but reformed in 1993.[24]
  • 1993: Arturo Bassick (of The Lurkers) replaced Palmer on bass.


Studio albums

  • 999 (March 1978, United Artists Records, UAG 30199) # 53 UK Albums Chart[25]
  • Separates (September 1978, United Artists, UAG 30209)
  • High Energy Plan (U.S./Canada Release only: 1979, PVC / Radar / Passport) Based upon Separates, it replaced various album tracks with various singles
  • The Biggest Prize in Sport (January 1980, Polydor Records, POLS 1013) # 177 U.S. Billboard Album Chart
  • Concrete (April 1981, Albion, ITS 999) # 192 U.S. Billboard
  • 13th Floor Madness (November 1983, Albion, AS 8502)
  • Face to Face (March 1985, LaBritain, LABLP 1000)
  • You Us It! (November 1993, Anagram)
  • Takeover (March 1998, Get Back)
  • Dancing In The Wrong Shoes (1999, Receiver Records)
  • Outburst (2003)
  • Death in Soho (2007)

Live albums and compilations

  • The Biggest Tour in Sport - recorded live (1980, Polydor)
  • The Singles Album (1981, SOS)
  • In Case of Emergency (1986, Dojo)
  • Lust Power and Money (Live) (1987, A.B.C.)
  • Live and Loud (1989, Link)
  • The Cellblock Tapes (1990, Link)
  • The Early Stuff (The UA Years) (1992, EMI)
  • Live in L.A.: 1991 (1994)
  • The Albion Punk Years (1996, Anagram)
  • Scandal in the City (1997)
  • Live at the Nashville 1979 (1997, Anagram)
  • Emergency (1997, Receiver)
  • Slam (1999, Overground)
  • The Punk Singles Collection: 1977-1980 (2001, Captain Oi)
  • English Wipeout: Live (2002, Overground)
  • Nasty Tales: Live (2006, Secret Records)


  • "I'm Alive" / "Quite Disappointing" (July 1977, LaBritain) Re-released on United Artists in 1979
  • "Nasty Nasty" / "No Pity" (October 1977, United Artists) Also released as a 78 rpm promo disc
  • "Emergency" / "My Street Stinks" (January 1978, United Artists) # 75
  • "Me And My Desire" / "Crazy" (April 1978, United Artists)
  • "Feeling Alright With The Crew" / "Titantic (My Over) Reaction" (August 1978, United Artists)
  • "Homicide" / "Soldier" (October 1978, United Artists) # 40 UK Singles Chart[25]
  • "Found Out Too Late" / "Lie Lie Lie" (September 1979, Radar Records) # 69
  • "Trouble" / "Make A Fool Of You" (January 1980, Polydor)
  • "Hollywood" / "Boiler" (April 1980, Polydor)
  • "Obsessed" / "Change" / "Lie Lie Lie" (April 1981, Albion) # 71
  • "Li'l Red Riding Hood" / "Waiting For Your Number To Be Called" / "I Ain't Gonna Tell Ya" (live) (June 1981, Albion) # 59
  • "Indian Reservation" / "So Greedy" (remix) / "Taboo" (remix) (November 1981, Albion) # 51
  • "Wild Sun" / "Scandal In The City" / "Bongos On The Nile" (June 1982, Albion) Also released as a 12" single with "Don't You Know I Need You"
  • "13th Floor Madness" / "Nightshift" / "Arabesque" (October 1983, Albion) Also released as a 12" single

Music Videos

  • "Emergency" (1978)
  • "Homicide" (1978)
  • "Obsessed" (1981)

Appearances on various artists compilations and soundtracks

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "999 - great Punk band ,history, music, records,photos". Punk77.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  2. ^ "999 – Discover music, videos, concerts, stats, & pictures at". Last.fm. 2012-03-22. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  3. ^ "999 | The Biggest Prize in Sport, Download Songs, Read Commentary About The Biggest Prize in Sport". Deaconlight.com. 2009-03-03. Archived from the original on 27 June 2013. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  4. ^ Strong, M.C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, Edinburgh, p. 105
  5. ^ AllMusic.com.
  6. ^ Punk77. Archived 9 July 2009 at the Portuguese Web Archive
  7. ^ Allmusic.com.
  8. ^ a b Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 519.
  9. ^ 999: A History (Part One) on www.punk77.co.uk: A history of UK Punk Rock from 1976-79;
  10. ^ Peachey, Mal (2008). The Clash. Great Britain: Atlantic Books. p. 62.
  11. ^ 999 on Punkmodpop Archived 6 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.;
  12. ^ Larkin, Colin (2002). 70s Music. London: Virgin Books. p. 307. ISBN 1-85227-947-8.
  13. ^ Joynson, Vernon (2001). Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk. Wolverhampton: Borderline Publications. p. 246. ISBN 1-899855-13-0.
  14. ^ Buckley & Ellingham (eds) (1996). Rock: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides. p. 609. ISBN 1-85828-201-2.
  15. ^ Gardner, Steve (1996). "Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk singles". Archived from the original on 24 August 2014. ripping guitar
  16. ^ Joynson, Vernon (2001). Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk. Wolverhampton: Borderline Publications. p. 246.
  17. ^ Mojo (October 2001) - 100 Punk Scorchers , Issue 95, London;
  18. ^ Gardner, Steve (1996). "Hiljaiset Levyt: 100 Best Punk LP's". Archived from the original on 22 November 2007. ‘Homicide’ from this LP, which was about their most popular song, was pretty close to disco, but there's plenty of other catchy ones here, like ‘Tulse Hill Night’, ‘Out Of Reach’ or ‘Let's Face It’.
  19. ^ "999 - High Energy Plan (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
  20. ^ 999’s John Peel Session on BBC Radio 1;
  21. ^ Thompson, Dave (2000). Alternative Rock. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books. p. 520. ISBN 0-87930-607-6.
  22. ^ The Lurkers' Band History on their official website Archived 19 June 2014 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Joynson, V. (2001) Up Yours! A Guide to UK Punk, New Wave & Early Post Punk, Borderline Productions, Wolverhampton, p. 247;
  24. ^ Strong, M.C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, Edinburgh, p. 106;
  25. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

External links[edit]