Chelsea (band)

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For the 1970s American rock band, see Chelsea (American band).
Background information
Origin London, England
Genres Punk rock
Years active 1976–present
Labels Step-Forward, I.R.S., Communiqué, Jungle, Alter Ego, Weser, Captain Oi!, Westworld
Associated acts London SS, Generation X, Billy Idol, Buzzcocks
Website Chelsea's official site
Members Gene October
James Stevenson
Nic Austin
Mat Sargent
Lee Morrell
Past members William Broad
Tony James
Henry Badowski
John Towe
Carey Fortune
Chris Bashford
Tony Barber
Stuart Sulsby
Andy Reid

Chelsea are an English punk rock band, formed in London in 1976. Three of the four original band members went on to found Generation X.

More than two decades after its release, "Right to Work", Chelsea's debut single, was included in Mojo magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.[1]


The original lineup featured frontman Gene October, William Broad (later and better known as Billy Idol) (guitar), Tony James (bass) and John Towe (drums, who had come from London SS along with James). After a few gigs, the other three left October to form Generation X. October then recruited Carey Fortune (drums), Martin Stacy (guitar) and Bob Jessie (bass), with the last two soon replaced by Henry Daze (Henry Badowski) and James Stevenson (who also later joined Generation X). This rapid turnover of band members (Simon Cade Williams, aka Simon Vitesse, joined the band as bassist in 1977 for UK tour and the single "High Rise Living") was characteristic throughout Chelsea's existence, with October the only constant presence.

Their first single, "Right to Work" (issued in 1977 by Step-Forward Records), dealing with unemployment, was their most popular song. It appeared on the soundtrack album (issued in 1978 by Polydor) to the 1977 Derek Jarman film Jubilee, which October had appeared in.[2]

After spending 1977–78 touring in the UK and overseas, they released their first album, Chelsea, in 1979. Their second album, Alternative Hits was released in 1980; it was also issued in the U.S. by I.R.S. Records, retitled No Escape. After a split, October put together a new lineup, including guitarist Nic Austin, which recorded the critically acclaimed album Evacuate (1982).

October sporadically released albums with various Chelsea lineups throughout the 1980s, including Rock Off, Original Sinners and Underwraps.

In the early 1990s, a lineup featuring the returning Austin and new bassist Mat Sargent released The Alternative (1993) and Traitors Gate (1994) albums. In 1999, the lineup from the first album, including Stevenson, reformed for the Social Chaos Tour across North America. A live album, Metallic F.O.: Live at CBGB's (released 2002), was recorded at CBGB in New York during this tour.

Augmented by Buzzcocks bassist Tony Barber, the band released Faster, Cheaper and Better Looking in 2005. Austin and Sargent returned in 2011, and this lineup released the album Saturday Night Sunday Morning in 2015.


Studio albums[edit]

  • Chelsea (1979, Step-Forward)
  • Alternative Hits (1980, Step-Forward)
  • No Escape (1980, I.R.S.)
  • Evacuate (1982, Step-Forward)
  • Original Sinners (1985, Communiqué)
  • Rocks Off (1986, Jungle)
  • Underwraps (1989, I.R.S.)
  • The Alternative (1993, Alter Ego)
  • Traitors Gate (1994, Weser)
  • Faster, Cheaper and Better Looking (2005, Captain Oi!)
  • Saturday Night Sunday Morning (2015, Westworld)


  • "Right to Work" (1977, Step-Forward)
  • "High Rise Living" (1977, Step-Forward)
  • "Urban Kids" (1978, Step-Forward)
  • "Decide" (1979, Step-Forward/I.R.S.)
  • "No-One's Coming Outside" (1980, Step-Forward)
  • "Look at the Outside" (1980, Step-Forward)
  • "No Escape" (1980, Step-Forward)
  • "Rockin' Horse" (1981, Step-Forward)
  • "Freemans" (1981, Step-Forward)
  • "Evacuate" (1981, Step-Forward)
  • "War Across the Nation" (1982, Step-Forward)
  • "Stand Out" (1982, Step-Forward)
  • "Valium Mother" (1985, Communiqué)
  • "Shine the Light" (1986, Communiqué)
  • "Give Me More" (1986, self-released)
  • "We Dare" (1994, Weser)
  • "Sod the War" (2007, TKO)

Live albums[edit]

  • Live and Well (1984, Picasso)
  • Metallic F.O.: Live at CBGB's (2002, Red Steel)
  • Live at the Music Machine 1978 (2005, Released Emotions)
  • Live and Loud (2005, Harry May)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Just for the Record (1983, Step-Forward)
  • Back Trax (1988, Illegal)
  • Unreleased Stuff (1989, Clay)
  • Fools and Soldiers (1997, Receiver)
  • The Punk Singles Collection 1977-82 (1998, Captain Oi!)
  • Punk Rock Rarities (1999, Captain Oi!)
  • The BBC Punk Sessions (2001, Captain Oi!)
  • Urban Kids - A Punk Rock Anthology (2004, Castle)
  • Right to Work - The Singles (2015, Let Them Eat Vinyl)

Compilation appearances[edit]


  1. ^ Mojo (October 2001) – 100 Punk Scorchers , Issue 95, London;
  2. ^ film.

External links[edit]