The original line-up of the band was assembled in late 1976 by John Krivine, the owner of Acme Attractions, a fashion boutique shop in King's Road in Chelsea, London, comprising vocalist Gene October, guitarist William Broad (later and better known as Billy Idol), bassist Tony James and drummer John Towe; James and Towe had previously been in London SS. After three support gigs playing cover versions of other bands' songs, Idol and James departed in November 1976, taking Towe with them, to form Generation X.
Early singles and Chelsea (1977-1979)
Chelsea's first single, "Right to Work", was released in June 1977 by Step-Forward Records. Recorded by the October/Fortune/Daze/Stevenson line-up of the band, it was their most popular song, and also appeared on the soundtrack album (issued in 1978 by Polydor) to the 1977 Derek Jarman film Jubilee (which October had appeared in).
Simon Cade Williams, aka Simon Vitesse, joined the band as bassist in 1977 for a UK tour and the band's second single, "High Rise Living". This rapid turnover of band members was characteristic throughout Chelsea's existence, with October the only constant presence.
After spending 1977–78 touring in the UK and overseas, they released their first album, Chelsea, in 1979.
New line-ups, Evacuate and later albums (1982-present)
After a split, October put together a new line-up, including guitarist Nic Austin, which recorded the critically acclaimed second album Evacuate (1982).
October sporadically released albums with various Chelsea line-ups throughout the 1980s, including Original Sinners, Rocks Off and Underwraps.
In the early 1990s, a line-up featuring the returning Austin and new bassist Mat Sargent released The Alternative (1993) and Traitors Gate (1994) albums. In 1999, the line-up 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 City 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 line-up released the album Saturday Night Sunday Morning in 2015. The Mission Impossible album followed in 2017.
- Chelsea (1979, Step-Forward)
- 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)
- Mission Impossible (2017, 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 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)
- Alternative Hits (1980, Step-Forward) released as No Escape in USA (1980, I.R.S.)
- 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)
- Mojo (October 2001) – 100 Punk Scorchers , Issue 95, London;
- Interview with Tony James, Generation X Anthology, April 2002. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUn-57PNYRI
- 'Right to Work' release entry in Discogs website. http://www.discogs.com/Chelsea-Right-To-Work/release/546090