Q-Tips (band)

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Origin England
Genres Blue-eyed soul, new wave
Years active 1979 (1979)–1982 (1982)
Past members
  • Paul Young
  • Mick Pearl
  • John Gifford
  • Dave Lathwell
  • Baz Watts

Q-Tips were an English blue-eyed soul and new wave[1] rock band, first formed in 1979 from the remnants of the 1970s rock outfit Streetband.[2] Saddled with the novelty song "Toast", a B-side made successful from heavy airplay by Capital Radio's’s Kenny Everett, Streetband had failed to find any commercial success with their two albums. Drummer Chalky and guitarist Roger Kelly departed, leaving the remaining trio of Paul Young on vocals, Mick Pearl on bass guitar, and guitarist John Gifford.


The ex-Streetbanders added new recruits Dave Lathwell on guitar and Baz Watts on drums. In addition, a four-piece brass section was created by Steve Farr (baritone saxophone), Richard Blanchchard (tenor saxophone), Oscar Stuart Blandamer (alto saxophone) and Tony Hughes (trumpet), who all hailed from the North London and Hertfordshire area, while organist Ian Kewley lived in Essex. Q-Tips' name derived from a well-known brand of cotton swab.

Q-Tips' first rehearsals took place in November 1979. Their first gig was on 18 November 1979 at the Queens Arms Hotel in Harrow. This was followed by another at the Horn of Plenty in St Albans - a regular gig for Streetband during 1978 - and a total of sixteen in their first month of existence. Some personnel changes occurred during the first six months, with Blanchard's departure leaving a three-piece brass section, and Lathwell also leaving the band.

By 1 April 1980, the band had recorded two tracks, "SYSLJFM (The Letter Song)", and "Having A Party", both recorded at the Livingstone Studios in Barnet. Constant touring and concert appearances had built up a strong fan base by mid 1981, when the small amount of soul music cover versions were outnumbered by the band's own tracks.[2] The professionalism of the band had attracted the attention of several record labels, with Mickie Most (RAK Records) confirming on BBC Radio 1's Round Table programme that Q-Tips "...are easily the best live band working at the moment". In August 1980, the British music magazine, NME reported that Q-Tips had just released their debut, self-titled album.[3]

In time, John Gifford was replaced by Garth Watt-Roy (formerly of The Greatest Show on Earth, East of Eden and Marmalade, and brother of Blockheads bassist Norman Watt-Roy)[4] on guitar,[2] and Blandamer was replaced by Nick Payne. This line-up remained for the rest of the band's career. They appeared on BBC Television's In Concert, Rock Goes to College and The Old Grey Whistle Test in the latter part of 1981. Other television appearance included children's Saturday morning TV. Q-Tips opened for The J. Geils Band, The Knack, Thin Lizzy, Bob Marley and the Average White Band.

The band toured with After The Fire, and supported The Who on their twelve date UK tour in 1981. In 1981, Q-Tips played the Montreux Jazz Festival. With poor record sales after the release of two albums and seven singles, the Q-Tips broke up in early 1982 when Paul Young signed a solo recording contract with Sony/CBS.[2] In late 1982 and early 1983, the brass section and drummer of Q-Tips toured with Adam Ant on the UK and US legs of his Friend or Foe tour, and some remained for Ant's 1984 Strip tour.

Young briefly teamed up again with Q-Tips for a reunion tour in 1993.[2]


  1. ^ Q-Tips | Biography | AllMusic
  2. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. "Q-Tips". Allmusic. Retrieved 2 June 2010. 
  3. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 345. CN 5585. 
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Garth Watt-Roy". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 October 2015.