Pete Wylie

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Pete Wylie
Pete Wylie.jpg
Wylie in the audience at Brady's Club, Liverpool, early 1980s
Background information
Birth name Peter James Wylie
Born (1958-03-22) 22 March 1958 (age 59)
Liverpool, England, UK
Genres Post-punk, alternative rock, new wave
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter, guitarist
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1977–present
Associated acts Crucial Three, The Spitfire Boys, Crash Course, Wah! Heat, Wah!, The Mighty Wah!, Shambeko! Say Wah!, Big Hard Excellent Fish, The KLF, The Farm
Josie Jones (died 2015)

Peter James "Pete" Wylie (born 22 March 1958)[1][2] is a British singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the leader of the band variously known as Wah!, Wah! Heat, Shambeko! Say Wah!, JF Wah!, The Mighty Wah! and Wah! The Mongrel. He was credited by Melody Maker with coining "rockism".


Early bands[edit]

Wylie was born in Liverpool. He began his career in 1977 with lead vocalist Ian McCulloch and bassist Julian Cope, with whom he formed the band Crucial Three, which lasted from May to June the same year. In September, he and Cope formed a short-lived band alongside Pete Burns, The Mystery Girls.

In December 1977, he joined The Spitfire Boys, who dissolved the same month. Wylie and two of the band, Pete Griffiths and Peter Clarke, formed the same month, The Nova Mob, alongside Julian Cope. The band lasted until May 1978. In August, he joined established local band Crash Course (December 1977 – January 1979) after seeing them supporting Big in Japan at the matinee of their farewell show in Eric's club on the 26th. The revised Crash Course made their first live appearance at Manchester University on 13 October.

On 22 December 1978, a professional recording of the band performing at Eric's was made for a live EP, to be released on the club's own label, and to follow the Pink Military EP which had also been recorded there. Crash Course disbanded in January 1979 and the record wasn't pressed (the tape subsequently lost). Earlier in December 1978 the band had recorded three tracks at Liverpool's Open Eye demo studios: 'Someone Different' (with which The Glass Torpedoes had a minor hit in mid 1979), 'Tears of a Clown' (the Smokey Robinson song), and 'Look Now'. Shortly after the band's demise the three Open Eye demo tracks were broadcast, in their unmixed form, on BBC radio. One of the last compositions to be rehearsed by Crash Course was the semi instrumental 'Heart Surgery'. A version of this later appeared on the Glass Torpedoes EP.

Crash Course (September 1978)


Active from 1979, Wylie and company garnered critical acclaim throughout 1980 for the singles "Better Scream" and "Seven Minutes to Midnight" (both as Wah! Heat), the latter being single of the week in the NME, Sounds and Melody Maker during spring 1980, and the 1981 Warner Bros. album Nah = Poo! – The Art of Bluff (as Wah!). Their biggest hit single was "The Story of the Blues", which was released in late 1982, and reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart.[3]

A follow-up single, "Hope (I Wish You'd Believe me)" was released in 1983, but the single found limited success. Next, Wylie released an officially sanctioned "official bootleg" of new and old songs entitled The Maverick Years 1980–81 on his own label. Clad in a cover that alluded to the early 1970s "Trade Mark of Quality" bootlegs, the record appeared as a white label with a blank outer cover and a sheet attached with sleevenotes by music journalist Adam Sweeting. This release did not shore up Wylie's dwindling fortunes and Wah! were subsequently dropped by WEA. In 1984, the Mighty Wah! had a Top 20 hit with the song "Come Back" (as with "The Story of the Blues", the song was chosen by the late BBC Radio 1 radio DJ John Peel, as his "single of the year").[citation needed]

The accompanying album, recorded for Beggars' Banquet, was entitled A Word to the Wise Guy. It was critically acclaimed, but sold poorly and the band were again dropped. By 1986, having ditched his backing ensemble, Wylie had a solo hit with "Sinful!", which peaked at number 13 in the UK, ostensibly produced by Ian Ritchie, but with major input from Zeus B. Held. "Sinful!" became the title track of his 1987 solo album, which included the enigmatically titled Four Eleven Forty Four.[citation needed]


In 1990, a single called "Imperfect List" was released under the project name of Big Hard Excellent Fish. The spoken-word track is a list of 64 least favourite people and things read by Wylie's then girlfriend and collaborator Josie Jones (died 2015). The list was compiled by Wylie and the track was recorded by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, although Wylie is not credited on the record. The list ranges from "Adolf Hitler" to "Lost Keys".[citation needed]

In 1990, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu released a limited edition (between 350 and 500 copies) white label version of "It's Grim Up North" featuring Wylie on vocals. This version was a club-only release. The main version was released in October 1991 with Bill Drummond on vocals, making the charts. Creative cracks had begun to appear by 1991, when the collaboration with the Farm on "Sinful! (Scary Jiggin' With Dr Love)" did little for either of the rival camps. In 1991, Wylie toured the UK in support of the Infamy! album with a band featuring Joe McKechnie on drums, Tony Jones on Bass and Peter Baker on keyboards. On 11 November of that year, Wylie suffered a near fatal fall when a railing gave way in Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool. He fractured both his spine and his sternum. A long period of rehabilitation ensued.[citation needed]

Wylie began to write songs again and sent demos to David Balfe, formerly of the Teardrop Explodes, founder of Food Records and by that time general manager and Head of A&R of Sony's Columbia label. There were reports that Balfe was so impressed he quickly gave Wylie £750,000 to record the songs, which Wylie did in London and Memphis, delivering Songs of Strength and Heartbreak to a delighted Balfe in 1998.

Pete quickly formed a new band line up recruiting Mike Joyce and a referral by band The Farm brought bass player Danny Lunt. The band relocated to London to record the new album 'Songs Of Strength and Heartbreak' at Abbey Road Studios with producers Mike Hedges and Peter Collins. The truth appears somewhat different as the album – despite being finished up to the point where artwork was finalised and discs had been sent out for review – was rejected by Sony, who chose not to release it. Subsequently, Wylie found himself in artistic limbo as Sony owned the rights to the music he had recorded as Songs of Strength and Heartbreak. He found it difficult to acquire the master tapes, and was without a recording contract. Eventually he was handed the master tapes, and Castle Records released the album.[citation needed]

Wylie's "Heart As Big As Liverpool" (1998) is popular within the city and especially with Liverpool Football Club supporters. It is used in the official Hillsborough tribute video, on a 2001 CD of Merseyside artists (compiled in collaboration with Liverpool Football Club) Mersey Boys and Liverpool Girls and features on Songs of Strength & Heartbreak, a 2000 album credited to The Mighty Wah! The song is also regularly played at Liverpool's home ground, Anfield. 2000 also heralded a compilation album entitled The Handy Wah! Whole. Wylie joined Dead Men Walking, featuring Mike Peters of the Alarm, Kirk Brandon of Spear of Destiny and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols. They toured extensively, performing old songs as well as new, including Wylie's "Your Mother Must Be Very Proud".[citation needed]

In 2003, Wylie voice is featured on the Apollo 440 the track "1234" from their Dude Descending a Staircase. Following an invitation from Alejandro Escovedo, Wylie performed at the 2006 South by Southwest festival in the United States at Austin, Texas. His next project was a twin album release with the working titles Pete Sounds and SLiME, both puns on mid 1960s Beach Boys projects. Although he sold demos of some of the new songs at gigs in 2004, he remains without a recording contract. In January 2008, Wylie performed at the opening ceremony of Liverpool's European City of Culture tenure. Wylie has also written the soundtracks for two films; Alex Cox's I'm A Juvenile Delinquent - Jail Me! (made by Hurricane Films for the BBC's Learning Zone) and Under the Mud (also produced by Hurricane Films).[citation needed]

In 2011–12, Wylie embarked on the Justice Tonight tour with various other musicians campaigning for justice for the victims and families of the Hillsborough disaster. On 28 March 2014, Wylie played a 'One-Off' show at Liverpool's Zanzibar club followed by the announcement of an October/November Singing Songs & Telling Tales UK acoustic tour. Wylie performed at Liverpool's International Music Festival on 21 August that year.[citation needed]


Pete Wylie / Wah! discography
Studio albums 6
Compilation albums 2
EPs 2
Singles 24

Studio albums[edit]

Year Information Chart positions
1981 Nah=Poo – The Art of Bluff (as Wah!) 33[4]
1982 The Maverick Years 1980–81 (as Wah!)
  • Label: Wonderful World Of Wah!
1984 A Word to the Wise Guy (as The Mighty Wah!) 28[5]
1986 Sinful!
  • Label: Siren Records
1991 Infamy! or How I Didn't Get Where I Am Today (as Pete Wylie & Wah! The Mongrel)
  • Label: Siren Records
2000 Songs of Strength and Heartbreak (as The Mighty Wah!)
2014/15 Pete Sounds (as Pete Wylie)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • The Way We Wah! (Eternal, 1984)
  • The Handy Wah! Whole : Songs From The Repertwah! : The Maverick Years 2000 (Castle Music, 2000)

Extended plays[edit]

  • The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit Records, 1987) (Recorded 22 August 1984)
  • Heart As Big As Liverpool (When! Recordings, 2000)


Year Title Chart positions
US Club Play
1979 "Better Scream" (as Wah! Heat) - - -
1980 "Seven Minutes to be continued" (as Wah! Heat) - - -
1981 "Forget the Down" - - -
"Somesay" - - -
1982 "Remember" - - -
"The Story of the Blues (part 1)" 3 5 -
1983 "Hope (I Wish You'd Believe Me)" 37 18 -
1984 "Come Back (The Story of the Reds)" 20[6] 19 -
"Weekends (How Come We Always End Up Here?) – The Recut!!!" - - -
1986 "Sinful!" (as Pete Wylie & The Oedipus Wrecks) 13 13 26[8]
"Diamond Girl" 57 - -
1987 "If I Love You" 76 - -
"FourElevenFortyFour"[6] 79 - -
1990 "Imperfect list" (Big Hard Excellent Fish) (Written by Wylie/Uncredited) - - -
"It's Grim Up North" (Justified Ancients of Mu Mu ft. Pete Wylie) (Limited Edition White Vinyl Release) - - -
1991 "Sinful! (Scary Jiggin' With Doctor Love)" (as Pete Wylie (and The Farm)) 28[6] - -
"Long Tall Scally" - - -
"Don't Lose Your Dreams" - - -
1998 "Heart As Big As Liverpool" ('Half As Big As Liverpool' radio edit / 1 track Promo) - - -
"Loverboy" (1 track Promo) - - -
2000 "Songs" (6 track Promo) - - -
"Sing All The Saddest Songs" (1 track Promo) - - -
2010 "Disneyland Forever" (LIVE @ The Zanzibar 2007 / Free Download) - - -
"The Milkyway Is Our Playground" (Freebass ft. Pete Wylie / Two Worlds collide EP) - - -
2011 "Silver and Gold" (1983 Peel Session version / Free Download) - - -
2013 "The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies!" - - -


  1. ^ Rees, Dafydd & Crampton Luke, Rock Movers & Shakers: An A-Z of People Who Made Rock Happen. ABC-CLIO, 1991; ISBN 0-87436-661-5, ISBN 978-0-87436-661-7. Pete Wylie (b. Mar. 22, 1958, Liverpool)
  2. ^ "Wah". NME. 22 March 1958. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 589. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ "Wah! – Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  5. ^ "Mighty Wah! – Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Pete Wylie – Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know". IRMA. Retrieved 7 July 2012.  Searchable database
  8. ^ "Allmusic profile". Billboard. Retrieved 7 July 2012. 

External links[edit]