The Rubettes

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The Rubettes
The Rubettes in concert, 2013
The Rubettes in concert, 2013
Background information
Also known asThe Rubettes featuring Alan Williams (2000–present)
The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd (2000–present)
The Rubettes featuring John, Mick, & Steve (2019–present)
GenresPop rock, glam rock, rock and roll
Years active1974–1980, 1982–1999, 2000–present
LabelsPolydor Records, State Records, Sobel Nation Records
MembersThe Rubettes featuring Alan Williams
Alan Williams
Mark Haley
Laurie Haley
Glyn Davies
Spencer Lingwood

The Rubettes featuring John, Mick, & Steve
John Richardson
Mick Clarke
Steve Etherington

The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd
Bill Hurd
John Summerton
Damian Fisher
Dave Harding
Chris Staines
Past membersSee Personnel section

The Rubettes are an English pop/glam rock band put together in 1974 after the release of "Sugar Baby Love", a recording assembled of studio session musicians[1] in 1973 by the songwriting team of Wayne Bickerton, the then head of A&R at Polydor Records, and his co-songwriter, Tony Waddington, after their doo-wop and 1950s American pop-influenced songs had been rejected by a number of existing acts.[2] Waddington paired the group with manager John Morris, the husband of singer Clodagh Rodgers and under his guidance, the band duly emerged at the tail end of the glam rock movement, wearing trademark white suits and cloth caps on stage.[2] Their first release, "Sugar Baby Love" was an instant hit remaining at number one in the United Kingdom for four weeks in May 1974, while reaching number 37 on the US chart that August,[3] and remains their best-known record.[2] Subsequent releases were to be less successful, but the band continued to tour well into the 2000s with two line-ups in existence.[2][4][5]


Classic era (1974–1980)[edit]

The Rubettes' first and biggest hit was "Sugar Baby Love" (1974) which was a number one in the United Kingdom, going on to sell around 500,000 copies in the UK and three million copies globally.[6] With three more songs, "Sugar Baby Love" was recorded for Polydor in October 1973 at Lansdowne Studios in Holland Park, London, by a group of session musicians featuring the distinctive falsetto and lead vocals of Paul Da Vinci (born: Paul Leonard Prewer). However, Da Vinci did not join the others to become a member of the band put together by John Richardson, and instead pursued solo work, having signed a contract with Penny Farthing Records.[7] "Sugar Baby Love" was their only UK No. 1 and sole US Top 40 entry.[8] In November 1974, NME music magazine reported that The Rubettes, The Glitter Band and Mud were among the UK bands who had roles in a new film titled Never Too Young to Rock.[9]

The Rubettes, namely Alan Williams (whose vocals never appeared on the original 1973 recording of "Sugar Baby Love", but would front the group in 1974 and sing lead on all remaining songs), John Richardson, Pete Arnesen, Tony Thorpe, Mick Clarke and Bill Hurd,[10] went on to have a number of other top ten hits across Europe during the mid-1970s, such as "Tonight", "Juke Box Jive" and "I Can Do It" sung by Alan Williams, mostly written by the Bickerton–Waddington songwriting team. The Rubettes' success encouraged Bickerton and Waddington to set up State Records, so that ten months after the release of "Sugar Baby Love", the fourth Rubettes single "I Can Do It" was on State (catalogue reference STAT 1).[7] Two smaller hits, "Foe Dee Oh Dee" which made the Top 20 and "Little Darling", which unusually made the BBC Top 30 for only one week, followed on State records also sung by frontman Alan Williams.[citation needed]

In 1976 the band abandoned glam nostalgia to enter more serious territory.[2] "Under One Roof" (1976) sung by John Richardson was a portrayal of a gay man disowned and later murdered by his father; along with Rod Stewart's "The Killing of Georgie" (1976), it was one of the few songs that tackled the topic of homophobia.[2] Their most successful self-composed hit was the country rock styled ballad "Baby I Know" (1977) sung by Tony Thorpe, which reached number 10 in the UK and Germany in 1977. During this period the band continued to cater for the much bigger European market by continuing to release the more commercial pop singles all featuring lead vocals by Alan Williams [10] such as "Julia" (1976), "Allez Oop" (1976), and "Ooh La La" (1977).[10] The band became a quintet in early 1975 with the departure of Arnesen, and later became a quartet in mid-1976 when Hurd departed the band; to this day the original band has never expanded its line-up beyond four members. Whilst the band continued as a four-piece; Hurd joined Suzi Quatro's band, touring and playing on a number of worldwide hits, which included the Top 20 success "She's in Love with You" in 1979, before re-joining the Rubettes in 1982.[11][12]

In another attempt to get away from the 'doo-wop' glam image, Thorpe insisted that the trademark vocal harmonies were left off of his composition, "You're the Reason Why". Gerry Shury and the band out-voted him. The version with no vocal backing has been available as a bootleg recording in certain parts of Europe. In 1979, Thorpe and the band separated over musical differences. Thorpe can be heard on lead vocals on the last Still Unwinding track, "Does It Gotta Be Rock 'N' Roll". His guitar parts and backing vocals remained.[13] After Thorpe's departure, the group's success began to dwindle.[2] The band replaced Thorpe with Bob Benham; but he departed shortly thereafter and the band dissolved in 1980.[14]

Reformation (1982–1999)[edit]

The band reformed in 1982, with a line-up consisting of Williams, Clark, Hurd, and drummer Alex Bines to exploit the German market for 1970s nostalgia.[2] This line-up remained relatively stable until 1999, with the only line-up changes being the departure of Clark in 1987, to be replaced first by Steve Kinch and then by Trevor Holliday, before he returned to the fold in 1993. In 1994, the group's profile was raised by the inclusion of "Sugar Baby Love" in the hit movie Muriel's Wedding.[citation needed] This song was also featured in the 2005 Neil Jordan film Breakfast on Pluto soundtrack, and in a Safe Sex commercial.[citation needed]

Separate projects (2000–present)[edit]

In 2002, the group hit the headlines once more when, following an acrimonious split and legal action, the Rubettes became the latest in a long line of bands (including the Beach Boys and Spandau Ballet) to end up in the courts in a dispute over ownership of the band's name. The court ruled that both Williams and Hurd could tour as the Rubettes, as long as it was clear which member was fronting the band.[4]

All was well until 2005 when Williams and Hurd were back in court following an appearance by Hurd's band on the German television station ZDF, with Williams claiming Hurd had breached the terms of the original agreement. On 2 February 2006, a High Court judge found that Hurd and Williams had both been guilty of breaching the 2002 agreement. Costs of the trial were, however, awarded to Williams in view of the severity of Hurd's breaches.[4] Hurd appealed against this decision, but on 3 November 2006 the Appeal Court in London ruled against him, awarding the costs of the appeal to Williams.[4] Hurd has since gone bankrupt.[4]

On 28 March 2008, "Sugar Baby Love" was declared to be the most successful oldie of all time by the German television station RTL.[citation needed]

In March 2012, Thorpe digitally released the No Hits, No Jazz Collection and performed at Darwen Library Theatre with a live eight-piece band for his '50th Anniversary 1-Gig-Tour'. It featured session musicians Iain Reddy, Liam Barber, Justin Randall and Greg Harper.[15][16] "You're the Reason Why" was played.[15]

The Rubettes featuring Alan Williams[edit]

In 2000, Williams formed his version of the band along with Clarke, Richardson, and ex-Kinks keyboardist Mark Haley.[4]

In May and June 2008, The Rubettes were part of the 'Glitz Blitz & 70s Hitz' tour of the UK alongside Sweet and Showaddywaddy.[citation needed]

On 21 September 2014, as part of the Rubettes' 40th anniversary, it was announced that Alan Williams, John Richardson and Mick Clarke would return to the Olympia in Paris, the same venue at which the Rubettes made their first appearance in France in 1974 when "Sugar Baby Love" topped the French and European charts.[17]

In early 2015, this version of The Rubettes underwent their first line-up change when Mark Haley departed the band and was replaced by Steve Etherington.[citation needed]

On 15 April 2016, at 'Theatre Severn' in Shrewsbury, UK they embarked on their first ever solo theatre tour with 40 dates throughout the UK. then continuing on to the 'Arena Loire', Angers, France on 4 November 2016 the first of 60 appearances at major 'Zenith' venues in France and Belgium as part of the 'Age Tendre, Tournée des Idoles' Tour, cumulating at the 'Forest National' in Brussels, Belgium's biggest venue, on 17 February 2017. Their latest compilation album 'La Légende Continue' (CLCD003) was released to coincide with the tour 31 November 2016.[citation needed]

The band broke up in February 2019. A new Rubettes was formed with the original members John Richardson, Mick Clarke and Steve Etherington (producer/arranger since 1995).[18]

The Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd[edit]

Following the dissolution of the original band; Hurd formed his version of the group with longtime drummer Alex Bines, vocalist Paul Da Vinci (who had performed lead vocal on "Sugar Baby Love"), bassist Billy Hill, and guitarist Rufus Rufell. Da Vinci departed the band in 2006 and was replaced by George Bird, and guitarist Rufell leaving in 2009 and replace by Ian Pearce.[19]

In June 2009, Bill Hurd's Rubettes played at the East Kilbride ArtBurst Festival.[4][20]

In 2010, Bill Hurd's Rubettes covered the 1997 Thorpe composition "Where the Angels Fear to Tread" on their album 21st Century Rock 'n' Roll on Angel Air Records.[4][21]

2013 saw the beginning of the most turbulent period in the band's history, as line-up instability was common for the next two years. First Bines, Hill, and Pearce all left the band to be replaced by Paul Callaby (drums), Ray Frost (guitars), and John Sorrell (bass) respectively; leaving Hurd as the last remaining 'founding member' of his version of the group left in the band. Late 2013 saw Bird depart the band to be replaced by Yvan Silva. By mid-2013 the band underwent a major personnel upheaval again, as everyone other than Hurd departed the band. The line-up then solidified with the arrival of vocalist Ken Butler, drummer Martin Clapson, and guitarist Dave Harding; with Mike Steed joining them on bass (on loan from The Marmalade) for a few months. The current line-up was completed in late 2014 with the departure of Steed and the arrival of Chris Staines in the bassist role. The band line up has remained fairly settled since 2014 with the only changes following the death of Ken Butler in 2018 saw the appointment of John Summerton (ex Flintlock) on guitar and vocals, and the arrival of drummer Damian Fisher.[22]

The Rubettes featuring John Mick & Steve[edit]

Founding members John Richardson, Mick Clarke, and Steve Etherington decided to break away from Alan Williams, and formed the Rubettes featuring John, Mick, and Steve on 15 February 2019.[citation needed]

The band signed with Sobel Nation Records (distributed by Warner Brothers) and released a single on 20 June 2019 entitled "Ya Lovin' Rocks".[citation needed]

The band has their own radio station playing only music from John Richardson, Mick Clarke, and Steve Etherington. "Jukebox Jive Radio" is a licensed radio station located on the official website for the Rubettes ft. John, Mick & Steve at[23][24]

2022 High Court ownership ruling[edit]

In July 2022 Alan Williams and his company won a High Court trial for the ownership of The Rubettes name, against Mick Clarke, John Richardson and Steve Etherington.[25] Sitting in the High Court in London, Judge Pat Treacy ruled for Williams and said: "The defendants' conduct amounts to a misrepresentation sufficient to engage the tort of passing off. The claimants have succeeded."[26]


Current members[edit]

Former members[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions
Wear It's 'At
  • Released: 1974
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
85 32
We Can Do It
  • Released: 1975
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
41 31
  • Released: 1975
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
Sign of the Times
  • Released: 1976
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
Baby I Know
  • Released: 1977
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
Sometime In Oldchurch
  • Released: 1978
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
Still Unwinding
  • Released: 1978
  • Label: Polydor
  • Formats: LP
  • Released: 1992
  • Label: Dice Records
  • Formats: LP
Riding on a Rainbow
  • Released: 1992[32][33]
  • Label: Dice Records
  • Formats: LP, K7, CD
Making Love in the Rain
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Dice Records
  • Formats: CD
Other Albums
  • On Tour (October 2008) [Studio Album/Compilation + Bonus Tracks] CLCD002 [34]
  • La Legende Continue (July 2016) [Studio Album/Compilation + Bonus Tracks] CLCD003 [34][35]


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1974 "Sugar Baby Love" 1 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 37 Wear It's 'At
"Tonight" 12 98 13 3 4 4 5
"Juke Box Jive" 3 46 8 1 4 2 We Can Do It
1975 "I Can Do It" 7 89 7 5 3 5 6
"Foe-Dee-Oh-Dee" 15 8 7 6 7 Rubettes
"Little Darling" 30 7 22 19
1976 "You're the Reason Why" 28 6 22 7 Sign of the Times
"Under One Roof" 40 28 30 Baby I Know
"Allez Oop" 25
"Dark Side of the World" Rubettes
"Rock Is Dead" Wear It's 'At
1977 "Baby I Know" 10 25 34 Baby I Know
"Ooh La La" 16
"Ladies Of Laredo"
"Come on Over" Sometime In Oldchurch
"Cherie Amour" 39
1978 "Little 69" 37
"Sometime in Oldchurch" Sometime In Oldchurch
"Goodbye Dolly Gray" Still Unwinding
1979 "Lola"
"Stay With Me"
"Kid Runaway" Shangri'la
1981 "Stuck on You"
"Rockin' Rubettes Party 45"
"I Can't Give You Up"
1982 "Don't Come Crying"
1985 "Rockin' Rubettes Party 45"
1989 "New Way Of Loving You" Making Love In The Rain
1992 "I Never Knew" Shangri'la
"Radio Mix"
1993 "Oh So Lonely" Riding on a Rainbow
2019 "Ya Lovin' Rocks" (The Rubettes ft. John, Mick & Steve)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ They can be heard as Barry Blue's studio recordings backing band on his first two singles: "Dancing On a Saturday Night" and "Do You Wanna Dance".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Biography by Joseph McCombs". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
  3. ^ "Allmusic ((( The Rubettes > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles)))".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Therubettes Infos". Archived from the original on 16 February 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd". Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 350. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  7. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 157/158. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2001). British Hit Singles (14th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 44. ISBN 0-85156-156-X.
  9. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 270. CN 5585.
  10. ^ a b c The Rubettes Story by Alan Rowett ISBN 9780952377207 first published 1994
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ "Suzi Quatro – She's in Love with You (HQ) (TOTP 1979)". YouTube. 22 January 2009. Archived from the original on 17 June 2011. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  13. ^ "FAQ". Tony Thorpe Official Website. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Rubettes – The Band – 1978 – 1980". Archived from the original on 20 September 2017. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  15. ^ a b "UK (Darwen), March 15, 2012 Review | Reviews @". Archived from the original on 4 September 2015. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  16. ^ Anson, John (6 March 2012). "What's on: Tony Thorpe and Friends". Lancashire Telegraph. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  17. ^ "THE RUBETTES, concerts Pop Rock – Electro, L'Olympia : Music Hall Paris". Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Rubettes – Rubettes Featuring Alan Williams – Sugar Baby Love – Juke Box Jive – The Rubettes – The Band – Alan Williams – John Richardson – Mick Clarke". Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  19. ^ "Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd". 30 October 2002. Archived from the original on 13 March 2012. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Artburst festival will be bigger and better!". Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  21. ^ "Download free Rubettes featuring Bill Hurd – 21st Century Rock 'n' Roll (2010) [MP3] – Mediafire, Rapidshare, Torrent, Hulkshare " | Bringing music to life". Archived from the original on 11 December 2010. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  22. ^ 蜜桃导航 Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Artists".
  24. ^ "Rubettes Biography – The Rubettes". Archived from the original on 30 June 2019. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Sugar love goes sour for glam rock band the Rubettes". The Times.
  26. ^ "Rubettes singer wins legal fight with bandmates over their name". Daily Express.
  27. ^ "". Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  28. ^ "Official Website of The Rubettes Featuring Alan Williams".
  29. ^ a b "Discography The Rubettes". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 31 August 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  30. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 261. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  31. ^ a b "GfK Entertainment Charts > The Rubettes". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Rubettes – Still Unwinding/Shangri'la". Archived from the original on 17 August 2016. Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  33. ^ Rowett, Alan (1994). The Rubettes Story (1st ed.). London: Alan Williams Entertainments Limited. p. 57.
  34. ^ a b "Official Website of The Rubettes Featuring Alan Williams". Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  35. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 473. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  36. ^ "Ö3 Austria Top 40 > The Rubettes". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  37. ^ "Ultratop > Ultratop 50 Singles". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  38. ^ "Single Top 100 > The Rubettes". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  39. ^ "Sverigetopplistan > The Rubettes". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  40. ^ "Swiss Hitparade > The Rubettes". Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  41. ^ "ALLMusic Awards>> The Rubettes". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 12 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2016.

External links[edit]