Tim Smith (Cardiacs)

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Tim Smith
Birth name Timothy Charles Smith
Born (1961-07-03) 3 July 1961 (age 56)
Carshalton, Surrey, England
Genres Art rock, psychedelic pop, progressive rock, post-punk
Occupation(s) Singer-Songwriter, Music Producer, Music Video Director, Record Label Owner, Recording Studio Owner
Instruments Vocals, Guitar, Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Mellotron, Flute, Recorder, Percussion
Years active 1975–2008
Labels Alphabet Business Concern
All My Eye And Betty Martin Music
Associated acts Cardiacs
The Sea Nymphs
Spratleys Japs
Website http://www.cardiacs.com

Timothy Charles Smith (born 3 July 1961 in Carshalton, Surrey)[1][2] is an English singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and music video director. He is best known as the frontman of the cult English band Cardiacs, who he formed with his brother James "Jim" A Smith.[3]


In 1975, Tim Smith played guitar in a nameless punky, psychedelic instrumental band with school friends Mark Cawthra (Drums) and David Philpot (Keyboard). Tim was taken aback by the sound of David’s Korg synthesiser and would later use the sound early on in Cardiac Arrest/Cardiacs.[citation needed]

In 1979, Tim helped record a 7", A Bus for a Bus on the Bus, at Elephant Studios in London.[4] When Ralph Cade and drummer Peter Tagg left the band he invited Mark Cawthra to take over on drums. Singer Mick Pugh subsequently left and Tim decided to take over the vocals himself. 1980 saw Tim recording the first and only Cardiac Arrest album, The Obvious Identity.[citation needed] Eventually, 1000 cassettes were recorded, but only sold at concerts to save on expenditure.[citation needed]

Tim decided to change the name of the band to Cardiacs in 1981.[citation needed] He helped record the band’s first album, Toy World, in the same manner as the Cardiac Arrest album – on cassette tape – at a small basement studio known as Crow Studios (owned and run by Peter Kunzler).[citation needed] After another line up change, Tim recruited Tim Quy (Percussion), Sarah Cutts (Saxophone) and Dominic Luckman (Drums) into the fold.[citation needed]

In 1983, Tim saw William D. Drake performing on a piano in a public house and drafted him into the ranks of Cardiacs as keyboard player.[citation needed]

The low budget label Alphabet Business Concern was created in 1984. Tim was asked by vocalist Fish to support his band Marillion on their forthcoming tour near the end of the year. Tim agreed but was not prepared for the hostile audience that awaited them on all legs of the tour (forcing them off the final three days of the tour).[citation needed]

In 1985, Tim was approached by students Mark Francombe and Nick Elborough with an offer to shoot footage of them at one of their live concerts as part of their coursework project. The Surbiton Assembly Rooms was chosen and the gig was recorded on 18 April 1985, but Tim was unhappy with the resultant footage and sound quality and canned the project.[5]

The students then assisted Tim with making a promotional video, produced and directed by Tim himself, which would include a 10-minute feature called "The Consultant’s Flower Garden" and three music videos.[citation needed] The video was released.[6]

During the 1990s, Tim took a break from Cardiacs to work on various other projects. During 1989 and 1991, he wrote songs for a solo album, Tim Smith's Extra Special OceanLandWorld, eventually released in 1995[citation needed]. He, estranged wife Sarah (now said to be practising as a white witch[citation needed]) and William D. Drake were reunited as The Sea Nymphs, a folkier, more ethereal and relaxed version of Cardiacs.[citation needed] The threesome had already recorded before in 1984 and released a cassette album, Mr and Mrs Smith and Mr Drake.[citation needed] Tim also performed with ex-Cardiacs guitarist Bic Hayes in Panixsphere in 1993 (although no official recordings exist yet) and with Jo Spratley in Spratleys Japs from 1995. 1999 saw the release of the latest Cardiacs studio album, Guns, on the Alphabet label.[citation needed]

The 21st Century has seen Tim (with Cardiacs) release one single, "Ditzy Scene", in 2007.[7] He has used most of the time again touring and working on new recording output for the near future. In March 2006, he toured with Ginger & The Sonic Circus as their support act, performing acoustic versions of Cardiacs songs, along with his own material.[8]

On 25 June 2008,[9] Tim Smith suffered a combined heart attack and stroke, and is currently in the process of recovering.[10] As such, all plans for the new Cardiacs album and other future work have been postponed indefinitely. However, a tribute album was released in December 2010 on the website of The Genepool.[11]

In 2013, 2015 and 2017, events dubbed "The Alphabet Business Convention" were held in celebration of and with all proceeds funding Tim Smith and his ongoing recovery. Among other things, they featured live music from bands within the Cardiacs circle.[12][13][14]

In July 2016, a special one-day concert took place in Preston, England, called The Whole World Window with all the funds going towards helping Tim get better. A cassette and CD album of the same name was also released via Hyena Inc containing performances by the same bands.[15]

In November 2016, the long-awaited second Sea Nymphs album, On the Dry Land, was released. This was achieved in part due to Tim's health being well enough to return to the studio in 2015 and 2016 to supervise completion of the album. [16]

Work as producer, video director and label boss[edit]

Smith owns and operates his own recording studio - Apollo 8, currently based near Salisbury, Wiltshire - and has a long list of production credits to his name.[17]

Since the early nineties Smith has produced recordings for a variety of musicians and musical groups, many of whom belong to the so-called "Cardiacs family". These include Levitation, Sidi Bou Said, Eat, The Monsoon Bassoon, Wildhearts frontman Ginger (including his Silver Ginger 5 and Howling Willie Cunt projects), Stars In Battledress, Oceansize, William D. Drake, The Shrubbies, The Scaramanga Six and The Trudy.

Smith has created and/or edited pop videos for various bands including Sepultura, Dark Star and The Frank and Walters, as well as Cardiacs.[18]

In 2008 Smith created a film called "The Wildhearts Live In The Studio: A Film By Tim Smith", featuring The Wildhearts playing their self-titled album along with surreal interludes.[19]


Cardiac Arrest[edit]


The Sea Nymphs[edit]


Spratleys Japs[edit]

  • Pony CD (2001) AME CD001
  • Hazel CD Single (2001) AME CD002

Albums produced[edit]


  1. ^ https://search.findmypast.co.uk/results/world-records/england-and-wales-births-1837-2006?lastname=smith&eventyear=1961&eventyear_offset=5&mothersmaidenname=minter&county=surrey
  2. ^ http://www.brixtonbuzz.com/event/benefit-for-tim-smith-cardiacs-with-mr-smith-and-the-big-ships-the-dogbones-poino-claire-lemmon-dogstand-live-at-the-windmill-punk-rock-indie/
  3. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2015/jun/02/cult-heroes-tim-smith-led-the-cardiacs-in-the-face-of-hatred-and-much-love
  4. ^ "CARDIACS history" Retrieved 19 August 2015
  5. ^ Elborough, Nick. "The making of Seaside Treats". 
  6. ^ Elborough, Nick. "The making of Seaside Treats". 
  7. ^ http://teamrock.com/feature/2014-08-11/kavus-torabi-s-guide-to-cardiacs
  8. ^ http://www.livemusicreview.co.uk/reviews/20060327%20Ginger%20+%20The%20Sonic%20Circus.htm
  9. ^ Alphabet Business Concern, The (2008-07-16). "Cardiacs News Archive". Cardiacs Official Website. Retrieved 2014-04-15. 
  10. ^ Bendel, Graham (2010-05-04). "Why A Heart Attack Must Not Arrest The Cardiacs". The Quietus. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  11. ^ "Magic Numbers and XTC raise funds for Salisbury musician". BBC Wiltshire. 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2013-05-19. 
  12. ^ http://www.salisburyartscentre.co.uk/whats-on/music/the-alphabet-business-convention/
  13. ^ https://williamddrake.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/the-alphabet-business-convention-salisbury-arts-centre-saturday-2nd-may-2015/
  14. ^ https://www.knifeworld.co.uk/uncategorized/alphabet-business-convention/
  15. ^ http://newcontinental.net/whats-on/event/whole-world-window-benefit-tim-smith
  16. ^ http://www.imgur.com/ylECOxt
  17. ^ "Tim Smith Discography". discogs.com. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  18. ^ "Tim Smith Discography". discogs.com. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  19. ^ "Discography". The Wildhearts. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 

External links[edit]