The Rezillos

The Rezillos

Left to right: Jim Brady, Fay Fife, Angel Paterson, Chris Agnew, Eugene Reynolds
Background information
Origin Edinburgh, Scotland
Genres Punk rock, new wave
Years active The Rezillos:
1976 (1976)–1978 (1978), 2001 (2001)–present
The Revillos:
1979 (1979)–1985 (1985), 1994, 1996
Labels Sensible
Associated acts Silly Wizard
The Human League
The Pork Dukes
Members Eugene Reynolds
Fay Fife
Angel Paterson
Chris Agnew
Jim Brady
Past members The Rezillos:
Jo Callis
Dr D.K. Smythe
William Mysterious
Hi-Fi Harris
Gayle Warning
Simon Templar
Johnny Terminator
The Revillos:
Rocky Rhythm
Kid Krupa
Vince Santini
Max Atom
Fabian Wonderful
Buck Moon

The Rezillos are a punk/new wave band formed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1976. Although emerging at the same time as other bands in the punk rock movement, the Rezillos did not share the nihilism or social commentary of their contemporaries, but instead took a more light-hearted approach to their songs, preferring to describe themselves at the time as "a New Wave beat group".[1] Their songs are heavily influenced by 1950s rock and roll, 1960s English beat music and garage rock, early 1970s glam rock, and recurring lyrical themes of science fiction and B movies, influences that mirrored those of US bands the Cramps, the B-52s, and X who were starting out at the same time. The Rezillos' biggest hit in their home country was the UK Top 20 single "Top of the Pops" in 1978, but they are best known outside the UK for their cover version of "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight", which featured on the soundtrack to Jackass: The Movie in 2002. Since the Rezillos recorded it, the song has been covered by other punk bands, including Youth Brigade and Murphy's Law.

Released in July 1978, the Rezillos' first studio album Can't Stand the Rezillos is now considered a classic album of the first wave of British punk, but the group split up four months after its release, following internal arguments about their future direction. After the Rezillos split the band's guitarist and principal songwriter Jo Callis briefly joined a couple of unsuccessful Edinburgh post-punk groups, before being invited to join The Human League. He went on to co-write some of The Human League's best known songs during their most successful period, including their biggest worldwide hit, "Don't You Want Me". The Rezillos' vocalists Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife formed the Revillos, a group with an ever-changing line-up that continued where the Rezillos left off. The Revillos split up in 1985, briefly reforming in 1994 for a tour of Japan, and again in 1996 for a UK tour. In 2001 the Rezillos reformed after being invited to play at Edinburgh's Hogmanay celebrations, and have continued to play live ever since, as well as releasing new singles occasionally.


The Rezillos (1976–1978)

The band started life at Edinburgh College of Art, where most of the Rezillos' original line-up were studying. During 1975 art students Jo Callis and Alan Forbes had been in a college group named The Knutsford Dominators, a party band playing 1950s and 60s rock and roll cover versions: Forbes was originally one of the group's two drummers.[2][3] The Knutsford Dominators were short-lived, but Callis and Forbes wanted to carry on making music in a similar vein. The pair recruited local bass player Dave Smythe and fellow student Mark Sinclair Harris, who was studying architecture at the college,[2] on second guitar, and formed their new band the Rezillos in March 1976. The band name was adapted from the name of a club called "Revilos" that appeared in the first issue of the DC Comics publication The Shadow in November 1973.[3][4] At the start, Callis, Forbes and Harris shared vocal duties, but as all of them found it difficult to play an instrument and sing at the same time, Forbes switched to vocals full-time and was replaced on drums by Alasdair Paterson, another Edinburgh College of Art architecture student. By August 1976 the band had recruited saxophonist Alastair Donaldson, a good friend of Paterson who was an architecture student from neighbouring Heriot-Watt University taking some of his classes at the college, and who had previously played with Edinburgh folk rock band Silly Wizard. Forbes had also introduced two fashion design students named Sheilagh Hynd and Gail Jamieson (aka Gayle Warning) to the group as backing singers.[2][4][5]

Each member took on stage names for the new band: Forbes had re-christened himself Eugene Reynolds after the name of somebody he met during his summer job,[4] and the wraparound sunglasses that would become his trademark on stage were found on a beach. Harris became "Hi-Fi" Harris, Smythe became Dr D.K. Smythe, Donaldson called himself William Mysterious, and Paterson assumed the first name of Angel. After a short spell as "Candy Floss", Hynd changed her name to Fay Fife, a joke relating to her birthplace ("from Fife", spoken in her native Dunfermline accent).[4][6] Callis and Jamieson used the punning names of Luke Warm and Gail Warning.

Having spent several months practising, the group's début live performance was at Teviot Row House, the students' union building of the University of Edinburgh, on 5 November 1976,[1] playing a set composed entirely of cover versions of 1950s and '60s classics. The set included "I Like It" and "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked in Tonite", which would both appear on the band's debut album, and concluded with "I Wanna Be Your Man", which later became the B-side of their debut single.[5] The band were an instant hit and began to grow rapidly in popularity as they gigged constantly: Callis estimated that the Rezillos played around 200 gigs in 1977.[3] Bootleg recordings exist of this stage of the band's history.

During the first half of 1977 Reynolds and Fife became romantically involved, and Fife moved to being the group's frontwoman alongside Reynolds. Gail Warning's contributions to the group were effectively made redundant, and she left the band. In June 1977 the band recorded their début single, "Can't Stand My Baby" (with "I Wanna Be Your Man" on the B-side), at Barclay Towers, the "studio" being little more than some recording equipment set up in producer Tony Pilley's top-floor tenement flat in Bruntsfield in south-west Edinburgh. The single was released in August on Sensible Records, an independent Edinburgh label run by Island Records local representative Lenny Love, and attracted radio airplay and attention from several major labels, including Sire Records who sent a telegram to Love three weeks after the release of "Can't Stand My Baby" asking for more information about the band.[1]

By the time of the single's release the band had made a decision to turn professional, and had decided to sign to Sire as the label was home at that time to such other rising new wave and punk acts as Talking Heads and the Ramones. Not wanting to give up their professional careers, Smythe and Harris left the group amicably to return to their academic studies, and Mysterious switched to the bass guitar. The slimmed-down five piece band recorded their second single, "(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures", and its B-side "Flying Saucer Attack" in the more professional surroundings of REL Records studio in Edinburgh in October 1977. Due to their recent signing "Good Sculptures" was not released on Sensible Records as originally intended, but became the group's first release on Sire instead. This grazed the lower reaches of the UK Singles Chart, and contained different versions of the songs found on the album release. The single was also released in the Netherlands, where the two sides of the record were reversed and "Flying Saucer Attack" was made the A-side.

At Sire's suggestion the band recorded their début album Can't Stand the Rezillos in February 1978 at the newly built Power Station studio in New York City, owned by the producer of several of Sire's punk and new wave acts, Tony Bongiovi. Bongiovi was originally scheduled to produce the whole of the album, but illness meant he had to hand over production duties to his assistant Lance Quinn and his engineer Bob Clearmountain for much of the album's recording. The album featured re-recorded versions of "Can't Stand My Baby", "(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures" and "Flying Saucer Attack". Its release was then delayed for three months while Sire waited for their distribution deal with Phonogram Records to run out so that they could switch to Warner Bros. Records, who had recently acquired the Sire label. This soured the group's relationship with the record label, as they felt they were losing the momentum they had built up and twice had to cancel a planned tour.[7] Bass player William Mysterious left the Rezillos, frustrated at the lack of activity, and the band brought in Simon Templar (real name Simon Bloomfield) to replace him. A third single was released to coincide with the album, a re-recorded version of the album track "Top of the Pops" with Templar on bass, as opposed to the album version which featured Mysterious.

Can't Stand the Rezillos was released in July 1978 and reached number 16 in the UK Albums Chart. The single "Top of the Pops" also made the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart, reaching number 17, and ironically earned the group an appearance on the British television programme of the same name implicitly criticised in the song's lyrics.

In October 1978 the group recorded a new single, "Destination Venus", with producer Martin Rushent at The Manor, for release the following month. By now there were growing tensions within the band about the group's future direction (Smythe observed that from the start there had always been two factions within the band, one centred on boyfriend/girlfriend vocalists Reynolds and Fife, and the other on songwriter Callis[5]), and with what they felt was poor treatment from their label: Reynolds was unhappy with Sire's choice of photographer for the single's cover and the single's mix and £5000 cost.[7] Matters came to a head in November 1978, when after just five dates into a lengthy UK tour with The Undertones as support band, vocalist Fife developed scarring of the vocal cords, resulting in the postponement of the rest of the tour. During the hiatus Fife recalled that Callis had told her and Reynolds that "the other three in the band wanted to toe the line more because of pressure from our manager, who was finding the job really difficult, and he was getting pressure from the record company to make us act as though we liked them".[7] Reynolds and Fife refused to agree to this, and unable to reach a consensus, on 22 November 1978 the Rezillos made the decision to split up.[8] They did, however, reunite to play the last scheduled date of the aborted tour at the Glasgow Apollo on 23 December 1978, as a farewell concert. The show featured guest spots by former members William Mysterious on saxophone and Gail Warning on backing vocals. The concert was recorded and released in April 1979 as the live album Mission Accomplished... But the Beat Goes On. In 1993 this record was included almost in its entirety on an expanded version of the début album, now retitled Can't Stand the Rezillos: The (Almost) Complete Rezillos.

The Revillos (1979–1996)

After the Rezillos split, guitarist Callis, bassist Templar and drummer Paterson formed Shake with Troy Tate (who would go on to join The Teardrop Explodes), releasing an EP and two singles (the latter single under the name Jo Callis/S.H.A.K.E. Project).[3] The group were not successful and after they split Paterson and Tate formed another short-lived group called TV21, also without success.[9] After briefly playing in Edinburgh post-punk band Boots for Dancing, Callis was invited to join The Human League by their manager Bob Last, just as The Human League were embarking on their most successful period of their career (Last had also been the Rezillos' manager). Callis left The Human League in 1985 (although he continued to write songs for them) and rejoined Paterson and some of his former Boots for Dancing bandmates in a new band called S.W.A.L.K., but the band split after releasing just one six-track mini-album.

Sire agreed to release Reynolds and Fife from their contract, providing that the pair did not use the name "The Rezillos". Joining up with former bandmate Hi-Fi Harris and Reynolds' brother Rocky Rhythm (real name Nicky Forbes) on drums,[10] they renamed themselves the Revillos, and continued to make music in a similar style to their former band. The Revillos had a longer career than the Rezillos, and toured and released music continually during the first half of the 1980s. The band had an ever changing line-up, but the focus and only permanent members during this period remained Reynolds and Fife. The Revillos (and Reynolds and Fife's relationship) came to an end in 1985, although versions of the band reformed briefly in May 1994 for a tour of Japan (where the Revillos remained hugely popular), and again in April 1996 for a UK tour. The 1994 Japan tour was recorded and released as the live album Live and On Fire in Japan; the 1996 UK tour was to publicise a rarities compilation album, From the Freezer.

Reformation of the Rezillos (2001–present)

In 2001, the Rezillos were persuaded to reform and play at Edinburgh's New Year's Eve Hogmanay celebrations by Stuart Nisbit, guitarist for the festival's headline act The Proclaimers.[11] The line-up was the same as on the Can't Stand the Rezillos album except for Johnny Terminator (real name Johnny Brady) replacing Mysterious on bass. The success of the New Year's Eve concert led to concerts in Europe, the USA, South America and Japan, often to younger crowds introduced to the band by the use of their track "Somebody's Gonna Get their Head Kicked in Tonight" in Jackass: The Movie. The Rezillos had only ever played two gigs outside the UK in their previous incarnation, one in France and one at CBGB during the recording of the album in New York.

In 2008 Johnny Terminator retired from the band and was replaced by Chris Agnew. The Rezillos performed Can't Stand the Rezillos in its entirety on their 2008 UK tour, and in January 2009 a new download only single, "No 1 Boy", was released on the band's website. In 2010, original founding member Jo Callis left the band and was replaced on guitar by Jim Brady, formerly of Nanobots and techno-grunge duo Barky!Barky.

In November 2011 the band were presented with the Sir Reo Stakis Foundation Legend Award at Scotland's Tartan Clef awards,[12][13] and in December 2011 released a single, "Out Of This World". Unlike "No 1 Boy" the new single was produced in CD and 7" vinyl formats as well as digital download, although delivery of the vinyl was delayed when the pressing plant in the Czech Republic burnt down just a week before the scheduled release date. The single was followed by a December UK tour.

In November 2012 the Rezillos undertook their first ever full length tour of North America. The tour lasted fifteen dates and took in the east and west coasts of the USA, mid-USA and Canada.

Post-Rezillos/Revillos careers

Membership timeline


The Rezillos


Year Title Peak
UK chart
1978 Can't Stand the Rezillos 16
1979 Mission Accomplished... But the Beat Goes On
  • Released: 13 April 1979
  • Label: Sire Records
  • Format: LP, cassette
2015 Zero
  • Released: 10 March 2015
  • Label: Metropolis Records
  • Format: LP


Year Single Peak
UK chart
Album Line-up
1977 "I Can't Stand My Baby" Can't Stand the Rezillos Jo Callis aka Luke Warm (guitar), Fay Fife (vocals), Hi-Fi Harris (guitar), Angel Paterson (drums), Eugene Reynolds (vocals), Dr. D.K. Smythe (bass)
"(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures" Callis (guitar), Fife (vocals), William Mysterious (bass), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals)
1978 "Top of the Pops" 17 Callis (guitar), Fife (vocals), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals), Simon Templar (bass)
"Destination Venus" 43 non-album single
1979 "Cold Wars" (live) Mission Accomplished... But the Beat Goes On Callis (guitar), Fife (vocals), Mysterious (saxophone), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals), Templar (bass), Gail Warning (backing vocals)
"I Wanna Be Your Man"/"I Can't Stand My Baby" (re-issue) 71 Can't Stand the Rezillos Callis (guitar), Fife (vocals), Harris (guitar), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals), Smythe (bass)
2009 "No 1 Boy" non-album single (download only) Chris Agnew (bass), Callis (guitar), Fife (vocals), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals)
2011 "Out of This World" non-album single Agnew (bass), Jim Brady (guitar), Callis (guitar), Fife (vocals), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals), Johnny Terminator (bass)
2012 "Top of the Pops" (live) non-album single Agnew (bass), Brady (guitar), Fife (vocals), Paterson (drums), Reynolds (vocals)

The Revillos


Studio albums

Live albums

Compilation albums


Year Single Peak
UK chart
Album Line-up
1979 "Where's the Boy for Me?" non-album single Felix (bass), Fife (vocals), Harris (guitar), Reynolds (vocals), Rocky Rhythm (drums), Cherie and Babs (backing vocals)
1980 "Motor Bike Beat" 45 Rev Up Felix (bass), Fife (vocals), Harris (guitar), Reynolds (vocals), Rhythm (drums), Jane Brown, Tricia Bryce, Jane White (backing vocals)
"Scuba Scuba" non-album single Fife (vocals), Harris (guitar), Mysterious (bass), Reynolds (vocals), Rhythm (drums), Cherie and Babs (backing vocals)
"Hungry for Love" Rev Up Fife (vocals), Kid Krupa (guitar), Reynolds (vocals), Rhythm (drums), Smythe (bass – uncredited), Cherie and Babs (backing vocals)
1981 "She's Fallen in Love with a Monster Man" non-album single Fife (vocals), Krupa (guitar), Reynolds (vocals), Rhythm (drums), Vince Santini (bass), Cherie and Drax (backing vocals)
"Bongo Brain" non-album single
"Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town!"# non-album single unknown
1982 "Tell Him" Attack! Max Atom (guitar), Fife (vocals), Reynolds (vocals), Rhythm (drums), Santini (bass), Cherie and Terri (backing vocals)
1983 "Bitten by a Love Bug"
1984 "Midnight"
1994 "Yeah Yeah" Live and on Fire in Japan Fife (vocals), Krupa (guitar), Mekon (bass), Reynolds (vocals), Rhythm (drums), Frankie and Polly (backing vocals)
1996 "Jack the Ripper" From the Freezer Fife (vocals), Harris (guitar), Reynolds (vocals, bass), Rhythm (drums), Cherie, Jane Brown, Jane White (backing vocals)
1998 "4 track E.P." Totally Alive (first two tracks only) Fife (vocals), George (guitar), Hymo (keyboards), Mekon (bass), Reynolds (vocals, guitar, saxophone), Rhythm (drums), Frankie and Polly (backing vocals)

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Cranna, Ian (27 August 1977). "Scotland holds its own: the Rezillos walk the line". NME. London, England: IPC Media. p. 10.
  2. 1 2 3 Rambali, Paul (25 February 1978). "The Rezillos". NME. London, England: IPC Media. pp. 32–33.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Clarkson, John (5 January 2005). "Rezillos: Interview with Jo Callis". Pennyblackmusic. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "We can stand it if you can". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland: Johnston Press. 21 December 2001. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 David Smythe's personal website
  6. Banks, Iain (1994). "Quaternary". The Bridge. Abacus. ISBN 978-0-3491-0215-3.
  7. 1 2 3 Birch, Ian (9 December 1978). "Cold Wars". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media. pp. 17–18.
  8. "A week of splits and sackings". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media. 2 December 1978. p. 4.
  9. 1 2 3 "Where Are They Now: The Rezillos". Q (37). London, England: EMAP. October 1989. p. 47.
  10. Hewitt, Paolo (22 September 1979). "Return to DIY". Melody Maker. London, England: IPC Media. p. 24.
  11. Duncan, Raymond (14 December 2001). "Rezillos to reunite for Hogmanay". The Herald. Glasgow, Scotland: Newsquest. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  12. Lyons, Beverley (20 November 2011). "Sci-fi punks The Rezillos honoured at prestigious Tartan Clef music awards". Daily Record. Glasgow, Scotland: Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  13. Augustine, Lalita; Duffy, Judith (20 November 2011). "Big night for Big Country at Tartan Clef Awards". The Herald. Glasgow, Scotland: Newsquest. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  14. Minton, David (3 October 2000). "The Edinburgh Indian". The Daily Telegraph. London, England: Telegraph Media Group. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  15. Holme, Chris (17 October 2000). "Getting the Gorgie Spice Girls on track: Former Rezillo Fay Fife has gone from Top of the Pops to organising girl band workshops". The Herald. Glasgow, Scotland: Newsquest. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  16. Pollock, David (25 June 2013). "Obituary: Alastair "Ali" Donaldson, musician". The Scotsman. Edinburgh, Scotland: Johnston Press. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  17. Perrone, Pierre (31 July 2013). "Obituaries – William Mysterious: Bassist with punk rockers the Rezillos". The Independent. London, England: Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  18. Announcement on Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  19. "Trevor - Northumbria University, Newcastle UK". Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  20. "Music Awards Los Angeles | Music Awards Hollywood". 2014-04-07. Retrieved 2014-07-28.
  21. 1 2 3 Roberts, David (ed.) (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. London, England: Guinness World Records. p. 459. ISBN 978-1-9049-9410-7.
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