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Rich Kids

(Rich Kids. L-R; Steve New, Midge Ure, Rusty Egan, Glen Matlock)
Glen Matlock departed the Sex Pistols in February 1977, (read 'I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol' -Virgin Books for Glen's personal account).

Speculation was rife as to what the future held for Glen. EMI had no doubts as to what they should do to cash in on the only ex-Pistol they ever looked like working with again. While the Pistols and Malcolm McLaren were being shown the door by EMI, the hierarchy were busily working on a scheme to 'woo' back the ex-Pistol.

Glen hadn't been short of options. First had been an offer from Bernie Rhodes to put Glen into The Clash at the expense of Paul Simonon. That was followed by a press story about a group with his old art college mate Jimmy Norton. "Jimmy Norton" was actually Glen Matlock adopting an old and unused idea for a stage name. He did however later record a John Peel Session in 1979 along with Danny Kustow and Budgie under the name 'The Jimmy Norton Explosion'.

Then came the basis of a band with Mick Jones on guitar, which never amounted to anything more than small gigs. Mick hadn't left The Clash and Glen had his own thing planned. During March, Glen auditioned for band members and acquired Rusty Egan on drums and guitarist Steve New. Glen handled both vocal and bass duties before asking Midge Ure to join as vocalist.

In the early days of the Rich Kids its ranks were swelled, albeit briefly, by Mick Jones on loan from The Clash. They played some low key London gigs, the most famous of which was The Vortex. It was alleged that Glen tried to get Paul Weller into the group but nothing came of this. Most of the summer of '77 was spent writing and rehearsing.

In August 1977 the second European punk festival was held in Paris at which the band played alongside The Damned, The Police, Wayne County and The Boys. On returning to the UK, Sounds ran the first feature on the group, 'Back with a Bullet', by Pete Silverton (who years later co-wrote 'I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol'). In the article, Steve New claimed that the group did a better version of 'Pretty Vacant' than the Pistols (featured in the film 'DOA').

The Rich Kids signed to EMI records on November 5th 1977. John Darnley (then of EMI's A&R department) later confirmed the secrecy surrounding the signing of Glen Matlock.

Under the record company banner, yet without an official first vinyl release, the group went out on a UK tour calling in at; Coventry- Mr Georges, Dec 15th; Birmingham-Barbarellas, Dec 16th; Liverpool-Erics, Dec 17th; Manchester-Electric Circus, Dec 18th; Dewsbury-Mr Pickwicks, Dec 19th; and Huddersfield-Ivanhoes Club, Dec 20th. This was followed by a Christmas break, during which the Pistols played at Huddersfield Ivanhoes on Christmas day. John Rotten wore a one-off T-shirt with the slogan 'Never Mind The Rich Kids, Here's The Sex Pistols'. The tour continued into January 1978 via Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Manchester, and two nights in Birmingham.

The Rich Kids debut single 'Rich Kids' (Matlock), backed with 'Empty Words' (Matlock/New) was issued in the UK on January 13 1978. The first 15,000 copies of the single were pressed on red vinyl in a plain red sleeve. It became the group's biggest seller. The band waited three months before issuing a follow up single 'Marching Men' (Ure) in April 1978, backed with a live rehash of an old Faces number 'Here Comes The Nice' recorded on December 16 at Barbarellas, Birmingham. Around the time of the second single, Glen and Steve New teamed up with Rat Scabies and Sid Vicious as 'The Vicious White Kids' for a one-off concert at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London. The gig marked Sid's departure for New York and was entitled 'Sid Sods Off'.

The Rich Kids album, 'Ghosts of Princes in Towers', was released in the UK during August 1978. It was produced by Mick Ronson and recorded at John Kongo's home studio. All original copies came with a picture inner sleeve containing the lyrics and various group photographs. The week following the release of the album, EMI issued the group's last single with the album's song title being backed by a new Glen song 'Only Arsenic'. The band played a few more gigs, including an appearance on the TV show 'Rock Goes To College'. Ian McGlagan (ex-Small Faces) was brought in on synthesiser . However, despite having demoed another album worth of material, the band split up.

Glen went on to play with Iggy Pop, The Spectres and Hot Club. Midge joined Thin Lizzy temporarily, and then Ultravox after original vocalist John Foxx left. Rusty became involved with Steve Strange and the group Visage and later became Steve's partner in the night club business. Steve New continued to play guitar with various bands, most notably Iggy Pop, PIL and Generation X. He returned to the music scene in 1996 playing on Glen's solo album and is still part of his present live band. More recently Steve formed Lude, who released a one-off single for Creation Records in 1998 .He is presently working on a solo album for RevOla/Creation, due mid 2000.

The 'Ghosts' album, having long since been deleted on vinyl, was first reissued on CD by DOJO in 1993. It was reissued again with improved sound quality by Cherry Red records in 1999.

During their time, the Rich Kids recorded two John Peel sessions, the first in November 1977, and the second in April '78 (which featured a version of 'Here Comes The Nice'). While rumours of a planned 'Peel Sessions' CD (due summer '91) came to nothing, 'Rich Kids' from the November 1977 session appeared on the 1991 Strange Fruit compilation CD 'Winters of Discontent'.


Glen - Rich KidGlen - Rich Kid

Rich Kids
Music Machine, London
(Melody Maker – October 28, 1978)

Until the Rich Kids get a few things into perspective – the rather misbegotten and amusing attitude, for instance, that their music goes above the heads of their audience, I fear that they will miss the boat and become also-rans before even getting into their stride.

Their history has been well-documented: Glen Matlock leaves Sex Pistols, gets together with guitarist Steve New and drummer Rusty Egan, coaxes Midge Ure away from Slick and forms Rich Kids. With such a pedigree (Matlock did make some brash claims about responsibility for Pistols’ songs), it wasn’t surprising that the Rich Kids were launched in a flurry of hype and the grandness of that was matched by the teeny bop flashiness that the band itself exuded. They gave the impression of having spent many days and many pounds in the King’s Road. Along came the album, “Ghosts of Princes in Towers”, and the Rich Kids never lived up to the Press.

And so we found ourselves at the Music Machine last Thursday night, with Glen Matlock bitterly muttering something rude about the audience as the Rich Kids came on for their encore. Well, Glen, if you didn’t think we deserved an encore…

FlyerThere is much that’s right about the Rich Kids. Each member is more than competent and conversant with his instrument, not least Steve New who stretches some incredibly biting solos out of his axe. The front line of Matlock, Ure and New (pretty boys, every one) throws shapes like they’re going out of fashion while Rusty Egan is certainly one of the better new wave drummers. Some of the material is classic, notably “Ghosts of Princes in Towers” and the fascinating curves of Ure’s “Marching Men” which fully exploits the bands ability to create atmospherics.

Conversely, there is much that’s wrong with the Rich Kids too. Over and a above the gloss image, they lack a solid identity, a voice that is unmistakably the Rich Kids (as Geldof is Boomtown Rats, as Partridge is XTC, as Rotten is Public Image). Their sound at the moment lacks soul and often pours out of the speakers as unattractive heavy metal. Too often they tend to be clever when a simple approach would be more advantageous.

Will the rich kids sort themselves out and live up to expectations? The potential is there. But is the spirit?

Review by Harry Doherty

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