Buying SWW Records & Early Internet

In the 1980s before the internet came along, buying Showaddywaddy records was an interesting challenge, then the Internet came along and it all changed.

In 1983 I was 5 years old - my Mum bought a Showaddywaddy cassette tape from a record shop in Bradford called Bostocks. I’ve no idea why she bought the tape, as she wasn’t really a fan of Showaddywaddy, but recalled being entertained by them on Top Of The Pops and other TV shows.

The cassette was a compilation on the Pickwick label, and the first track on the cassette was Pretty Little Angel Eyes. In those days my Mum didn’t drive, but I remember being in the car with my Dad (an Austin Mini), and him playing the cassette. As soon as I heard the first song, I was hooked straight away. I particularly remember Somethin’ Else, Hey Rock And Roll being on the cassette too.

As I got older and started earning pocket money, all I wanted to buy was Showaddywaddy records. I soon discovered that my friend’s Mums & Dads on the street had Showaddywaddy LPs too, and often they said I could have them. I even used to hire LPs from Bradford Central Library!

Below: I still own the cassette purchased by my Mum, the tape that got me into the band in 1983.

I soon amassed a reasonable collection but some were harder to get hold of than others….

The ‘Showaddywaddy’ debut LP yellow album and red Greatest Hits albums - given by friends parents.
Step Two and the blue Greatest Hits LP - found in a secondhand shop.
Trocadero, Red Star and Good Times - bought at Record Fairs.
Crepes & Drapes - bought with pocket money from Morrisons, when they used to have their own Records department.
Bright Lights - went on a day trip to Bridlington aged 10 or 11, and found in a second hand shop.
Living Legends - purchased in the very early days of the internet (1998) using postal orders! I remember this one as the description said “Mint” but the record was scratched and the spine of the LP torn!

When I got connected to the web in 1998, I found it was relatively easy to get hold of Showaddywaddy records from abroad, and also that they had different picture sleeves from different countries - so it wasn’t long before I built up a large collection of Showaddywaddy vinyl. I wasn’t alone though - I remember getting up at 5.00am one day to bid on a Portugese release of Sweet Music on eBay and bidding £90 but still getting outbid! I don’t have that sort of money to throw around anymore!

UK single releases were not without interest - even though they often came without picture sleeves, the labels were often different (paper label, pressed labels etc), and of course I had to collect them all, often to hear the B-sides which were not always available on the band’s LPs.

In recent years, getting hold of what you might call ‘rare’ Showaddywaddy material has been easier. The likes of Good Times and Living Legends were re-released on CD for the very first time, which was great for many fans as the original vinyl was (and still is!) very hard to get hold of. And of course last year, we had ‘The Complete Studio Recordings’ box set released, which not only contained all of the original LPs in mini replica sleeves, but unreleased material from the vaults and the band’s own archives. After 40 years, of Showaddywaddy, and many years of collecting Showaddywaddy records, the ultimate item was been released.

During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, I’d been to see the band on a number of occasions, but I was never really sure that there were that many ‘diehard’ fans out there. The gigs were always sold out, but I always had it in my mind as to how many people at gigs were really into the band, or had just gone along for a night out. I went to see the band at Batley Variety Club in 1997, and the purchase of a ticket meant you were allocated a table as it was a traditional cabaret club venue. I took my then-girlfriend to the gig, and by complete chance I was sat on the same table as SWW fan Chris Dabbs who I got talking to, and formed a friendship which we still have today, and of course Chris now looks after the OfficialShowaddywady Facebook group.

In 1998 I got connected to the Internet - the web was very primitive in those days. There was no Google, and the search engine of choice was Altavista. I searched for Showaddywaddy, and no web-site existed. I had a book called ‘Introducing the Internet’ and the appendix gave some basic instructions on how to write web pages using HTML. I gave it a go and had soon knocked up a basic Showaddywaddy web-page and managed to get it online. Unbelievably emails started coming in regularly and I remember my first ever email from abroad (Torsten Pohl from Germany) - and replying to the email and getting a reply 5 minutes later….. from Germany! Exciting stuff to get a reply so quickly from hundreds of miles away. People think nothing of it now, but it was a great new thing at the time.

A year or so later, the web-site was discovered by Dave Bartram who gave his approval for it, and started sending gig dates to put online. The site was soon made into the band’s ‘official’ web-site and from what started off as a bit of something to do has eventually turned into what it is today. 16 years online, which is longer than the original line-up was intact. In that time I’ve got to know all the band members, old and new, and the fact I can count many of the guys as pals now is great for me having being a fan for over 30 years. I can honestly say every single one of the guys are great blokes all round decent chaps.
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