The Jesus & Mary Chain was an interesting alternative band from Scotland. They officially formed in 1983, and toured/recorded up until 1999. The founding members were brothers Jim (vocals, guitar) and William (vocals, guitar) Reid. Although classified as “alternative,” the band was heavily influenced by punk bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Stooges, and the Shangri-Las.
The brothers started out by recording and then shopping their demos. Within the first year they added band members Douglas Hart (bass) and Murray Dalglish (drums).
Jesus & Mary Chain didn’t exactly endear themselves to their audiences; their early gigs were short (at times only 20 minutes), intense, amphetamine-fueled exhibitions, often with their backs to their audiences and having no contact with them whatsoever. At one late-1984 gig, some bottles were hurled, the press blew it out of proportion, labeling the incident a “riot,” and the band was unfairly banned from playing in many venues.
Dalglish was replaced by Bobby Gillespie in 1984. This year marked a tumultuous time for Jesus & Mary Chain. There was admitted drug use and accompanying arrests. Add to this the stories of violence and band indifference during gigs, and all of these ingredients defined a long, uphill climb to success.
Things began to look up in the latter part of 1985. The band released the LP Psychocandy. They also scored appearances on John Peel, The Tube and Whistle Test, adding to their exposure. After the release of Psychocandy drummer Gillespie left the band, replaced by John Moore. No matter how hard they tried, violence followed the band to their gigs, with many sets being interrupted by bottle-throwing and smashed equipment.
The next couple of years brought more personnel changes and more brushes with violence and the law. Despite all of the obstacles, Jesus & Mary chain managed to release two more albums, Darklands and Automatic before the end of the decade. The 90’s produced 3 more collections, before the band called ti quits in 1999. They had a brief reunion in 2007.
It’s true that Jesus & Mary Chain had their hands full with controversy and internal instability, but they still created and released some seriously competitive and vital 80’s punk-influenced music. I guess it’s easy to imagine that with the proper management, and avoidance of illicit substance and violence-riddled shows, Jesus & Mary Chain would have been more wildly successful. But, it also may have made them just another 80’s sell-out hair band without any soul or substance.
In retrospect, Jesus & Mary Chain is a band that deserves more recognition. Check them out if you haven’t already. Even if you have, they are definitely worth the time to revisit.
Buy Jesus and Mary Chain music here.
Read more about Jesus & Mary Chain here.
“Head On” via YouTube user RhinoEntertainment:
“Happy When It Rains” via YouTube user RhinoEntertainment:
“Just Like Honey” via YouTube user RhinoEntertainment:
“April Skies” via YouTube user RhinoEntertainment:
Honey’s Dead (1992)
Stoned & Dethroned (1994)