Wayne/Jayne County & The Electric Chairs - Discography

Formed: London, England, Europe

Band Bio - Part 1 (1976-1976) / Part 2 (1977-1979) / Part 3 (1980-Onwards) / Lineups / Discography

The Electric Chairs were a punk band based and formed in London, but led by American-born Wayne County, a truly controversial and colourful figure who is undoubtedly the first, most famous and greatest transsexual/transgender rock singer. County was an infamous character who spent the best part of the early 70s performing obscene rock n' roll with even obscener theatrics in various American dives (including CBGB's and Max's Kansas City) before heading for the slightly more accommodating shores of England. Once there, she and her backing band The Electric Chairs released three British-only albums for Safari and a slew of singles, the contents of which ranged from the awful to the awesome, yet failing to achieve anything other than marginal success.

Part 1 (1971-1976)

Wayne County - Queen ElizabethWayne County - Andy Warhol'd Pork

Born Wayne Roger in Dallas, Georgia, he adopted the more glamourous-sounding surname of County (after the women's prison) in the late 60's and moved to New York, where he became a well-known figure in the gay/dragg community and even participated in the week-long Stonewall riots in 1969. County made friends with Warhol superstar Jackie Curtis, who had written a play called Femme Fatale and asked County to take a role in it, alongside one Patti Smith. County's next move was a play of his own, World – Birth of a Nation (The Castration of Man), in which County took on the dual role of Florence Nightingale and her sister Ethel, the success of which led to County being cast in Andy Warhol's Pork (which ran in New York and London), and then Island.

Jayne County, Please Kill Me: Jackie Curtis was brilliant in Femme Fatale. At the end of the play she was crucified to an IBM card. We had this giant IBM card and we stapled her to it. After we did Femme Fatale we were in another played called Island, where I played the transvestite revolutionary and Patti Smith played this speed freak who's into Brian Jones and shoots up onstage. Actually, it was a simulation of shooting up speed while shrieking, 'Brian Jones is dead!' Pork was basically about someone playing Brigid Polk - shooting up speed all the time and just rapping.

County's main love, apart from wearing women's clothes, was rock music, and in 1971 he formed Queen Elizabeth, which featured New York Doll Jerry Nolan on drums. Chiefly because of County's outrageous drag act, Quen Elizabeth immediately attracted the attention of David Bowie, who had seen Pork several years before during its London run and had been pilfering County's ideas ever since, resulting in Ziggy Stardust.

Deanne Stillman, Crawdaddy magazine, 1973: County's act is carried on in total drag; he wears a plastic cunt with straw hair, sucks off a large dildo, shoots 'come' at the audience with a squirt gun, and for an encore, eats dog food out of a toilet bowl. County's act is the logical culmination of a scene which consumes more glitter, more mascara, wears out more platform shoes and more boutique costumes than a travelling theatrical company... While these groups and their fans on this burgeoning scene profess to be parodying or 'camping on' various sexual styles (bisexuality, transvestism, sadomasochism), it is difficult to say where the affectations end and reality begins.

County was signed to Bowie's management company MainMan Artistes, but despite a huge amount of money ($200,000) being spent to film County's 1974 stage show "Wayne at the Trucks", the film was never made public and nothing from the show was released until At The Trucks! (2006) made eight songs available. The set featured a number of songs County would return to throughout the rest of his/her career, including 'Wonder Woman' and 'Stuck On You (Just Like Elmer's Glue)'. 'Man Enough To Be A Woman', meanwhile, was a radically different tune to the one recorded in 1978. Even a cursory listen to this recording demonstrates that county was playing a protypical form on punk at this point, with raunchy garage rock guitars filtered through a campy, gleefully abusive drag queen perspective.

Jim LaLumia, 2018: David Bowie's 1980 Floor Show, [was] a tv special that would air in the USA on NBC TV's "Midnight Special" weekly music tv series; amazingly, the show never aired in England but became a cult classic in America... word was that Wayne County, signed to MainMan at the time, was going to be the host of the show, but NBC brass were scared to death by Miss County, and they went with Amanda Lear instead, who used the name "Dooshenka', so that they wouldn't realize that Amanda herself was trans.) The fact that 'Wayne' County seemed to upstage Bowie that night with the assembled UK press...is thought by some to be the reason that County was dropped by MainMan, Bowie's management company, shortly after all this went down. The influential British weekly music publications wrote more about County at the bar than Bowie on stage that night. Being seen in context, Bowie next to Wayne County seemed more like John Denver in comparison. The British press began their love affair with County that night.

Jayne County, Please Kill Me: We'd heard that David Bowie was supposed to be androgynous and everything, but then he came out with long hair, folky clothes, and sat on a stool and played folk sogs. We were so disappointed with him. We looked over at him and said, 'Just look at that folky old hippie!' Of course we influenced David to change his image. After us, David started getting dressed up.

Queen Elizabeth did not last as long as the English Queen Elizabeth did and folded in early 1974, but by this time the group had earned some sort of immortality as being the first band to play at CBGB's, some four months before Television played there. Why most accounts claim it was Television who talked Hilly Kristal into openng his doors for rock bands rather than Wayne County is up for debate: County puts it down to homophobia. Or it was maybe because in hindsight Television seemed a lot "cooler". (It is also worth pointing out that in May 1973 they were supported at a gig in Greenwich Village by an unknown group called Kiss.)

Wayne County & The Backstreet BoysWayne County 1970s

Regardless, come 1974 County was gigging with his new band The Back Street Boys, which was managed by Peter Crowley, who rather handily also booked the music at Max's. In early 1976 County nearly killed Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators in response to some homophobic heckling from Manitoba. County smashed Manitoba over the head with a microphone, and this incident polarised the scene in New York to some extent, with The Dictators being banned from almost everywhere that would otherwise have had them.

In the middle of this turmoil County and the Back Street Boys recorded three tracks for the 1976 Max's Kansas City compilation album. 'Bad In Bed', 'Flip Your Wig' and the narcissistic scene celebration 'Max's Kansas City' all summed up the Wayne County approach: a dirty rock'n'roll punk boogie laced with sexual innuendo, sneering and a fair ammount of corn. (The rest of the album contained similar gems from Pere Ubu, Suicide and Cherry Vanilla, as well as some pretty crappy almost-mainstream rock music from the likes of The Fast and Harry Toledo.) County's title song, which ran for nearly six minutes, was issued as Max's Kansas City, and ran across both sides of the single (i.e. it faded out halfway through on side one, and faded in for the remainder of the song on side two).

Wayne County & The Backstreet Boys - Max's Kansas City Single Advert and ShowWayne County & The Backstreet Boys - Max's Kansas City June 1976Wayne County 1977

Part 2 (1977-1979)

Wayne County And The Electric Chairs  - Live 1978

Towards the end of 1976, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers were invited to form part of the ill-fated Anarchy In the U.K. package tour with the Sex Pistols et al. The band's manager was Leeee Black Childers, who had managed the 1971 production of Pork. Upon arriving in London it soon became clear to Childers that his own friend County would be a perfect fit for the nascent UK punk scene, and County was immediately invited over.

Leee Black Childers, Colgrave & Sullivan, 2001: The Heartbreakers played the Rocy many times. It was the Roxy that convinced me that the London Punk scene was going to be big. I called Wayne County and Cherry Vanilla. I said, 'Pack your bags. Get over here quick. It's a gold mine". They weren't ever going to get a record deal in America. They came to England and got record deals almost immediately.

Jayne County: Around 1976, Cherry and I started hearing all these great tjomhs about a punk movement taking place in England! Cherry and I are both Anglophiles and worshipped all the British bands from the 60's! We wre thrilled to hear about this, as the NYC Punk scene at the time was so BORING!!! Patti Smith was mystical live, but basically a Hippy with a new twist. And Television - oh, that awful band! ART ROCK as it's worst! Well, Leee felt the same was as I did. The Heartbreakers rocked out and we were fed up with al the arty farty bullshit in NYC.

The Back Street Boys had been disbanded and County moved to London with that band's guitarist Greg Van Cook. The pair of them formed The Electric Chairs with bassist Val Haller and drummer J.J. Johnson, and in early March they played their first UK show, at the Roxy, with suppport from The Police and The Adverts. (The following night County's pal from New York, Cherry Vanilla also played the Roxy, with The Police as her backing band.) The Electric Chairs were rousingly succesful, with the English punks taking a real shine to the campy, outraegous and exotic American singer. The band, in fact, played the Roxy four more times in the next few months, with support from such diverse bands as Alternative TV and Skrewdriver. I dare say Ian Stuart was not a fan! Mind you, not was Shane MacGowan:

Alan Anger, Live Wire, may 1978: When I first saw Wayne County at the Roxy, he was playing the Roxy as a big legend from the USA - a drag queen - he was biggest load of crap I'd ever seen. Shane MacGowan was gobbing at him all night and I didn't blame him at all. I hated every minute if it.

Wayne County And The Electric Chairs / Siouxsie & The Banshees - Vortex 1977Wayne County 1977

A record deal was inevitable, but it would not come from the more conservative major labels sniffing around, who would not know how to deal with or market The Electric Chairs. And so The Electric Chairs signed with Illegal Records, the independent label co-founded by Stewart Copeland to release the debut single by The Police. Stuck On You, a three-song EP, came out that August, featuring two classic pieces of punk-a-boogie ('Paranoia Paradise' and the title track) as well as a sven-minutes plus version of the Stones' 'The Last Time'. A second single for the label, Thunder When She Walks, was recorded that summer but was for some reason or another cancelled, altough it was finally released in February 1979.

Wayne County Roxy Sniffin' Glue 1977Wayne County Roxy London 1977Wayne County 1977

For video hounds: The Electric Chairs appeared in two punk documentaries around this time: Don Letts' 'The Punk Rock Movie' and Wolfgang Büld's 'Punk In London'. County was also invited to act in Derek Jarman's arty so-called punk movie Jubilee (released in 1978), where he played Lounge Lizard and The Electric Chairs were heard performing 'Paranoia Paradise'.

The year ended with The Electric Chairs releasing their most infamous song, Fuck Off, which came out in November on another new label, called Swwet F.A. 'Sweet F.A.' was actually Safari Records, and Safari had been formed earlier that year by Tony Edwards (former co-manager of Deep Purple), Andreas Budde (the son of German music publisher Rolf Budde) and John Craig, who had previous record company form with Purple and Oyster. The new company ran into some trouble attempting to release the contentious disc, beause their distributor objected to the very foul language, hence Sweet F.A. rather than Safari. It sold 30,000 copies, a huge amount for such a little known band. The A-Side of course was basically two minutes of boogie-woogie rock'n' roll with potty-mouthed lyrics, topped with sixty seconds or so or excellent fast punk rock. The B-Side, 'On The Crest', was actually much better, a blazing punk song of some note.

Wayne County 1977Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Eddie And Sheena 1978 TourWayne County And The Electric Chairs  - Ripped And Torn magazine

February 1978 saw the release of a new single, Eddie & Sheena, and a debut album, cleverly entitled The Electric Chairs, both of which actually came out on labels bearing the Safari name. 'Eddie & Sheena' was a somewhat corny but rather delightful tale of a love affair between a punk called Sheena and a teddy boy called Eddie, which followed the same pattern as 'Fuck Off', starting off as a mid-paced rock-pop song before ending with a snarl of Ramones-y sounding punk rock. The LP was, however, disappointing, with overly slick production from Martin Birch, who had produced the 'Fuck Off' singke under the ounky moniker Mervyn Slime. The material was surprisingly bland: 'Eddie & Sheena' was represented in a longer, slightly worse version, 'Max's Kansas City' was rather listlessly re-recorded, quite a few of the songs were simply crappy mid-speed Status Quo-like boogie, and 'Model T', a misplaced Beach Boys pastiche, is simply awful. Thank God for two stunning tracks (the charming 'Worry Wart' and the rousing 'Rock N' Roll Resurrection'.

The Electric Chairs - Eddie & Sheena AdvertWayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Blatantly Offenzive E.P.Wayne County 1977Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Blatantly Offenzive E.P.

By now Wayne County was so well-known that the band changed its name, subtly, to Wayne County & The Electric Chairs. Van Cook departed, and he was replaced by two guitarists, Elliot Michaels (ex-Back Street Boys) on lead, and Henri Padovani (ex-The Police) on rhythm. This quintet debuted on May '78's Blatantly Offenzive E.P., albeit only on one song, 'Mean Mutha F***in Man'. The rest of the E.P. comprised the November 1977 version of 'Fuck Off' and two new songs, 'Toilet Love' and 'Night Time', all of which featured the County/van Cook/Haller/Johnson version of the band. The first million copies, Safari claimed, were pressed on gold vinyl (a diarrhea gold, really), the next million on grey marbelled vinyl. If this is true then it sold an awful lot of copies, because grey copies show up evey now and again. The single is the quintessential County artifact, although only three of the four cuts qualify as offensive, and they don't seem quite so shocking these days. The music's nothing special, but it's an entertaining disc anyway.

The Electric Chairs ‎– The Electric Chairs LP AdvertWayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Storm The Gates Of Heaven Article

This five-person lineup made its first proper release with album number two, Storm The Gates Of Heaven. The LP allegedly began life as a concept album about County's incredibly strict (read: abusive) religious upbringing, but by the time it reached the shops in August '78 it was a more conventional disc, with eight fairly long songs which tapped into County's key concerns of gender identity (the obviously biographical 'Man Enough To Be A Woman'), religious hypocrisy (the title track) and individuality ('Cry Of Angels' and 'Mr Normal). Furthermore, there is a superb version of 'I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night' and the poignant ballad, 'Tomorrow Is Another Day (Tomorrow)'. The production, again by Martin Birch, was much better, even though the band was unhappy enough with what he had done to make this his last record with them. Trying To Get On The Radio, a satirical and cynical look at the lengths the band would go to for mass acceptance, featured piano, a prominent string section and a very poppy tune, was lifted from the LP as a potential hit single, but went nowehere.

Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Storm The Gates Of Heaven Advert #1Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Storm The Gates Of Heaven Advert #2Wayne County 1979

The band toured the LP, giving the public a chance to see a much prettier Wayne County, as he and the band had jetted off to Berlin for a short while and he had a nose job, too. In December they played at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, and although this was filmed the footage has not been released. Fans wanting to see the band live are directed to the excellent Live At Rockpalast DVD+CD, which was recorded in December '78 for the wacky German pop show. Not only do you get the full performance in excellent quality, but it serves as a splendid alternative "best of", and evene includes a version of one of County's earliest songs, 'Putty In Your Hands'.

May '79's Things Your Mother Never Told You is generally considered to be the best LP by the Eectric Chairs. Released in a "machine washable sleeve", freed of the stifling production techniques of Martin Birch they managed to begin sounding both quite futuristic and garagey at the same time. This time it was Flying Lizard David Cunningham's carrying out production chores, and the band responded with some of their strongest and most arresting songs to date: sleazy epics such as 'Midnight Pal' and 'Boy With The Stolen Face' are seductive gripping, the rockier songs race along with rough abandon, and the electronic numbers on side two ('Berlin', 'Waiting For The Marines', 'C.3') are innovative and throughly original.

Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– 1979 TourWayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Things Your Mother Never Told You PosterWayne County 1979

Unfortuantely, despite this major step forward in sound, all was not well with the band. A tour to promite the album was met with confusion and hostility by the punk contingency in the audience, and County was begnning to take his transofrmation into a woman a bit too seriously for the rest of the band, who - it seemed - just wanted to get on with the business of making music without the distraction of all this sex change stuff. Increasing tensions resulted in County moving back to New York. Padovani, Haller and Johnson stayed with Safari for one more single as Electric Chairs, but So Many Ways flopped miserably and that was the end of that.

Part 3 (1980-Onwards)

Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Hayne County Competition Smash HitsJayne County - Rock 'N' Roll Resurrection Poster

Contrary to popular belief, although Wayne officially became Jayne in late 1979, she never went through with full gender reassignemnt surgery. Rock 'N' Roll Resurrection (1980), a live album, was the first record credited to Jayne County, and commemorated a Canadian gig on the previous New Year's Eve. Tunes from County's songbook dating back to the early 70's ('Fucked By The Devil', Cream In My Jeans', 'Stuck On You') rub shoulders with suitable cover versions ('Night Time', 'Are You A Boy?', 'Hanky Panky') and a few of her greatest hits ('Fuck Off', 'Rock 'n' Roll Resurrection').

(1980 also saw Jayne contributing backing vocals to the A-Side of 'Cars Crash' by The Fast.)

After this, the band was dropped by Safari and County moved to Berlin, although the label still had the nerve to issue The Best Of Jayne / Wayne County & The Electric Chairs (pressed in a variety of colours) in 1982, which drew on each of the Safari albums and threw in a few choice A-Sides as well, including the single edit of 'Trying To Get On The Radio' and a different (unreleased) version of 'It Aint How Much You Got'.

Since the name change County's releases have been sporadic. Her first post-Berlin release was on German-only the soundtrack to the drag queen movie Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen - Berlin Blues (Eng: City Of Lost Souls) Good Noise VGNS 2016, 1983), contributing three songs, 'Burger Queen Blues', 'City Of Lost Souls' and 'I Fell In Love With A Russian Soldier'. She also appeared in the film.

Her next album was 1980's Private Oyster, which featured new versions of 'Bad In Bed' and 'Man Enough To Be A Woman', and a parade of songs that lay on the drag queen act with a trowel ('When Queens Collide', 'Double Shot', 'Zerox That Man'). (A Belgian album called Amerikan Cleopatra is the same record, issued without County's permission after OCunty had extricated herself from the unfavourable contract.)

As she spent part of the mid-to-late 80s working as a prostitute, achieving a small measure of infamy by selling her story to that bastion of journalistic integrity, The Sunday Sport, her records only dribbled out. 1989's Betty Grable's Legs is a tired and tedious mini-album, its remake of 'Paranoia Paradise' adding nothing to the original. Her two latest studio outings suggest more of the same: among the delights on Goddess And Wet Dreams are lots of remakes of her back catalogue, while Deviation offers 'Transgender Rock 'N' Roll', 'I'm So In Love With Dusty Springfield', 'Everyone's An Asshole But Me', 'Texas Chainsaw Manicurist' and that old chestnut, 'Cherry Bomb'. Wash Me In The Blood Of Rock 'N' Roll a live recording.

Still, you gotta love her.

 

DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

Wayne County & The Backstreet Boys - Max's Kansas City The Electric Chairs ‎– Stuck On You The Electric Chairs ‎– Fuck Off The Electric Chairs - Eddie & Sheena The Electric Chairs ‎– The Electric Chairs
Max's Kansas City (7", as Wayne County & The Backstreet Boys, 1976) Stuck On You
(7", 1977)
Fuck Off
(7", as The Electric Chairs, 1977)
Eddie & Sheena
(7", as The Electric Chairs, 1978)
The Electric Chairs (LP, as The Electric Chairs, 1978)
Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Blatantly Offenzive E.P. Wayne County & The Electric Chairs - Trying To Get On The Radio Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Storm The Gates Of Heaven Wayne County & The Electric Chairs ‎– Thunder When She Walks Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Things Your Mother Never Told You
Blatantly Offenzive E.P.
(7", as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1978)
Trying To Get On The Radio
(7", as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1978)
Storm The Gates Of Heaven
(LP, as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1978)
Thunder When She Walks
(7", as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1979)
Things Your Mother Never Told You
(LP, as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1979)
Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Berlin Electric Chairs - So Many Ways Jayne County - Rock 'N' Roll Resurrection Jayne County - Private Oyster Jayne County - San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair)
Berlin
(7"/12", as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1979)
So Many Ways
(7", by Electric Chairs, 1979)
Rock 'N' Roll Resurrection
(LP, as Jayne County, 1980)
Private Oyster
(LP, as Jayne County, 1986)
San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Flowers In Your Hair) (7", as Jayne County, 1986)

Extraneous Releases

The Electric Chairs ‎– Blatantly Offenzive LP Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Man Enough To Be A Woman Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night Jayne / Wayne County & The Electric Chairs - The Best Of Jayne / Wayne County & The Electric Chairs Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Fuck Off 7" Picture Disc
Blatantly Offenzive (LP, 1978) Man Enough To Be A Woman
(LP, as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1978)
I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night (7", as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1978) The Best Of Jayne / Wayne County & The Electric Chairs (LP, as Jayne/Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1982) Fuck Off
(7", as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1983)
Jayne County - Amerikan Cleopatra Rock 'N Roll Cleopatra Jayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Let Your Backbone Slip! Wayne/Jayne County And The Electric Chairs - (If You Don't Wanna Fuck Me, Baby) Fuck Off!! Wayne County - At The Trucks!
Amerikan Cleopatra
(LP, as Jayne County, 1985)
Rock 'N Roll Cleopatra
(CD, as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1993)
Let Your Backbone Slip
(CD, as Jayne County & The Electric Chairs, 1995)
(If You Don't Wanna Fuck Me, Baby) Fuck Off!!
(12", as Wayne/ Jayne County And The Electric Chairs, 1995)
At The Trucks!
(LP/CD, as Wayne County, 2006)
The Electric Chairs ‎– Safari Years Box - Japan 3xCD 2011 (Captain Trip - CTCD-675/677) Wayne County And The Electric Chairs ‎– Live At Rockpalast Jayne County - Private Oyster    
Safari Years Box (3xCD, 2011) Live At Rockpalast (DVD+CD, as Wayne County & The Electric Chairs, 2014) American Cleopatra / Private Oyster
(CD, as Jayne County, twofer, 2017)
   

 

Various Artists

1976 Max's Kansas City US LP 1976 (Ram): Max's Kansas City 1976 / Cream In My Jeans / Flip Your Wig [by Wayne County And The Back Street Boys]

Punk Collection Italy LP 1977 (RCA): Stuck On You

Jubilee UK LP 1978 (Polydor/EG): Paranoia Paradise

Wish You Were Hear (Jem Import Sampler NO. 6) US LP 1978 (Jem): 8 Model T

English Waves! Italy LP 1978 (RCA): Paranoia Paradise

What's All This, John? Germany LP 1980 (EMI): J'Attents Les Marines [by Electric Chairs without Wayne]

Max's Kansas City Presents: New Wave Hits For The 80's US LP 1980 (Max's Kansas City): Max's Kansas City / Cream In My Jeans [by Wayne County And The Back Street Boys]

Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen Germany LP 1983 (Good Noise): Burger Queen Blues / City Of Lost Souls / Russian Soldier

These People Are Nuts! US CD 1989 (IRS): Thunder

1-2-3-4 Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 UK 5xCD 1999 (Universal): Fuck Off

Max's Kansas City 1976 & Beyond UK 2xLP/2xCD 2017 (Jungle): Max's Kansas City 1976 / Cream In My Jeans / Flip Your Wig [by Wayne County And The Back Street Boys] / Max's Kansas City Parts 1 & 2 / Max's Kansas City (Reprise) [by Jayne County]

Links

JAYNE COUNTY - MAN ENOUGH TO BE A WOMAN

DANGEROUS MINDS

LOUDER THAN WAR - Getting Taught by Jayne County

TRANSGENDER UNIVERSE

TRACKMARX: JAYNE COUNTY INTERVIEW

 

You can add stuff and make comments/corrections by emailing me at:

jane@punkygibbon.co.uk

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