Formed: Croydon, Greater London, England, UK
The punk years threw up quite a few loonies, and for some reason many of them were called John: John Otway, Johnny Rotten, John the Postman, John Cooper Clarke, Jilted John and...Johnny Moped.
Tales abound of Mr Moped, an outsider artist if ever there was, sleeping in bushes to evade the wrath of his wife Brenda, being kidnapped for recording sessions and being found queuing up to get into his own gigs. He was also a surprising talent, albeit with one of the worst singing voices in history (Xerxes described it in 1991 as “fucking awful”), who made brilliant records in a Damned-stylee but with an inspired lunacy that was all his own.
Moped’s career dated back to the early part of the decade when he played in innumerable bands (Genetic Breakdown, 5 Arrogant Superstars, Assault & Buggery, etc) with the likes of the Burns brother Ray (later Captain Sensible) and Phil, future Pretender Chrissie Hynde, and the elusive, legendary Xerxes. Johnny Moped, the band, made their debut with the tape only Starting A Moped, and appeared on The Roxy London WC2 (Jan-Apr 77), performing the souped-up rocker ‘Hard Lovin’ Man’, a great song. His bizarre introduction is even better, as he goes on interminably about weapons of torture, saying “basically” every five seconds or so. It’s a real show-stealer.
He signed to Chiswick after being recommended by Sensible, and in July released the classic No One (b/w 'Incendiary Device') 45. The B-Side is the better of the two songs, being still hilariously sexist garbage (“Stick it in her lughole/Watch it blow her head apart/ Stick it in her ear/Stick it in her other parts”).
Aw yeah, baby, you'll really go for it a whole bunch.
March '78 saw the appearance of Cycledelic, surely one of the greatest artifacts of the time, with thirty-five minutes of deliberately amateurish, inspired lunacy. Over a barrage of Damned-type garage punk Moped dispenses such pearls of wisdom as “Margaret Thatcher and Edward Heath/Make me feel like a piece of cake” and "Thing comes in ripping up the joint". His preposterous backing group (Fred and Dave Berk and Slimey Toad) play with scant regard for taste but show unexpected diversity on the psychy '3D-Time' and the Black Sabbeth-esque middle section of 'Maniac'. Elsewhere there’s a version of 'Little Queenie' sung in an utterly risible falsetto, charming ditties like 'V.D. Boiler' (“she’s outrageous and contagious”) and 'Groovy Ruby', which sounds exactly like The Damned. 'Darling, Let’s Have Another Baby', the best ballad ever, was issued as a single, as was 'Little Queenie'.Subsequently vanishing from the public eye, nothing was heard of Moped for over a decade. Toad formed Slime, who released one single in 1978, the amusing Controversial on Mushroom Records, but likeable as the single is, the input of Moped is sorely missed.
The Search For Xerxes broke the silence, with assistance from Sensible, Slimey and Dave Berk (Fred had killed himself several years earlier). Again, the results are laughable (not necessarily an insult), with songs like 'Edwina' (a love song to Edwina Currie), 'Moped Crash' (which has Moped careering around his garden on his moped, a microphone attached to his helmet), 'Corpse Boogie' and 'I'm A Spasm'.
In short, Moped is a fucking genius.