bf7 Henry 001When I was 15, my step-brother (same age) Chris Vandal and myself travelled from Denbigh to Colwyn Bay Pier to see The Exploited. As we got to the venue the doormen told us that lead singer, Wattie had sprained his ankle playing in the snow and the band wouldn’t be doing the gig, but here’s a free poster to compensate. We were so pissed off.

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First band up were Prestatyn’s Vicious Circle, I don’t remember much apart from the singer/guitarist [Tunkie] wore leather pants and I managed to get a full pint of water at them. Next up was a made up band of Black Flag’s road crew, the guitar was made of clear plastic and looked really cool. They were too hardcore for 1981 and we weren’t ready for music this extreme. This meant that Black Flag‘s Welsh debut wasn’t going to go down too well. Chris and myself were stood behind the main mosh pit and started throwing anything we could at the band, coins, badges etc. Chris then took off his Sid Vicious padlock and chain and swung it, sling like, toward the stage with such power that had Henry Rollins not inadvertently ducked while singing he’d probably be dead, as Chris threw it with such force (he always had psychopathic tendencies!!).
During the melee of moshing, a bullet belt broke off someone scattering bullets all over the floor, providing us with perfect ammunition. An older punk with huge blond spikes was encouraging the two of us to keep firing these bullets at the band. One eventually hit guitarist Greg Ginn on the head; they were playing Padded Cell at the time and Ginn put his guitar down and half-blinded by blood he hurled a folding chair at the crowd and walked off; the band soon followed.
Rollins came back on stage, looking angrier than he normally did; holding the offending bullet, and screamed, ‘One of you fuckers threw this and spoiled it for everyone, good fucking night.’ He stormed off, slamming the microphone.
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After the show we mingled with the band and crew and asked them (innocently ha ha!) ‘What happened?’
One of the roadies said it was no big deal and that some kids got over excited.
Little did we know that years later Henry Rollins would include the episode in his book and discuss it on his spoken word tours!

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Below are internet mentions of the gig…

As an icon of the anarchic and often violent world of hardcore punk, the imposing Henry Rollins was used to fighting – but he beat a retreat from Wales.  Rollins first came to the Principality in December 1981 as the frontman of Californian hardcore punk band Black Flag.  Their gigs were known trouble spots and Rollins had developed a fearsome physique and reputation to deal with people who attacked the stage nightly. Yet in Colwyn Bay he lasted just 20 minutes.  “It was a great 20 minutes though,” he laughs down the line from his office in Los Angeles. “We had some problems with skinheads turning up and we weren’t able to finish the show. People were throwing pint glasses at us first.  “Then I noticed Greg Ginn, the guitarist, was bleeding and I said ‘how did that happen?’. He pointed at this big bullet on the floor – they were actually throwing bullets at us. We ran off stage.”

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One fan recalls, ‘I actually saw Black Flag as a 15 year old the first time round on Colwyn Bay Pier…….They were supporting The Exploited who never turned up as Wattie had broken his leg thankfully……Henry Rollins taunted the local skinheads who in turn smashed the toilets up!! The concert was called off half way through the set!!’

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Another eyewitness says, ‘Colwyn Bay was the source of mirth at the last Rollins night I went to. Hank talked in Cardiff about his impressions of Wales, the first being a 1980ish gig with Black Flag, in Colwyn Bay. Halfway through the set the guitarist goes down and blood comes out of his shoulder. Rollins looks at him and the axeman mouths the word ‘bullet’ at which point Rollins shouts “Shooter! Evacuate!” and the band and some audience members bail out of there.  Turns out some local had thrown an old bullet at the guitarist hard enough to draw a little blood. Welcome to North Wales, Mr. Rollins. Makes my barren, isolated wintry hamlet feel positively cosmopolitan.’

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Simon Lewis (ex Alternative Attack) recalls, ‘When I was sixteen, my dad took me. I didn’t know who they were I’d gone to see the Exploited, embarrasingly I was into them after having seen them on TOTP, just they never turned up so it was Black flag and some local band whose name escapes me and all I remember about them is that they wore those suede pixie boots and reminded me of The Alarm.  And then another band that wasn’t actually a band, they came on and shambled through a few songs and then said ‘Ha! we’re just the road crew.’
I now know it was Spot on guitar, Chuck Dukowski on bass and I think, Dez Cadena on drums. Chuck Dukowski had army boots on not laced up and flapping around which I went home and imitated.

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‘Henry Rollins talks about this concert in one of his books, memorable for the fact that someone threw a shell from a bullet belt and it hit Greg Ginn in the head, there was blood, which caused the band to walk off stage in disgust and Henry Rollins to lay into the crowd verbally for being ignorant morons.’

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Simon continues, ‘They were absolutely amazing and totally blew my mind and set me off on a world of discovery through mail order and Maximum Rock n Roll {fanzine] through bands like Bad Brains, Circle Jerks, D.O.A. Angry Samoans, J.F.A. and loads more American Hardcore bands, Flipper! They were ace too, loads more.  Anyway, I went home and got my dad to get me a guitar and proceeded to learn how to play it and then eventually joined a band with Spike who was in fact at the concert, I didn’t know him at the time but I’d seen him about round Holyhead in his yellow mohair jumper and though he looked cool.’

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Jota says, ‘Hardcore Punk they called it….. I’ve never seen so many weird/scary/dangerous people in one room before! They only managed half a set before the bass player was hit in the face by a live bullet thrown from the crowd.’

Marc Jones says; ‘It kicked off big time because I think Greg Ginn got hit in the head by something thrown from the crowd . I was down the front at the time as always and I thought fuck this and jumped on stage and ended up in the dressing room with the band Greg was fuckin’ fuming and kicking and punching everything in sight, but Henry Rollins although a scary looking fucker was really cool, he could see I was fuckin’ out of my depth and we spent about 40 minutes chatting about his life and mine, I have to this day nothing but the deepest respect for that guy.’

(pics of the night by Spike T Smith)
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