Metal Jester at the Marquee in 1991

A few years ago, I wrote about the heavy metal band, Anne Heap of Frogs, that I was the guitarist for in my late teens; and then about Crossfire, the band that come out of that, and some other bits and pieces. But there is one more chapter to the story, and it’s much more impressive.

Trojan Horse, Lick That, Metal Jester

After singing with AHOF and Crossfire, Richard Whitbread went on to front a much more serious band, Metal Jester, which did well enough to get a gig at the Marquee — then, one of the top rock venues in the UK. The layout of the ticket suggests they were third on a bill of three, which would still pretty darned impressive, but as Richard elucidates below, they were actually the main act.

I found my ticket from that gig the other day, when I was looking for guitar strings. I thought that Richard, at least, would like to see it, hence the scan above. Sadly, although the ticket specifies most of the date (Sunday 30th June) it omits the year. I initially guessed that it was the summer after Stortfest — 1989. (It can’t have been earlier than 1988, because that’s the year that the Marquee Club moved from Wardour Street to its Charing Cross Road address.) UPDATE: Richard has commented below: it was 1991.

I don’t know what happened to Metal Jester after that, though. Maybe Richard can enlighten us?

18 responses to “Metal Jester at the Marquee in 1991

  1. 30th of June was a Friday in 1989, it was a Sunday in 1991

  2. Richard G. Whitbread

    Thanks for taking the time and trouble to write / put this up, Michael – very much appreciated, as well as bringing back some good memories. I’m not sure if I have / ever had a copy of the ticket; a poster that we did for the gig and a (somewhat grainy) colour photo of myself on stage I do still possess, however. The year, incidentally, was 1991. I left the band shortly thereafter to go travelling, initially for a year…

    Regarding the billing, we were friends with the guys in the other two bands so we actually ended up headlining. (If memory serves me correctly, since it was considered that ‘MJ’ had done the bulk of the preparation, including promising the promoters that we would fill the venue, which we pretty much did) we were allowed to go on last. Oddly enough, the main thing I remember about the gig itself was not so much the music (we ended the show with our only cover, Iron Maiden’s ‘Prowler’) as the heat – the overhead stage lights were so oppressive that I thought at one point I was going to pass out…!

    As to what happened to the rest of the band, I’m afraid I have no idea. I have occasionally tried to locate them, e.g., via the wonders of ‘Facebook’, but as yet without success. Whatever, I hope they’re doing well…wherever they are.

    Thanks again!

  3. Thanks for filling in the details, Richard: the story is even more impressive than I’d realised! I’ve slightly modified the post to account for the information you included here.

    If you want the ticket, it’s yours. Email me your postal address — you have my email address.

    And if you’d like to send me scans of the poster and photo, I’d love to add them to this post.

  4. Richard G. Whitbread

    I suppose ‘headlining’ makes it sound somewhat grander than the reality…but hey, it’s all rock ‘n’ roll (as they say)! Thanks for the kind offer of the ticket. I’ll take a look when I’m next back – if I can’t locate one, I’ll let you know. As for scans of the poster / photo, I’ll see what I can do.

  5. Simon Armitt

    Hi Mike, Thanks for posting this and for your memories of the show. I hope this thread is still live. I found it quite by chance and thought I’d add to the comments posted by jonnosan and Richard (Hi Richard, it’s been a while, I hope you’re well). I used to play lead guitar in MJ and remember the Marquee gig well. That’s my scrawly handwriting in blue at the bottom of your ticket.

    Yes it was 30th June 1991, I remember feeling chuffed that we got a slot at the Marquee, but Sunday night?…..the graveyard slot of the week for gigging bands. I needn’t have worried though as I seem to remember approx 500-800 strong audience which was great.

    I’m going to contradict Richards recollections though, as the ticket suggested, MJ were first on the bill, we had a very short 35 min slot which was over in a blur of noise, heat and lights. I think we only got this gig because of Trojan Horse connections at the Marquee and their ability to pull in a large amount of punters. By this point they’d completed hundreds of gigs and were well known on the circuit, but I think the Marquee was about MJ’s 60th gig. The reason I remember the billing so well is that although we were great friends with both TH and Lick That, the arrogance of youth and friendly rivalry made me briefly feel a bit miffed that we were at the bottom of the bill ( how ungrateful am I?). Both TH and LT had relatively large fan bases and tbh MJ struggled to get punters to turn up in London. I think it’s only due to the fact that we got on so well with both bands that we actually got the gig. But we sold our quota of ( I think it was £400…a lot of cash back then which went to the venue😠) of tickets and touted a few on the night outside the venue ( Marquee didn’t like us doing this but we did anyway). Anyway, all feelings of noses being put out of joint disappeared compared to the feeling of getting a gig at the marquee. I do agree with Richard about the heat on stage, when the venue was full it was swelteringly hot, I think I still have a photo of myself and Chris (drummer) looking a little faded immediately after the set. Sadly I don’t have much else in the way of images from the gig, but I do have a few tickets and posters from all the MJ gigs we did in and around Herts / London.

    MJ did one last gig following about 2 weeks after the Marquee at the Horn of Plenty in St Albans (without Richard, who was travelling by this time). Dave (bass) then left to join St Albans band Excel and he ended up playing at the Marquee again (I wasn’t at all jealous…. grrrr). Al (rhythm guitar), Chris, myself and Gavin (friend of Chris) went on to briefly form a new band (Porno’ Pic’) focussing on heavier riffs, sequenced dance beats and sampling. We recorded one track which was really exciting, but doing it live meant heavy investment in equipment, which none of us had the inclination to do, so it fizzled…….then some guy called Trent Reznor stole our sound and that was the final straw😁😁😁😁.

    I Haven’t been in contact with Al and Chris for I’d say 15 years and last saw Dave three years ago.

    Please get in touch if you want any further insights, I’ll see what I can dig up. Many thanks.

  6. Wow, Simon, what a great surprise to get your perspective on this 27 years on! I had no idea that the Marquee gig was the last-but-one for Metal Jester, what a shame.

    Thank for sharing all this. For the record, all threads on this site are always open, and I see every single comment.

  7. I remember that gig, although I was working in a summer camp in the USA at the time. It was the talk of Hertford! I did see metal jester a few times, love that early maiden sound that they had with some of their songs. I remember an early rehearsal with three guitars, Simon Snelling I believe was also there, and Dave was hanging around without a bass yet??? Anyhow, great memories!

  8. Hi Andy, I hope you and yours are staying safe and well. Its only been a year or so since you posted your comment, but a lot has happened to me in that time (most of it good! :-)) so I thought I’d respond.

    I still have the photo of myself, Simon, Chris and Al during one of our earliest rehearsals! Yes three guitarists and a drummer!……we had that idea way before Iron Maiden!! Dave was indeed skulking, base less….I think in fact you may have even taken the photo!

  9. Hi Mike, I hope you and your family are staying safe and well too! How could I get images up on this thread, do I send them to you? I’ve just purchased a slide scanner, so looking through all my old 35mm neg’s. Many thanks

  10. Hi, Simon. Email me the pictures at mike@miketaylor.org.uk. If you can send captions saying who’s who, so much the better!

  11. Stumbled upon this thread Mike so thought I would add some relating memories if that’s ok? (Seem to remember more from thirty years ago than thirty days ago these days).

    I auditioned for Metal Jester as a bass player I think it was early 90’s at basement studios croxley green. They were looking for a singer too. I was more into punk and heavy rock but I liked early Maiden a lot at the time and the demo I was given to learn had that influence I recall (and neat black and white logo/artwork!) and it was really good so I thought it was worth a jam.

    I think the rhythm guitarist and drummer were brothers am I right? (was that Chris and Al?) I do remember the Hertford connection and one of these guys kindly drove the demo over to Watford. I turned up with my Selmer ‘Treble and Bass’ valve rig which would sporadically shoot flashes of sparks out the back (not on purpose, it was quite worrying really!) If my memory serves me well the drummer was playing on a red kit in bare feet (?) and I thought he had a double drum pedal he was so good (The others joked ‘Aw don’t tell him that he’ll get an ego!’).

    Simon you must have been the lead guitarist then? I think you had Metallica’s Ride the Lightning artwork on the back of your leather jacket (?) you were really serious about the band as I recall and so tight and talented as musicians.

    I was used to playing heavy thumping bass no problem but to paraphrase Colin from Bad News ‘I was going ‘baddada baddada bum bum like a fury for a bit to keep up with these guys then my arm got tired!’ I wasn’t able to play anything like Steve ‘Hallowed be thy bass’ Harris and I didn’t look very metal either but I used to love any excuse to jam back then. My lasting thought was that you guys were pretty serious about making it. I remember Excel too from that time.

    Frank Drake is still promoting I think, he used to run The (Chequered) Flag near Wembley I think it was it joined the Dog and Duck pub and he put on the Marquee nights too (as per the ticket). My first band also played with Trojan Horse many times they were really entertaining and friendly with a loyal following.

    I used to really get fed up with paying for our tickets then selling them (or not) as we thought it was a promoters job but they had venue costs I suppose and it was the same all over the place if you weren’t signed like The Sir George Robey, Islington Powerhaus etc. There was another pub round the corner from the Flag in Kenton, The Plough I think Frank ran that too maybe, the stage was like a triangle in the far corner.

    Anyway a few memories there. I’d like to hear the MJ demo again if it’s on MP3 now somewhere or by e-mail via Mike?

  12. Hi, Martyn, thanks for these memories! Sadly I have no Metal Jester recording — I was never involved in this band beyond that they shared a vocalist with my own band. But Richard might have something?

  13. Simon Armitt

    Hi Martyn, How are you doing?…..all good I hope! Thanks for sharing the memories and for your supportive comments for our abilities as musicians! Yes, I remember you jammin’ with us at Basement and yes Al and Chris were brothers, Chris owned a black Pearl Export kit…and did play in bare feet, I was indeed playing lead, we all lived in Hertford. Its nerve wracking at the best of times auditioning with strangers, so we were all impressed that you’d made the effort to turn up, as so many said they would….and didn’t! Sorry things didnt really work out following your audition, but it was a bit of a funny old time for the band then as it sounds like we’d not long played the Marquee, Dave(bass) announced he was leaving and Richard(vocals) also announced he was leaving. Not long after these two events, our previous singer Stu’, committed suicide, which was a tragedy in every sense. Although buoyed by the Marquee performance it did feel like fate was working against everything we wanted to achieve. We found a new vocalist (Gav’) and decided to bin our conventional format and buy a sequencer. Chris and Gav took over bass /drums/vocals and sequencing duties. We rehearsed for a further year in Islington and recorded a single track demo, but then university and career responsibilities beckoned and the band slowly fizzled.

    You’re absolutely correct about Francis Drake, although I don’t know if he’s still a promoter, the Flag is now a William Hill and the Dog and Duck is a Tesco Metro! I think virtually all the venues we played have gone. We did also play the Plough, the band stuffed into the corner of the pub as you say, we supported Mournblade, who were to all intents and purposes a professional band, they were really good, really tight and we got a very lukewarm response from their audience.

    I can give you some MP3’s of the MJ demo if you’re happy to put an e-mail address up here. If not I hope Mike wouldn’t mind forwarding your e-mail address to me.

    Mike has also kindly offered to upload a few images, which I’m currently getting together. I still have the cut-off denims with ‘Ride the Lighting’ artwork on the back…although I don’t wear them anymore, they’re a bit grubby to be honest :-)….I did wear them all the time, to every gig, party and loads of festivals, including Donington ’88….where it rained bottles, vegetables and urine😖😂 the entire show, you daren’t look up or keep your mouth open too long!! Great memories!!

    Anyway, take care and keep an eye on this thread! Cheers for now.

  14. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for that update on the memory bank, funny what you remember isn’t it? Just a few hours thirty years ago like that. I even remember that my friend Matt had to drop me off as my car was out of action that day. I think it was Al who must have dropped the tape off beforehand. Sorry to hear about your previous singer it sounds like it was a real transitional time for you all personally too.

    I wonder what we would have achieved if we had the internet access back then. Instead of walking round London a week before a gig trying to convince people to come back to see us the following week. Often it was ‘What do you sound like?’ ‘Erm… well sort of like this band or that… errr…’ ‘Oh great in that case we’ll travel back into London especially to hear that!’ (not).

    I kept performing bass in punk/indie bands regularly into the late 90’s, we supported UK Subs in one of them, then a gap before ‘playing’ my bass hero Dee Dee in The Ramones Clones original Tribute line up in 2005. We played up and down the country with that band it was a full on show ‘1234’ song after song for just over an hour! The Horn Reborn was always a good one, packed out. I never had long hair myself it was too curly so it was quite fun headbanging in a wig too!

    Sad that the Dog and Duck and Flag are no more as venues I would have got a kick out of visiting those again. I think the Flag was my first ‘real gig’ in 87 with a band actually. I remember shouting ‘Wembley are you ready to rock?’ I was in a beach bonnet and comedy glasses for some reason. Maybe i thought I was Captain Sensible.

    I think it was watching some Iron Maiden docs recently that sparked my memory of you guys and also I’ve been digitizing old demos and gigs some of my bands played. I had your demo for ages but somewhere in a move it’s vanished.

    I’d love to hear some of the MP3’s Mike has my e-mail on here please forward anything to that cheers?

    Do you still play guitar these days?

    Thanks for the updates and for Mike putting this up. Over the years I had occasionally googled Metal Jester to see what happened to you guys and not found anything.

    Take Care,
    Martyn

  15. Simon Armitt

    Hi Martyn,
    Apologies for a slow response. I’m amazed that you can remember all that detail that far back…I sometimes cant remember my last meal 😂.

    Being in a band these days with the internet must be both a blessing and a curse, its great for communicating to wider audience or fanbase, but, every other band is doing it as well, the competition must be immense and not as ‘local’ as it was in the late 80’s. I can remember walking round venues like you say, check the venue out, have drink, then hand out some flyers and keep your fingers crossed that you will have an audience to play to on gig night.

    Sounds like you’ve kept busy musically, I love the UK Subs, they would’ve been a great band to support! The Ramones tribute sounds like a lot of fun and you can have anonymity after the show because of your tribute clothing. Dave post MJ played in a local band for a while which involved a lot of dressing up, wigs etc and he was unrecognisable in his stage clobber, so funny seeing him talk to punters after the show, they couldn’t believe he was playing the bass onstage. I use to like playing the Horn (of Plenty) Reborn too, good crowd and reasonable acoustics, the small dressing room always made me laugh. Laughed at your ‘Wembley are you ready to rock?!…at the Flag…you can get away with that if you’ve a beach bonnet on….but to be fair it was close to the arena, so from a local information standpoint all good👍😂.

    Digitizing demo’s is a risky business, I did this quite a few years ago when I bought a state of the art server…..binned the tapes far too quickly and for the first time in my life, a disk failed on the server and corrupted all the other disks, I lost quite a bit of MJ’s archive, particularly our last re-work of one of our songs which we recorded at Basement, it sounded really good and I’m so gutted its gone! Dont bin your tapes, they’er better than a digital back up.

    I do have quite a few guitars still and was playing in a band for a couple of years up to 2016, but it went the way of most bands and I sold all my gear, but kept the guitars. They do get played fairly regularly but I don’t have a decent amp to speak of, still use my 1985 Fender Sidekick…10 watts of state of the art transistor power…its actually amazing its still going, but it does keep going and it sounds great in the living room,…..one day i’ll buy a Boogie mk V and a 2 x 12, that would be awesome.

    I’ve passed the demo tracks and some images to Mike to post, so hopefully you’ll be seeing them soon (not meaning to rush you Mike, whenever is convenient, thank you👍) and hope you enjoy listening to them.

    Cheers and take care Simon.

  16. Hello all,
    Wow I have stumbled on this thread again!
    I believe I did take that photo Simon!
    What great memories, I remember you playing in the ‘new’ canteen at Richard hale.
    I remember you had that flashy Ford and the coppers kept stopping you in it because you had long hair…
    Whatever happened to Simon Snelling?
    Turned out I did hundreds of gigs myself as a bass player and occasional guitarist, still play every now and then…
    I’ll send you a message next time I’m in Hertford and we must catch up. I still hear from Ian Rawlinson and some of the other crowd too.

  17. Simon Armitt

    Hi Andy, Yes, i’m sure you turned up more than once to ‘rehearsals’ at Richard Hale. We got moved from the new canteen due to excessive noise disturbing the neighbours, we ended up in the 6th form common room, i believe it was, and rehearsed there for a couple of years. I remember Simon Snelling left school after 6th firm and went to work for Marconi in Harlow. He also joined a band (after briefly rehearsing with us) called ‘Orkan’, i think they changed their name to ‘Wild October’, but they were a bit too glam and hairspray for our taste, so lost contact. I last saw Simon in the late 90’s serving behind the bar in The Horn of Plenty, St Albans……not seen him since then.

    My ‘flashy’ ford haha!…..did you mean my white boring 1.8 Sierra jellymould?…..yes I did get spoken to quite a few times by the long arm of the law. I bought it off my Dad, He used to commute into London everyday, so the car had really low mileage. Being an engineering apprentice at the time, it was the absolute law to keep our cars spick and span, so when a long haired headbanger was seen driving a gleaming white focus, with the windows wound down and Motörhead being played very loudly, it did grab attention. I remember your lovely red Morris Minor, whatever happened to it?….I was quite in awe of it it was so cool, i seem to remember that you restored it?….. good job👍.

    Glad to hear you played so many gigs and are still playing occasionally. It’s always good if you can do that and it doesn’t get too serious.

    By all means give me a shout if you’re visiting Hertford, I don’t live there anymore but it will be easy enough to meet you there. Ian Rawlinson’s name rings a bell but i can’t place the face…….happens quite a lot these days😂.Google my name, you’ll easily find me, i’m a freelance photographer these days. I’ll look forward to meeting up when we get an opportunity.
    Take care, Cheers!

  18. Andy draper

    Wonderful! Yes that’s the story with the car. Seemed flashy to me at the time. The red morris is still in my parents garage, I have been threatening to bring it out to australia for 20 years!!! Dad is still now too old to drive it, the race clutch is too heavy for his knees.
    I was trying to find Simon S the other year but he seems to have disappeared.
    If you look my up by my name and sydney on facebook you will find me, I’m on my motorbike in the photo.
    I’ll contact you when I’m back, might not be very soon! We are super lucky here with COVID as we have pretty much none here but we can’t go anywhere

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