formed in London in December 1976. Led by vocalist/guitarist
. After dispensing with a series of names -- including 48 Hours, the Fanatics, and the Dials --
quickly established themselves as a popular fixture on the London punk circuit, issuing their incendiary debut single, "I'm Alive," on their own LaBrittain Records in late 1977.
The single won the quartet a deal with United Artists, who issued both "Nasty Nasty" and "Emergency" in 1978; an eponymously titled LP debut, produced by Andy Arthurs
, followed later in the year. For their sophomore effort, 1978's Separates
enlisted producer Martin Rushent
, resulting in a more polished, mainstream veneer for material like the near-hit "Homicide" and "High Energy Plan." After LaBrittain
suffered injuries in a vehicular accident, drummer Ed Case
was brought in to pick up the slack for a major U.S. tour preceding the release of 1980's The Biggest Prize in Sport
; issued a short time later, The Biggest Tour in Sport
material recorded live during the group's American dates.
A healthy LaBrittain
full-time for 1981's Concrete
, an album buffered by covers of "Li'l Red Riding Hood" and "Fortune Teller" -- an indication that the group's wellspring of creativity was running dry.
1983's 13th Floor Madness
was universally panned for its disco-like grooves, although 1985's self-released Face to Face
was acclaimed as a melodic return to form. At the end of the year, Watson
exited the group's ranks and was replaced by bassist Danny Palmer
in time to record 1987's Lust, Power, and Money, a live set cut in London.
Palmer left the band in 1991, replaced by former Lurkers
member Arturo Bassick
(aka Peter Arthur Billingsly), who has remained with the band since. In 1993, 999
returned with their first studio album in eight years, You Us It!
Though the material didn't quite reach the heights of their
earlier releases, it certainly proved that the band was still vital and alive. Further live performances throughout the rest of the decade (at punk festivals and mini-tours) cemented the fact that the band was here to stay.