In ‘The Devil Made Me Do It’, a 1974 episode of US series The Snoop Sisters, the two amateur sleuths found themselves investigating a case involving a rock star named Prince (portrayed in the dramatisation by Alice Cooper) who was also the leader of a Satanic cult. Well, that’s California for you. But even in Britain rock stars come to the attention of television detectives all too often.
This is a guide to rock and pop acts who engaged with various British TV detectives. These are singers and bands who have been shamefully neglected in the music press, and there’s very little documentation on their careers. Indeed in each instance, we have just one source on which to draw. Nonetheless, we can put at least some details on record, so the artists don’t disappear entirely.
And the lessons we learn? (1) Comebacks and reunions are dangerous. (2) Having a brother in a band is dangerous. (3) Having a detective as a fan is very dangerous indeed.
The death in 1975 of guitarist Andy Fletcher couldn’t have come at a worse time. His blues-rock band, Bad Faith, had only formed the previous year and they’d recorded just one album, the classic God’s Thunder – including ‘Devil’s Got a New Name’ and ‘Real Wild Woman’ – but already they were on the cusp of great things. Then on the night of their biggest gig, Fletcher was found shot dead, in what assumed to be suicide. The band never played again.
After the split, singer Dave Dalston (George Costigan) went on to have solo hits with ‘White Bride, Black Widow’, ‘I Lost My Heart in a Game of Love’ and ‘Keep It Going’, while bassist Danny Jones (Roger Lloyd Pack) formed a psychedelic band, White Onyx, and drummer Charlie Webber (Peter Guinness) got religion. Their manager, Clive Evans (Zig Byfield), carried on managing.
Former DSgt Gerry Standing (Dennis Waterman) was a big fan.
see: Nicholas Hopkins, ‘Loyalties and Royalties’, New Tricks, 2008
It wasn’t her real name and, oddly enough, it was given to her by the state… In the early 2000s, the singer later known as Tracy Baxter (Louise Delamere) was performing in a nightclub when she witnessed a murder. Her evidence put away a gangster, and she was relocated to Amsterdam under the witness protection scheme; that’s when she got the new name.
She supported herself by singing and playing piano at a bar called the Blue Parrot. Standards mostly – ‘All of Me’, ‘You Do Something to Me’, that kind of thing, ‘sweet stuff for the tourists’ – but that was just to pay the rent while she wrote and demoed her own songs. She was just getting some record-company interest when she was found brutally murdered in her bed. ‘She could be the next Eva Cassidy,’ reflected DI Peter Pascoe (Colin Buchanan). But she wasn’t.
DS Andy Dalziel (Warren Clarke) was a big fan, though it did her little good – he was lying in bed next to her, covered in her blood, when her body was discovered.
see: Stan Hey, ‘Wrong Place, Wrong Time’, Dalziel and Pascoe, 2006
By 1974 veteran cabaret singer Carrie Blaine (Eartha Kitt) was seen as yesterday’s star, but she knew her powers were undiminished. Which is why she was planning a comeback concert. Her task was made more difficult, however, by the fact that she was being drugged with mildly hallucinogenic stimulants by her husband and his mistress, who planned to kill her and make it look like the suicide of a madwoman.
see: Terry Nation, ‘A Pocketful of Posies’, The Protectors, 1974
Bograt and the Nekros
Bograt (Robin Askwith) was a 1970s heavy metal singer from Birmingham. ‘Those streets, those subways, they gave him everything,’ explained his manager Lenny Bright (Karl Howman). ‘Life, art, inspiration. This is his city.’ Then Bograt got middle-aged and washed out. He tried to make a comeback in the 1980s with a re-formed Nekros, but his heart wasn’t really in it.
Luckily, private investigator Rocky Cassidy (Neil Morrissey) was a big fan and persuaded him to go through with the reunion show – for him and all the other fans.
see: Diane Culverhouse & Julian Spilsbury, ‘Peacemaker’, Boon, 1988
Some claimed the trio were ‘the hardest rocking band to come out the West Midlands’. Songs like ‘Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth’, ‘Let Us Not Be Mad’ and ‘Die Upon a Kiss’ were classics of 1980s metal.
Their roadie in the early days – Bushy, they called him – was a practitioner of black magic, who kept trying to get the group involved in his rituals. And, remembered singer Tony King (David Schofield): ‘In the end, we just thought, eh, why not?’ They staged a ceremony that culminated in them doing a deal with the Devil, signed in blood, in pursuit of stardom; Bushy told them it’d make them ‘bigger than Zeppelin’.
As others have discovered, however, contracts like that come at a price: ‘We sold our souls for fame and fortune and then, right when we were at the very top, he came to cash them in’. Just as they were making it big, the tour bus crashed and Ricky Cornwall, the drummer, was killed. The band fell apart.
Many years later, King decided to stage a comeback, but panicked when he started seeing visions of the Devil. Particularly after former guitarist Earl Albany (Sean Connolly), now a parish priest, was run over by a bus as he fled a similar apparition.
Investigator Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton) was a big fan.
see: Ed Selleck, ‘See Thyself, Devil!’, Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators, 2020
They may have been a manufactured girl group, but Lucy B (Jayne Wisener), Gemma G (Scarlett Rose Patterson) and Tina T (Marcy Oni) were at least a successful manufactured girl group, with three #1 hits to their Candy Crew name.
Then Gemma G (‘G for Gorgeous’) was kidnapped, and a ransom demand was sent, together with one of her fingers. On the one hand, this was a problem – she was the only one who could sing, the others mimed. But on the other, it was also a sharp career move: the band’s latest single was at #2 in the chart and the publicity, said manager Richard Anderson (Del Synnott) was ‘bloody great for record sales – and I mean, ker-ching!’ That was before he was shot dead, of course.
see: Howard Overman, Vexed, s01 ep03, 2010
Nev Connolly (Murray Head) was a star in the late 1980s, the kind of singer who appealed to teenage boys and to their mums. A decade on from his peak, he was looking a little desperate, dressing up in a highwayman outfit for a video. On the other hand, it was while filming that video, out at a big country estate, Compton Lacey, that he met his future wife. So he bought the place in a romantic gesture. And a couple of years later, that’s where he was shot dead.
Gardener-cum-sleuth Rosemary Boxer (Felicity Kendall) was a big fan.
see: Clive Exton, ‘Arabica and the Early Spider’, Rosemary & Thyme, 2003
Pennines synth-poppers the Crystal Kiss burst on the scene in 1988 with their debut single, ‘Marginal Love’, which went to #2 in the hit parade. Their headlining gig at the Forum saw them on the brink of stardom, but it wasn’t to be. During the recording of their follow-up, ‘A Lesson of a Lonely Heart’, guitarist John Gaunt and bassist Martin Harford (Wayne Foskett) got in a fight. Gaunt ended up dead, Harford was sent to jail for manslaughter, and that was the end of the Kiss.
Singer Liz Forbes (Emma Fielding) – she contributed ‘wispy, ethereal vocals’ – made two solo albums in the 1990s. They didn’t sell in vast quantities, but those who liked her folky jazzy adult material, songs such as ‘Dark-Eyed Boy’, liked it very much. Keyboard-player Ian Bassett (Finbar Lynch), on the other hand, released an ambient album – Incantation Station: Relaxation Music for Your Mind and Body – and eked out a living in Spain, putting on 1980s nights in cheap bars.
Quarter of a century later, Forbes, Bassett and Harford (now out of prison) decided it was time for a reunion. Then Harford hanged himself, and that was the end of the Kiss again.
DCI Banks (Stephen Tompkinson) was a big fan of Liz Forbes.
see: Robert Murphy, ‘Piece of My Heart’, DCI Banks, 2014
The Gloria Dee Quartet were a jazz band from New York: piano, trumpet, bass and, of course, singer Gloria (Camilla Beeput). They were more used to playing Minton’s in New York City, but in 1953 they came to London for a residency at the Straight 8’s jazz club in Wardour Street, promoting their album The Fabulous. They played smoky, sultry versions of standards: ‘Frankie and Johnny’, ‘Won’t You Come Home, Bill Bailey?’, ‘I Ain’t Got Nobody’, ‘There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight’.
Rev Sidney Chambers (James Norton), amateur sleuth, was a big fan. Big enough to spend the night in Gloria’s bed. They were a racy lot, those English country vicars in the 1950s.
see: Daisy Coulam, Grantchester s1 ep5, 2014
A prog-rock trio featuring Roy Pilgrim (Ralph Brown) on vocals and electric violin, drummer Martin Crow (Mike Sarne) and guitarist Glenn McArthur (Hank Wangford). They were the kind of band that appeared at the Reading Festival in 1979, wearing fanciful outfits and singing songs to match:
The sands of sleep fall falsely over futures far too bleak,
And the truth no man can speak wanders while our will is weak,
Ah, but from the Devil’s dust there’s no escaping…
Success continued into the mid-1980s, at which stage Pilgrim fell in with the Creed of Eden, an ecological cult, and dedicated his life to weightier matters than mere rock ‘n’ roll.
Investigator Jonathan Creek (Alan Davis) was a big fan.
see: David Renwick, ‘No Trace of Tracy’, Jonathan Creek, 1997
Flowers of Progress
They weren’t in the front rank of Madchester bands, but the Flowers of Progress did release a great debut album back in 1991, with some big songs: ‘Helium Love’, ‘Flower Zombie’, ‘Daisy Buttercup’, ‘Little Ms Dead Eyes’, ‘Bloated Sunshine’. Vocalist Stevie Smith (Francis Magee), was backed by his brother, Jim Smith (Steve Evets) on bass, guitarist Pete Thunders (Nick Moran), and drummer Duncan Roberts, aka Disco Biscuit (Neil Morrissey).
The album was recorded on the Caribbean island of Sainte Marie (it was around the same time that the Happy Mondays were in Barbados making Yes Please!), and should have been the foundation of a great career. But there was no second album, difficult or otherwise. The two Mancunian brothers fought constantly and, after a particularly tempestuous gig in Cardiff in 1992, they split up. Of the others, Thunders went on to become a not very successful artist, and Disco Biscuit made a fortune investing in property.
More than a decade later, an old song, ‘Grand Central’, was picked up by an American brewer – maker of Grand Central Beer – for an advert. So, under the guidance of new manager Cheryl Moore (Sally Phillips), they got together again in the same studio, with some new material:
Bang, bang, like a bullet from a gun
Bang, bang, let’s rave unto the sun
So get your sexy shades on like you’re full of it
And party like a boo-na-na-boo-na-na-boo-bullet.
Despite the lyrics, the comeback might’ve worked out, but it wasn’t to be: Stevie Smith was murdered before the new album could be completed. DI Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) – who claimed not to be a fan, though he had a copy of the album – summed him up: ‘Habitual wild child and lead singer. Lived life on the edge. Died the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll death: electrocuted in a swimming pool.’
see: Ian Kershaw, ‘Swimming in Murder’, Death in Paradise, 2015
Frankie Rio Trio
Singer and pianist Francis Reardon (Alan Price) was better known as the leader of the Frankie Rio Trio, big stars in the 1950s with hits like ‘I Put a Spell On You’. By 1969, although Frankie could still knock out a fine version of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’ at the drop of a hat, he was down on his luck, with no recording contract and no money. But the Trio – now including drummer Danny Flowers (Ram John Holder) and bassist Gerard Lowe (Allan Corduner) – had a prestigious gig in Whitby, where a record company scout was expected.
Whether it worked out with the A&R man we don’t know, but it’s hard to see how anyone could have resisted such a beautiful rendition of ‘Changes’ from the soundtrack of O Lucky Man!, a film that wouldn’t be released for another four years. He might have been in his sixties, but he was still ahead of the game, our Frankie.
see: Johnny Byrne, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’, Heartbeat, 2004
Jack ‘Axeman’ McKinley (James Cosmo) was one of the great guitarists of the British blues boom. He played with John Mayall at the Richmond Jazz & Blues Festival, but became better known with his own band, Hired Gun. They were good enough that Eric Clapton jammed with them at the Crawdaddy. They were ‘a kick-arse blues band,’ in his words, and the song titles tell the story: ‘Bear Back Blues’, ‘Good Time Rock’, ‘My Soul Is on Fire’, ‘Never Give Up’, ‘Breaking Storm’.
The rest of the line-up comprised Mimi Clifton (Suzi Quatro) on vocals, Gary Cooper (Phil Davis) on bass and vocals, and Nicky Harding (Michael Angelis) on drums. There was also a second guitarist, Ginger Foxton, but he disappeared without trace in the 1970s. That was the tipping point: there was enough bad blood already, and the trauma of losing Ginger split them up.
Thirty years later, Gary Cooper – now with an MBE for his anti-drugs campaigning, and posing as a country gentleman – re-formed the band. The legend had faded a little, though: the big reunion was at the less-than-prestigious Midsomer Rocks festival at Badger’s Drift, third on the bill to Roger Chapman & the Shortlist and Geno Washington & the Ram Jam Band. But we’ve all got to re-start somewhere.
They kicked off the set with their old classic, ‘Doll’s House Blues’:
You gotta rock it in the cradle
Roll under the table
Never take it easy
Gotta live it nice and sleazy
Party till you’re drunk
Ain’t never gonna stop
Got nothing to lose
Sing the doll house blues with me…
At which point, Mimi fell to the stage-floor, dead, electrocuted by a sabotaged mike-stand. A couple of days later, Nicky Hardin was also dead, drowned in a Cadillac in the swimming-pool of Gary Cooper’s manor-house. And that was the end of the comeback.
DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) was a big fan.
see: Michael Aitkens, ‘The Axeman Cometh’, Midsomer Murders, 2007
Diane Huntley (Anna Carteret) was a singer specialising in lightweight, bouncy pop that was written by some big names: Chris Andrews’s ‘Out to Get You’ and ‘You Won’t See Me No More’ by Gary Osborne:
There’s something you should know,
I think it’s only fair.
Soon I’ll have to go,
Although I don’t know where.
I’ve been around for far too long,
I’ve seen too many things go wrong.
There’s something you should know
for you won’t see me no more.
Actually, despite the best efforts of backing group the House of Lords, it all sounds distinctly dated in 1969, and although she’s doing well on it – she’s playing at the Talk of the Town – even her manager Johnny Fox (Trevor Bannister) knows she’s not really up to the standard of his previous star, Brenda Stafford.
Unfortunately, Brenda killed herself, jumped in front of a tube train. And now, six months after her death, her brother Alan is found murdered. It turns out he’d been investigating a dubious guru, known only as the Guru (Marne Maitland).
Alan was a friend of Simon Templar (Roger Moore), who takes on the case.
see: Harry W Junkin, ‘Portrait of Brenda’, The Saint, 1969
Miriam Leslie (Miquel Brown) was a jazz singer with a regular gig at the Fiesta Club in London, a place owned by underworld gang boss George Mallory (Pat Ryan). She was Mallory’s girlfriend, but she wasn’t involved in his criminal activities – she didn’t even know he’d been killed in a turf war.
DI Jack Regan (John Thaw) wasn’t necessarily a big fan, but he did get a signed photo from her.
see: Ian Kennedy Martin, ‘Regan’, Armchair Theatre, 1974
Deeby Macc (Jazz Cartier) was ‘a pretty famous rapper’, with hits like ‘Tempted to Touch’. He also ‘had a big thing’ for the British supermodel Lula Landry (Elarica Johnson) and wrote songs about how he was going to steal her away from her rock star Evan Duffield (Bronson Webb). Many of her friends thought Deeby would be a step up from Duffield ‘with all his white-boy tortured poet act’.
So when Lula is murdered, thrown off her balcony, and it turns out that Deeby had the tenancy on the flat below hers, eyebrows are raised.
Cormoran Strike (Tom Burke), himself the estranged son of rock legend Jonny Rokeby, had never heard of him.
see: Ben Richards, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’, Strike, 2017
In the late 1960s there were the Dead, the Airplane and the Addiction. And if Midnight Addiction aren’t quite as familiar a name as the first two, they were the third biggest-selling British band ever, with their blues-based prog rock, best known for their songs ‘Hard Times’ and the anthemic ‘Counter Culture Blues’.
The main man was Richie Maguire (David Hayman) on drums and vocals, with his brother Mack (Hilton McRae) on bass, and Franco (Anthony Higgins) on guitar. And, of course, there was legendary singer Esme Ford (Joanna Lumley), all top hat and no bra, who disappeared in 1974, believed drowned in Grenada.
That disappearance, however, turned out to have been staged, with the assistance of the band’s flamboyantly camp manager Vernon Oxe (Simon Callow). Thirty-five years later, Esme suddenly reappeared, saying it was time to get the band back together: ‘I just want to do it again, before it’s too late.’ Unfortunately, the group’s road manager, Bone (Zig Byfield, former manager of Bad Faith), was murdered shortly after her reappearance and everything spiralled into disaster. Anyway, Esme was a bit of a fraud: when she ‘sang’, she was actually miming to the voice of Maggie Bell.
DI Robbie Lewis (Kevin Whately) was a big fan.
see: Nick Dear & Guy Andrews, ‘Counter Culture Blues’, Lewis, 2009
Sally Ellen Oakley
Once voted Britain’s Tastiest Bottom, Sally Ellen Oakley (Caroline Carver) was best known as a glamour model. But in the late 1990s, following in the path of Samantha Fox (and of Jilly Johnson and Nina Carter), she also ventured out into a singing career, having a string of hits, most famously a cover of Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’. She married Dudley Housman (Jack Dee), ‘the luckiest bastard in Britain,’ according to the Sun, and a songwriter whose work was dismissed by critics as ‘derivative sub-Dylan-lite’. Actually, it was much worse than that:
To be with you is to ride on rainbows
And laugh like the morning dew.
The silence sings and a hall of kings
Couldn’t teach me nothing new,
Cos all I ever knew was to be with you.
That was from a musical he was writing of Samson and Delilah with Sally cast as Delilah. (He was hoping to get Michael Bolton as Samson, and Whoopi Goldberg as God.) As it happens, it was the woman Housman was having an affair with who had her hair cut off. Which was the point at which Sally walked out, and Jonathan Creek (Alan Davis) walked in.
see: David Renwick, ‘Angel Hair’, Jonathan Creek, 2003
The Overnight Sensations
Like so many teen bands in the mid-1970s, the Overnight Sensations were very much in the shadow of the Bay City Rollers. You couldn’t get a pair of high-waisted satin flares between them and the likes of Buster, Flintlock, Stevenson’s Rocket, Rosetta Stone, Bilbo Baggins… I could go on. The one difference was that the Sensations hit it big. ‘Yesterday’s Boy’ spent six weeks at #1 in 1976, ‘the last long hot summer of glam rock’:
Once when we were lovers,
You told me you were mine.
Now your heart’s gone to another –
Why can’t I stop from cryin’?
Then came punk, and their career nosedived. It didn’t help when singer Teddy O’Connor (Tony Slattery) had a fight on stage with guitarist Gerry Jameson (Nigel Planer) at a gig in 1977. That was the end of it really.
Times were hard for Teddy in later years, and he sank into alcoholic self-indulgent misery. Apart from anything else, he was understandably bitter that he wrote ‘Yesterday’s Boy’, but didn’t get the writing credit or the money; as far as he was concerned, there were millions owed to him by manager Billy Wunder (Ian McNeice), a large, menacing, gay Svengali type (also very much in the shadow of the Rollers, then).
More recently, Teddy had started talking about getting the band back together. Not with Gerry, of course, there was too much bad blood there – something about a girl – but with bassist Trevor Dooley (William Key) and drummer Harvey Troupe (Tim Healy). It didn’t work out, and he had to settle for a gig at the Swan in Willesden, North London with a tribute band. Even then, he started a brawl, which ended with him getting thumped by the landlord. And that was the last anyone saw of him until he was found dead.
DC ‘Dangerous’ Davies (Peter Davison) and DI Ray Aspinall (Rob Spendlove) were fans.
see: Tim Vaughan, ‘Three Steps to Hendon’, The Last Detective (2005)
He’s a mystery is the American pop star Ricky (Rolf Saxon). We don’t even know his full name. All we know is that when he arrived in Britain at the age of thirty-one, ready to start a European tour, he was held up at Customs. And that he was big enough to attract a gaggle of Fleet Street’s finest, keen to ask about his drug problems.
see: Barry Appleton, ‘Passage Hawk’, C.A.T.S. Eyes, 1986
The frontmen for successful five-piece Manchester indie band Rule 7 were brothers Jack (Michael Winniczuk) and Sam Taylor (Michael Dixon), on vocals and guitar respectively. There used to be Billy Radfield (Liam Garrigan) as well, but he left for a solo career that didn’t really work out: a #48 single was as good as it got for him. On the other hand, he was still alive, which was more than one could say for Jack, who was found murdered in his flat, the morning after a triumphant headlining gig at the Apollo in 2009.
Ellie, teenage daughter of DCI Janine Lewis (Caroline Quentin), was a big fan.
see: Susan Oudot, ‘This Charming Man’, Blue Murder, 2009
Toola (Toyah Willcox) was a punky, new-wavy kind of singer, with songs such as ‘Danced’ and ‘Neon Womb’:
Standing all alone in the neon womb
Reminds me of my mother’s lonely tomb
She wasn’t exactly a star, but she could pull a crowd in 1979 – even to an end-of-the-pier show. And she did have a heavy manager, in the psychotic shape of Mal Kenrick (Christopher Biggins). Toola’s bassist Gary ‘Mole’ Molecombe (Gary Holton) thought that Kenrick was a murderer and told him so. Which meant that Mole was first sacked from the band, and then administered a lethal overdose.
see: Philip Martin, ‘Find the Lady’, Shoestring, 1979
In the 1990s the Venerators were one of the biggest voodoo rock bands in the Caribbean. They were awarded gold discs for albums like Get Your Voodoo Groove On, Electric Guava, Voodoo Lovebaby and Dead ‘Live’. Songs included: ‘Hateful Words Come to My Mouth’, ‘Juju Jamboree’, ‘Stick a Spell on My Heart’, ‘Voo Doo Voo Don’t’.
They used a horn section and other musicians, but the nucleus of the band was bassist Eddie (Keith Duffy), with Curtis (Ray Fearon) on guitar, and Renward (Robbie Gee) on keyboards. The undoubted star, though, was singer Solomon ‘Solly’ Jackson, a wild performer who wore whiteface make-up and was carried on stage in a coffin.
And then it all went wrong. Solly let the stardom go to his head, and began indulging his love of the good life. Too much partying, too many women. The band fell apart. And when, ten years later, they attempted a comeback, it ended in tragedy. The coffin was brought on stage to the strains of ‘The Serpent Swing’, just like the old days, but inside, Solly was dead.
Officer Dwayne Myers (Danny John-Jules) was a big fan.
see: Jack Lothian, ‘Music of Murder’, Death in Paradise, 2011
The Walking Dead were best known for their single ‘Suzanne’, a slightly old-fashioned beat song but with just enough hint of freakbeat to take it into the charts of 1966. The follow-up was ‘Break My Love to You’. If you squinted, you might mistake the group for the 21st-century indie-folk band, Siblings.
see: Peter Flannery & Stewart Harcourt, ‘Gently Upside Down’, Inspector George Gently, 2011
The Wildwood were a West London four-piece, who followed a familiar path for a British group in the 1960s. You could track their progress in their publicity shots, from larking around in matching suits, through to would-be decadent drag (very much like the Rolling Stones photo-session for ‘Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby’). They started out playing simple pop – their debut single was ‘He Loves You’ – but within a few years they were smoking cannabis and having hits with the baroque likes of ‘My Sweet Lady Kate’ and ‘Jennifer Sometimes’:
Jennifer sometimes sits in the sunshine
Playing with her hair
Go back to the old school, look under a toadstool
There’s nobody there
That was from their 1967 album Boys and Girls Come Out to Play, where you’d also find ‘Pay Me Thrice’, ‘Young Man Knows Not Whom’, ‘He Did He Did’ and ‘Galaxies Recovered’. They sounded a bit like the Hollies and, in their scarlet army tunics and pork-pie hats, looked a bit like the Libertines, albeit thirty-five years before the fact.
The line-up never changed: vocalist Nick Wilding (Will Payne), with his brother Ken (Michael Fox) on guitar, Chris Clark (Jonathan Barnwell) on bass, and drummer Lee ‘Stix’ Noble (Dario Coates). But musical differences emerged, one faction wanting to push onward into psychedelia and pretension, another wanting to get back to their rockin’ roots. So which should it be: Baudelaire or Bo Diddley?
It was a question that was never answered. Someone slipped Nick some acid, he had a very bad trip, and after that the Wildwood were no more.
WPC Shirley Trewlove (Dakota Blue Richards) was a big fan.
see: Russell Lewis, ‘Canticle’, Endeavour, 2017
As a schoolboy growing up in Kingsmartin, Harold Goodbody (Peter Capaldi) was notorious for playing practical jokes. He also wanted to be a star, but he was never going to be a rock god under his real name, so he reinvented himself as Zeno, and broke big. Big enough to headline a major festival – appearing above acts such as Atom Seed – and to attract a crowd of 120,000.
In person, he’s still the same capricious prankster, ‘a naughty boy,’ in the words of DI Wexford (George Baker). But he’s a good-looking naughty boy, with his thick, lustrous, wavy hair and angle-poise features, a millionaire urchin. You can see why he has to have a police officer stationed outside his house, to keep the fans away.
What’s odd is that we only know of one song, his great anthem ‘Let Me Believe’, whose majestic descending chords and male backing vocals sounded like a Mott the Hoople knock-off:
Come by, come nigh,
Come try, tell why.
Some will sigh and some will cry,
Some will lie and some will die.
see: Matthew Jacobs, ‘Some Lie and Some Die’, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, 1990
missing in action
There are further acts, details of whom remain sketchy at this point.
- Rick Mulvey, of 1960s Scottish band the Adders, was found electrocuted in the swimming pool at his mansion in 1995. By the time two others had been killed, singer Marie McDonald (Barbara Dickson) was the sole surviving member of the group, helping the team from Taggart with their enquiries.
- Jody Brent (Philip Sayer) once had a hit with ‘Lazy Daisy’, but when it was successfully revived in 1980, he was nowhere to be found. Which was why Eddie Shoestring (Trevor Eve) was sent to track him down.
- Renny Gold (Tina Jones) was a nightclub singer, whose husband died in a car crash in 1998. Since she had just increased his life insurance, Jimmy Griffin (Kevin Whately), The Broker’s Man, was called in to investigate whether it really was an accident.
- Cabaret singer Tony Hubbard (Gary Bond) used to be half of a successful 1960s duo with Dawn Grey (Diane Langton), but was later reduced to a season at the downmarket Golden Peacock on Jersey. That’s where he was shot dead in 1990, even though he was a friend of former cop Jim Bergerac (John Nettles).
- J.J. (Frank Barrie) was a popular singer in the 1950s. By 2005 he was living in a retirement home with his wife. Until he was found dead in the bath in a case of Murder in Suburbia.
- The career of Smiling Slim Slavey and the Slavers came to an abrupt halt in 1974 when Slim (Paul Nicholas) was electrocuted by his microphone while performing at the Village Hall in Elverton. The Softly Softly squad investigated. Without Slim, the rest of the band were better known as Mr Big.
- Volcanic Youth were an all-female new wave band in the 1980s. Their reunion in 2019 was meant to result in a new album, but actually it ended in the murder of a band member. Happily, one of the others, Cat Stone (Julie Graham), was now a crime novelist – one of the Queens of Mystery – and could help her niece, DSgt Mattie Stone (Olivia Vinall), investigate.
- Meesh Winwood (Rebecca Palmer) was a successful but tormented singer who gave up her career in 2001 and returned to her Welsh hometown. Which was when a stalker started killing her friends and getting closer to her, in A Mind to Kill.
Any information on these or similar acts would be most welcome. But remember: violent crime is rarer than you think, so don’t have nightmares. Keep ‘em peeled.
My thanks to Dan Atkinson, Sam Harrison and Anthony Teague for their assistance.