You want punk? The Bermondsey Joyriders have it

The activist punk blues roots of barricade-storming trio The Bermondsey Joyriders run deep: songwriter, frontman and slide guitar wizard Gary Lammin first got the urge to perform watching his late East End dockworker dad address union meetings.

Later, at his Kings Road shop Sex, Malcolm asked the young Lammin to join the Pistols on second guitar, but Gaz wanted Mr Mclaren to manage his band, Cock Sparrer. “I was determined the next big thing would be hard-rocking working class group from the East End, where I was from - not a band from the posh streets of Chelsea. But at that point Malcolm wanted The Pistols to be an English New York Dolls.”

Cock Sparrer’s career was brief but bright and Lammin’s next band, The Little Roosters, built on the acclaim, and their one and only album was produced by Joe Strummer. “I saw him on a back street near Portobello Road and I’d just returned from France. I offered him a Gauloises, and he was so made up I gave him the packet. A few weeks later he was in the studio producing us.”

A successful period acting reinforced the lesson working with Strummer had taught him: “You always perform best living in the moment. That was fundamental when I came back to my first love, music.”

Formed with Gary’s childhood pal bassist Martin Stacey (from class of 76 stars Chelsea), The Joyriders had several drummers, including Rat Scabies, before Chris Musto (Johnny Thunders and Glen Matlock & The Philistines) completed the lineup. The band were named after graffiti celebrating a car-stealing gang who thrived during the era of docklands development.

“The name was noticed by the original gang, and I was told they agreed it was a great handle for a band. As they were so cool, I’ve always acknowledged their efforts to highlight a community being carved up by property developers.”

With their sartorial style - Glam Mutton Chops, raffish tartan suits, Dickensian headgear - and diehard adherence to the punk staples of Noise and Revolution — they’ve been labelled steampunk.

“Its an interesting term. I fully believe that to go forward you have to pay respect to whatever is at the core of your music… whatever inspired you in the first place.”

The approach has already produced notable dividends. Following a tour dedicated to the insurrectionary spirit of The MC5, Gary hooked up with the Detroit legends’ manager and mouthpiece John Sinclair, who narrated second album Noise And Revolution and makes a slight return on their excellent third outing Flamboyant Thugs.

“What we do is play straight-ahead rock’n’roll with good choruses and socialist ideology included in the song.

“I feel as vibrant and vital now as I did when I was a young man, but now I can intellectualise my thoughts and feelings much better.

“We’re people from the days before mobile phones and computers, when people had real social interaction and there was more care and compassion in the world.

“We hope to attract younger people so they realise any situation is only down to us, it’s not about corporate people telling you how things should be. You can make a stand against this stuff. You can make a difference”.“[](

Flamboyant Thugs is released May 26. Bored? Visit the Bermondsey Joyriders website.

Gavin Martin

Late NME, Daily Mirror and Classic Rock writer Gavin Martin started writing about music in 1977 when he published his hand-written fanzine Alternative Ulster in Belfast. He moved to London in 1980 to become the NME’s Media Editor and features writer, where he interviewed the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer, Pete Townshend, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Ian Dury, Killing Joke, Neil Young, REM, Sting, Marvin Gaye, Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, James Brown, Willie Nelson, Willie Dixon, Madonna and a host of others. He was also published in The Times, Guardian, Independent, Loaded, GQ and Uncut, he had pieces on Michael Jackson, Van Morrison and Frank Sinatra featured in The Faber Book Of Pop and Rock ’N’ Roll Is Here To Stay, and was the Daily Mirror’s regular music critic from 2001. He died in 2022.