The Toy Dolls
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The Toy Dolls were formed in October 1979 and comprised of Pete Zulu (Peter Robson) - lead vocal, Olga (Michael Algar) - guitar, Flip (Philip Dugdale) - bass guitar, Mr Scott (Colin Scott) - drummer.
The Toy Dolls first ever gig was at Millview Social Club, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, 20 October 1979.
After a handful of local (empty) gigs Pete Zulu left to form his own band (Zulu & The Heartaches).
So the lads quickly recruited Hud, a local Billy Idol look-alike, who had never sang before!
Hud left after just one single show!
Rather then cancel a forthcoming show at Sunderland's Wine Loft, the lads decided to chance it as a three-piece with Olga bravely taking on the role as lead singer and guitar player. The Toy Dolls as a trio was born!
After a few rave gig reviews by the 'Sunderland Echo' the lads found themselves playing hundreds of shows locally around North East of England.
Fortunately, a local businessman financed the first Toy Dolls single which was 'Tommy Kowey's Car' with 'She Goes To Finos' on the flip side.
'Tommy Kowey's Car' sold out its initial 500 pressing but the band never found the dosh to press any more.
After a few months of either breaking even or losing money at gigs, Mr Scott's girlfriend Val demanded that her boyfriend was paid a tenner a gig. This, of course, was totally impossible. Val threatened Flip and Olga that Mr Scott would leave if his tenner did not materialise.
Mr Scott played his last gig not long after!
No time was wasted and drummer #2 was drafted in from local punk band The Cult. In came Dean James (real name Dean Robson).
Dean, who always desired to be a guitarist, left The Toy Dolls to learn to master the fret board after just four months.
A friend of a friend told the band about a great drummer who was knocking about. Trevor Brewis, though a few years older than Flip and Olga, still seemed to have the same level of enthusiasm as the other two members (both 19 years old incidentally). Fortunately, Trevor was bandless at the time, so the lads quickly christened him with a Toy Doll name (Trevor the Frog) and he was in!
Trevor's Toy Doll time was short lived (just over a month), his reason for leaving: "I resent being called a frog". He went on to form local band 'Danceclass'.
With no shortage of skin batterers in the North East, Flip and Olga met up with Teddy (real name Graham Edmundson). He was one of the best drummers the Dolls ever had, unfortunately he was only prepared to stand in for a while as he wanted to persue his own business as a cherished registration plate dealer. He lasted nearly four months but did appear on some recordings: 'She's a worky ticket' (from NEI compilation album) 'Deirdre's a slag' and 'She goes to Finos' (From 'Strength Thru Oi!' compilation album).
By this time The Toy Dolls had built up a strong local following, and the national music press were being favourable with reviews of the gigs and records.
Garry Bushell in particular, who wrote for 'Sounds', gave some outstanding features/reviews.
There was also a lot of backing from the local media.
But, alas, the lads were caught in that trap of just doing the rounds of being stuck in the North East with no recording deal, so something had to be done or a final split would have to come.
The next step, of course, was to find another bloody drummer!
So, the lads auditioned a handful of beaters before deciding on Bob, a former member of Olga's previous band 'Showbiz Kids' - full name Robert Kent and Toy Dolls name Happy Bob.
A tall good looking bastard and competent drummer, Happy Bob was around for some time.
This was probably the most important time of The Toy Dolls career with the release of the collectable, self financed Toy Dolls EP. The regrettable signing to EMI Records and the single release of 'Everybody Jitterbug'. The signing to Volume Records and the release of 'Nellie The Elephant' (1982 version) and the release of the 'Dig That Groove Baby' album.
The first chance to do a national tour was thanks to The Angelic Upstarts. This support slot enabled The Toy Dolls to do a further national gigs and tours in their own right.
Anyway, the workload was intense and with a second national forthcoming tour supporting the Upstarts arranged, Happy Bob and Flip had just about enough.
With the prospect of another month on the road, sleeping in the van with no money at all, they pulled out only two days before the start.
What could Olga do? The chances of playing to ready made audiences in town and cities where The Toy Dolls were unheard of was too much to turn down.
Fortunately, the local rehearsal rooms, run by Peter Practice (Peter Dodds) had lots of bands practising that evening, so Olga managed to entice two young and eager musicians to practice for two day solid and embark on the aforementioned tour.
And so, The Angelic Upstarts tour plus one or two extra shows was completed by drummer Nick Buck (real name Nick Buck!) and bass player Freddie Hotrock on (real name Frederick Roberts)
AUDITIONS YET AGAIN!
Next in line for recruitment were bass player Bonny Baz (Barry Warne) and drummer Dicka (Alan Dixon).
With this line-up The Toy Dolls released a single for Volume Records 'Cheerio & Toodlepip' and also performed a number of gigs nation-wide. Dicka left shortly afterwards.
THE DOLLS GO MARCHING ON!
Olga and Bonny Baz then teamed up with drummer Dicky (Malcolm Dick), a local musician who had never really settled down to playing with on particular band for any length of time, he had played in many combos including Prefab Sprout.
During Dicky's reign the band embarked on quite a few tours, including international visits to Holland, Germany and North America.
The workaholics also released two more singles for Volume: 'Alfie From The Bronx' and 'We're Mad'.
At this point, Dicky and Baz both left to do their own thing.
The lads re-recorded and released a new version of 'Nellie The Elephant'. This single sold a staggering 535,000 copies in the UK and took the band to no.4 in the charts.
Ex-member Pete Zulu came in at desperate measures to play bass and local session player Little Paul (Paul Smith) joined the scene on drums.
After numerous TV appearances Pete and the lads decided that Pete himself was just not good enough as a bass player (an understatement!) but rather than sack him, they put him on rhythm guitar (he could play E, G and Am) and employed bass player Ernie (Ernest Algar - Olga's older brother).
So off the lads went as a four-piece! A European and UK tour took place, a single 'She Goes To Finos' and an album 'A Far Out Disc' were released during this period.
The four piece only lasted three months, Little Paul got offered loads of session and TV work and left.
After a break of a few months, Olga decided to get back on the road again, took a deep breath and started another string of auditions.
No one was suitable! So Olga approached two former members, who he thought were the easiest to get on with, drummer Teddy Toy Doll and Dean James who now played bass.
Throughout this time the band released a singles album, two singles 'James Bond Lives Down Our Street', 'Geordie's Gone To Jail' and an album 'Idle Gossip'.
And even more gigs, gigs, gigs.
Canny Kev (Kevin Scott) was around to stand in for Teddy at two Austrian shows at this time too.
AAGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! ANOTHER DRUMMER TO FIND ...
No time was wasted and in steps drummer extraordinaire Marty (Martin Yule).
During the time Marty, Dean and Olga performed together, only one album was released 'Barefaced Cheek' on NIT Records.
Yes, The Toy Dolls finally parted company with the five year recording company Volume due to various disagreements, for a fresh start with NIT.
After a number of tours Dean departed, a best of album 'Ten Years Of Toys' was released by NIT, the band split from NIT and went searching for a new deal.
In September 1989 the band signed to Receiver Records, drafted in Bass Player K'Cee (John Casey) and released an album 'Wakey Wakey'.
Another tour begins! and another and yet another...
(Just for the record, bass player Dickie Hammond stood in for a Scandinavian tout whilst K'Cee took a sabbatical).
A single 'Turtle Crazy' and a string of albums: 20 Tunes Live From Tokyo, Fat Bob's Feet, Absurd Ditties and Orcastrated were all released by Receiver.
After a number of successful tours (particularly the Absurd Ditties jaunt of 1993) K'Cee became disillusioned with the band and left. He moved to Japan where he got married.
Gary Fun (ex Martin Stephenson and the Daintees) joined the band just in time for the recording of One More Megabyte in 1997. Olga, Marty and Gary hit the road once more to promote the new release.
During a break from the relentless recording/touring schedule Olga found time to produce Japanese all girl punks Lolita #18. 'Toy Doll' was the fruit of their labours which features the girls' rendition of Dig That Groove Baby. Olga would go on to produce another album for them called Angel Of The North.
The new millenium saw the much awaited release of their 11th studio album, Anniversary Anthems which celebrated the lads twenty first year in the business.
After a less than successful string of live dates (on a personal level), Olga decided that the current line up was not up to scratch and fealt that the fans were being cheated with poor live performances. A decision was made to take a well earned break. This didn't last too long!
After meeting up with them a year earlier in Japan, Olga joined forces with The Dickies as their stand-in bass player at the end of 2001. In the nine months he spent touring with the band they played in Europe, Japan, the US and the UK. Incidently, the UK dates were the first time Olga had been seen on a UK stage since 1993!
After The Dickies shows, and with The Toy Dolls still on hiatus, Olga took up the bass duties and toured with The Adicts in 2003 on the first half of their Like Clockwork tour. His stint with the band culminated with a performance at the Holidays In The Sun festival in the UK.
Fired up by his recent live outings Olga set about re-grouping The Toy Dolls during the latter half of 2003. Marty was unable to commit to recording and touring this time round as he wanted to spend more time with his family so Dave The Nut was bought in to sit at the drum stool. Bass player extraordinaire Reb completed the line up.
After only a handful of rehearsals it started to become apparent that it wasn't going to be financially viable to continue with a line up whose members lived so far apart. With Reb in Germany and Olga and Dave in the UK, it was becoming increasingly difficult for the band to rehearse regularly, therefore a decision was made to split with Reb.
Olga and Dave had to find yet another bass player, luckily Tom Goober was available and only too pleased to step up to the plate.
2004 saw the release of the much anticipated Our Last Album? and the fans weren't disappointed at all. A classic Toy Dolls album in every aspect. Following the albums release the band took to the road for the first time in five years, lasting 12 months they took in much of Europe to welcoming, enthousiastic crowds each and every night. Our Last DVD? was also filmed during the tour - a lasting testement to the band's mastery of the live stage.
The question marks tagged to the latest album/DVD/tour put a lot of doubt into peoples minds as to whether this would be the last time they got to see or hear The Toy Dolls. And after the tour finished, it did indeed look like the band was finally going to hang up it's blue suede shoes...
However, following a handful of live dates in Brazil as special guest of The Lambrusco Kids, an envigorated Olga decided to keep The Toy Dolls train-a-chuggin' and enlisted the services of drummer Duncan (from Snuff / Billy No Mates) to take up the drum stool. Things are looking good again!
With a seemingly never-ending list of shows under their belt since Mr. Duncan first sat on The Toy Dolls drum stool, and a brand new studio album (The Album After The Last One) that brings us right up to date.
So, the story continues... will it ever end?