EXPIRED: 01/07/10 – Eric Shark, whose real name was Thomas Sam Davis, 59, (he’s the bald guy in the picture) wasn’t really well known by any name at all although he should have been. His band, Deaf School, was the saving grace to the dying Liverpool music scene that was basically beaten to death by the Beatles.
The founder of UK music magazine ‘Mojo’, Paul Du Noyer, put it like this: “In the whole history of Liverpool music two bands matter most, one is The Beatles and the other is Deaf School. If that seems like a sweeping statement then consider this: after the pop revolution of the 1960s led by The Beatles and other Merseyside groups, it looked as if the city’s music scene had dried up forever. But in 1975 there came a motley band of Liverpool art students called Deaf School. And they were the catalyst for the most dramatic revival since Lazarus. Their impact on the city is with us to this day.”
Too bad Deaf School never really caught on.
They were, one could argue, ahead of the curve. Deaf School formed years before the Sex Pistols, but were more arty than outrageous so they rarely made the headlines. They met at the Liverpool College of Art, the same school John Lennon went to, and were discovered and signed by former Beatles publicist Derek Taylor.
They broke up after 3 albums: 1976’s 2nd Honeymoon, ’77’s Don’t Stop the World and 1978’s English Boys/Working Girls. Singer Bette Bright went solo with semi-decent success. Guitarist Clive Langer went on to produce Madness, Morrissey,Bowie, and Bush. And Steve Lindsey and Enrico Cadillac formed other bands.
But Davis, who was always the darkest and most cynical Deaf School member, quit the music business altogether and opened a shop.
In 1988, the band reunited to release a live album called Second Coming. Then in 2006, more frequent live dates became the norm. A new website was developed in 2009 (www.deafschoolmusic.com) and they played a sold out Holiday show this past Christmas at the 101 Club in London.
Usually snarling away at the microphone, Davis sat at a table on the side of the stage for recent shows, with oxygen mask and tank close at hand. He’d be waiting for a lung transplant that never came.
One of my favorite Deaf School song was a typical set closer for the band called “What A Way To End It All.” It’s pretty fitting right about now.
“Goodbye / farewell / and Cheerio / After all this time / I’ve got to go / Goodbye cruel world…..”