Rob Fern
aka Bob Allcock
& Cosmic Rob
Gabrielle Fern
    aka Gabby Fern &     Lucy Nation
John Harris
aka Johnny Harrison


UK Original Pressing


Autographed by two members of the band 


Traffic Lights / Teacher, Teacher 7"

Catalogue Number - DRO1

Label - Dynamite Records

Year Of Release - 1977

Quantity Pressed - ????? (20 Known Copies Approximately)


Read the lyrics to both of the songs


"John Harris" (aka Johnny Harrison) - Drums* "Matthew Smith" - Bass & Backing Vocals**
"Rob Fern" (aka Bob Allcock & Cosmic Rob) - Vocals & Guitar

* "Pete Lynch" was the stand-in drummer when Johnny Harrison couldn't do the gig or had fell out with "Bob Allcock". This happened through-out the bands existence!

** Was replaced by "Lucy Nation" who was then replaced by "Paul Cooper" (aka Harry Web, aka Clich Riffords).

The Anti-Social record is one of the rarest UK Punk records ever, only one record is rarer than this and that is the 'Stereotypes' single. For years collectors thought that it didn't exist but over time as few copies have surfaced. The above scans show the original label design. Please note, bootleg copies do exist (See scan below). Their are two easy ways to tell an original from a bootleg. The original has a serrated edge around the outside of the label. Also for some strange reason, the bootleg copy is dated 1978 while the original is dated 1977. We are lead to believe that the person who did the bootleg didn't even own an original, hence the error on the date.


UK Bootleg Pressing


The above scans show the labels for the bootleg version. As you can see, the two labels are quite different. On this version, Bob Green the producer or Auntie Helen aren't even mentioned. This would lead us to assume that the bootlegger didn't even own an original copy of the single because of the rarity of the actual record.



Anti-Social are one of the greatest myths of the UK Punk scene after releasing their debut single in December 1977 and receiving music press review in late January 1978. Little is known about this band and no trace can be found of them playing in any of Birmingham's Punk clubs like 'The Bulls Head', 'The Pose', 'Bogart's', 'Rebecca's' or even 'Barbarellas' plenty of clubs to play, but no sign of Anti-Social. Also, there was no evidence of any appearances in the area of their label 'Dynamite Records' in Banbury, near Oxford.......Oxfords punk venue 'The Cape Of Good Hope' saw no sign of Anti-Social throughout the 77-78 era.

A strange occurrence happened, however, in early October 1978 a press release was issued by Dynamite records that stated "Three piece band Anti-Social described as "the worlds most violent rock group" have been signed by the Independent 'Dynamite Records' label and are now cutting their first tracks." Why????

The single had been out almost a year, so this was all old news, unless they were trying to breath life into a single (that had no distribution deal) that was simply not selling as no locals  had ever seen or heard of the band. If they were "the worlds most violent rock group" why wasn't this mentioned on the singles release in 1977.

The level was cranked up in early November 1978 by the release of the infamous suicide concert  press release, complete with a picture of the "group", who even in black & white, looked the wrong side of thirty.

A gig at the Town Hall in Birmingham in December was supposedly booked, but cancelled by the police, a further date at the 'New Electric Circus' in Manchester was advertised for 17.12.78 but its unlikely this ever took place as no press reports, photographs, etc on "the worlds most violent rock group" have so far surfaced.  Then late 1978  the band disappeared / disbanding without trace.

 Our hunt for this band has been a long and tireless affair and quite obsessive at times. The songwriter in the band was Bob Allcock, so we sent letters out to everyone in the UK who's name was Bob Allcock (or Robert Allcock). Sadly after about 60 letters, no one replied! So we then turned our attention to the producer of the record which was Bob Green, this also lead us no where as 'Green' was a popular name. Then we got a bit of a break and found out the name of the manager who was 'Les Hemmings' and lived in Mascord Road, Banbury. He wasn't listed in the telephone directory so we sent letters to his address and once again we got no reply. So we looked up other residents who lived in the same street street and telephoned everyone up and explained what we were doing. To our disappointment were were told that he died in a car crash quite a few years back. Yet another dead end (pardon the pun). My heart then said let it go but my determination wouldn't. So I re-telephoned back one of his old neighbours who was happy to talk to us and told us a few funny stories about this manager who sounded like a right sort. On one occasion 'Les' had arrived home one night late and had parked his car in the street outside his house. Before unlocking his door he looked back and saw his car rolling down the hill as he had forgot to put his handbrake on!

 Then he told us that the dead managers sister worked in a Building Society in Banbury town centre. A lead once again... So we telephoned every building society in the area and to find out to our horror that she had died a few months earlier....We couldn't believe our bad luck. Something was telling us to give up!!! Not be be out done by this latest set back we then wrote a letter to the head manager of this Building Society so that they could pass my letter onto the grieving husband. After about two weeks after doing this a phone call came out of the blue. It was the dead managers, dead sisters husband. I couldn't believe it that we finally made a break through. We had good chat with this gentleman and he told us that when his wife's brother died in the car crash it was up to him and his then wife to clear out the house where he lived. To my horror he confirmed that they chucked out boxes and boxes full of Anti-Social records. So this is were the story ends....Yes I was obsessive, I had to crack the myth behind this band but sadly never did.............


Paul Cooper on 31st December 1977


Rob Fern John Harris Justin Broadrick Gabby Fern



Afternoon Edition

Evening Edition

The above article appeared in two editions of the Birmingham "Evening Mail" on Thursday 2nd November 1978.



The above snippet appeared in the local Birmingham newspaper in 2009


Then an old friend telephoned us from Birmingham saying that he remembered seeing the Anti-Social story on the front page of his local Birmingham newspaper. So with this in mind on his next day off from work he made the trip up to the local library and spent the next 5 hours trawling through all the old 'Birmingham Evening News' front pages. Then hey presto! he found the above two front pages!!!! With the above new information I started up my quest again for the search of this mystery band. First of all I went about trying to find the reporter of the above article. After a few phone calls I got lucky and found the writer 'Richard Garner'. He has since moved to London and now works for the "Independent" news group. I had a brief chat to him on the phone and then emailed him the article that he had written some 29 years previous. I waited for several hours for a reply and when it did I was totally disappointed. He confirmed that he had written the article but couldn't remember anything about the story! Another dead end! Next up was the councillor.... Well, this was fairly easy. I put his name into google and he came straight up! Sadly he had passed away last year! Another dead end! Now that only leaves the Chief Superintendent Gilbert Cockayne who is not on the electoral roll and John Hastings whoever he might be....

So the hunt still goes on....

Until now...... 


For the VERY first time we can reveal the whole story behind "Anti-Social"
(The below story was written for the magazine "Record Collector")


Suicide Pact, Peel Approved Punks Discovered

For years it had been one of the unsolved mysteries in punk rock collectors circles. When Anti-Social’s 1977 single ‘Traffic Lights’ c/w ‘Teacher, Teacher’, which regularly commands more than £1,000 at auction, showed up in John Peel’s famed ‘singles box’ of treasured vinyl at number seven, the sound of the uninitiated gasping ‘who?’ was almost audible.

Details were sketchy and mired in minor league infamy. They called themselves ‘the world’s most violent rock group’. Their single earned a review in the NME from Paul Morley ("Archaic rock song sneered with incongruous, but violently necessary contempt"). Nothing else emerged until November 1978, when they returned to the pages of the NME. In an article by Sue E Sidebottom, they proclaimed their intention to hand over £15,000 to anyone who would volunteer to be beheaded live on stage via an automatic guillotine. The story was also picked up in the Birmingham Evening Mail, where Councillor Ted Shepherd, of the Leisure Services Committee, pointed out the pitfalls of this endeavour, as leaders of leisure service committees are wont to do.

And then, nothing, as perhaps befitted such a dastardly and distasteful media scam. In the intervening years, however, the record, which never had a picture sleeve, topped many wants lists, and was bootlegged (somewhat crudely – the facsimile mistakenly says 1978 and the label credits are wrong). Many collectors went to extraordinary efforts to track the guilty parties down. Dizzy Holmes of Detour Records, considered a dedicated sort even in the driven underworld of the punk vinyl obsessive, sent out over 60 letters to everyone in the UK with the name Bob Allcock, the credited songwriter. Nothing. Various leads turned out to be red herrings. Dizzy: "We found out the name of the manager. We sent letters to his old address and once again we got no reply. So we telephoned everyone who lived in the same street as him and were told that he died in a car crash. Yet another dead-end. My heart then said let it go but my determination wouldn't. So I telephoned back one of his old neighbours, who was happy to talk to us, and told us a few funny stories about this manager. Then he told us that the dead manager’s sister worked in a building society. So we telephoned every building society in the area only to find out to our horror that she had died a few months earlier. Something was telling us to give up! Not be outdone by this latest setback, we then wrote a letter to the manager of this building society so that they could pass my letter onto the grieving husband. After about two weeks of doing this a phone call came out of the blue. It was the dead manager’s, dead sister’s husband. We’d finally made a breakthrough. We had good chat with this gentleman and he told us that when his wife's brother died in the car crash, it was up to him and his then wife to clear out the house where he lived. To my horror, he confirmed that they chucked out boxes full of Anti-Social records."

That was where the story seemed to end. But now, following another crop-dusting mail-out by Dizzy, the full sordid story can be told.

In 1974 bass player Matthew Smith, a contemporary of Roger Taylor of Duran Duran, was a member of TBM  (Temporary Bench Mark - TBM was supposed to be the first mark a builder puts down when building a house). His band mates included Jon Buxton (guitar, vocals), who later formed Misspent Youth,  Hob on Keyboards, Dave Brooks on Guitar & Vocals and a drummer that no-one can remember. While Smith, then only 18, left and moved on to Maniac.

 Maniac featured older musicians Robert Fern (aka Bob Allcock; vocals/guitar) and drummer Johnny Harrison (real name John Harris). Harrison was, according to Fern, "a bit of a nutter", and on those myriad occasions when the pair fell out, he was often replaced at short notice by Pete Lynch, who crops up in the story at various points. Fern, for his part, was a classmate of Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler at Holte Grammar School in Aston. He had also played in Daisy May before putting together Maniac, who supported Iron Maiden several times.

Fern already had gigs lined up for the band, so Smith was thrown in at the deep end, without any rehearsals. This led to a series of small pub gigs around the Kingshurst area of Birmingham. The set comprised classic Beatles, Stones and Who covers, which brought a useful income and musical apprenticeship. Fern even managed to pull off a note-perfect ‘Voodoo Chile’ – played as if in a coma - when challenged to do so. Soon, however, audience requests changed, and they were increasingly asked for Pistols, Stranglers, Clash and Damned material by the tail-end of 1976. It was now that, at Fern’s behest, they changed name to Anti-Social.

In an attempt to escape the pub circuit, they sought support slots to touring bands in the Midlands. These included an appearance at Birmingham’s legendary punk venue Barbarella’s, where they made something of an impression. Halfway through their set, Fern ripped a hole in the paper boiler suit that comprised his stage costume, and squatted down on stage. After a few moments of melodramatic grunting, what appeared to be a fully formed stool was evident, which he smeared over his chest then propelled into the audience. The offending item was, actually, a half eaten burger covered in brown sauce that he’d been enjoying prior to performance. One young female was so taken with this spectacle that, oblivious to the provenance of the projectile, she took her clothes off and danced around the stage whilst smearing the retrieved article into her chest. We knew how to amuse ourselves in those days folks.

Other live moments of note included a set performed before the local Hell’s Angels chapter at a village hall in Banbury. They got out alive by opening their set with ‘Stairway To Heaven’, while unbeknownst to them, outside in the car park, fixer and money man Bob Green was tackling three of the bikers single-handed. As Fern points out, they never knew whether Green was "a two-bit gangster or a guy with a lot of contacts!" Other shows took place at the Holy City Zoo and Rebecca’s, as well as at Wulfrun Hall in Wolverhampton and Blackpool, where Fern, resplendent in see-through body stocking, managed to get himself locked in the toilet before the performance. Although Anti-Social were a ‘real’ band, Smith concedes that much of the attraction centred round Fern: "Rob was such an amazing guy. He was also an actor and a performer. He could whip a crowd up, and I wasn’t sure at times whether he was for real or performing. It made for a great stage show."

With a few more support slots under their belt they elected to record their debut single, at "ZELLA RECORDING STUDIOS", Edgbaston, Birmingham. The constant aggro had long since stopped being fun for Matt Smith (whose wife Carolyn Spence, incidentally, worked for Sounds) though, with the result that Paul Cooper was recruited to record ‘Traffic Lights’. The b-side had been cut a few months earlier when Smith was still a member. Cooper was subsequently replaced by Lucy Nation (aka Gabrielle Fern), the singer’s wife.

At a later show in Shard End, Fern performed a fake suicide using a theatrical knife that spurted blood. He hadn’t told the rest of the band, who, conscious of his problems with depression, though it was for real. Fern was suffering bouts of highs and lows – mostly lows, tempered, or accelerated, by drug use. The original idea was to stage his own suicide on stage, in which he would be disembowelled by Nation. They did indeed ‘fake’ this on several occasions, spraying the audience with animal entrails. However, repeat bookings were rare as club managers and promoters, with some justification, complained about the awful smell. This prompted Bob Green to offer £15,000 for any volunteer who was up for following through on the ‘suicide’ premise. The Department Of Public Prosecutions was less than amused and the band was immediately arrested. All of which was enough to see off Lucy Nation, who was replaced by a returning Paul Cooper, who remained until their final gig.

The curse of Anti-Social ran deep – but hopefully doesn’t permeate the lives of investigative journalists. Manager cum dogsbody Les Hemmings had indeed died in a car crash in the 70s – perhaps appropriately enough while delivering copies of the single to various shops. Their equipment and subsequent studio recordings were stolen, leaving behind only a tape of their planned second single, a version of Rolf Harris’s ‘Sunarise’ (the mind boggles). Their final gig came at the Kingshurst Labour Club, which ended with Harris playing a drum solo on an old man’s head, an offence for which he was later arrested and charged. He phoned Rob Fern the next day to enquire as to whether he was still in the band. To which Fern replied, "there is no band".

Fern, who later played in The Great Outdoors, left for Wales to pursue a more restorative and peaceful lifestyle, but has since formed a band with his daughter ‘Pik-C’, entitled Forgotten Flowers. He has plans for reforming the band as Anti-Social – The Next Generation. Let’s hope he gets nowhere near the burger stand this time around. Matthew Smith subsequently joined The Playthings, who would mutate into Swansway and Scarlet Fantastic, albeit without his involvement. Lucy Nation still lives in Birmingham, and Johnny Harris has disappeared off the radar. Incidentally, Lucy’s son, and Rob Fern’s step-son, Justin Broadrick, was a founder member of Napalm Death and appeared on the band’s debut album before joining Peel favourites Head Of David (one wonders if the great man ever knew the connection?) as drummer and more recently Godflesh, Jesu and Final.


'Rob Fern' in his "Maniac"
days of 1975 / 1976


'Rob Fern' as he is today

'Rob Fern' as he

is today



Alex Ogg and Dizzy Holmes


Thanks to Bradders, Joe Public, Alex Ogg & to 'Paul Panic' for the 5 hours spent finding the above two Birmingham articles.




©Detour Records