Glen Spicer now Jacquie Blue one of the many guitarists that the notorious High Wycombe Punks 'The Xtraverts' had thinks backs through his / hers early days of being recruited and her time after the band!


The Xtraverts were High Wycombe’s premier punk band of the late 70s, alongside Zyklon B, Plastic People and the Jones Boys (later Red Beat). Their debut single, released on a label set up by Spike Jones (formerly of 70s Buckinghamshire band the Shucks) managed to secure them a few Peel plays. They started out with original drummer Dave Lee, before he decided there was more money to be made on the dinner and dance circuit backing a girl playing bagpipes. Lee was replaced by Andy Crawford, while Glen Spicer joined the band from the Plastic People as lead guitarist. Spicer: “I was with the Plastic People and got kicked out by Gary Quelch, who wanted to take over as singer. They had a meeting and decided I wasn’t part of the band any more. Steve Hylands, my friend in the Plastic People, put me in touch with the Xtraverts and they came round to see me. They’d just released the debut single.” Spicer was a little more technically fluent than many in his immediate peer group. “I used to organise gigs down in Wycombe with the Plastic People. When the bands tuned their guitars before starting, I used to be the only one who knew how to do it properly.”


The idea of a shared single with his former band Plastic People came about through local businessman Lloyd Walker. “He had a record stall in Wycombe Fayre, an indoor market. He wanted to be an entrepreneur and it was him who decided on the shared single. We had a competition between the bands to find out who was buying it for which side.” The winners of that contest are lost to the mists of time and false accounting.


The band were tremendously popular in their local environs, their reputation lasting long after the graffiti extolling their virtues was scrubbed from Wycombe’s civic spaces. The Xtraverts even appeared on a local TV show, Twentieth Century Box, hosted by Danny Baker. But events didn’t run smoothly. “That was an interesting day. I had a Triumph motorbike and sidecar, which they were going to use in the segment. We were doing these shots in Saunderton, which is in the Chiltern Hills near Wycombe. They were just setting the camera up on the hill and we were moving into position, and we had a head on collision with a car. The driver had been watching the cameras and wasn’t paying attention. I pulled into the side as she came past. The next thing I knew she went straight into us. I had to break the car open to get her out after she slid into a ditch. Danny Baker said he’d sort us out with the insurance if there were any problems, but he never did. We had a 30-second segment which got about 15 seconds air-time and got £50 for appearing. I’ve still got the clip somewhere.”


The band ground to a halt when Martin was sent to prison. “He got into a fight at the Friars in Aylesbury, and the silly sod used a knife. I didn’t go out with them that night. I didn’t hear about it till the next rehearsal when everyone was getting nervous. The victim’s name was Spinsky, I think. Eventually one of Nigel’s friends broke down under pressure from the police. Nigel was very capable of starting World War Three. That was his biggest problem.” Nowadays, Nigel Martin is reputedly a painter and decorator.


Interest in the band was rekindled when Dizzy of Detour Records found out that the group had a whole album’s worth of unreleased back catalogue, and put it out as the first release on a new imprint, Bin Liner. The album featured new drummer Richard, a 14-year-old ingénue borrowed from local band Patrol. To celebrate its release, on 4 April 1997 the band reunited for new shows, but Spicer couldn’t get the rest of the band to keep up their enthusiasm and keep playing music, so the project gradually faded away. Among those who took part in the reunion were Mark Riley, the original 1977 guitarist with the Xtraverts who’d gone on to play with Matt Bianco. The drummer was Steve McCormack, who’d played with the band at various points and would later go on to impersonate Billy Idol on Stars In Their Eyes. Andy Crawford’s allegedly “formidable” wife had banned him from returning to the drum stool. As a footnote, several of these gigs were played alongside local punks Rumpleteaser, who featured the late Spike Jones’s two sons.


Glen Spicer went on to form Cherry Black Dawn, who were operational until 1993 and released one single in 1984, ‘Blue Baby Blue’, coincidentally the name of the wartime jeep he’s currently ‘doing up’. Spicer is now Jacquie Blue and is a regular on daytime TV where she openly discusses her gender reassignment. She sees her personal and musical development as separate, but does note that: “Punk brought me out cos I could portray what I was without the hassle. You could do whatever you wanted. You’d be happily wandering around in Wycombe, then you’d turn round and 50 people would be walking behind you, a small army of misfits. You never get people following you around like that at this age.


Alex Ogg

From Alex Ogg's forthcoming book "No More Heroes"




©Detour Records