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Fri Jul 07 2023
punk rockChelseamusic history


This episode covers the formation, early years, lineup changes, career and legacy, and later years of the punk band Chelsea. It explores their unique sound and style, their struggles and successes, and their impact on the punk rock scene. From their controversial debut gig to their extensive touring and lineup changes, Chelsea's story is one of resilience and dedication to their music.


Chelsea's Unique Sound

Chelsea didn't conform to the buzzsaw punk stereotype, instead opting for a less fevered, sometimes lumbering intense sound that reflected their lower class background.

Lineup Changes

Chelsea experienced several lineup changes throughout their career, with different members joining and leaving the band at various points. These changes influenced their sound and direction.

Controversial Debut Gig

Chelsea made their live debut at a controversial gig with Throbbing Gristle at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. This event marked the beginning of their journey in the punk rock scene.

US Tour

Chelsea embarked on an East Coast tour in the US, expanding their reach and introducing their music to a new audience. This tour was a significant milestone in their career.

Album Releases

Chelsea released several albums throughout their career, including 'The Punk Classic Right to Work,' 'Urban Kids,' and 'Alternative Hits.' These albums showcased their unique sound and contributed to their legacy in the punk rock genre.

Legacy and Recognition

Despite not receiving the credit they deserved at the time, Chelsea's impact on the punk rock scene is recognized by those familiar with their music. Their commitment to their music and resilience in the face of challenges have left a lasting legacy.

Later Years

After disbanding in 1984, Chelsea reformed in different lineups and continued to release albums, including 'Original Sinners,' 'Rocks Off,' and 'Under Wraps.' Gene October has kept the band going since then, ensuring Chelsea's presence in the punk rock scene.


  1. 5G Spectrum
  2. Chelsea's Formation
  3. Chelsea's Early Years
  4. Chelsea's Lineup Changes
  5. Chelsea's Career and Legacy
  6. Chelsea's Later Years

5G Spectrum

00:01 - 08:09

  • China is making 370% more 5G spectrum available than America.
  • Tell Congress to restore FCC auction authority and allocate more 5G spectrum to make sure America leads the industries and innovations of the future. Go to to learn more.

Chelsea's Formation

00:01 - 08:09

  • The punk band Chelsea originally formed in August of 1976 around singer John O'Hara, who went by Gene October, along with guitarist William Broad, who later became known as Billy Idol, Bassist Tony James and drummer John Toe.
  • One version of the story claims that Jean-October placed an ad in Melody Maker, which led to replies from broad j- William Broad was his name wasn't it? Yeah. He went to Sussex University. Yeah, and he was doing a degree there in economics one I think.
  • The other story is that the band was assembled by John Cravine and Steph Rayner, who owned a London clothing store on King's Road in Chelsea, London, called Acme Attract ████████.
  • On October 18th, 1976, Chelsea made their live debut at a controversial gig with throbbing gristle at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.

Chelsea's Early Years

07:40 - 15:03

  • After Genesis finished his opening speech of doom and destruction, the band went into their music which consisted of weird, sub-psychodelic taped sounds, random keyboards played plonk-plonk style, lead guitar that Patty Smith would have been ashamed of, and moronic bass on a superb rickenbocker by old Genesis Peorage himself.
  • Most of the audience were bored while Genesis seemed to be enjoying himself.
  • Genesis talked about his obscenity bust over a bottle of scotch and told me he was soon off to the states to see his hero and main influence, William Burroughs.
  • The audience at the ICA came to see Chelsea but LSD (Chelsea's real name) performed after the stripper Shelly.
  • Chelsea's act suffered from not having played enough live gigs together but they made up for it with committed energy in their music.
  • Billy the bass player from Chelsea expressed frustration at not being given a chance like the Sex Pistols despite rehearsing and wanting to play music they believe in.
  • Chelsea had their first gig with support from Throbbing Gristle at London ICA on October 18th, 1976. The exhibition was called 'Music from the Death Factory' organized by Genesis who had an arts grant from Arts Council.

Chelsea's Lineup Changes

14:36 - 27:05

  • The first lineup of Chelsea split up in November of 1976, and the other three members formed their own band, Generation X.
  • Chelsea's second lineup recorded their first single, 'The Punk Classic Right to Work,' released in June 1977.
  • 'The Punk Classic Right to Work' also appeared on the soundtrack album for the film 'Jubilee'.
  • After the release of their first single, there was another lineup change in Chelsea.
  • The third lineup recorded the band's second single, 'High Rise Living'.
  • Chelsea played their farewell gig on October 6, 1977 at the Roxy.
  • In December, Chelsea was relaunched as a five-piece with rhythm guitarist Dave Martin, bassist Jeff Miles, and drummer Steve J. Jones joining Gene October and James Stevenson.
  • This lineup recorded a third single called 'Urban Kids', produced by Kit Lambert and released in August of 19th.
  • Drummer Steve J. Jones was replaced by Chris Bashford after the release of the third single.
  • The self-titled debut album was recorded in January 1979 and released in June by Step Forward Records.

Chelsea's Career and Legacy

26:52 - 38:28

  • Chelsea didn't pursue the buzzsaw punk stereotype, instead favoring a less fevered, sometimes lumbering intense 'Redilent of an Ignorant, Lower Class Background.'
  • Chelsea toured extensively and made their first foray into the US with an East Coast tour.
  • The second album titled Alternative Hits was a compilation featuring new tracks and a controversial album sleeve.
  • No Escape contains punk rock classics like No Flowers, Look at the Outside, and What Would You Do?
  • Chelsea played a farewell show in London's Notre Dame Hall with Sting joining them on stage.
  • James Stevenson believes they never got the credit they deserved and received negative press coverage at the time.
  • Gene October assembled another Chelsea lineup after the split and toured America in late 1980.
  • The band split up again in December 1980 but quickly formed another lineup featuring drummer Saul Mintz, bassist Tim Griffin, guitarist Stephen Corfield, and Nick Austin.
  • Sting filled in on bass for one gig when their bass player couldn't perform due to injury.
  • Black Flag opened a gig for Chelsea in Manchester in December of 1981.

Chelsea's Later Years

46:28 - 54:42

  • The band Chelsea lasted until 1984, but did not record another album.
  • In 1985, a new version of the band was assembled and released the album Original Sinners.
  • They also released the records Rocks Off in 1986 and Under Wraps in 1989.
  • Gene October managed to put together a couple more Chelsea albums in the '90s, including The Alternative and Traders Gate.
  • In 1999, the classic Chelsea lineup reformed for the Social Chaos Tour across America after almost 20 years apart.
  • Gene October has kept a version of Chelsea going since then.