Schoolmates from Croydon, England came together to assault their parent’s eardrums with punk rock noise in 1974. The aggressive center was singer Paul Halford (whose alter ego was Johnny Moped), with Captain Sensible of the Damned on guitar. Many other names were used, including Assault and Buggery, before the band settled on Johnny Moped by 1975.
They made a big splash in the London punk scene playing at The Roxy opening up for The Damned and Eater in 1977. Even Chrissie Hynde of Pretenders fame joined the band for a short stint. Their 1978 album Cycledelic continues to be named one of the best punk albums on various music lists.
Fred Burns, who happens to be Captain Sensible’s son, made the documentary Basically, Johnny Moped to highlight the lost punk band’s legendary contribution. Footage of a fresh-faced fan named Shane MacGowan singing along at a gig is a stand out moment of the trailer.
Adrian Deevoy of The Guardian called the film, “The perfect tribute to punk rock’s idiot savants.” Continuing, “Johnny Moped were funny, fully dysfunctional and fortunate to form when they did, but what set them apart from the army of Ramones’ re-fits was their frontman, Paul Halford (aka Johnny Moped).”
The film , which was released in 2013, revives interest in one of the greatest DYI rock groups of their time. It’s well worth the watch for anyone who didn’t get to see these inspired amateurs in their heyday. Rent or buy it on Vimeo .