I’m getting sick of these endless painful news: the charismatic frontman of the legendary 80’s South London’s Oi! punk band The Business, Michael Fitzsimons aka Micky Fitz has lost his battle against the bloody cancer.
In the early 80’s I briefly ‘played’ drums in a Oi! band formed by a couple of my school mates, even if I wasn’t proper skinhead, but I was the only unlike option.
Inevitably I was exposed to listen to a pile of Oi! music, many were too sing-along booze pub choruses alike for my taste, but besides the usual Sham 69, Cockney Rejects and 4-Skins, the band I was most fond of, along with the couple around the No Future label as Red Alert and Blitz (before the just as great new wave turn that too many integralists rejected), was definitely The Business.
Their 1983 debut ‘Suburban Rebels’ is worthy to be included in the list of the best ever punk albums with its ageless ‘beer-loving’ catchy punk anthems mixed with social lyrics about the struggles and the pride to be young and poor in South London.
Let’s make a little partial (my musical interest followed different paths since) tribute to our unforgettable Fitz:
‘Harry Mae’ their debut single was released in November 1981 on Secret, spent over three months in the UK Indie Chart, reaching No.13.
Essential punk / Oi! classic with an iconic sleeve. The b-side ‘Employer Black List’ is pure quality too.
Their 1982 second single ‘Smash The Disco’s’, “TV, Radio and all they play/Disco music’s had it’s way/Choice of music’s common farce/Stuff disco up your arse/Smash the discos smash ’em up”, the rivalry punk & rock Vs disco typical of that time.
‘Suburban Rebels‘ title track of their debut album, another classic. This time their target are the ‘middle class kiddies from public schools’ that “Got lots of mouth when your in a crowd/But when your alone you don’t speak loud”.
“Do They Owe Us A Living?”
The cover of the anarcho punk legends Crass included (with Sex Pistols’ ‘Pretty Vacant‘) in their 1984 live album ‘Loud, Proud And Punk – Live‘, real skinheads are not racists.
‘One Common Voice‘ A late 1997 classic from the album ‘The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth‘. A call to unity and resurgence for the working class ‘Borders are the same between our kind and theirs/Been the fucking same for hundreds of years/As the working class struggles to get ahead/Someone brings the power down and knocks it on the head’.
‘Mob Mentality‘ cover of Boston’s Dropkick Murphy’s song, the title track from the split album with Dropkick Murphys released in 2000.
‘Hell 2 Pay‘, The Business goes Motörhead! From 2001’s album on Epitaph ‘No Mercy For You‘.
‘Guinness Boys‘: Why not end this humble tribute with a classic football & booze hymn and their usual great sense of humor?
“We`re the Guinness boys/love your women and drink their beer…my mates and me are having fun/I look to the clock its half past one/the wife`s gonna kill me and the door will be locked/I`ve got no money cos I spent the lot”
Since those old days I’ve lost any real connection with the band; In truth I thought they’ve disbanded, but life is always full of surprises, and this time was a good one, about 3 years ago, hanging around Berlin’s Kreuzberg, I noticed by chance a tour bus with the infamous The Business logo parked in front of the legendary SOS36 venue…I’m usually not inclined to watch old reformed bands gigs, but instead this time I said to myself ‘why not’ and my intuition was spot-on…it was a powerful, emotional and treasured performance that will always be with me.
All the punk, Oi! and hardcore world, GBH, Agnostic Front, Dead Kennedys, Sick Of It All, Bouncing Souls to name a few, paid tribute to their inspirator and good friend.
Back in the days we used to scream at the top of our lungs “Oi!, Oi! Oi! Chosen few. This is what we think of you”. Carry on drinking Guinness and singing ‘Come On You Irons‘ at the Heaven’s pub, Fitz…