A tribute to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal band (1976 - 1986)

The Origins of Spider (to the best of my memory)

As recalled by Colin Harkness - July 2011

The first contact I was to have with a future member of Spider, occurred back in 1970. I had been a pupil at Poulton Junior School in our home town of Wallasey Merseyside, and was offered an early glimpse into the brutal realities of life, in that you sometimes have to say ta-ra to a lot of your old mates. I was moved to Somerville Middle School, or secondary modern or whatever it was called and it was there that I first encountered David Bryce.

I'd seen him about at school, usually getting chased around the schoolyard by some “brick shithouse” hard git, who he'd managed to wind up to the point of bubbling rage. He was a cheeky little bugger, nippy, could run like the wind, so more often than not he'd escape the severe duffing-up he undoubtedly deserved - and he'd be laughing as he was legging it! A trait I alarmingly developed further into our relationship, as we both legged it from highly enraged thuggish elements.

But that was later. "Brycey", as everyone called him, was one day in an art class. A three foot tall skinhead midget who, it has to be said, did have something very likeable about him. I don't know whether it was his cheekiness, or the fact he was always laughing and up to mischief, but up to that moment I had kind of quite liked him. He splattered the masterpiece I was creating, a nicely painted "all shades of blue and green” portrait, with a rather unflattering splash of red paint!
Have you ever felt utter rage? I instantly challenged him to a bout of fisticuffs in the time honoured combat area of the Playing Fields, Central Park. 4-15 sharp...spread the word....huge knuckle up....bring yer own bandages and sandwiches.

It was a typical pushing shoving kind of debacle those kind of things used to descend into.
I started combat quite well I thought. Five minutes in, a lot of jumper pulling and pushing had been done but not a punch had been thrown. Then all of a sudden it was wrestling on the deck with, it has to be said, half hearted punches going in both directions. Well, sometimes a schoolboy crowd just get excited don't they? and some of Dave’s supporters gleefully decided to stick the boot in here and there. Not that he needed any help, but one boot too many prompted me to think, “sod this for a game of soldiers,” so I swallowed a huge one, and surrendered. As he departed, getting backslapped by his hired thugs, I slunk off humiliated with dark thoughts of revenge in my head.

The next day we were best mates! And to my recall, that was the last dispute we ever had to this day. From there on, up to the Spider years we grew up together. I was always into music, but had never imagined myself playing guitar. Dave’s dad was very musically minded and encouraged the development of Dave’s interest in playing the guitar. If I was ever at Dave’s and his dad was there, out would come the guitar and Dave would show me how to play certain things. True to his previous form, David Bryce and his father caused me to hound my long suffering grandmother to take me to Woolworths to buy a Glorious Kay Guitar with sunburst finish - lovely cricket bat it made but not much of a guitar. But the stress on my Grandmother! Shame on you Bryce!

When our time to leave Somerville School arrived, our school paths separated. He ended up going to Henry Meoles school (I believe Robbie also went there) and I ended up at Oldershaw Senior Comprehensive. Dave and his parents moved away from Liscard to Moreton and though the distance appears small today, back then with bus rides and everything, it was a bit of an expensive trek. So we drifted for a while.
Then a few other outside pursuits saw us both in the Choir at St Thomas Church Liscard for a good few years, and along with that we were both in The Air Training Corps, 273 Squadron Wallasey. All of a sudden we were into flying gliders and planes, and getting to shoot real guns with real bullets. We both really actually quite fancied the idea of joining the R.A.F when we left school. At least I did, I can't speak for Dave on that score, but that was the overall impression I got.

Obviously a lot of guitar playing went on in these periods. Dave and I had got together on a few occasions at church events in the Church Hall and just played a variety of what we fancied. There was never any organised push to get a band going at that time though.
We left school. I was allowed to leave early as I had been for an interview at the Post Office, took all the tests they gave you back then, and had been offered a position as Telegraph delivery boy, based at North John St Liverpool.
It may seem weird now but older heads around me were telling me you've got to take this job while it’s there for you. Post Office is a job for life. You won't need exam results once you're in........
So Mr Mullet the Head Teacher, very kindly permitted me, with the consent of all relevant school bodies, to leave school early before exams. So I started at the Post Office May 1976. In the telegraph delivery department there was a lot of sitting around waiting for telegrams to come whistling down the Chute for delivery. Ears would be cocked in excited readiness for the next whistle. “Telegram for Liverpool Empire,” would get called out and damn it, not me this time escaping into the fresh air of Liverpool.
So in short, it got to be hellishly boring at times and I’d find myself daydreaming about playing guitar when I got home. No mobile phones and fancy computer gadgets like we have today and I must've played hundreds of gigs in my head whilst I was at work.
Outside of work, I met and formed a band with Keith Stephenson (drummer), Charlie Mellon (Guitar), and Dave (I can't remember his surname).
Keith was the same age as me had been at Somerville school with Dave and me. Charlie and Dave were friends who had met at College and were a year or two older. We called ourselves The Satellites and performed some stunning gigs in Dave’s, and occasionally Charlie’s, front rooms - if playing Them’s “Gloria” and “Back in the Night” by Dr Feelgood endlessly could be called a gig? Obviously not, but to us it was a gig alright.....
As the other two already played guitar and we didn't have a bassist, that became my allotted role, with the occasional walrus like noises as backing vocal. So I was persuaded to purchase a bass guitar. As I had not yet earned the sums required, dear old grandma helped out again...more harassment...I hope you can sleep at night Mr Bryce........

I had heard about Brian Burrows long before I eventually got to meet him. On the days I wasn't with the band lads, I’d be catching up with some old school friends as to what we were up to etc. and his name would always be cropping up. They used to go around to his house regularly, and he obviously had a fair deal of charisma then, because the stories I would hear about him got to build up this mental image of a smoothy thug who was well hard. You see, one of the guys I was in the band with absolutely hated Brian Burrows. Some fights had occurred between them in college days and the Dave in the Band absolutely detested him too. Dark moods would descend whenever his name was brought up.
Add to this the fact that Brian’s brother Robbie had wounded Keith’s male ego by stealing the affections of one Linda Nash and his detestation for the Burrows brothers was complete. “The Burrows must die!” - that was my bands take on things........

Looking back now its pretty funny but I can clearly see how things panned out. I had bought a Hofner bass guitar and wow, I could play a showpiece twelve bar run on the thing. Via mutual friends and Chinese whispers, this information drifted back to Brian as, “Colin Harkness has got a Hofner bass just like Paul McCartney and he could show you this great rock and roll thing he does.” I think Brian decided there and then, if true it and it was a Hofner, he'd relieve me of it by fair means or foul.
And so it was he turned up on my doorstep, with one of my trusted friends doing the introduction.
There was even something a little bit shady about that - when I opened the door, there was only Kevin Moran there. “Look,” he said, “don't freak out but I've brought Brian Burrows with me and he wants to see your bass. He's OK. don't worry about it. “Really?” I thought, “Why’s he hiding up the corridor then?”
I can't say any different as at the time I was very wary of him, solely because of all I’d previously heard.
But being fair, I have to say that our meeting ended on a productive and friendly note. He'd just started playing bass and his brother Rob was expressing an interest in playing drums - ironic, as his new found love had been cruelly wrenched from the arms of her previous boyfriend, our Keith the drummer. Was Linda Nash a drummers Moll? The evidence is strong........

When news filtered back to my band that I had been in the company of Brian Burrows, they instantly treated me differently - it was like a light bulb went out - I had sunk to the depths of hell by even talking to the guy. Relations were never going to recover, so that was me and The Satellites finished.

So, I decided to take up an invitation by Brian to go around to his house with guitar and amp for a jam. When he originally asked me, I asked if it was OK to bring a friend with me - he said, “sure.”
The day I left the Satellites I gave David Bryce a telephone call - would he like to come with me? Yes he would! And that, in my particular nutshell, is the story of the formation of Spider........