When the history of Manchester Music is written about there is always a huge gap in any of the writers works. Scour the indices of these weighty tomes if you will but for some reason Hamsters, or The Hamsters as they were often known, are expunged, from the oral history. However if you peruse the collection of books about “that” gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976 you will find the name Ian “Moet” Moss who for the most part of the history of the band was the singer, so they have not been completely written out of the legend. Stephen Dobson’s book “The Man Who Killed The Hamsters” tells you the whole story up until 2010 so that is worth tracking down.

Maybe the band did not court fame which might explain their lack of exposure but they are fondly remembered by many as one of the most exciting and unique bands to emerge from the post 1976 music scene. Three young lads, and a restless merry go round of bass players, from the eastern reaches of the Manchester conurbation decided to form a band that would challenge the conventions of the music scene, would ditch musical ability as a presumption of being able to, or indeed allowed to perform, and would rattle an awful lot of cages in doing so.

Wikipedia would have you believe that The Hamsters are a band from Southend on Sea that were formed in 1987. This may be true but the original Hamsters were born in 1979 in Greater Manchester after a night in the pub and a couple of stage invasions.

Having gone through various formations over the years since then (see below for details) they have been reborn of late with original singer Ian “Moet” Moss and bassist Jon Rowlinson  the only remaining participants from the first phase.

The Hamsters played their first gig on 24th February 1979 at Haughton Green Youth Club with Neil Moss from the Frantic Elevators standing in on bass.

The line-ups since then have been complex…..

The original Hamsters formed in 1979 and went through their first line-up change 16 months later when Moet left the band in January 1981 going on to form The Dodos with Graham Ellis from Elti Fits ,  after 2 gigs under the Hamsters name the remaining band members renamed themselves The Nightwatchmen.

The original core line-up was:

  • bobby williams , guitar
  • steven ross middlehurst , drums
  • ian moss , singing

bass players in first phase were

  • robert dean butterbean
  • cross eyed steve russel
  • martin lettuce
  • steve mardy (1 gig on loan)
  • jon rowlinson
  • wayne spud edwards
  • neil moss

and guest drummer paul hanley

The Hamsters Phase 2 were:

  • bobby williams – guitar
  • steven ross middlehurst – drums
  • ian moss – singing
  • neil moss – bass

The Hamsters Phase 3 were:

  • ian moss – singing
  • jon rowlinson – bass
  • bobby williams – guitar
  • damian hughes – drums

The Hamsters Phase 4 was:

  • ian moss – singing
  • bobby williams – guitar
  • bill kill – guitar
  • bill kill jr. – bass
  • craig junglist allen/mike leigh – drums

The Hamsters Phase 5 or the Baby Hamsters was

  • ian moss – singing
  • jack delaney – guitar
  • elliot berriman – bass
  • lewis kershaw – drums

The Hamsters Phase 6 is:

  • ian moss – singing
  • jon rowlinson – bass, keyboards
  • nigel blinston – guitar
  • damian hughes – drums, guitar

Ian and Jon are now part of new  band Four Candles and Hamsters are on hold.

The music – well you need to decide for yourself. If I was to be pressed to describe it I would say it veers between the cack-handed and the totally exceptional – sometimes within one song. It ignores the accepted norms of the “rock” (or indeed punk) world and gleefully explores areas and avenues that virtuoso’s and musos would have had trained and practised out of them. It says more about the original spirit of punk than any leather clad desperado with spikey hair ever could do. Someone once said that they hung somewhere between The Fall and DAF – I can see that. My best comparator I think is from the literary world – for me the band nestle somewhat haphazardly between Kurt Vonnegut, William Burroughs , Alan Bennett and Tony Warren.

We believe we have now released all of the available material from the band.

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