Johnny CAT

Honest John Plain & Casino Steel : THE LAST ROCK'N'ROLL BAND BIOGRAPHY

1. Introduction

Honest John Plain & Casino Steel from 1970’s UK punk band The Boys have renewed their partnership in a new punk supergroup, playing Ramones-influenced rock’n’roll with a hint of Dolly Parton! The Last Rock ‘N’ Roll Band’s self titled debut album is due for release autumn 2007 and the band will be promoting it with a world tour and a major Sponsor.

2. Line-Up

Honest John Plain : Guitars/Vocals - The Boys, The Yobs, The Lurkers, The Crybabys, Mannish Boys, Ian Hunter’s Dirty Laundry, Honest John Plain & The Amigos
Casino Steel : Keyboards/Vocals - The Boys, The Yobs, Gary Holton & Casino Steel, Hollywood Brats, Casino Steel & The Bandits, Ian Hunter’s Dirty Laundry
Petter Baarli : Guitars - Backstreet Girls, Ratcats, Slips, Johnny Thunders Band
Mat Sargent : Bass - Chelsea, Sham 69, Honest John Plain & The Amigos, Splodge
Robbie Rushton : Drums/Percussion - Whizz Kids, Captain Sensible, The Crybabys, Mannish Boys, Honest John Plain & The Amigos

3. TLRNRB Pen Pictures

* Honest John Plain

Honest John Plain was born in Leeds in 1952 and his early musical influences included The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Small Faces. Along with fellow art student Matt Dangerfield he moved to London in 1971. Plain briefly guested in London SS alongside Casino Steel & Dangerfield.
Along with Dangerfield, Steel, Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid & Jack Black he formed The Boys, who quickly built up a reputation as a white-hot live band. In January 1977 they became the first punk band to sign an album deal when they signed away their recording lives to NEMS. After signing for NEMS Plain sold The Boys equipment for £500 and put it on a horse, which came second! This and other dodgy deals quickly earned him the nickname ‘Honest’. Plain also had a brief spell in the Lurkers co-writing their classic single “New Guitar In Town”, which Die Toten Hosen took to Number 1 more than a decade later.
In 1984 Plain joined the Dirty Strangers and recorded an album with Keith Richards and Ronnie Woods of the Rolling Stones, although after Plain left the band they removed his guitar from the recordings! By August 1984 he joined the Mannish Boys alongside Rushton and they went on to form Brat Boy with Brady (the Hollywood Brats).
By the late 1980’s German punk band Die Toten Hosen were beginning to make an impact across Europe and their lead singer Campino made it known that his favourite band of all time were The Boys. He offered a support slot to the Tower Block Rockers on the proviso that they could persuade Plain to join the band. Plain quickly came to realise that he and Tower Block Rockers guitarist Darrell Bath formed a formidable writing/performing partnership and they formed the Crybabys who were voted ‘Best New Band of 1991’.
Plain’s debut solo album “Honest John Plain & Friends”, which featured guest appearances from Dangerfield, Rushton, Bath, Campino (Die Toten Hosen) and Vom Ritchie (Dr & The Medics/Die Toten Hosen/The Boys), was released in 1996.
Plain’s second solo album “Honest John Plain & Amigos” followed in 2003 and Plain formed a new band to promote it. He recruited Rushton and Sargent and the Amigos were born. They played a European tour October/November 2003 releasing their “One More And We’re Staying” album in April 2006.

* Casino Steel

Casino Steel was born in Trondheim, Norway in 1952. Steel’s major musical influence was the Rolling Stones and by the age of 12 he had decided that he wanted to be a musician. By 1965 he had taught himself to play the piano and joined a band with Bjorn Nessjoe, who went on to produce “To Hell With The Boys” some 14 years later.
Steel moved to London in 1971 meeting Andrew Matheson with whom he formed The Queen. After an altercation with Freddie Mercury’s Queen at The Marquee they chose to change their name to the Hollywood Brats. Similar is style and looks to the New York Dolls they were born out of disgust and aimed to shock. They played regular gigs in London at the Café Des Artistes and the Speakeasy building up a band of followers who included Keith Moon of The Who.
Steel went on to join legendary UK punk band London SS alongside Matt Dangerfield (The Boys), Mick Jones (The Clash), Tony James (Generation X) and Brian James (The Damned), amongst others. After London SS Steel, Plain and Dangerfield formed The Boys with Duncan ‘Kid’ Reid & Jack Black. Along with The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and Generation X, The Boys were amongst the first wave of the UK punk explosion in the mid 1970’s. Highly regarded by the music press and their contemporaries, their pop approach and use of harmonies led to their description as ‘The Beatles of Punk’, with their debut album entering the UK charts in September 1977.
In January 1980 The Boys supported the Ramones on their UK national tour with Steel joining them onstage to play keyboards on their UK Top 10 hit single “Baby I Love You”. Following the tour Steel was invited to join the Ramones as Casino Ramone but opted instead to hook up with his good friend Gary Holton (Auf Wiedersen Pet) from The Heavy Metal Kids. As Holton/Steel they enjoyed considerable success across Europe including four platinum selling albums, until Holton’s untimely death in 1985.
Steel’s solo success continued and he went on to become a big country star, working alongside the likes of Claudia Scott, Carlene Carter & Ottar ‘Big Hand’ Johansen. He also toured with Waylon Jennings, George Jones and Johnny Cash. Steel’s county album “There’s A Tear In My Beer” was released in September 2005 and featured contributions from Claudia Scott, Tone Holen & Liz-Tove Vespestad.
Despite his love of country music Steel also manage to record several classic rock albums including the Grammy nominated “Dirty Laundry” with Plain, Ian Hunter (Mott The Hoople), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Darrell Bath (The Crybabys) and “Casino Steel & The Bandits” featuring Mick Ronson (David Bowie) & Marius Müller.

* Petter Baarli

Petter Baarli was born near Oslo, Norway in 1965 and was inspired by punk rock and Angus Young (AC/DC) to become a musician. His favourite artists also included the Ramones, Status Quo, Rolling Stones, Slade, Chuck Berry & Johnny Thunders.
Baarli’s first major band was The Backstreet Girls whom he joined as lead guitarist when they formed in 1984. For the past 23 years Baarli has enjoyed considerable success across Scandinavia & Europe with the Backstreet Girls. He has also become a much sought after session musician and is widely regarded as the best guitarist in Scandinavia.
A fan of the Hollywood Brats and The Boys, Baarli finally met his teenage hero and fellow countryman Steel in 1986 and they quickly became firm friends. For the past 20 years they have worked together both live and in the studio on many occasions.
Baarli also played live in Johnny Thunders’ band during 1989/90 following which Thunders invited him to join the band on a permanent basis. Due to the success the Backstreet Girls were having at the time he was forced to turn down the opportunity.

* Mat Sargent

Mat Sargent was born in Sheffield in July 1970 and grew up in Leeds.  He joined St Margerates church choir and won first prize in a poetry competition, making his debut at 7 years of age broadcasting his winning entry live on Radio Leeds in 1977.  Sargent was classically trained at school on the Cello & double bass and his early musical influences were The Police, The Clash, The Ruts, The Who, Blue Oyster Cult and Rolling Stones.  He moved to London in 1984 and joined the 'Bromley Musicians Collective' playing in several bands before joining Chelsea in 1991.
Sargent left Chelsea in 1994 and went on to play for Sham 69 in 1995.  He continues to work with Jimmy Pursey to date and has recorded more than half a dozen Sham 69 albums. Sargent has also been the resident bass player for Splodgenessabounds since 1999. Max Splodge's ever-changing line up of 'Splodge' has also previously included Plain and Rushton at different times.
Sargent joined Plain, Vom Ritchie (Die Toten Hosen/The Boys) and Monique Maasen (B Bang Cider) to play a one off gig as punk supergroup 'The Punk Rock Allstars' at the first 'Rock AM Turm Festival' in front of over 1,000 fans in Meerbush, Germany on 23 November 2001.  They played a set comprising of several Boys, Sham 69 and B Bang Cider classics.  The following year The Crybabys headlined Rock AM Turm with Sargent joining Plain & Rushton in the line up alongside Darrell Bath.
Sargent went on to play as a power trio with Plain & Rushton as Honest John Plain & The Amigos, touring Europe and recording the album 'One More And We're Staying'. Unfortunately, following the release of their debut album Sargent was unable to play the French tour to promote it because of his commitments with Sham 69 due to their UK Top 10 UK hit.
Sargent has also guested with numerous bands including The Beat, R.D.F, Angelic Upstarts, The Business, The Crybabys and for the past 10 years has been working on a charity double album 'Sex, Drugs & HIV' featuring over 150 famous musicians including Plain who co-wrote the title track.  Sargent also has his own band Rock'n'Roll Gypsies, who play songs from the HIV album and includes Monique Maasen, Tracey Lamb (Rock Goddess/Girlschool) as well as featuring members of Motorhead, Cathedral and Ozric Tentacles.

* Robbie Rushton

Robbie Rushton was born in Lincoln in August 1955 and his musical influences included The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Mott The Hoople, The Faces & New York Dolls. He joined the Whizz Kids in 1978 and moved to London when they signed with Dead Good Records. They had regular support slots with the Lurkers, the Damned and the Slits and released a couple of singles, produced by Overend Watts (Mott The Hoople). In the early 1980’s he went on to play with Splodge and Captain Sensible.
In 1983 Robbie Rushton joined the Mannish Boys, who were managed by Denny Laine’s wife Jo Jo. Plain joined the band in August 1984. Having built up a considerable live following they were snapped up by Motown, although they were dropped as soon as Motown realised they were white!
After the demise of the Mannish Boys Plain and Rushton continued to work together in Brat Boy and then the Gringo Starrs with Darrell Bath (Dogs D’Amour). They quickly became the Crybabys and were voted “Best New Band of 1991” by the readers of Kerrang.
Rushton continued working alongside Plain on his debut solo album “Honest John Plain & Friends” as well as the second Yobs album aptly titled “Xmas 2”.Rushton was also earmarked to play a German tour with The Yobs but unfortunately at the first gig in Dusseldorf Rushton fell off the drum riser in his eagerness to reach the after show party! He sustained a badly broken arm, which left him unable to play the drums for over a year.
Rushton played drums on Plain’s second (hitherto unreleased) solo album “Honest John Plain & His Wine Stains” which was recorded in Boston in 1996 before joining Plain & Sargent in Honest John Plain & The Amigos.

Steve Metcalfe
July 2007


HONEST JOHN PLAIN discography :


CASINO STEEL discography :


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