'80s - Doctor & The Medics (2010)
'The Doctor is (Back) In: The Clive Jackson Story'
Doctor & the Medics are remembered as much for their look - chalk-faced vocalist Clive Jackson (otherwise known as the Doctor) looked like a cross between the Joker and Gene Simmons of KISS - as their new wave remake of Norman Greenbaum's 'Spirit in the Sky,' a number one single in the UK.
But Doctor & the Medics had already existed years before they released that novelty cover.
Jackson was born at Knotty Ash Hospital in Liverpool, England, on July 7, 1961. He formed Doctor & the Medics in the early '80s with Steve Maguire (guitar), Richard Searle (bass), backup singers Wendi and Collette, and Vom (drums).
Along with the Cult and Gene Loves Jezebel, the band was part of a '60s psychedelic revival, one that incorporated a gothic look and sound.
However, 'Spirit in the Sky' not only brought Doctor & the Medics into the mainstream but it also prevented them from reaching the masses again. After the success of 'Spirit in the Sky' faded, Doctor & the Medics continued to tour and record albums.
Still touring today, some 25 years later, I recently had the opportunity to speak with original band member Clive Jackson (aka The Doctor) about the origins of the band, about Alice in Wonderland, about his Mystery Trips back in the day, and, of course ... penguins!
Taking it from the top, and it's claimed that Doctor & The Medics are a 'psychedelic rock band that perform as a tribute act to various artists.' Does that sound fair to you or would you put it another way? "The band has, to date, had 2 incarnations. When we formed in 1982 right up to our 3rd Album "Instant Heaven," we could certainly have been described as Psychedelic but also with elements of Glam, Punk and heavy rock."
"From 1999 I changed the band to a more theatrical unit performing a set with a lot more covers, concentrating on live work and delivering material that was relevent to the respective audiences. So if you want to describe any band that plays cover songs as a tribute act then Twisted Sister, Bon Jovi and The Stereophonics must be tribute acts as well?"
So, is it true that you have never left the band at any stage - no matter what the press may say? "I have never left the band, there's not a year gone by that I have not gigged in one form or another."
And, is the current line-up yourself, Adrian Hill, James Hartley, and John Randle? "I do give some points to you for getting the current line ALMOST right - you left out Paul Nevin (Dancer) and Melissa Weekes (Singer)."
Born in Knotty Ash, Liverpool (UK), a place also famous for comedian Ken Dodd, growing up did you ever run into him, or see him live, perhaps? "I don't think Ken Dodd ever went to Knotty Ash, it was just the butt of his jokes and as I spent only the first day of my life there (Growing up in Anfield) I think it unlikely that we met."
Back in the day you formed Doctor & The Medics and quickly adopted a look inspired by both 1960s psychedelia and kabuki make-up. But what made you blend the two looks - and did anyone from the music industry try and stop you? "The bands image was an unholy union of Psychedelia, Glam and Punk. We took the most OTT elements of each and threw them all together. The make up was more inspired by Arthur Brown than kabuki. No one tried to stop us, indeed our image was integral to our appeal so why would they?"
And just where did that band name originate?! "I was Djing as "The Doctor," in my club "Alice In Wonderland," so the name seemed a natural progression."
"I'd picked the name The Doctor as my revenge on the medical profession as I was a failed medical student!"
Then, in 1982, you released your first single, 'The Druids are Here,' but then went silent on that front until 1985! What happened to stop the group recording and releasing singles at that time? "We actually had another release in 1984, a live EP called "Live at Alice in Wonderland." But during the gap we were gigging solidly and building up a fan base. "The Druids are Here" was actually recorded before we had a proper line up. I think we did one gig and them made the single! So it was very early days."
Back then you had the Anadin Brothers as back-up ... yet, they were females! Why name them that ie: Brothers when they were females?! "That would be telling!"
Okey dokey! And then, come 1986, the band scored big (HUGE!) with a cover of Norman Greenbaum's 'Spirit in the Sky'! Reaching #1 on the UK Singles Chart, did all this sudden white hot spotlight of media attention knock you for six or were you more than ready for it? "We were ready for anything, we were out to have a laugh and enjoy every minute of being in a band and having a number 1, whilst being something we never imagined would happen, seemed integral to the whole Medics concept. We knew how to party and so that was fuel to the flames for us."
"I think it suprised a few of our original fans though!!"
Subsequent singles - 'Burn' (#29) and 'Waterloo' (#45) - fared less well. In reflection, do you wish you'd marketed the follow-ups singles differently, or was there more to it than that? "Sadly, we didn't market it as that was the record company and yes they bolloxed up everything from the mix of "Burn" to very low key marketing. In fact our last single with the company "Drive He Said" was A listed by our national radio station and they didn't even press enough singles to get into the top 100, or make a video."
"There is more to it but no point dwelling on it or moaning, life is too much fun and I'd rather go forward."
Being that you were joint founder of the Alice in Wonderland nightclub and Planet Alice (a fashion shop in London), the club used to run 'Mystery Trips' - taking clubbers to gigs and venues across the country on coaches! These trips are now widely regarded to be the precursor of the beginning of the rave scene in the UK! In reflection, do you see it as that now - and, perhaps, did you see it as that back then also?! "Yes, I think they were used as a model for the Raves, indeed "Rave" magazine acknowledged it as such a few years later."
"I'm very proud of the Mystery Trips and I still get people coming up to me in the street who were there to thank me. That's pretty cool 25 after the event!!"
Fun Five - OK, it's now time to fire off some quick questions - to allow those that think they know Clive Jackson / Dr. And The Medics to perhaps think again!
a) Can you remember your very first TOTP appearance? What year was it and at what level of nervousness were you at that whole day? "1986 - only really nervous about getting through the traffic to get there on time at 8.00am as if you were late they replaced you with a video of another band! Once there we just did our thing, not nervous, excited is probably a better word."
b) Is there one of your songs that you look back on and would today change the title to, or a line/lyric from it - and if so, which one, and why?! "No. Once something is recorded that's it for me. It is a snapshot of the moment and to change or re-visit something when your not in the moment seems pointless. I think recordings should stick, warts and all!!"
c) Do you have a recurring nightmare or dream - and if so, how does it usually end? "I don't. I do all my dreaming in the day!!!!"
d) What is your sweetest, guiltiest pleasure late at night? "Very expensive single Malt Whiskey."
e) If you could meet any deceased celebrity, who would it be - and what would be the first question you would ask them? "William Wordsworth, "What drugs were you on?"
Will we see a new Doctor & The Medics album this year (2010), perhaps ... and if so, as we're not called Exclusive Magazine for nothing, has it got a working title at this time? "I have co-written and demoed an album with Andy Shortland (Cloven Hoof, Phenomena) that we are hoping to record this year, working title is "Who?"
Are you on Twitter yet? "Yes, I just started to Twitter, no followers yet. I'm Rev_Dr so if anyone fancies following a load of unrelated bollox then please add me!!"
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "We did so in 2008 for "The Number One Project," celebrating the fact that Liverpool has produced more Number 1 artists than any other City. We recorded Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes," It's actually still up on itunes if you want to check it out."
And will the USA ever get to see Dr. And The Medics tour over here? There's the Here & Now, Rewind, and Regeneration tours, but we never get to see you named on the bill for the American side of things. Is there anything we can do to change this? "Not really. We do those shows over here but we are really bit players. I'm putting together my own 80's Theatre show so you never know."
"Be nice to play the USA once more before I disappear, we had a mad 5 week tour in 1986 that has stuck with me ever since!"
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the flightless bird, not the chocolate bar!) ... do you? "I've become more of an animal lover as I get older and am naturally drawn to the idiosyncratic so a flightless bird that can swim superbly and yet look so daft when it waddles is my kind of bird."
Thank you for your time today - "Love and Peace, Rev Doc Clive Thomas Jackson."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
So, if you would like to win a SIGNED copy of a Doctor & The Medics CD, and you think you know all there is to know about the band, just answer this easy question: On their re-recording of 'Waterloo,' a cover of the ABBA hit, which famous musician joined in on saxophone?!
Send us your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these wonderful SIGNED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before August 1st with your answer and the subject title CONTEST: DOCTOR & THE MEDICS SIGNED CDs to: firstname.lastname@example.org