Back in 1980 a film came out that was suppose to be the next big movie. Robert Stigwood who had done well with Saturday Night Fever and Grease was now doing a movie with punk rock music. The film, called Times Square, flopped and went nowhere but the soundtrack was highly praised for introducing the world to new alternative music acts.
For me one of those bands on the Times Square soundtrack made a impression and I went out and bought their LP. They called themselves the Ruts and the big song off the LP The Crack was called Babylon’s Burning.
It is the Ruts guitarist and co-songwriter, Paul “Foxy” Fox, who at 56 has taken his Final Taxi due to cancer. Fox helped create some of the best loved and most enduring work of the punk era. The Ruts, who came together in 1977, were among the best of the second wave of British punk bands, inspired by the likes of the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Their big single Babylon’s Burning was a forthright commentary on the discontent in Britain’s cities and it reached number seven in the 1979 UK charts.
The Ruts, unlike many early punk rockers, were trained musicians and had schooled themselves in jazz-funk and pub rock. Fox played a pivotal songwriting role, and quickly became a model punk guitarist at a time when the three-chord thrash was the height of many of his contemporaries’ ambitions. The Crack showcased his menacing, often haunting, style to great effect, but also revealed his versatility; he was a lover of reggae and could switch styles with ease.
Fox played in several small bands in his early career and in 1975 he joined a funk band, Hit & Run, which played the pub circuit.
By the end of 1977, with punk raging through London, an energized Fox had teamed up with Malcolm Owen (vocals), John Jennings (bass) and Dave Ruffy (drums) to form the Ruts.
Fired by Fox’s furious guitar-playing and the charismatic Owen’s vocals, within a year the Ruts had made a significant impact. A loveable and lively character, Fox immersed himself in the horseplay and high jinks of nationwide Ruts tours, much of it with their kindred spirits, the Damned. With Owen, he was most often the focus of attention on stage.
In 1980, Owen died of a heroin overdose, a drug that Fox would also struggle with in future years. After much agonising, Fox and the two other surviving band-members continued, as Ruts DC – with Fox sharing some of the vocals – until late 1982, after the release of the Animal Now album.
Fox then joined a west London band called Dirty Strangers. They recorded two albums on which Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood guested. Richards was a fan – they toured together briefly in the US – and Fox was also openly admired by the likes of Pete Townshend and Jimmy Page.
After forming his own shortlived band, Choir Militia, in 1983, Fox played with rock group Screaming Lobsters in 1987 and with Fluffy Kittens, an Indie outfit, from 1991 to 1994.
Last year, the frontman from the ska band Bad Manners, Buster Bloodvessel, convinced Fox to form a new touring band, Foxy’s Ruts, which, featuring his elder son Lawrence on drums, toured Europe and played at the Punk and Disorderly Festival in Berlin. Fox’s final performance was at a London Ruts reunion with Ruffy, Jennings and US punk legend Henry Rollins on vocals. His last work was Lockdown, another dub reggae album, recorded earlier this year with the DubCats band.
— — Also taken his Final Taxi over the weekend is Paul Raven, 46, who was formerly bass guitarist with Killing Joke, the British post-punk band best remembered for their hit Love Like Blood in 1985.
Regarded as one of the most significant bands to have emerged from the post-punk/New Wave era of the late-1970s/early-1980s, Killing Joke strongly influenced bands such as Nirvana, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Big Black, Prong, Metallica, Jane’s Addiction, Soundgarden, Foo Fighters, Econoline Crush, Faith No More and Korn, all of whom have at some point cited some debt of gratitude to ‘The Joke’.
Raven’s big break came when he replaced original Killing Joke bassist Youth in mid 1982, just in time for the North American tour documented on the Ha! live EP. He was with the group through its most commercially successful period, appearing on the Fire Dances, Night Time and Brighter than a Thousand Suns albums, before leaving during the recording of 1988’s Outside the Gate, rejoining in time for 1990’s Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions.
After touring in support of this album, Killing Joke split up, with everyone except singer Jaz Coleman going on to form Murder, Inc. in 1991, adding singer Chris Connelly. During this time, Raven also participated in Pigface, a project conceived by Murder Inc./Killing Joke/PiL drummer Martin Atkins, as an ever-morphing musical circus with a fluid line-up.
Raven played on Killing Joke’s 2006 CD, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell, and began to work with the band Ministry. He had recently been recording the industrial band Treponem when he was found dead in France of a suspected heart attack.