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Sarah Tomlinson

Hollywood Brats

Like a less famous British cousin of the New York Dolls, the Hollywood Brats also had a taste for feather boas, glitter, and tough rock & roll played with rough-and-tumble abandon. Although they only recorded one full-length album that was not released until after they had broken up, the band is recognized as a pioneer of punk.

The first incarnation of the Hollywood Brats surfaced in London in 1971 when singer Andrew Matheson, Norwegian keyboard player Casino Steel, and drummer Lou Sparks began playing regular gigs as the Queen. When Freddie Mercury‘s band of the same name came on the scene, the original Queens wouldn’t let him strong-arm them into a name change until his outfit scored a hit and they were forced to adopt a new handle, becoming the Hollywood Brats. In 1972, guitarist Eunan Brady came on board after meeting Matheson through his Melody Maker ad seeking a guitarist “drunk on scotch and Keith Richards“; with Wayne Manor on bass, the lineup for this raucous glam rock unit was in place. The band crashed and burned their way through regular live sets in the summer of 1973, when their flamboyant makeup and female attire, à la the New York Dolls and David Bowie, and attitude-laden bluesy rock began to attract a following. As Brady recalled in his liner notes for the 1999 Cherry Red Records re-release of the band’s album, “The whole point of the Brats was to annoy and disturb!” Championed by Keith Moon, the band landed a deal with NEMS Records and recorded an album of pure rock fun with fuzzy, garage-flavored guitar solos, cowbell accents, and snotty lyrics populated with gold diggers and tramps. No label wanted to touch the finished product, however, and the recording languished until Mercury Records released the material as Grown Up Wrong in 1975, and Cherry Red Records issued their single “Then He Kissed Me” in 1979 and re-released the full-length album in 1980. But the band had self-destructed years earlier, with Matheson going on to record with Tools and Wreckless Eric’s Last Orders, and Steel joining London SS briefly before Mat Dangerfield grabbed him to form the Boys in 1976.