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Pete Wylie
Birth name Peter James Wylie
Born 22 March 1958 (1958-03-22) (age 51),
Liverpool, England
Genres Post-punk
Alternative rock
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1977 - present
Associated acts Crucial Three, The Spitfire Boys, Wah! Heat, Wah!, The Mighty Wah!, Shambeko! Say Wah!, Big Hard Excellent Fish, The KLF, The Farm

Pete Wylie (born Peter James Wylie, Liverpool, England, 22 March 1958[1][2]) is a British singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the leader of the band variously known as Wah!, Wah! Heat, Shambeko! Say Wah!, JF Wah!, The Mighty Wah! and Wah! the Mongrel. He was credited by Melody Maker with coining "rockism", a post-punk term used to describe anything considered too 'old guard'.[3]




Early bands

He began his career in 1977, with lead vocalist Ian McCulloch and bassist Julian Cope, with whom formed the band Crucial Three, who lasted from May to June the same year. In September, he and Cope formed another band alongside Pete Burns, The Mystery Girls, but they lasted until September. In December 1977, he joined The Spitfire Boys, who dissolved the same month. Wylie and other two of the band, Pete Griffiths and Peter Clarke, formed the same month, the Nova Mob, alongside Julian Cope. The band lasted until May 1978, and Wylie waited until September to form another band, The Opium Eaters, along Peter Clarke named as Budgie, Paul Rutherford and Ian Broudie. In December, he formed another band, Crash Course, dissolved in January 1979.[4]


Active from 1979, Wylie and company garnered critical acclaim throughout 1980 for the singles "Better Scream" and "Seven Minutes to Midnight" (both as Wah! Heat), the latter being single of the week in the NME, Sounds and Melody Maker during spring 1980, and the 1981 Warner Bros album Nah = Poo! - The Art of Bluff (as Wah!). Their biggest hit single was "The Story of the Blues", which was released in late 1982, and reached Number 3 in the UK Singles Chart.[5 ]

A follow-up single, "Hope (I Wish You'd Believe me)" was released in 1983, but the single found limited success. Next, Wylie released an officially sanctioned "official bootleg" of new and old songs entitled "The Maverick Years 1980-81" on his own label. Clad in a cover that alluded to the early '70s' 'Hallmark of Quality' bootlegs, the record appeared as a white label with a blank outer cover and a sheet attached with sleevenotes by music journalist Adam Sweeting. This release did not shore up Wylie's dwindling fortunes and Wah! were subsequently dropped by WEA. In 1984 The Mighty Wah! had a Top 20 hit with the song "Come Back" (as with "The Story of the Blues," the song was chosen by the late BBC Radio 1 Radio DJ John Peel, as his 'single of the year'). The accompanying album, recorded for Beggar's Banquet, was entitled A Word to the Wise Guy. It was critically acclaimed, but sold poorly and the band were again dropped. By 1986, having ditched his backing ensemble, Pete Wylie had a solo hit with "Sinful!", which peaked at number 13 in the UK, ostensibly produced by Ian Ritchie, but with major input from Zeus B. Held. "Sinful!" became the title track of his 1987 solo album, which included the enigmatically titled "FourElevenFortyFour".

In 1990 a single called “Imperfect List” was released under the project name of “Big Hard Excellent Fish”. The spoken-word track is a list of 64 least favourite people and things read by Wylie's then girlfriend and collaborator Josie Jones. The list was written by Wylie and the track was recorded by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, although Wylie is not credited on the record. The list ranges from 'Adolf Hitler' to 'lost keys'. In 2004, “Imperfect List” was used by Morrissey at shows prior to his appearance on stage. The track appears on Morrissey’s video of live performance “Who put the M in Manchester?”.

Also in 1990, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu released a limited edition (either 500 or 350 copies) white label version of It's Grim Up North featuring Wylie on vocals. This version was a club-only release. The main version, however, was released in Oct 1991 with Bill Drummond on vocals, making the charts.

Creative cracks had begun to appear by 1991, when the collaboration with The Farm on "Sinful! (Scary Jiggin' With Dr Love)" did little for either of the rival camps.

On 11 November 1991, Wylie suffered a near fatal fall when a railing gave way in Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool. He fractured both his spine and his sternum. A long period of rehabilitation ensued.

At some point, Wylie began to write songs again and eventually sent demos to David Balfe, formerly of The Teardrop Explodes, founder of Food Records and by that time General Manager and Head of A&R of the Sony's Columbia label. Legend has it that Balfe was so impressed he immediately gave Wylie £750,000 to record the songs which Wylie duly did (in London and Memphis), delivering Songs of Strength and Heartbreak to a delighted Balfe in 1998. The truth appears somewhat more sober, however, as the album — despite being finished up to the point where artwork was finalised and discs even sent out for review — was rejected by Sony, who chose not to release it. Subsequently, Wylie found himself in artistic limbo as Sony owned the rights to the music he'd recorded as Songs of Strength and Heartbreak. The artiste found himself unable to acquire the master tapes and without a recording contract. Eventually, however, he was handed the master tapes and Castle Records released the album, unfortunately without commercial success.

Wylie's "Heart As Big As Liverpool" (1998) is popular within the city and especially with Liverpool Football Club supporters. It is used in the official Hillsborough tribute video, on a 2001 CD of Merseyside artists (compiled in collaboration with Liverpool Football Club) "Mersey Boys and Liverpool Girls" and features on Songs of Strength & Heartbreak, a 2000 album credited to The Mighty Wah! The song is also regularly played at Liverpool Football Club's home ground, Anfield — a source of great pride to Wylie, a Liverpool fan.

The year 2000 also heralded a compilation album entitled The Handy Wah! Whole.

Wylie then joined Dead Men Walking, featuring Mike Peters of The Alarm, Kirk Brandon of Spear of Destiny and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols. They toured extensively, performing old songs as well as new, including Wylie's "Your Mother Must Be Very Proud."

Following an invitation from Alejandro Escovedo, Wylie performed at the 2006 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Wylie's latest project is a twin album release with the working titles Pete Sounds and SLiME, both puns on mid-60s Beach Boys projects. Although he has sold demos of some of the new songs at gigs in 2004, he remains without a recording contract. In 2007, he announced a series of gigs at the Zanzibar club, Seel Street, Liverpool, each of which took place on the last Saturday of each month and featured guest musicians such as Ian Prowse (of the legendary Scouse band Pele), Ian McNabb and Brian 'Nasher' Nash (of Frankie Goes to Hollywood) playing Wylie songs as well as many covers of classic songs by other artists.

In January 2008 Wylie performed at the opening ceremony of Liverpool's European City of Culture tenure. Over the last couple of years Wylie has written the soundtracks for two films; Alex Cox's I'm A Juvenile Delinquent - Jail Me! (made by Hurricane Films for the BBC's Learning Zone) and Under the Mud (also produced by Hurricane Films).



  • Nah = Poo — The Art of Bluff, 1981
  • The Maverick Years 1980-81, 1982
  • A Word to the Wise Guy, 1984
  • Sinful!, 1986
  • Infamy! or How I Didn't Get Where I Am Today, 1991
  • Songs of Strength and Hearbreak, 2000


Year Title Chart positions
UK Singles Chart[5 ] Irish Singles Chart U.S. Club Play
1980 "Better Scream / Joe" - - -
"Seven Minutes to be continued / Don't Step on the Cracks" - - -
1981 "Forget the Down / Checkmate Syndrome" - - -
"Somesay / Forget the Down (this time)" - - -
1982 "Remember / A Crack is a Crack" - - -
"The Story of the Blues (part 1) / The Story of the Blues (part 2)" 3 5 -
1983 "Hope (I Wish You'd Believe Me) / Sleep (A Lullaby for Josie)" 37 18 -
1984 "Come Back (The Story of the Reds) / The Devil in Miss Jones" 20 19 -
"Weekends (How Come We Always End Up Here?) - The Recut!!! / Shambeko" - - -
1986 "Sinful! / I Want the Moon, Mother" 13 13 26
"Diamond Girl / Spare a Thought" 57 - -
1987 "If I Love You / Never Fall For a Whore" - - -
"FourElevenFortyFour / The Marksmen" - - -


  1. ^ Rees, Dafydd & Crampton Luke, Rock Movers & Shakers: An A-Z of People Who Made Rock Happen. ABC-CLIO, 1991. ISBN 0874366615, 9780874366617. Pete Wylie (b. Mar.22, 1958, Liverpool)
  2. ^ "Wah". NME. 1958-03-22. Retrieved 2009-08-11.  
  3. ^ "secondhandnews: i wrote a dissertation about ilm and rockism". 2005-09-15. Retrieved 2009-08-11.  
  4. ^ Pete Frame's Rock Family Tree
  5. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 589. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.  

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