Over the years, the Midlands have provided some of the finest artists and musicians to come from the sunny isles of the United Kingdom. Birmingham unsurprisingly has produced the highest number of quality acts (it is the second city, after all). I have compiled a list for your reading pleasure of some of the best Old-School bands from the Midlands (again, mainly Birmingham … sorry) that have gone on to dominate this tiny little rock … and roll (again, I’m really sorry) that flies around the sun.
Black Sabbath is one of the most prominent and influential English rock bands ever. They were formed in Birmingham in 1968. The original lineup included vocalist Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi, bassist Geezer Butler, and drummer Bill Ward. The lads from Brum are often credited as one of the founders of heavy metal music.
Know for their wild antics (we’re looking at you mainly Ozzy), killer riffs, and a catalogue of head-banging tunes such as War Pigs, Paranoid and The Wizard, Black Sabbath is the quintessential old-school Brummy band (although that is up for debate as the next band attests to).
Led Zeppelin is another iconic rock band that emerged from Birmingham in the late 1960s and became one of the most influential and successful groups in the history of rock music. There is something in the water in Brum; there must be. Formed in 1968 I(the same as Black Sabbath!), the band consisted of Robert Plant (vocals), Jimmy Page (guitar), John Paul Jones (bass/keyboard), and John Bonham (drums).
They have an entire roster of classic tracks but are mainly known for writing one of the greatest songs of all time, Stairway to Heaven.
Dexys midnight runners
Dexys Midnight Runners, often simply known as Dexys, is another band formed in Birmingham (I told you the second city has a monopoly of killer bands) in 1978 by Kevin Rowland (vocals) and Kevin “Al” Archer (guitar). The band went through several lineup changes in its early years. They are best known for their hit single “Come On Eileen,” which became a chart-topping success in the early 1980s.
Dexys Midnight Runners had a unique sound that blended elements of pop, soul, and Celtic folk influences. They went on to have many chart-topping releases, so they can’t be labelled as one-hit wonders.
Finally, a band not from Birmingham! Showaddywaddy is a rock and roll revival group formed in Leicester in 1973. The band gained popularity in the 1970s and 1980s with their energetic performances and covers of classic rock and roll and pop songs from the 1950s and early 1960s.
The band’s early success came with a string of hit singles in the 1970s, including Hey Rock and Roll, Three Steps to Heaven, Under the Moon of Love, and You Got What It Takes. Showaddywaddy was also known for its distinctive Teddy Boy-style outfits, which were a call back to the fashion of the 1950s.
Okay, so we’re back in Birmingham. This lot was formed in 1978 and took its name, UB40, from the Unemployment Benefit form. They quickly rose to fame with their reggae and pop fusion.
The original lineup included Ali and Robin Campbell, Earl Falconer, Jimmy Brown, Brian Travers, Mickey Virtue, and Astro. Their debut album, “Signing Off” (1980), features hits like King and Food for Thought, showcasing their socially conscious lyrics and reggae sound.
The band gained international success with reggae covers, notably Red Red Wine, a Neil Diamond classic that became a global hit in 1983.
I hope you enjoyed my little list of old-school bands. Please let me know if you think I need to include any more (especially if they aren’t from Birmingham). I can do a part 2!