Skrewdriver was originally an apolitical punk rock band that upon their second release took a turn into white power skinhead centered music. They formed in Poulton-le-Fylde, England in 1976 by singer-songwriter and guitarist Ian Stuart Donaldson. They became one of the first neo-nazi rock bands, playing a leading role in the far right rock against communism (rac) movement. Ian's death in September 1993 ended the group.
Ian Stuart Donaldson, formerly of The Rolling Stones cover band Tumbling Dice, formed Skrewdriver after seeing the Sex Pistols in Manchester. Skrewdriver at first had a punk appearance, but they changed their image into a skinhead look in 1977. They also temporarily had a rocker/biker look, around the time they released the EP Built Up Knocked Down. In 1978, Donaldson moved to Salford, where he recruited guitarist Glenn Jones and drummer Martin Smith. This lineup toured extensively, but many venues were reluctant to book the band because of their reputation as a violent skinhead band attracting audience fights.
Performing largely for a skinhead fan-base, the first versions of the band released one album and two singles on the Chiswick label. This version of the band split up in January 1979 after a concert in Warrington, but Donaldson resurrected the name Skrewdriver in 1982 using new musicians. Several past individuals associated with the group, many of them politically left-wing or centrist, have condemned the latter far right incarnation.
=>Band Musicians And More History
As mentioned, Skrewdriver inherited its first line-up from it’s predecessor, the band Tumbling Dice, which Donaldson had formed in 1975. They felt influenced by contemporary hard rock as well as seminal punk contemporaries such as the Ramones and The Clash. They were Ian Stuart Donaldson, Kev McKay, John Grinton and Phil Walmsley. When the band changed from punk to skinhead, Walmsley bowed out and was substituted with skinhead Ron Hartley. The 1977 release All Skrewed Up managed to give the group considerable underground success, and it's been regarded since as an early punk classic. However, by 1978, the band disbanded.
Both moving to Salford’s Cheetham Hill, McKay and Donaldson reformed the band in 1979 with local Manchester talents Glenn Jones and Martin Smith. Skrewdriver became a regular act at the Mayflower club in Belle Vue and toured local gig venues around Greater Manchester. The version of the band was to be short-lived and, after an ill-fated concert in Warrington in 1980, the band fell apart again.
This time, Donaldson left all the others behind and moved on his own down to London. By 1981, Skrewdriver had reformed for the 3rd time, still with Ian Stuart Donaldson of course. The new additions were Mark Neeson, Mark French and Geoff Williams. French and Williams had previously played with The Elite.
It was this line-up that released the 12” EP 'Back With A Bang' on Last Resort Records in 1982. External pressure on the band took its toll, and, by 1984, all three had left the band. Donaldson recruited Mark Sutherland, Adam Douglas, and Murray Holmes. Holmes, an Australian, had previously played with the band Quick And The Dead. Skrewdriver soon released their LP Invasion on the newly-signed West German label Rock-o-Rama Records, which would stay faithful to the band until the tragic end. The line-up was strengthened with Steve Roda coming in the following year.
Touring extensively once again, by 1987 the line-up is described on artwork as Ian Stuart (Donaldson), Mark Sutherland, Martin Cross, Ross McGarry, Merv Shields, and John Burnley who was the brother of No Remorse’s Paul Burnley. Steve Calladine, better known as Stigger, joined Skrewdriver in late 1987. Donaldson also launched a solo career as Ian Stuart with the release of solo material backed by a group known as 'Strikeforce', which essentially was the remaining band. Skrewdriver as a band continued, however, in parallel with Donaldson’s solo career.
In 1990, the sprawling line-up was added to with John Hickson. Over the 80s, the group released a variety of albums, many of them striking a chord with disillusioned British youths unhappy with both Thatcherism and the Labour alternative, much to the alarm of the mainstream press. Skrewdriver concerts were, although planned in advance, highly secretive, and Donaldson faced many attempts on his life. Releases at this time prominently included the albums Boots & Braces, Blood & Honour, and Hail The New Dawn.
On the 24th of September 1993, Ian Stuart Donaldson died from the injuries sustained in a car-crash the previous evening and with him the band Skrewdriver ceased. Although subject to a large variety of conspiracy theories, most fans have agreed that the death was a surprising, sudden accident. Since then, countless benefit and remembrance gigs has been played in his and the band’s honour, with virtually every rock against communism band worth their salt, producing a Skrewdriver cover.
During their 17-year career, Skrewdriver were signed by five labels:
1977 - Chiswick Records
1979 - TJM Manchester
1982 - Last Resort Sounds
1982 - White Noise Records
1984 - Rock-O-Rama Records
(This list does not include compilations and spin-off work)
Ian Stuart Donaldson - Vocals & Guitar
Phil Walmsley - Guitar
Ron Hartley - Guitar
Kev McKay - Bass
John "Grinny" Grinton - Drums
Stiv "Iena" Roda