Story of the Drude
October 1957 Julian Cope is born in Deri, South Glamorgan, Wales. His parents take him to Tamworth, England, where he is raised and quickly becomes an outsider.
September 1976 Failing to get right exam grades, Cope surfaces at a Liverpool college. He meets Ian McCulloch, Pete Burns, Pete Wylie, etc, and forms a succession of half groups.
November 1977 Cope forms Nova-Mob with Wylie, Budgie and friend Griff. First release is a limited edition T-shirt. One show at Eric's club in Liverpool.
January 1978 Cope and Ian McCulloch start to write songs including "Books", "I'm Bloody Sure You're On Dope" and "Jefferson Davis". They talk about unfinished ideas such as "Spacehopper" and "Robert Mitchum".
June 1978 Cope, McCulloch and a friend play a selection of songs, including "Louie Louie", at Kirklands. McCulloch falls in love and the group flounders. Cope cannot sing but insists on being the vocalist. McCulloch leaves in a sulk, Gary Dwyer joins and the Teardrop Explodes is born.
November 1978 The Teardrop Explodes play its first gig at a private party at the stupidly hip Eric's Club in Liverpool. Cope still feels guilty and asks McCulloch to share the gig with his new band, Echo & The Bunnymen.
February 1979 Liverpool's Zoo Records release the seminal debut "Sleeping Gas". It becomes Single Of The Week in the rock press, being compared to "Louie Louie" and "96 Tears". The band's third live show is a performance of "Camera Camera" on Tony Wilson's Granada Television programme 'What's On', transmitted from Manchester. "Sleeping Gas" is produced by mentors Bill Drummond and David Balfe, who subsequently insinuate themselves into roles as manager/publishers of both Teardrops and The Bunnymen.
July 1979 The second release, "Bouncing Babies" is again Single Of The Week in Britain's rock press. Balfe joins the group.
February 1980 The final Zoo single, "Treason", sells bucketloads on account of it's total hipness and insidious melody.
June 1980 Bill Drummond re-mortgages his house to fund the Teardrop LP. Originally titled EVERYBODY WANTS TO SHAG THE TEARDROP EXPLODES, the album is partly re-recorded and the group sign to Mercury Records. The new guitarist, Alan Gill, introduces Cope to "Reward" and re-arranges his hip potential.
November 1980 Balfe is sacked; Gill leaves, scared at the prospect of competing. "Reward" is an enormous single but Cope and co. find Top Of The Pops etc very strange. Cope signs two guys to just do what he says and starts a period of unrestrained megalomania. The Teardrop becomes very English, very Julian Cope.
March 1981 Cope meets the beautiful Dorian, a 19 year old New Yorker and tells Troy Tate, the new guitarist, that he is quitting music for love.
June 1981 ...Tours, Top Of The Pops, more tours.
November 1981 The second LP is called WILDER. A depressing and sombre work, it catalogues Cope's first marriage break-up and mental chaos. This is not the "Bubblegum Trance Music" people expected from the group and the LP sinks. By 1984 it is considered a classic, but what use is that?
March 1982 Tours...tours...Australia...USA... Cope retreats in a confused state. Balfe sacks Troy Tate and everyone else except Gary Dwyer and Cope. He tells Cope to stay on as a singer but says "From now on I write the songs". Cope buys a house in Tamworth while Balfe writes his first opus.
September 1982 Cope and Dwyer hate the new songs Balfe has written. Balfe locks them both out of the studio so, loaded up on goon's pills, they race around the countryside in a jeep with Dwyer driving and Cope clinging to the roof. The album sounds like crap to Cope. He leaves the studio with Dorian and goes home, refusing to sing. He quits the group following a disastrous and demeaning UK tour as a three piece.
October 1982 Cope meets an old friend, Steve Lovell, who was busking in London's Bond Street tube station. Lovell forsakes buskers' paradise to make music with such an erratic character.
February 1983 Mercury release four of the songs salvaged from the aborted third album. They receive average reviews. Cope holes up in Tamworth with his producer, re-christened Lovell the Dog.
November 1983 Cope hangs out nearly all year, concentrating on his toy collection. Mercury hassle him to record an LP. Lovell, Cope and Dwyer record nine songs in as many days, then finish the album after Christmas.
March 1984 The WORLD SHUT YOUR MOUTH LP is released. People hate it, ignore it or just plain adore it. Cope is expected to tour and, sure enough, does. At Hammersmith Palais, Cope watches from the rafters as Rolo from The Woodentops imitates his show. Cope freaks. How to follow that? During "Reynard The Fox" he breaks the mike stand and cuts his stomach repeatedly, quoting Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar: "Infamy, infamy, they've all got it in for me".
April 1984 "Sunshine Playroom" hits the Top 50 but the Palais show and Cope's image alienate many fans. A video directed by David Bailey is a disaster. Bailey's images are bloody and hellish. The film is immediately banned.
May 1984 FRIED is recorded in Cambridge. Cope finds a turtle shell in a junk shop and tests the acoustics. Steve Lovell develops a Brian Wilson complex. He moves his bed into the studio and tries to gain weight. The LP seems to reflect the state of mind of everyone involved.
October 1984 Cope and Dorian get married in Long Island, NY. They arrive in separate 1959 Cadillacs for a long Greek Orthodox service. FRIED is released to a much warmer reception than WORLD SHUT YOUR MOUTH, but disappears nonetheless.
February 1985 The "Sunspots" 45 is released but Cope finds it hard to be taken seriously by Mercury. The turtle shell is considered far too gauche by the executives. A hit is lost.
March 1985 Cope returns to seclusion in Tamworth. He retires into a closed world. Cope records much of what eventually will become the SKELLINGTON LP with Donald Ross Skinner and brother Joss. His manager hates it; "too fried" he says, so Cope sulks.
September 1985 Cope leaves Mercury Records and waits for the moment to be right.
March 1986 Cope signs to Island Records. He begins a new LP, working with Donald Ross, Double DeHarrision and producer Ed Stasium. Cope finds an old friend James 'Blood' Eller working in a sandwich bar. Eller played on WILDER, Chris Witton, from the FRIED LP remains the drummer.
August 1986 Cope plays several guerrilla shows around Britain. Queues stretch around the block to see this wildly misunderstood and very influential figure. Richard Frost joins the group on organ when DeHarrison declines to play live.
September 1986 The "World Shut Your Mouth" 45 is released and charts high thanks to a messianic Wogan performance and the garage groove of the song. "A loser's anthem" proclaims Cope.
January 1987 "Trampolene" is released to coincide with the recording of a TV special in London's Westminster.
March 1987 The SAINT JULIAN LP enters the charts at number 11. Tours...tours...tours.
December 1987 Enter producer Ron Fair. Scared of big time producers, Cope eventually asks his A&R man to make the record with him. An unprecedented move, Fair is an obsessive with a penchant for Bar-Mitzvah organ licks. He agrees Donald and Rooster Cosby (percussion and strange vibes) should form the rhythm basis.
October 1988 The new LP, MY NATION UNDERGROUND is released. Among the tracks are "Charlotte Anne" and "Five O'Clock World", both of which are also available as singles. Cope is nearly immediately disappointed and this remains his least favourite of his LPs.
1989 Cope spends time hanging out again, getting his vision of the world together, reading avidly, and writing his autobiography, HEAD-ON. It starts from the point he arrived in Liverpool and ends in May 1989 just as Ian McCulloch reaches his 30th birthday. COPEULATION, a visual autobiography, is released, a compilation of Cope's videos with the Teardrops and after.
March 1990 SKELLINGTON is released as a semi-official bootleg for fan club members only. Copies surface more widely via Zippo Records. The LP is unanimously well received in the press. Five years on from the original idea, and Cope is vindicated. Cope goes on the Anti-Poll Tax march from Brixton to Trafalgar Square accompanied by Sqwubbsy (his seven-foot alter ego) and other characters. He writes about his experiences in the NME. He fails to carry out his plan to assassinate Margaret Thatcher.
April 1990 Cope plays his first gig in two years at Brixton's The Fridge for an Anti-Poll Tax benefit. It's also Sqwubbsy's first public engagement. Mercury release EVERYBODY WANTS TO SHAG THE TEARDROP EXPLODES. This is, in fact, the aborted third LP, which Cope realises isn't as crap as it seemed in September 82. The press again wax lyrically. Cope considers a master plan to release all his LPs at least five years after recording them.
May 1990 DROOLIAN is released. Is it a Cope LP or not? It's released in Austin, Texas only as part of a campaign to free Roky Erickson, the then jailed former leader of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators.
October 1990 Cope records a new double LP with the usual suspects, Donald and Rooster, in attendance. Cope gets to play sizeable chunks of leccy guitar for the first time. Something of a revelation to the doubters who always considered he couldn't play for toffee.
November 1990 A compilation of all the early Zoo singles is released. PIANO, as it is called, is something Julian has not been informed about. Its perpetrator, one Bill Drummond, incurs Cope's wrath but the 10-year old artefact earns considerable critical praise.
January 1991 "Beautiful Love" is the first single from the forthcoming LP. A top thirty hit again.
March 1991 The double LP PEGGY SUICIDE is released. Arguably Cope's best. He reckons so and the critics seem to agree. The LP is a paean to Mother Earth.
April 1991 A second single "East Easy Rider" is released and Cope goes out on tour again as part of a four-piece band. Capturing the feel of the PEGGY LP, the tour is a huge success, and Cope meets fellow Midlander Doggen in a right royal rock'n'roll party at the Hyatt "Riot House" hotel on Hollywood's Sunset Boulevard.
July 1991 A third single, "Head" is released from the LP. Julian spends much of the rest of 91 touring and exploring monuments. The seeds of THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN are sown.
August 1991 Albany Mills Cope is born.
October 1991 Cope records a new LP worth of tunes, if indeed, tunes is an apt description. Lyrically portentous, the music often reflects Cope's passion for the Krautrock he was so obsessed with in the early seventies, except for an entirely inappropriate speed metal solo by new friend Doggen, himself temporarily estranged from his Californian wife and hanging out back in Blighty.
August 1992 "FLOORED GENIUS — The Best Of The Teardrop Explodes And Julian Cope 1979-1991" is released. Ten LPs, ten years to choose from. Cope's personal selection, 20 tracks in all from "Reward", "Treason" et al through to the epic "Safesurfer" from PEGGY. It is preceded by a four track EP fronted by "World Shut Your Mouth". He also undertakes a Highlands and Islands acoustic tour through July (aka a drude at the monuments) in what he describes as "Skellingtal Performances".
October 1992 A new single, "Fear Loves This Place", heralds the arrival of the imminent LP. Over two consecutive weeks, "Fear" is neatly packaged offering six unreleased tracks recorded at the same time as the LP — they comprise the "Jehovahkill Companion". JEHOVAHKILL itself, is released. Another long LP, clocking in around 70 minutes, it spans three sides of vinyl and picks up certain themes from PEGGY but goes somewhat deeper...the first rock'n'roll LP. Intense and personal, it doesn't so much tackle issues as challenge us to look at ourselves and our (ancient) history. Joyous and scary at the same time.
Late October 1992 Cope embarks on the mighty 'Head On' tour featuring new and old material delivered in three separate sets. Five dates in and the strain of full throttle, three hour shows sold out tour.
November 1992 ...Trouble at mill. Or more precisely with Island Records. In the week that the re-scheduled tour dates are announced — which include four sold out dates at London's Town and Country — it is announced that Cope is to leave Island Records. The music press — in total disbelief — sees Cope as some sort of champion for the common man and a cause celebre in the recession hit music world.
December 1992 Select Magazine mounts a campaign to save this cherished monument of rock'n'roll. Their readers vote him drude of the year. He reigns high and supreme in all the end of year critics polls to add to Island's embarrassment.
January 1993 ...This time around the arch-drude completes the re-vamped and extended 'Head On' tour. Throughout the dates Cope carries merchandise for Lynx (whose aim is to create public awareness about the horrors of the fur trade). An ongoing raffle to win Cope's 'Cosmic Asshole' mike stand raises £2500 for the cause.
February 1993 Cope and Donald Ross Skinner release a 70-minute instrumental meditation 'groove' CD and cassette, RITE. It is released on Cope's own Ma-Gog label — a mail-order only enterprise. Ma-Gog becomes Cope's lifeline during this period between proper deals. A division of the splendidly named KAK Ltd, this provides Cope not only financial stability but an outlet for his various and creative urges. Far from being a stop-gap operation, it remains crucial to Cope's scheme of things.
June 1993 Ma-Gog's second release is THE SKELLINGTON CHRONICLES comprising the original "Skellington" and "Skellington 2" — 25 songs in all. He's back, and this time it's personal.
July 1993 An Audience With The Cope — four solo performances in Irish Castles in Cork, Belfast, Dublin and Galway. He also plays at the new Phoenix Festival with the full band, a performance that culminates in a ritual disclothing leaving only a bright yellow jock-strap and little else to the imagination.
August 1993 Cope undertakes a second Highlands and Islands tour of Scotland which, this time, incorporates a week of dates at The Edinburgh Festival.
October 1993 FLOORED GENIUS 2 is released by Strange Fruit. Cope's personal selection of his post-Teardrop radio sessions for the BBC. It draws mostly from 'The Tamworth Years' of his first two solo LPs, and is another part of the puzzle.
November 1993 While negotiations with respective record companies continue, Cope begins recording the final part of the trilogy of LPs that began with PEGGY SUICIDE and JEHOVAHKILL. AUTOGEDDON is coming. Cope is no longer a city dweller, having uprooted to the West Country in '92, but there ain't no getting round getting round.
December 1993 He finishes editing HEAD-ON, the first part of his autobiography that concludes with the demise of the Teardrops.
March 1994 Cope signs to the new Echo Label in the UK and Def American in the US. AUTOGEDDON is delivered.
April 1994 Avalon Mills Cope is born.
July 1994 Def American in the U.S. and Echo in Britain both release the AUTOGEDDON LP, which focused on the pillaging of Mother Earth and the evils of the automobile (ironically, just prior to its release Cope passed his driving test, prompting the quote 'there ain't no getting around getting around'.)
November 1994 As a sideline, Cope released an improvised collaborative album with Thighpaulsandra on ESP entitled QUEEN ELIZABETH. It's called Cope's most challenging project to date.
July 1995 A pointy-hatted Cope unleashes his first hit in 5 years, "Try Try Try". The single preceded the release of his 18th LP, 20 MOTHERS. described as 'mixing pop and pomp, wit and whimsy, kraut weirdness and tender balladry.'
September 1995 Two milestones marked September 1995, the first being the enormous Propheteering Tour, culminating in 3 nights at the Shepherds Bush Empire — each a spectacular 3 hour extravaganza. The second major event of September was the publication of 'KRAUTROCKSAMPLER — One Head's Guide To The Guide To The Great Kosmische Musik', the acclaimed realisation of Cope's ambition to pay tribute to the music most dear to his heart.
November 1995 The Cope family move into the former home of guitarist Doggen and Cope begins to refer to himself as Lord Yatesbury to annoy the neighbours.
Early 1996 Cope courted controversy once again at the beginning of this year by coming out in public support of the Newbury Bypass protesters. He even presented Top Of The Pops kitted out in full Newbury battlegear and a series of sloganeering t-shirts, prompting a record number of complaints to the BBC.
Late 1996 In the summer, the cosmically beautiful "I Come From Another Planet, Baby" single is released on Echo, followed in the autumn by "Planetary Sit-In". The INTERPRETER LP is released in October. Mike Mooneye, who played most of the guitar on the album, leaves to join Spiritualized.
1997 Julian devotes entire year to completing his research and writing THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN. Spends most days in front of his computer, or travelling to Brittany, Wales, Scotland, etc., etc., etc.
May 1997 Head Heritage website launched. Head Heritage releases RITE 2, the Propheteering 7" and produces the first Kakalog.
December 1997 The limited edition CD QUEEN ELIZABETH 2 — ELIZABETH VAGINA is released through Head Heritage, and immediately sells out. Unfortunately, no shows are possible as Thighpaulsandra has joined Mike Mooneye in Spiritualized.
Spring 1998 The first six months of the year are all about preparing THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN for publication. Julian drives up and down the M4 to his publishers in London to ensure that the design of the book is perfect.
February 1998 Needing a break from the isolation of writing, designing and editing, Julian embarks on AN AUDIENCE WITH THE COPE solo tour.
October 1998 THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN is published by Thorsons to universal acclaim. First print sells out before Christmas. Julian begins a sold out promotional book tour and enjoys every minute of it.
January — March 1999 Julian is still busy promoting THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN — including a lecture tour that put the Glam in Prehistory! Work begins on HEAD-ON/REPOSSESSED.
July 1999 Brain Donor is formed with erstwhile cohorts Doggen and Kevlar, based on their need to create proto-metal informed by Grand Funk Railroad's 'red LP' and the first two Blue Cheer albums.
October 1999 HEAD-ON is re-published by Thorsons, with its sequel printed upside down as a brazen pop art statement. Julian embarks on another promotional book tour, this time in face paint.
October 1999 Head Heritage releases ODIN. This is Julian's most cosmic music thus far and contains a single 73-minutes vocal mantra entitled "Breath of Odin". Although the press are wary, the album goes on to be a huge seller.
April 2000 The South Bank Centre sees Cope's two day festival CORNUCOPEA bring together several rock'n'roll heroes from the past (Ash Ra Tempel, Groundhogs) with new Cope projects, including the concert debut of Brain Donor. Horrified by the make-up and platform boots, many Cope fans exit before the end of the show. However, the presence in the foyer of ambient band Anal and a Krautrock colouring competition ensure something for everyone.
May 2000 Cope's hour long BBC2 documentary THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN visits 32 ancient sites and coveres over 3,000 miles in just nine days.
October 2000 German language edition of KRAUTROCKSAMPLER is published.
July 2001 LOVE PEACE & FUCK is the title of the Brain Donor debut LP, a fluorescent double album that most people ignore because of the cumbersome riffage and his fans' natural abhorrence of heavy metal.
September 2001 After a magazine photo session with Brain Donor, Cope journeys to Cornwall to meet one of his long time heroes Colin Wilson. Unfortunately, the whole day is shrouded in mystery, for the day chosen by Wilson and Cope for their first encounter is the infamous September 11th.
October 2001 At The British Museum, Cope's two-day festival DISCOVER ODIN is a sell-out featuring consecutive two-and-a-half-hour lectures. Unfortunately, 600 people are evacuated from the building just prior to the first performance on account of Cope's over-use of hairspray, which set off the fire alarms and bring the fire brigade out in force. Cope annoys several oldtimers by illustrating Odin's role as the hanging God with a 1971 black & white TV performance by Alice Cooper.
September 2002 Another sell-out festival at The British Museum, this time entitled DISCOVER AVEBURY, features one of Cope's long time heroes, the eccentric 78-year-old archaeologist Aubrey Burl.
October 2002 The third instalment of the Rite series — entitled RITE NOW — is released on Head Heritage. Containing just four long 'funkathons' (as Cope terms them), each is inspired by equal amounts of '72 James Brown, '71 Sly Stone and '75 Miles Davis at his most rhythmic.
December 2002 Cope is featured as the lead vocalist on the 25-minute opener by ambient metal doomsters Sunn0))). The track is entitled "My Wall" and contains Lord Yatesbury's thoughts about the landscape surrounding his home and the strange characters that inhabit it.
July 2003 After eight years of planning, a heavily-bearded Cope visits Armenia in order to view the Mesopotamian Plain, visit megalithic temples on the Iranian border and to see Mt Ararat. His driver Vanno, a former KGB agent, informs him that it is 'a bad time to have a beard in Armenia' and — with pride — shows Cope the nuclear power station of Metsamor, informing him when they are just two miles from the site that it was built to the same blueprint as Chernobyl.
November 2003 Cope's sell-out two-day festival begins at Hammersmith's Lyric Theatre. Entitled ROME WASN'T BURNED IN A DAY, the shows include rare rock'n'roll films of Van Der Graaf Generator, Kiss, Les Rallizes Denudes, Taj Mahal Travellers, plus performances by Seattle doomsters Sunn0))), with Cope guesting on lead vocals for the 25-minutes of "My Wall". A commemorative album of the same name is released by Head Heritage.
October 2004 HarperCollins publishes THE MEGALITHIC EUROPEAN, Cope long-awaited follow-up to THE MODERN ANTIQUARIAN. Even longer than the first tome, this European guidebook receives huge praise.
December 2004 French language edition of KRAUTROCKSAMPLER is published.
January 2005 After almost eight years of being bigged up in the press by Cope himself, CITIZEN CAIN'D is released and receives excellent reviews. A brief tour includes a memorable show at the Royal Festival Hall.
February 2005 Italian language edition of HEAD-ON is published. The book tour includes a lecture in Roman catacombs overlooked by the Turin Shroud.
November 2005 DARK ORGASM is released