In 1985 the band New Model Army made a statement on Top of the Pops that caused a long term rift with the show that was never healed before the show’s demise.
Shit on stage? Threaten anarchy? Swear (a lot)? Expose themselves? No. The band dared to wear a tee exclaiming the obvious – Only Stupid Bastards Use Heroin.
1985 was one of the disgraceful years of ‘heroin chic’ in music. Bands pretending to do it, media semi-promoting it and with rumours that it was no worse than dope circulated by dealers, kids were paying the price both literally and figuratively with their lives.
Designer and long-time friend of N.M.A. Joolz Denby was sick of this pretence, seeing what was happening in her neighbourhood, and trying to take on the council to educate the locals about the dangers. NMA was even active in supporting local Drug Charities. Then happenstance presented the band with the platform; Joolz says ‘a surprising request to play Top Of The Pops was a great opportunity to make a useful statement.’
Joolz hand painted four tees for the band that said ‘Only Stupid Bastards Us Heroin’ in the hope of deterring any teens off the path of hard drugs. On the day in the studio TOTP took umbrage at the word bastard (as well as the bands insistence of playing live) and promptly gaffer taped the word to hide it. Over the time to air, Joolz snipped away at the tape with some nail scissors so when it came time for the set, you could plainly read the word.
The rest is history – a lifetime ban from Top Of The Pops as they stepped off stage and a surprising ally in newspapers poking at TOTP for being arses about an important message.
FLY53 has always championed the Tee as a canvas. Having been sued banned and had product pulled for making statements, we thought this was a perfect story and one that deserves highlighting. So we have reprinted the tee in limited numbers, 40 of which will be auctioned off and every penny raised will go to a drug charity local to the band’s hometown.
Tees will be auctioned through eBay from 14th November. W/C 14th November, 20 tees will be put up first week and 20 the next. Check www.fly53.com for news and info on the auction.