Graham Kin and John Williamson were playing local bars in Cork as a guitar duo called The Bandits. Howard Palmer and John Pike and a drummer named Andy were rehearsing Led Zeppelin covers in a band called The Rats. Before The Rats had managed a single gig, the drummer left for University and Graham Kin and John Williamson poached John Pike for The Bandits. They then asked Howard Palmer if he could play drums and thus The Banditz were born.
With three songwriters in the band (Kin, Williamson and Palmer) there was no shortage of original material and with good management behind them providing money for transport and a new PA, they became established very quickly. They were signed by Phaeton within a year of forming. Dave Fanning described them in In Dublin magazine as a "Cork based English band" because they were all English born but were all living in South West Cork when the band was formed.
The Bandits recorded three singles for Phaeton but only one was released. 'J.C.B' / 'Damage Your Health' was the second single released on the Phaeton label in 1980. It was written by Graham Kin. It can be described as quirky, keyboards oriented angular new wave pop. Though it sold well, 'J.C.B' does not appear in the official charts of the time and there are no accurate sales figures. Howard Palmer recalls the charts being suspended due to corruption and manipulation at the time (there were five straight-to-number-1 entries in 1980, a suspiciously high number).
John Pike left after 18 months. Howard Palmer switched to bass and Wayne Sheehy (then in Bantry band Exodus) became the drummer. This lineup toured solidly for 6 months and recorded the third single. On 18 March 1980 they played the Cork City Hall gig with a host of local bands which was recorded by Circa Records but unreleased. They also recorded a live album independently which was released on cassette (more details about this needed please). They played one of the last ever gigs at the Dandelion Market in Dublin on Saturday 22 March 1980. The bands lack of progress coupled with various setbacks - losing out on the support slot for The Police at Leixlip Castle on 27 July 1980 (it went to U2), Phaeton shelving the third single - took their toll. Their manager called it a day, taking back the van and P.A. back, and the band folded.
Howard Palmer moved back to England. John Williamson died of cancer five years after the band split. Graham Kin is believed to write film music but presumably under another name as there's no entry on IMDB. John Pike lives in Clonakilty. Wayne Sheehy was later in Driveshaft, 1990, Cactus World News and Hinterland.
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