Well i guess at the beginning. and for me it takes me back to a wild squat party in Brixton 1981, a few weeks after the riots.We had met some of the south London skins around London and had been invited to a skinhead party, it was in a big 4 storey townhouse squat on Coldharbour Lane. Chalky, Kev and Nigel. The only Brixton skinheads still in the area, as the racial violence, NF etc was at its height, a very dangerous place for any young skinhead to venture. But being the little shits with attitude we were, nothing like a death threat was going to stand in our way. As we entered the squat, Kev stood at the door, and told every skinhead, no seig heiling. that seemed to be the only rule of the night.
Someone had got hold of a brand new record called Harry May, this was South London Skinhead music at its best, by their band called The Business. it was played all night long on repeat. the skinhead world then, was very different than today. it was based on violence, it was anti authority. And of course that night was to be no different. halfway through the evening the music was dramatically turned off. Everyone leaning towards the windows, to see a huge black mob in the street, we were in their manor. Being a kid of 16, it was one of those days that i thought i wouldnt be reaching my next birthday. but the lads at the party were well aquainted with this sort of situation, these were the real hardcore firms of the time, many living on the streets. Weapons appeared from nowhere, knives, machetes, brass knuckles. one bloke even had a bowling pin, he leaned out the window holding it. Looking downstairs, there were already a mob of skinheads in the garden in a standoff. vastly outnumbered, the skinheads stood their ground. The black mob soon realising, this would be a savage fight. A peace treaty was quickly declared, and the blacks melted into the night.
The party went on through the night. it made a huge impact on me, i met some of the best people of my life. the South London Skinheads. East London was getting plenty of press, but the other mobs were fierce. there were some right toe rags at the party, even mad jocks boys were there. skinheads with tattooed faces, most people covered in black eyes and bruises. There was no police presence in the area, skinhead events were always self policed, and held together by loyalty and respect. Being Wycombe boys, my mate and me werent known by anyone, but openly welcomed. i even managed to get hold of a beautiful skinhead girl that night. Who after we had done our business, and then after the blacks had gone, i noticed her standing down in the garden with a skinhead bloke. i asked chalky who the skinhead was. he replied 'her boyfriend!' ffs i had survived immenent death through a potential petrol bombed house, to have some crazy looking (and older) skinhead with peanut tattooed on his head, and his 'Girlfriend !!
But a short while later, Peanut just walked in the room and said 'alright mate' and smiled...
Harry May takes me back to that night, every time i hear it.
A few years later, i had grown up a bit, some of the best Oi! gigs i ever attended were held at a little club beside the railway in kensington, The Adlib. Very few venues did more than one oi! gig, as usually they turned into a wild west bar fight, quite often between South and East london skinheads,sometimes opposing football firms, but generally just because someone got a beer spilled, or a bird got her arse pinched. But that night at the Adlib, i noticed this big tall bloke throwing things into the crowd. As everyone was pogoing to the Business. A skinhead nudged me and pointed. 'You seen that cunt!' It was good enough excuse for me, we went straight at him. the other skinhead got sucked into the mosh, but i got hold of the big geezer and went to work on him. the next thing i know i am bouncing his head off of the stage. then as i come out of the red mist i could hear 'Oi leave it out, leave it out' i look up and standing above me was Micky fitz, and he was pointing at me. As i relaxed, the crowd just grabbed me, as Micky let lose into another business classic.
An example of how this guy held fort, how he controlled a room, how in the wild days of skinhead and oi! some characters stood larger than life. Micky had the courage to stand on a stage in front of warring savage skinheads. yet everyone in the room , had full respect for that man.
Unlike some of the other Oi! frontmen, who were often members of football hooligan, or Skinhead gangs, Micky wasn't known as a violent bloke, but more a good mate, a real salt of the Earth, someone that stood by his beliefs and put that into music. which was so apparent throughout his whole life.
In recent years, after the self destuction of the London skinhead scene in the late 80's many bands threw the towell in. the divides, political antagonism, manipulation and Maggie thatcher smashed us to a pulp. times changed, life moved on...
But not for micky, not for a small but determined few bands, that took Oi! into Europe, that became street punk. the bands that kept the flag flying, for those of us that held that love in our hearts, these were the life blood. The USA and across the world a new audience picked up on our music. Bands like The Business stayed on the road. fighting all the way, times had changed, i guess those songs to some are a nice tune that gets the blood pumping, songs of a time we lived in the Cities of England, during the Thatcher years, the disenfranchised youth. The working class heroes. Micky put those feelings into songs, he gave us a pride, a sense of worth. We did riot and sometimes work as well.
When we started the Great Skinhead Reunion in Brighton, i was so pleased that micky had come down for the social with the West Ham lads and his wife. He wasnt performing, but it proved once again this man was still one of us. He was still an old skinhead, just like us. Since 2011 Micky and i spoke alot about him performing, as the reunion has grown year on year, but unfortunately he kept getting USA tours and other stuff, which made it hard for him to make a firm commitment, some bands have agents, and large European Punk festivals have better resources, and i would never expect any band to drop a big event, to play for us. i saw him regularily whenever i went up to blackpool or in Europe, and he would always make a B line to come talk with me, always a really decent bloke, we talked alot about his fight with alcahol addiction, which had turned into a shopping addiction hah. But then he was struck by this evil desease, and in true Fitzy style, he made no fuss about it, he didnt want big charity events or any noise made. He took the fight on straight in its face.
Together with his band, they wrote and performed songs, which were our heart, our feelings, our life. The Real enemy, Suburban Rebels, Blind Justice.. and as i write this i am not ashamed to say i have a tear in my eye, thinking of Another Rebel Dead.
God Love you Micky, your songs took me through hell and back. I never thanked you for that in life, but i will never forget you in death.