It’s hard to express quite how important The Young Ones was to my generation. When it first aired in 1982 it changed everything. It roared through the playground like a tidal wave. It changed the way we spoke, the way we thought, our humour. The Young Ones were our heroes. It was glorious, chaotic anarchy and it was on our TV sets. It divided generations. I remember friends and family whose parents wouldn’t let them watch it. It was a bad influence. Crazy, weird, too damn rebellious.
You loved the Young Ones like you loved your favourite band. Maybe even more. They were total punks and Rik Mayall led the whole thing. News of his passing hit me like a sucker punch. It felt like a part of my childhood has just died with him.
And it goes far beyond and before The Young Ones. The Dangerous Brothers, Kevin Turvey, Lord Flashheart, Drop Dead Fred, Alan B’Stard, endless brilliant Comic Strips. And all of it so funny. All of it ingrained into our collective consciousness. To this day we still endlessly quote from his repertoire. It never goes away, does it…Cod Piece Face?
I never got to meet Rik Mayall. I did get to meet Adrian Edmondson once at the Kerrang! Awards where I drunkenly tried to persuade him to reform Bad News as a rap-metal band (can you imagine how good that would have been?!) He humored me as I slurred at him stating that Bad News were a better metal band than all of the other rock bands in the room that day.
It’s true. Bad News, along with The Young Ones, were a huge part of my adolescence. We would endlessly watch the two Comic Strip episodes that featured this perfect pastiche of heavy metal in all its ridiculous glory. Rik Mayall was incredible as the bands incompetent bass player Colin Grigson. As I type this now quotes from the TV shows and two albums they made fill my head, still making me laugh.
I was lucky to get to see Bad News twice live. Once at the Marquee where they jammed with Jeff Beck and Brian May and again at the legendary Donington ‘Monsters Of Rock’ appearance that features in the ‘More Bad News’ episode. At the time, there was a lot of controversy regarding Bad News being on the bill. In those days Monsters Of Rock (now Download) was a one stage, one day event with only six or seven bands on the bill and the audience was aggravated that one of those precious spots was taken by a ‘joke’ band. On the day, however, there wasn’t a single person in the crowd that wasn’t having the best time ever as the band were pelted with whatever the audience could lay their hands on, which can be seen in all its glory on ‘More Bad News’.
So that’s it then. Goodbye Rik Mayall. Thanks so much for all of the laughs. Thanks so much for making the eighties less bleak than they could have been. Thanks for brightening up our world.
The last words go to (p)Rick.
“This house will become a shrine, and punks and skins and rastas will all gather round and hold their hands in sorrow for their fallen leader. And all the grown-ups will say, “But why are the kids crying?” And the kids will say, “Haven’t you heard? Rick is dead! The People’s Poet is dead! And then one particularly sensitive and articulate teenager will say, “Other kids, do you understand nothing? How can Rick be dead when we still have his poems?”
That exploding tonic water eh…