The Agony Bag story
Agony Bag was formed in early 1976 when flautist and saxophonist Clive Jones, who had been in Black Widow from its beginning to its demise, approached the original Black Widow drummer Clive Box (better known as Bok) with the idea of forming a new band. Bok had played in both Pesky Gee! and the original Black Widow with Clive and both featured on the seminal Black Widow album, "Sacrifice".
Agony Bag were to take this theatrical presentation a step further with the introduction of costumes and make-up for each of the band members and an outrageous stage show to further enhance the musical performance. Bruce Cluley was quickly brought in on guitar and after a couple of unsuccessful bass players, Geoff Beaven came in to complete the classic Agony Bag line-up.
Clive had already been writing material for the new band and also took up vocal duties. It was his strange and compelling songs, backed by powerful arrangements from the other members, which were to get the band quickly recognised.
Agony Bag soon became the most talked about band in their home town of Leicester, drawing large audiences to see their incredible and exciting stage show. Agony Bag gigs were never dull with Clive leaping about the stage and even swinging from beams! Bruce was reputed to have the longest guitar lead around and would often disappear from the stage, to wander round the audience whilst still playing furiously.
With their growing reputation the band soon attracted attention from further afield and at a showcase gig in 1978, at the Windmill in Leicester, were first seen by their future manager from London, Mark Pollard. He immediately saw the potential of the band and contracts were signed. He took the band off the road to polish both their act and image to the professional standard required to realise that potential.
This included adding dancers Sue and Maggie to the show, upgrading their PA and lighting system and hiring a roadcrew, consisting of soundman Phil, Gez on lights and Hoppy looking after the backline. This enabled him to put a fully professional show on the road.
The band relaunched with a European tour and was particularly well received in Germany, where they built a healthy fan base and were to tour regularly over the next couple of years.
In fact it was also decided that Germany would be the place where Agony Bag's first single would be recorded and in April 1979 they entered the studio at Kamen near Dortmund to record “Rabies is a Killer” and “Never Never Land”. It is due to this German connection that one chorus of “Rabies…” was actually sung in German!
For the rest of that year Agony Bag gigged hard in the UK and on the continent and during this period Mark Pollard signed the band to Monza Records for release of the single. The record was released on the 7th March, 1980 and the band celebrated with a major gig at Buzbys in their hometown of Leicester, where they had not played for about twelve months.
The band gigged hard to promote the single but unfortunately sales did not meet expectations and eventually some disillusionment crept into the ranks, culminating in Bruce leaving the band in October 1980. This was followed by Geoff quitting a month later.
But, as with other bands, it was the combination of the four original members that had made Agony Bag what it was, and that magic could not be reproduced.
Agony Bag was no more.
© 2001 Phil Mulvaney