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". In fact, it was Bok who had been the moving force behind Black Widow's direction and presentation, which gave rise to their infamous satanic stage show.
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. Another major contributory factor was, undoubtedly, Clive's wild onstage performance.
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. Geoff, complete with his blue hair and skin-tight leotard, was definitely the poser of the band, throwing shapes all over the stage; whilst all the time, Bok pushed the band along with a thunderstorm of percussion. A sight to behold!
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.
Their fans were surprised and delighted at the new level of professionalism that the band had reached and it is said by some, that this was one of the best gigs they ever played (well, by soundman Phil actually and he probably saw more performances by the band than anyone else!).
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. Clive and Bok, supported by manager Mark Pollard, regrouped and added Ian Watts on guitar and Mick Wright on bass. Mark revamped the band's image into one of its most powerful looks and Agony Bag carried on for a while longer.
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. The band folded altogether when songwriter and frontman Clive decided to leave on the 29th November 1980.
Agony Bag was no more.
In 2000 there was a re-awakening of interest in Agony Bag when Clive Jones got in touch with Black Widow Records in Italy, who had named their company after Clive and Bok's original band. This resulted in the release of an album in mid 2001 called "Feelmazumba", on the Black Widow Records label, catalogue number BWR 049. The album consisted of the single, material recorded by the original band but never released, and some of Clive's songs which were recorded later by himself, with other musicians. (via The Bizarre World of Agony Bag) (BUY IT!)
Agony Bag - Sally of Leicester