The Cocksure Lads

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The Cocksure Lads

The Cocksure Lads formed in Newcastle in 1961. By the mid-60’s, after a string of minor hits, the band briefly challenged for the title of "England's fifth biggest band."

Founding members Dusty Fosterboard (lead vocals) and Reg Topping (lead guitar) met during an open mic blues jam at the Spotty Otter in Newcastle in 1961. During one of his solos Topping heard Fosterboard bragging loudly to everyone around him that he was the best singer in Newcastle. Infuriated by this lack of manners, Topping put down his guitar, leapt into the crowd and began beating on Fosterboard. After the fight the two began to chat, recognized a common love of music and formed the band. Local friends Derek Millwood (bass) and “Blakey” Blake Manning (drums) were recruited shortly thereafter.

Originally calling themselves The New Newcastle Dungarees, the boys hit the road in 1962 on an exhaustive tour of teacake socials and vicars’ garden parties, playing a blend of British skiffle, American R and B, and the entire second act of South Pacific. During one of these shows they were spotted by Garrant Southeby, a cravat-wearing aesthete who had built the Hampstead Ladies' Requisites empire from the ground up. Spotting the band’s potential, Southeby approached them, and the band agreed to take him on as manager. Southeby suggested a name change and a new look, and soon after The Cocksure Lads were born.

Initially playing only 'cover' versions of songs by other artists, the Lads gradually transformed themselves into bona-fide tunesmitharians, led by Fosterboard. This process wasn’t without its hiccups though - their first single, “Baby’s Got A Chancre,” placed #7 on Melody Maker’s “30 Most Annoying Songs of 1962” list. But as Fosterboard learned his craft, the hits began to fly: "You’re A Cocksure Lad" in 1963, "You Gotta Stay Cocksure" in 1964, “That’s Any Good” and “A Case of the Dropsies” in 1965, and, a year later, the ballads “Umbrella Girl”, "Tricycle Girl" and “Whiskers & Buttons Girl.”

In 1967, a few months after The Beatles “Sergeant Pepper”, The Cocksure Lads released “Ship’s Ahoy!”, a twelve-song love letter to the British navy that included the titular hit as well as the infectious single, “Admiral Trafalgar.”

With the modest success of the band came increased internal tensions however – fighting, drug-taking, ill-advised marriages and, for Manning, an all-consuming passion for collecting shrunken heads. The band broke up once and for all in 1969 after Fosterboard mooned Topping onstage during a command performance for Queen Elizabeth II.

This year, after decades of legal wrangling, a Cocksure Lads Greatest Hits package has finally been made available. The reclusive Fosterboard, when asked for a comment during a rare recent interview, merely remarked, "About bloody time."