John Wicks, of Power Pop Band The Records, Dead

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A signed publicity photo of The Records, circa 1979. John Wicks is 2nd from R

John Wicks, the lead vocalist and co-songwriter for the British power pop band The Records has died. His death was reported on Sunday, October 7, by his bandmate, Will Birch, on his Facebook page. No cause of death was revealed, nor age given, but Wicks was lively in the Los Angeles area and was likely in his 60s. The Records were best known for their 1979 single, “Starry Eyes,” which became a modest pop hit in America. The website, Allmusic.com, called it “a near-perfect song that defined British power pop in the ’70s.”

The Records formed after the dissolution of a previous band, Kursaal Flyers, that Birch, on drums, and Wicks, on rhythm guitar, were members of. In 1978, the pair were joined by guitarist Huw Gower and bassist Phil Brown.

Shortly thereafter, the group served as the backing band for American teenager Rachel Sweet for her set as part of Stiff Records’ 1978 “Be Stiff Tour.” In 1979, the Records released their debut album, Shades in Bed, produced in part by Robert “Mutt” Lange (who also produced AC/DC’s Highway to Hell that year).

In the U.S., the Records’ debut was released as a self-titled album by Virgin Records, composed almost entirely of Birch-Wicks compositions. The band played a U.S. club tour in support of the album and its single, “Starry Eyes,” ultimately peaked at #56 on the Hot 100. The Records reached #41 on the U.S. album chart.

Watch the Records perform “Starry Eyes”

A follow-up album, 1980’s Crashes, included “Hearts in Her Eyes,” a catchy song Birch and Wicks wrote for a comeback album by the British Invasion band the Searchers. Veteran rock music critic Ken Barnes described the song as a “sparkling pinnacle of hopeless romanticism” in a feature for Best Classic Bands.

Related: Barnes’ feature, 10 Greatest Power Pop Songs

With only modest sales and airplay, The Records broke up in the early ’80s, though they reformed briefly. Wicks moved to the U.S. in 1994 and later toured as John Wicks and the Records, with shows as recently as 2018.

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  1. Glen
    #1 Glen 24 October, 2018, 14:13

    John Wicks and Wil Birch co-wrote one of Rock and Roll’s finest and most listenable power pop albums in all of RnR history. It’s a shame Huw Gower left so soon after The Records (album) was released. But, for you, the reader (here, now, today), you can entreat yourself to one of the brightest of the bright lights from the seventies by purchasing The Records (or Shades In Bed, as it was known to the Brits) and spinning it over and over. You won’t get tired of it! One warning, though. Listen to the 45 rpm version of “Starry Eyes”. It’s raw. It’s pure. It’s powerful. The Mutt Lange version is overproduced and, quite frankly, sucks.

    John Wicks will be missed here on earth.

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