The Housemartins were an English indie pop band that was active in the 1980s. Many of the Housemartins’ lyrics were a mixture of Marxist politics and Christianity, reflecting singer Paul Heaton’s beliefs at the time (the back cover of London 0 Hull 4 contained the message, “Take Jesus – Take Marx – Take Hope”).
The band was formed in 1983 by Paul Heaton (vocals) and Stan Cullimore (guitar) who initially performed as a busking duo. They recorded a demo tape with Ingo Dewsnap of Les Zeiga Fleurs, which brought them to the attention of Go Discs. They then expanded by recruiting Ted Key (bass), former guitarist with The Gargoyles, and Dodger (drummer on loan from 3-Action!) who was then replaced by Chris Lang. The band’s membership changed considerably over the years. Ted Key left at the end of 1985 and was replaced by Norman Cook — the future Fatboy Slim — and drummer Chris Lang was replaced by Hugh Whitaker, former drummer with The Gargoyles, who in turn was replaced with Dave Hemingway.
The band often referred to themselves as “the 4th best band in Hull”, referring to Hull, the city in England where the band formed in 1983. (The three bands that were “better” were Red Guitars, 3-Action!, and The Gargoyles)
In 1986, having recorded two John Peel sessions, the band broke through with the single “Happy Hour”, which reached #3 in the UK Singles Chart. The single’s success was helped by a claymation animated pop promo of a type that was in vogue at the time, featuring a cameo by television comedian Phill Jupitus, who toured with the band under his stage name of ‘Porky the Poet’.
The band split in 1988, but the members have since remained friends and worked on each other’s projects. Norman Cook has enjoyed significant success with both Beats International and then as Fatboy Slim, while Heaton, Hemingway and roadie Sean Welch formed The Beautiful South.
In August 2009 the music magazine, MOJO, The Housemartins’ original members came together for a photo-shoot and interview for the first time in many years. However, in the interview all the members maintained that the band would not be reforming.
Please enjoy this video clip of The Housemartins performing their first hit song, “Happy Hour“.