Prior to the release of Radio Stars’ first album in 1977, the British press decided that they would make a bit of a splash about the Beast of Barnsley. Radio Stars decided that they would in turn make a bit of a splash about the newspapers making a bit of a splash about him, and it all turned out very nicely for everybody. Even for the Beast’s cousin, who once approached the band on tour to tell them how proud he was that someone had written a song about his beastly relative. And now, as the press articles have turned up again, here’s what the Sun said on November 16 1977:
RAPE BEAST SONG IN STORM
Protest over punk disc, by Martin Sharpe
A punk rock song about the exploits of the Beast of Barnsley, rapist Reg Chapman, caused a storm yesterday. Chapman’s heartbroken mother fainted when the heard that punk rock band Radio Stars had recorded a song about her jailed son. Now she is demanding that the song – called simply the Beast of Barnsley – due to be released on an LP later this month, should be removed it reaches the record stores.
Part of the lyric, written by the group’s singer and songwriter Martin Gordon, aged 22, says: ‘He’s not fit to go on living. He’s a creature of the night. He’s a creature all right’.
Chapman, a 29 year-old steelworker, was jailed for life eight times over on six charges of rape at Manchester Crown Court last month.
The group, whose current single ‘Nervous Wreck’ was yesterday heading towards the pop charts, deny they did it to glorify Chapman. But 54 year-old Mrs Hilda Chapman hit out angrily at the group. She said:
“Surely we have been punished enough. It’s wicked that a group should make money out of my son. He has been punished for what he did and we are still suffering. We were just getting over the shock of the court case when this happened. We won’t dare go out to the pub in case this record is played”.
Mrs Chapman, of Wheatley Close, Barnsley, Yorks, has already asked her lawyer to try to have the record stopped.
The song’s chorus says: He’s the Beast, he’s the Beast, he’s the Beast of Barnsley, he’s a naughty boy’. The group’s manager, Paul Charles, said “The last thing we want to do is upset people at a family level, but we thought it was a case which could not be ignored.”
The group’s LP, entitled ‘Songs for Swinging Lovers’, is to be released on November 25.
The album was already finished but, thanks to the intervention of Mrs Beast, we had to return to the studio. Some parts of the second verse (‘His mum tried chopping Beasty’s head off with a cleaver’) were deemed legally unsubstantiable. They were changed to ‘His mum considered chopping Beasty’s head off with a cleaver’, which more accurately reflected the sombre tone of Mrs Beast’s earlier press statements. It didn’t scan as well, but was thought to be cheaper in the long run.
From a contemporaneous Old Grey Whistle Test performance, the B of B turned up as the second tune in a brief set: