It all began at Didmarton Festival in 1989 when Bill Smarme and The Bunch of Cowboys played their first gig to a crowd of 50 or so very damp but extremely enthusiastic (and polite!) punters in a skittle alley at the back of a Gloucestershire pub. Building on this success (sic) the band played all manner of clubs, pubs and comedy shows for the next three years until Chester Draws sold his van and Hank the Plank moved to Scotland. Not even a last-minute subsitute in the form of Leon Hunt could save them, so in 1992 the rest of the band returned to their day jobs at Smarmerection and the inevitable pay cut.
But the lure of the grease-painting was too much to resist for Bill. He performed solo at the next two Didmarton festivals, including his now-legendary Stagecraft workshop in 1994.
Then, in 1995, Bill formed Radio H.A.M (Horace and Maurice) with One Drum and made a spectular (yet oddly one-off) appearance at that year’s Didmarton Festival on the Friday night. Horace and Maurice also hosted the Saturday night concert which coincidentally saw the first (and last) apperance by Bill Smarme and The Bar Staff (One Drum, Cactus and Tenfingers). Fortunately, no known photos exist of either band.
Undaunted, and probably encouraged by the Didmarton audience’s lack of apathy, Bill decided that a six-piece band was too big, a two-piece band was too small, but a four piece band was just right. And so it was, that the 1996 Didmarton Festival saw the first public outing of the now infamous BILL SMARME AND THE BIZNESS. And the rest, as they say, is history……..