AUK’s Chain Gang: The Kursaal Flyers “Speedway”

Dan Hicks and vehicular endangerment (is that a capital offence in the States?) can only lead in one direction; Southend, the Kursaal Flyers and the promise of never again riding the Speedway. Speedway. It still exists – long gone heroes like Ivan Mauger, bikes with no brakes called Jawa’s, mouthfuls of gravel if you stand in the wrong place, races that are won by the first bend (sounds like Formula 1?). What’s not to like? Quite a lot actually and having been forced as a child to watch Workington Comets I speak from experience. Dan and his Cannabis induced paranoia – chicken feed.

Who could forget seeing the Kursaal’s in the mid-seventies in various student unions bringing the house down with this set closer? Paul Shuttleworth, surely separated at birth from either Arthur Daley, Private Walker or Leslie Phillips, donning a helmet remaindered from a 1960s Lambretta advert and leading a rousing chorus. ‘Little does she know‘, was clearly an aberration. This is the heart of their oeuvre.

In a later incarnation, Shuttleworth formed a band with among others Bob Clouter on drums. You couldn’t make it up. Don’t be fooled – this music, these musicians lead inexorably all the way back to – Southend. Or more likely to Ian Dury and the Blockheads and Madness.

Check out the video – a gem although I have to tell you that Sally didn’t last the course after she had a fling with Barry Sheene. He shouldn’t ever have let her near his helmet – better to have died with it on? Have a look below too to a BBC documentary that is great fun, although Melvyn Bragg clearly wants to reach for the mouthwash having been forced to utter the words ‘rock’ and ‘music’. Enjoy.

Sarfends finest?
About Gordon Sharpe 53 Articles
Music fan for more than 50 years and I think it gets better than ever - I love the Americana scene.


  1. The Kursaal’s deserved more success than they actually got. I saw them a few times on the Pub Rock Circuit and it was always a great show. Will Birch was a good song writer and an even better author documenting the era and its artists. His latest book Cruel To Be Kind – The Life & Music Of Nick Lowe’ is a great read

  2. One of the highlights of my student years Martin, They seemed – in a short space of time – to be regulars in Birmingham and always great fun.

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