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Big In Japan - Punk from United Kingdom - Biography & Full Album Download MP3

Big In Japan

Punk Band from United Kingdom formed in 1977

Big in Japan were a punk band that emerged from Liverpool, England in the late 1970s. They are better known for the later successes of their band members than for their own music.


Coming from the same Merseyside scene which would produce Echo & the Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, OMD, and Dalek I Love You, Big In Japan started off playing gigs around Liverpool, such as Ruffwood School in Kirkby along with Wah! Heat, but most notably at Eric's Club. Their stage show was unique: lead singer Jayne Casey would perform with a lampshade over her shaved head, guitarist Bill Drummond played in a kilt and bassist Holly Johnson performed in a flamboyant manner which he would later take further in Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

As an initial idea of Deaf School's Clive Langer, his friend Bill Drummond (guitar, vocals), Kevin Ward (bass, vocals) and Phil Allen (drums), formed the band in May 1977, playing only three gigs, the first of them at Bretton Hall College, in Yorkshire. In August, the line-up grew, joining Jayne Casey (vocals), Ian Broudie (guitar) and Clive Langer (guitar), who quit in September, but not before the band recorded their first song released, "Big In Japan", which appeared in the 7" single compilation Brutality Religion and a dance beat, released the same year. In October, Ambrose Reynolds joined to replace Ward who then left that December, but Reynolds himself quit shortly afterwards and was replaced by Holly Johnson. In January 1978, Budgie (previously in The Spitfire Boys and later member of The Slits and Siouxsie and the Banshees) replaced Allen on drums, and in early June, Johnson was sacked and replaced with ex-Deaf School Steve Lindsey, who was replaced in July by Dave Balfe (previously in Dalek I Love You), the last member to join.Hatred of the band reached such a level that a petition calling on them to split up was launched by a jealous young Julian Cope. Displayed in local shop Probe Records the petition gathered numerous signatures, including those of the band themselves. According to Cope's autobiography, "Of course, Bill Drummond was into the whole thing and told us we needed 14,000 signatures, then they'd split up. We got about nine". In the 1980s, Drummond became manager of Cope's band, The Teardrop Explodes.

The band broke up after a last gig at Eric's on 26 August 1978. During their time, Big in Japan recorded four songs which were included in From Y to Z and Never Again EP, released afterwards to pay off debts. The unintentional consequence of the EP was the formation of the Zoo label, which went on to release early material by Echo & the Bunnymen and The Teardrop Explodes, amongst others. They also recorded a Peel Session on 12 February 1979, with a line-up of Casey, Broudie, Johnson and Budgie; the session was broadcast on 6 March 1979. Balfe and Drummond then formed the short-lived Lori and the Chameleons.

Big in Japan left a recorded legacy of seven songs: one on a single, four on their EP From Y to Z and Never Again, and two released on compilation albums. As of 2005, five out of these recorded songs are commercially available, on the compilation album, The Zoo: Uncaged 1978-1982.Ironically, the band never performed or released any disc in Japan.

According to the Liverpool Echo, Big in Japan were "a supergroup with a difference - its members only became super after they left"; former members of Big in Japan would later find fame in The KLF, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Lightning Seeds and Siouxsie & The Banshees.The German group Alphaville's first single was called "Big in Japan", named directly after the band. Coincidentally, Frankie Goes to Hollywood's single "Relax" displaced Alphaville's "Big in Japan" from the top of the German charts. Singer/songwriter Gold later said that "we never got to speak with him [Holly Johnson] but he must have wondered 'who is this German group with a song named after my band?'!"

Members' remembrances

Jayne Casey later states:"We were all a bit too eccentric at a time when punk was quite macho and clear cut...a bit too much for people to handle. We always wanted to be like The Monkees or something. We wanted to be a cartoon, and that's how we tried to sell ourselves to the record companies".

Ian Broudie said:"It was more performance art than rock and roll. But it gave me a healthy disregard for musicianship. It's ideas that are important, not proficiency".

Bill Drummond recalled:[The] group only lasted 12 months but that's about as long as any punk band should last. We never got anywhere, but all went on to success later on with bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Teardrop Explodes.

View full biography

Band Members :   Peter Clarke, Bill Drummond, David Balfe, Holly Johnson, Jayne Casey, Ian Broudie

- Biography -

3 albums

Big In Japan - From Y To Z And Never Again

From Y To Z And Never Again

1978 - United Kingdom
New Wave
Vinyl 7"4 Tracks
Zoo Records

Big In Japan - Brutality, Religion And A Dance Beat

Brutality, Religion And A Dance Beat

1977 - United Kingdom
Punk, Art Rock, Glam
Vinyl 7"2 Tracks

Big In Japan - 79-84


- United Kingdom
Avantgarde, Brit Pop, Indie Rock
CD Album Compilation17 Tracks

- Videos Big In Japan -

7 Videos

Big In Japan

Albums Downloads

  Big In Japan - Suicide Freak Show (England)

Last Update : 01 February 2023                   3,743 views