Smart Alec was formed by the brothers Tez (Terry) and Chris Locke in or around 1978/9. Tez and Chris had been the writing team for their previous band, Springheel Jack and when Smart Alec was formed the drummer from that band, Grant Ford, came on board. Tez was the rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist and wrote the music while Chris was the power house of a lead singer who played mouth harp and wrote the lyrics. There were exceptions to this, but this was the general template of their collaboration both in Springheel Jack and Smart Alec. Their voices worked well together, being brothers, and both shared a love of harmonies which is evident in the songs they wrote together.
Auditioning took place and a young enthusiastic lead guitarist by the name of Geoff Briggs signed up for the ride. His raw energy fitted well with the zeitgeist of the time and his contribution to writing the music proved innovative and valuable. For some reason finding a bass player who would fit right in with the band and remain loyal proved elusive!
Smart Alec were based in Plymouth. At that time, probably like any other city, Plymouth enjoyed a thriving vibrant and exciting music scene with busy venues, both small and large, all over the city. The music of the time was energetic and carried the raw edges of punk still. The Mod revival was happening with music by bands like The Clash, The Jam, Sham 69, The Ramones and others and musically it was a very exciting time to be in a band on a busy gigging circuit.
Along the way Smart Alec entered a competition to win a record deal put on in a venue on Plymouth Hoe. Several bands entered and the competition was fierce, with the prize of a record deal at the end of it. Smart Alec hit that stage with one goal in mind – winning! And that is exactly what they did.
A deal was signed to release a single featuring two songs – “Scooter Boys” on the A side and “Soho” on the B side. This was in 1980.
A second single was released in 1981 with a quirky ‘horror rock’ song called “My Mummy” on the A side and “Pretty Girls” on the B side.
At a recording studio in Bristol tracks were laid down for an album. This was never released at the time and 42 years later it is now available on vinyl from Heavy Soul Records! Available on all digital platforms too.
After performing countless gigs and doing the circuit countless times tensions began to appear and differences of opinions as to the direction of the band started to become an issue. Finally, the band as appeared on the singles and album broke up with Geoff Briggs and Grant Ford leaving. Tez and Chris Locke knew they had more to give and auditioned for a new drummer, guitarist and bass player. Smart Alec went on to enjoy another lease of life with a different line up and feel to the original band, but retaining the inimitable and distinctive style of the Locke brothers writing. They went on to write and record many more great songs.
The Smart Alec we are concerned with here went the way most bands eventually go and simply broke up after releasing two singles and recording an album. Their story could have been so very different had “Scooter Boys” caught the ears of the nation and propelled them into the national spotlight, but as it turned out that was not to be and so they ended up being just another young band who loved making music and having a blast doing it.