(c’77-08) – Jim “Patty Pilf” Smith (bass/backing vocals), Peter “Richard Targett” Tagg (drums), Tim “Philip Pilf” Smith (guitar / backing vocals), Ralph Cade (saxophone / triangle), Colvin “Duncan Doilet” Mayers (synth) and Michael “Peter Boker” Pugh (vocals).

Cardiacs at The Old Schoolhouse, Woking – purportedly.

Formed in Kingston-Upon-Thames in ’77, Phil Gibby claimed the Cardiacs for Soundscene in the mid to late 80’s. They played Woking’s Old Schoolhouse at least six times, most notably the venues last gig with Five O’Clock High in support.

Their first gig was at The Kaleidoscope in Kingston upon Thames in ’78 as The Filth. By their second concert the band had changed their name to Cardiac Arrest, a name they kept until ’81 when they took the monica Cardiacs, with no “the”. Shortly before the release of the single “A Cake for Bertie’s Party”, Cardiacs Arrest played the Wooden Bridge, Guildford on 27 September ’78.

27 September 1978: Cardiac Arrest played the Wooden Bridge, Guildford. Source: Suey Sue via Cardiacs

On 1 March ’79 they appeared at Raynes Park High School. That same year they released the “A Bus For A Bus On The Bus” 7″ single on the Tortch Records label [TOR 002] after recording the three tracks on 22 July that year at Elephant Recording Studios, London. This was after the trio of Tim Smith, Tagg and Mayers appeared as Cardiac Arrest at the Stonehenge Festival.

In fact the early Cardiacs line-up was a veritable moving feast of musicians that included the bassist from The Trudy, Jon Bastable; Dominic Luckman, Derek Tagg and Tim Quy. ’79 saw Tagg, Pugh and Cade leave the band; with Mark Cawthra joining on drums and Tim Smith taking over as lead singer with guitar duties. Then in early ’80 Sarah Cutts (sax) joined. In 1980 they self-released the cassette LP “The Obvious Identity”, named after the first track, which was only available at concerts and via mail order. They played their first gig as Cardiacs in April ’81. Later that year they self-released the “Toy World” casette LP; a year when Mayers left, Cutts covered keyboards in addition to sax, then Cawthra swapped drums for keyboards and Luckman became the new drummer, finally percussionist Tim became a full-time member. The line-up settled for a while.

Then in July ’83, Tim Smith married Sarah Cutts and around the same time Cawthra left; being replaced by William D. Drake on keyboards. Later in ’83 Marguerite Johnson (alto saxophone) and Graham Simmonds (guitar) joined bringing membership to eight. The new line-up played The Royal, Guildford on 11 May ’84, a line-up that lasted until July ’84 when Johnson left, followed the month after by Simmonds (who stayed on as Cardiacs’ sound engineer).

’85 saw the release of “All Shapes And Sizes”, a 7″ vinyl compilation released in France by Primitive Records that featured “It’s A Lovely Day” as the opening track on the A-side. Cardiac also appeared on “The Riverside Compilation L.P. – Laughing All The Way To The Banks” with “Wooden Fish on Wheels”. This compilation of artists, including The Body Politic and The Housemartins, who performed at The Riverside Club, Fetcham saw a limited release of only 1,500 (Ian Watson didn’t think it would sell any more) and all the bands gave their tracks free on the basis that he would only do a small run. The label was to be Z T HEE, a play on the name ZTT, a label which was huge at the time of this release. On 23 August ’85, Cardiacs were back at The Rivereside Club; headlining, with Leitmotiv in support. In December ’85 they headline the “Gig for Africa” at The Dorking Halls, with a plethora of other local bands, including Great Garden and Shoot! Dispute.

he official poster has Cardiacs headlining “Gig For Africa” at Dorking Halls – Dec 21st 1985

In March ’86 the Cardiacs are listed as coming to the Riverside Club, Fetcham. 16 months later they played two nights in a row up at the Marquee (24 / 25 July ’87) and on 15 October they were playing Timebox at The Bull & Gate, Kentish Town, which had them bill as Mr. Smith and the Big Ship – only a true Pondie would know. On 29 November the band recorded a session for Janice Long’s Radio One Night Tracks show, which was broadcast on 30th December. By ’88 the band were playing nationally, including a memorable appearance, on 25 March ’88, supported by Blue Aeroplanes and Dubious Brothers, at the Town & Country Club. In August the session recorded for Janice Long released as a 12″ vinyl EP, on the Strange Fruit label [SFNT 013], as one of the Radio One Evening Show Sessions, carrying “R.E.S.”, “Buds and Spawn”, “In A City Lining”, and “Cameras/Is This The Life”. This was also the year the band released their first “official” vinyl LP: “A Little Man And A House And The Whole World Window”. In an interview with Soundscene reporter Phil Gibby, Cardiac saxophonist Sarah Smith, when asked why it had taken 11 years to released an LP stated “It took Jim 11 years to learn the bass lines”. Windsor’s Old Trout hosted on 6 December 1990. The 20th Reading Festival saw Cardiacs in the Radio One Session Tent on Friday, 28 August ’92.

In 2008, Tim Smith suffered brain damage after a heart attack and two strokes; going on to develop dystonia in 2008 and passing suddenly in the night on 21 July 2020.