(c’77-79) Rob Jacob (vocals / guitar), Kevin Smith (guitar), Pat Martin (bass / vocals), Ken Baker (guitar / keyboards/ vocals) and Pete Perryer (vocals / drums).

The Volunteers’ Rob Jacobs, with Justin Hildreth (who was moonlighting from Roogalator) on drums behind, at The Woodenbridge, Guildford c’78. Picture courtesy of Fred Pipes

The Volunteers were formed by guitarist Jacob with ex-Unicorn members Smith, Martin, Baker, and Perryer when Unicorn split in ’77. Baker, who went solo, and Perryer left about a year into the band’s lifespan, with Justin “Illdressed” Hildreth joining on drums. Hildreth lasted a while – he was certainly on drums in late ’78 at The Wooden Bridge, Guildford – but ultimately it didn’t work out with his other drumming commitment with Roogalator. On 24 March ’79 the band appeared at The Superstar Club, held at The Star, Guildford.

Bonaparte Records advert for The Volunteers single from Barbed Wire Vol2 No2, May 1979. Picture courtesy of Fred Pipes

An ad was placed in Melody Maker and their manger David Fagence, who ran Bonaparte’s, Guildford and later became an EMI Records A&R man; asked around. This resulted in two suggestions: Rod Johnson of Straight Eight and Michael “Nicko” McBrain who’d been in the Pat Travers Band and the Chapman Witney Streetwalkers, from the rep at A&M. They were both auditioned at Merrow Village Hall in early ’79. Nicko joined and played his first gig with the band on 31 May ’79 at The Three Lions, “Scratchers”, Farncombe having just 3 hours of rehearsals in Mick Bryant of the Mick Bryant Band’s cellar that afternoon.

After some more rehearsal the gig at the Nashville, Kensington on 2 June ’79, supporting The Soft Boys, was much improved. In amongst all this, on what is believed to be 28 April ’79 – although that date doesn’t work based on Nicko’s joining date – the band recorded a number of live tracks while supporting The Tourists at The Music Machine, Camden. Martin recalls sitting watching The Tourists sound check and cutting his finger on a coke can ring pull. Annie Lennox saw this and shouted over the mike “Hang on I have some plasters in my bag”; came over to him, cleaned the cut with a hanky and put a plaster on and gave him a wonderful smile. After which Nicko teased him “She wants your body man”. Both bands were on the Logo label at the time.

The Guildford based Volunteers released a single [GO 351] on the Logo label in May ’79 titled “If You Ain’t Scared” with “Little Pictures” on the b-side. The band then wrapped things up. Jacob pulled together Noit Otni & The Pits and later joined Martin and Smith to form Square One. Nicko went on to play with McKitty, then the French band Trust, before joining Iron Maiden just before their 4th album, in ’82.