(c’84-’87) Dave Hitchens (bass & lead vocal), Gavin Hetherington (lead guitar & vocal), Pete Barringer (keyboards & vocal), Mark Stanborough (drums), Nigel Thompson (sax) and Graham Wright (trumpet).

Backstage Pass performing at the final of the National Battle of the Bands ’87 at the Hippodrome, Leicester Square. Picture courtesy of Dave Hitchins

We first encountered Backstage Pass at The Royal, Guildford, supporting ZZ Toppers on 3 February ’84; the following month they headlined at Community Centre, Knaphill with Glib Thicket in support on 23 March. They were back at The Royal, with Southbound, on 3 October ’84. The next year, on 21 February they were at The Royal, again. In ’86 Backstage Pass performed a number of gigs; having filled The Lion Brewery, Ash the landlord said he wouldn’t be paying and that they should come back Sunday lunch to see “some proper jazzers” and that they “might learn something” (well, they did cover REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Lovin’ You”) – after some ‘encouragement’ he paid.

In Jan ’87, Soundscene got hold of a recording of the band’s track “Samantha”. Written by Hitchins, it was about Samantha Fox and included the memorable line “Surrender Samantha, give me all the love I need…’. Soundscene got it to Fox who reportedly was “over the moon” – maybe her track “I Surrender” was her response… Her father, Patrick, started promoting / managing the band shortly after.

In Sept ’87, Backstage Pass were one of five bands competing in the national Battle of the Bands talent contest held at the Hippodrome, London; but they lost to Liverpool’s Inside Out. They also met up with songwriter / producer Maurice Ruiz and recording time in STrax Studio, Mitcham was to follow.

Stanborough, Barringer, and Hitchens of Backstage Pass at STrax Studio, Mitcham with producer Maurice Ruiz in ’87. Picture courtesy of Dave Hitchins.

Later that year, on 3 November, the band were on at Zeta’s Nightclub, Putney when a group of ‘skinheads’ attacked a group from Singapore – It’s unclear if the band played on… In Dec ’87 Heatherington returned to Scotland leaving the band looking for a new guitarist, but that proved to be the nail in the coffin for Backstage Pass and they disbanded before Christmas ’87.

Hitchins recently played in The New Forbidden, with Lloyd Grossman, and played at Glastonbury and Cornbury in 2017.