Part time rock star – full time legend. Pete is a singer/musician/composer best known for his work in Wah! and its off shoots. His string of massive hits include The Story Of The Blues, Come Back, Sinful, 7 Minutes to Midnight and the LFC anthem Heart As Big As Liverpool, He has also written scores for Hurricane Films, Alex Cox and Radio 4. Staggeringly articulate, funny and wise, his TV and radio appearances include The Culture Show, BBC 4’s Pop On Trial and any number of BBC Radio documentaries.
Pete Wylie began his career in 1977, with lead vocalist Ian McCulloch & bassist Julian Cope, with whom he formed the band the Crucial Three, who lasted from May-June the same yearhe & Cope formed a short-lived band alongside Pete Burns, The Mystery Girls. In December 1977, he joined The Spitfire Boys, who dissolved the same month.
Wylie and two of the band, Pete Griffiths & Peter Clarke, formed the same month, the Nova Mob, alongside Julian Cope. The band lasted until May 1978, and Wylie waited until September to form another band The Opium Eaters, along with Peter Clarke named as Budgie, Paul Rutherford and Ian Broudie.
In December, he formed another band Crash Course, which dissolved in January 1979. Wylie & company garnered critical acclaim throughout 1980 for the singles “Better Scream” & “Seven Minutes to Midnight” (both as Wah! Heat), the latter being single of the week in the NME, Sounds & Melody Maker during spring 1980, & the 1981 Warner Bros album Nah = Poo! – The Art of Bluff (as Wah!). Their biggest hit single was “The Story of the Blues”, which was released in late 1982, and reached Number 3 in the UK Singles Chart.
A follow-up single, “Hope (I Wish You’d Believe me)” was released in 1983, but the single found limited success. Next, Wylie released an officially sanctioned “official bootleg” of new and old songs entitled The Maverick Years 1980-81 on his own label. Clad in a cover that alluded to the early ’70s’ ‘Hallmark of Quality’ bootlegs, the record appeared as a white label with a blank outer cover and a sheet attached with sleeve notes by music journalist Adam Sweeting. This release did not shore up Wylie’s dwindling fortunes and Wah! were subsequently dropped by WEA.
In 1984 The Mighty Wah! had a Top 20 hit with the song “Come Back” ( as with “The Story of the Blues,” the song was chosen by the late BBC Radio 1 Radio DJ John Peel, as his ‘single of the year ‘). The accompanying album, recorded for Beggar’s Banquet, was entitled A Word to the Wise Guy. It was critically acclaimed, but sold poorly and the band were again dropped.
By 1986, having ditched his backing ensemble, Pete Wylie had a solo hit with “Sinful!”, which peaked at number 13 in the UK, ostensibly produced by Ian Ritchie, but with major input from Zeus B. Held.
“Sinful!” became the title track of his 1987 solo album, which included the enigmatically titled “FourElevenFortyFour”.
In 1990 a single called “Imperfect List” was released under the project name of Big Hard Excellent Fish. The spoken-word track is a list of 64 least favourite people and things read by Wylie’s then girlfriend and collaborator Josie Jones. The list was written by Wylie and the track was recorded by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, although Wylie is not credited on the record. The list ranges from ‘Adolf Hitler’ to ‘lost keys’.
In 2004, “Imperfect List” was used by Morrissey at shows prior to his appearance on stage. The track appears on Morrissey’s video of live performance “Who put the M in Manchester?”. Also in 1990, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu released a limited edition (either 500 or 350 copies) white label version of “It’s Grim Up North” featuring Wylie on vocals. This version was a club-only release. The main version was released in October 1991 with Bill Drummond on vocals, making the charts.
Creative cracks had begun to appear by 1991, when the collaboration with The Farm on “Sinful! (Scary Jiggin’ With Dr Love)” did little for either of the rival camps.
On 11 November 1991, Wylie suffered a near fatal fall when a railing gave way in Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool. He fractured both his spine and his sternum. A long period of rehabilitation ensued.
Wylie began to write songs again and sent demos to David Balfe, formerly of The Teardrop Explodes, founder of Food Records & by that time General Manager & head of A&R of the Sony’s Columbia label. Legend has it that Balfe was so impressed he immediately gave Wylie £750,000 to record the songs which Wylie duly did (in London and Memphis), delivering Songs of Strength and Heartbreak to a delighted Balfe in 1998. The truth appears somewhat more sober, however, as the album — despite being finished up to the point where artwork was finalised and discs even sent out for review — was rejected by Sony, who chose not to release it. Subsequently, Wylie found himself in artistic limbo as Sony owned the rights to the music he had recorded as Songs of Strength and Heartbreak. The artist found himself unable to acquire the master tapes and without a recording contract. Eventually, however, he was handed the master tapes and Castle Records released the album.
Wylie’s “Heart As Big As Liverpool” (1998) is popular within the city and especially with Liverpool Football Club supporters. It is used in the official Hillsborough tribute video, on a 2001 CD of Merseyside artists (compiled in collaboration with Liverpool Football Club) “Mersey Boys and Liverpool Girls” and features on Songs of Strength & Heartbreak, a 2000 album credited to The Mighty Wah! The song is also regularly played at Anfield — a source of great pride to Wylie
The year 2000 also heralded a compilation album entitled The Handy Wah! Whole. Wylie then joined Dead Men Walking, featuring Mike Peters of The Alarm, Kirk Brandon of Spear of Destiny and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols. They toured extensively, performing old songs as well as new, including Wylie’s “Your Mother Must Be Very Proud”. Following an invitation from Alejandro Escovedo, Wylie performed at the 2006 South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
Wylie’s latest project is a twin album release with the working titles Pete Sounds & SLiME, both puns on mid-60s Beach Boys projects.
Although he sold demos of some of the new songs at gigs in 2004, he remains without a recording contract.
In 2007, he announced a series of gigs at the Zanzibar club, Seel Street, Liverpool, each of which took place on the last Saturday of each month and featured guest musicians such as Ian Prowse (of the legendary Scouse band Pele), Ian McNabb and Brian ‘Nasher’ Nash (of Frankie Goes to Hollywood) playing Wylie songs as well as many covers of classic songs by other artists.
In January 2008 Wylie performed at the opening ceremony of Liverpool’s European City of Culture tenure, performs at the BELLADRUM FESTIVAL, Scotland &, in the September via his MYSPACE Music page delievers the awesome The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies. Over the last couple of years Wylie has written the soundtracks for two films; Alex Cox’s I’m A Juvenile Delinquent – Jail Me! (made by Hurricane Films for the BBC’s Learning Zone) & Under the Mud (also produced by Hurricane Films). In 2010. Pete lends lead vocals on The Milky Way Is Our Playground the debut FREEBASS ep.
Fast forward to 2019 and Pete has just embarked on his tour ‘The Pete Wylie Show’ where he shares tales of WAH & Liverpool whilst sharing the beloved tunes surrounded by the Disgraceland Wasteland