Cherry Faced Lurchers

The Cherry Faced Lurchers

After the break-up of Corporal Punishment James Phillips formed a new, short-lived band “Illegal Gathering” before embarking on studies towards a bachelor’s degree in music, initially at Rhodes and then at Wits University, before forming The Cherry Faced Lurchers. Starting initially as a novelty band, playing songs like “Do the Lurch” or “That’s my Shirt and I Want it Back”, things really started when the band got a residency at the then-unknown Jameson’s.

Jameson’s was a bar in Commissioner Street in Jo’burg’s central business district, it had a Kruger liquor license – one of a small handful issued by the onetime president of the Transvaal at the turn of the 20th century, a license that transcended the racially divided and time-restricted liquor laws of the day. Young (mostly white) South Africans mixed with their counterparts of colour; everyone got trashed together. It was like the bastard child of Sophiatown. It was the new South Africa in twisted embryo.

Jameson’s made The Cherry-Faced Lurchers, it was the moment at which a rather ramshackle band pulled itself together. By July 1985, when Lloyd Ross of Shifty Records put “Live at Jameson’s” down on tape, they were an extraordinarily tight three-piece with a repertoire of songs exceptional for their strength.

“I’m a white boy who looked at his life
Gathered in his hands and saw it was
All due to the sweat of some other man,
The one who got
Shot down in the streets.”
—Shot Down (1984)
Cherry-Faced Lurchers