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January 13, 2021 / rockroots

San Bernadino

In one of the more unlikely musical transformations, photographic evidence shows San Bernadino‘s evolution through the 1970s from dickie-bow-clad showband to country-and-western combo. Along the way they shed members until they were just a four-piece; singer Barry Donovan, guitarist Don Murphy, bassist Richard Lucy and drummer George Drummond. After two late ’70s singles on the Ruby label the group moved to the Release label and signaled another change in direction: new wave pub rockers.

Here’s two of their singles from this period (both from 1981, in fact), although I’m missing at least two more. ‘Caught in a Trap’ is new wavey rock and ‘B’ side ‘Court Room Justice’ is bluesy AOR. Follow-up single ‘I’m a Headbanger’ is probably the band’s best remembered song, a frantic-riffing paean to a heavy metal fan who is ‘into Motörhead and Rainbow’. It’s backed with an uncomplicated rip through the Chuck Berry standard ‘Route 66’, aside from which the other tracks here were written by Don Murphy. The distinctive picture sleeve looks like it could have been lifted from a Marvel comic, but surely not? So were they a heavy metal band? No – no more than The Freshmen were a punk band based on their punk pastiche single, and funnily enough The Freshmen’s Billy Brown produced these singles. But it seems they were a decent rock group with a finger somewhat on the pulse and the initiative to write their own material. They dropped off the radar after 1982.

San Bernadino (192kbps):

  • Caught in a Trap
  • Court Room Justice
  • I’m a Headbanger
  • Route 66

See Also:

Irish Rock Discography: San Bernadino

Irish Showband & Beat Group Archive: San Bernadino

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