Stripey Zebras were much
more influenced by the Punk 'get up on stage and just do it' ethos rather
than any actual affiliation to the Southend Punk Scene. However, as they
played at the same venues as their punk contemporaries they were part
of the Southend Music Scene of the early '80's.
Stripey Zebras were loosely formed around March/April of 1980. The original
line up consisted of Martin Fulton on Vocals, Paul Brown on Guitar and
Steve Dobson who had just purchased a bass guitar. The trio was to have
been augmented on drums by 'Trog'.
The debut concert was booked for July 1980 and Graham Burnett, who had
never sat at a drum kit, was hastily bought into service, as was Martin
Hardy who was drafted in owing to Paul Brown nearly cancelling at the
are mighty, we are stripey, we are ….Zebras”
Their debut performance
at Zero Six was truly memorable and they played many of their songs twice,
as encore followed encore. Audience members described them as 'the weirdest
band ever seen or heard.' Encouraged by this positive comment Stripeys
decided to continue.
The songs played at that
time were 'Monsters on TV' (Godzilla). 'Donny and Marie' (Osmond's), 'Wild
Thing' (Troggs), 'Disco, disco' (They loved it). As the song titles may
convey, they did not cover serious subject matter but were more of a laugh,
more of a counter point to the strong political songs done by many of
their Punk contemporaries
stronger songs were developed as the band became more musically proficient
(ironically this was to be their downfall). 'Skellington Flat' (where
most of the band lived at some time or rather), 'Sore eyes party' (one
of the true songs about a real party),'Greta Garbo goes shopping (Totally
untrue and Steve sang this one live).
The band was augmented at various stages by Wayne Kermode (Guitar and
backing vocals), Colin Dobson (Steve's brother on guitar who was chucked
out for being too good looking), Sheena Fulton (occasional vocals), and
Julian Ware-Lane (played guitar at one gig).
Musically the band members were most collectively influenced by 'The Fall'
and this sound would be the closest form of reference as Martins lyrics
denoted a development away from the earlier, 'wackier' aspects. Other
influences were 'The Residents',' The Prats', 'The Slits', and 'Sparks'.
Most of the above song titles are featured on 'Live in Burnett's Bedroom'
which was a tape cassette, recorded later on that year.
The Stripey Zebras were name checked in Smash Hits (Top Ten Bands named
after animals, beating 'Adam and the Ants') and in NME (Garage Band Section).
Some of their song titles made it into the Obscurist Charts in 'Sounds
Zebra's musical ability increased and some strong songs such as 'Why are
Piano's rude?' (because they go plink plonk), 'Sergeant Bilko Plays Pop'
(Iwojima) illustrated the growing development. However this lead to musical
differences in the band as Martin wanted the band to move away from the
wacky lyrics of old and become more of a true band. However, it was generally
felt that the group had developed musically as far as they could go and
it was decided to call it a day.
Graham formed Autumn Poison (with many members of the Stripey Zebras helping
out in rehearsal stages). Steve joined another Southend group - The Get.
Stripey Zebras reformed for one last gig in late 1981 and never played
again. Although there have been musical collaborations since such as 'Dr
Pretorious and the Lazy Sluts' (Steve, Graham and Julian Ware-Lane of
86 Mix) 'The Beer Poofs' (Steve and Graham) which were cassette based
Sadly Martin Fulton died in 1999 and his funeral was attended by Graham,
Martin and Steve. In 2013, Colin Dobson died on May 24th, in Harlem, Holland.
Occasionally, cassettes come up for sale over the internet and Graham
still hears that Stripey Zebras generate interest. A very limited edition
CD collecting all of the material from 'Live in Burnett's Bedroom' plus
a selection of other live tracks was compiled a few years ago by Graham
and Paul Brown, we will consider making this more widely available if
there is enough interest.