A WAVE of bands sprung up across south Essex in the 1980s inspired by the successes of Depeche Mode and Yazoo.

Many of those directly emulated the synth-pop sounds of Vince Clarke, Dave Gahan and company, as the area became a hotbed of ingenious new music, cooked up in the teenage bedrooms of young hopefuls.

Bands such as Madenna Green, Dreams of Theatre, City 19, Tea Party and Oriental Influence enjoyed local success, playing venues such Raquels, Crocs, which became the Pink Toothbrush, Chester’s in Southend – stages which had been graced by Depeche Mode just a few years prior.

Madenna Green band member Andrew Williams, now 56, recalls first hearing Depeche Mode’s music as a teenager.

“Me and my friends at Woodlands School loved their music,” he said.

“I was in a band, my brother was in a band, there were loads of people doing it. Saving up for synthesisers, hoping someone in the band had musical nous, and off you went.”

Mr Williams, now an allergy consultant, fondly remembers the 1980s in Basildon as a time when everyone was inspired to take up music.

He said: “There was this massive subculture in Basildon and Southend, with clubs embracing the music.

“It was new, it was exciting, and we had these massive local bands to take inspiration from.”

He added: “It was a moment in time, where something new was happening in a relatively small place.”

Michael Yeomans, now 57, formed his band Dreams of Theatre with Michael Potter and Graeme Walker in 1982.


Musical revolution - Dreams of Theatre 1985

Musical revolution - Dreams of Theatre 1985


The trio met at Basildon Youth Theatre, and used to do music for stage productions at the Towngate Theatre.

“Out of all the bands in the area, maybe we were the least influenced by Depeche Mode and Yazoo,” he said.

“We knew the guys, and liked their use of synthesisers, but we were more into Tangerine Dream and German rock.”

He added: “We all knew each other, and we were rivals, but friendly rivals, there wasn’t any animosity. Everyone was trying to outdo each other, write the best tune, get the best sound, it was neat.”