Croydon Council Labour opposition leader Tony Newman revealed to be star of Shark Taboo who supported the Smiths

Croydon Guardian: Shark Taboo in their heyday, with Coun Newman second from right Shark Taboo in their heyday, with Coun Newman second from right

The leader of the council opposition in once starred in a successful rock band that toured the world, the Croydon Guardian can reveal.

Sit in on a town hall meeting and you can count on hearing Coun Tony Newman's booming voice bouncing around the council chamber.

Lesser known among the borough's electorate, however, is that the Labour leader once made a very different type of noise on a rather more stylish stage.

The Woodside councillor flirted with rock 'n roll fame as a founding member of a new wave band that played shows across the world and once supported the Smiths.

Goth-influenced five-piece Shark Taboo released four albums between 1984 and 1994, winning fans including John Peel and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Bjork.

Coun Newman, who played keyboards in the band, said: "We played many colleges and clubs, got to play in America and Germany. We headlined a lot of smaller places and played with all sorts of people.

"Some of the bands we played with went on to become big. We played in Iceland with a band called the Sugarcubes, and of course out of that came somebody called Bjork.

"There were interesting people all over the place. It was a great experience."

The 55-year-old launched Shark Taboo in the early 1980s with close friends Gill Dye and John Triteos, having to moved to London from Surrey to follow his dream of musical success.

He said: "You had to move to London if you were going to meet other musicians and in terms of recording, rehearsals and that sort of thing. There were a lot more labels around in those days.

"People I know who still do music, their bands can punt stuff on YouTube, so it has changed a lot."

While they never hit the heady heights of Morrisey and co., Shark Taboo did assemble a cult following and played at an early version of the now-esteemed South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

Coun Newman said: "We supported the Smiths, I think at  Kingston polytechnic, just before they massive.

"It was early days for us and for them, but the difference is they went on to sell about a million more records than we did.

Croydon Guardian:

He's still got it: Coun Newman with his trusty keyboard

"We did four albums, a few singles off them, got loads of radio plays, but I think we only troubled what was known in the day as the indie top 30."

Shark Taboo's fourth album Rock, Sex, God, released in 1993, proved to be their last after guitarist John died of lieukemia.

Three months later Coun Newman swapped big hair and club nights for suits and ties and planning committees.

He said: "There is a sad story to end what was a very good time. Our guitarist became very ill and passed away in 1994 from leukemia.

"As twists of life would have it, three months later I was elected to Croydon Council and seamlessly seemed to move from music to politics.

Croydon Guardian:

Croydon Guardian:

Coun Newman, right, with bandmates

 "We played benefit concerts for miners when all that was an issue and the band had a political edge to it, so it wasn't a complete leap. It was very political time.

"There was a lot of activism. We did a lot of college concerts for students and things like that.

"I have joked about it and it was change of scene, although they both involve a lot of late nights."

Coun Newman has no plans to return to the music industry and ruled out an election single to promote Labour's cause in the upcoming council election because "we need the votes".

But he could be tempted back on stage to celebrate if his party triumphs. He said: "I still do a little bit of guitar-playing or keyboard-playing at home, but politics kind of takes over."

"People like Billy Bragg have played at the Labour Party conference, so if it all goes well in May maybe we'll do something in the party conference this year. I wouldn't rule it out."


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Comments (2)

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2:34pm Wed 26 Feb 14

ANNE GILES says...

Horrible noise!
Horrible noise! ANNE GILES
  • Score: -2

3:44pm Wed 26 Feb 14

ummagumma says...

You certainly are Anne Giles, you most certainly are..........
You certainly are Anne Giles, you most certainly are.......... ummagumma
  • Score: 3

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