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999 In-depth Biography

One of the longest-lived groups of the punk} era, 999} formed in London in December 1976. Led by vocalist/guitarist Nick Cash}, a onetime student at the Canterbury College of Art under the tutelage of Ian Dury} and a former member of the pub rock} units Kilburn} and the High Roads}, the band also included guitarist Guy Days}, bassist Jon Watson}, and drummer Pablo LaBrittain}. After dispensing with a series of names -- including 48 Hours, the Fanatics, and the Dials -- 999} quickly established themselves as a popular fixture on the London punk} circuit, issuing their incendiary debut single, "I'm Alive,"} on their own LaBrittain Records} in late 1977.

The single won the quartet a deal with United Artists}, who issued both "Nasty Nasty"} and "Emergency"} in 1978; an eponymously titled LP debut, produced by Andy Arthurs}, followed later in the year. For their sophomore effort, 1978's Separates}, 999} enlisted producer Martin Rushent}, resulting in a more polished, mainstream veneer for material like the near-hit "Homicide"} and "High Energy Plan."} After LaBrittain} suffered injuries in a vehicular accident, drummer Ed Case} was brought in to pick up the slack for a major U.S. tour preceding the release of 1980's The Biggest Prize in Sport}; issued a short time later, The Biggest Tour in Sport} EP collected

material recorded live during the group's American dates.

A healthy LaBrittain} rejoined 999} full-time for 1981's Concrete}, an album buffered by covers of "Li'l Red Riding Hood"} and "Fortune Teller"} -- an indication that the group's wellspring of creativity was running dry.

1983's 13th Floor Madness} was universally panned for its disco-like} grooves, although 1985's self-released Face to Face} was acclaimed as a melodic return to form. At the end of the year, Watson} exited the group's ranks and was replaced by bassist Danny Palmer} in time to record 1987's Lust, Power, and Money}, a live set cut in London.

Palmer} left the band in 1991, replaced by former Lurkers} member Arturo Bassick} (aka Peter Arthur Billingsly}), who has remained with the band since. In 1993, 999} returned with their first studio album in eight years, You Us It!} Though the material didn't quite reach the heights of their

earlier releases, it certainly proved that the band was still vital and alive. Further live performances throughout the rest of the decade (at punk} festivals and mini-tours) cemented the fact that the band was here to stay. ~ Stephen "SPAZ" Schnee, All Music Guide

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