The Break-up

In which the two David's sack Bill
Bill takes all the money
And the band folds

Whether Random Hold would have survived if they had continued to tour the States immediately after the Gabriel tour is debatable. Whether the time after the return gave the two Davids the chance to consider the future of the band or whether they had already considered it and had returned home purely to find a new bass player this writer cannot say.

What he can say is that after a short break, Bill MacCormick was invited to a meeting at David Ferguson's flat in West Dulwich. The atmosphere was bleak and the message uncompromising. They had decided that Bill was no longer suitable for the band. Was it 'musical differences' or a 'personality clash'? Afterwards Bill was not entirely clear. What he did know was that he was bloody angry and bitter. Having risked a lot of money and spent a lot of time getting the band into a position where they were wanted back in the USA by a record company that wanted to invest in them was the ultimate in frustration.

Returning home to his house in Penge, he spent the rest of the day ranting and raving and generally giving his wife and the cats a seriously hard time. The next morning he phoned Gail Colson and was rather surprised to discover that neither she nor Tony Smith knew anything about the events of the previous day. She suggested they meet and Bill headed off to Shaftesbury Avenue to talk matters over. With him went the band's books.

Both Tony and Gail seemed genuinely perplexed at the turn of events. Bill then dropped a bombshell of his own. The band still owed him several thousand pounds from the pre-Polydor period that he had not yet recovered. The figures were checked and agreed and, without quibble, Gail signed a cheque for the balance owed. The payment effectively emptied the Random Hold bank account.

The two Davids now had a band without a bass player (a problem that could be rectified) and also without any cash (a problem not so easily rectified). Faced with this predicament, and with the only recourse being a long dragged out poorly financed tour of tiny US clubs, the two Davids chucked it in. Rhodes, of course, had an outlet as it was clear that Peter Gabriel would like him to play live as well as on record in the future. Ferguson decided on forming a Random Hold Mk 2 and set to recruiting new musicians for the project.

Given the abruptness and acrimony of the break-up it was inevitable that Bill and the two Davids would not speak for some long time. Well, you'd think so wouldn't you. But these guys are/were pretty weird. Within a few weeks of breaking up the band that was to make and sell millions, Bill was managing (albeit briefly) the re-incarnated Random Hold and helping to produce some demo tapes for David Rhodes.

Random Hold, however, was dead, the briefest of footnotes in the history of rock 'n' roll. The band's break-up was, perhaps fittingly, reported in the Melody Maker the one music paper that had consistantly reported their actions and who, by printing the Allan Jones article in its entirety, had allowed at last some of their music to see the light of day:
Random Hold: picture flickers
Melody Maker, 16th August 1980
In last weeks' issue, Random Hold were looking for a new bass player. This week, they're also looking for a new keyboardist, drummer and guitarist. In other words, Random Hold have split up.
The band began with guitarist David Rhodes and keyboardist David Ferguson's disillusionment with the state of rock 'n' roll in September 1976 which led to their forming the experimental duo Manscheinen who went under the curious statement that "All art is halitosis; Manscheinen are toothpaste"!
The Random Hold that split featured the two Davids, bass player Bill MacCormick, formerly of Quiet Sun and Robert Wyatt's Matching Mole, and drummer Pete Phipps, who'd previously spent five years smashing the skins for the Glitter Band (no comment). In between the band incorporated drummer David Leach and guitarist/vocalist Simon Ainley (ex-Eric Smith Explosion and 801).
Random Hold signed to Polydor under the aegis of Hit and Run Management (who also handle Genesis, Peter Hammill and Peter Gabriel) and released one album, two singles and an EP, all produced by Hammill before knocking it on the head. They toured with XTC and supported Peter Gabriel on his recent English and American tours. Gabriel introduced them as "one of the most exciting young bands I've heard".
The split came about on the band's return from the States (their last gig being at the Tower Theatre, Philadelphia) when Bill MacCormick was sacked. Surprised, Bill?
"You could say that". MacCormick was initially stunned, as the reaction to the band in the States was excellent. He cites the reason for the eventual split as the incompatability between the two Davids. Also, having dumped both Ainley and himself, Random Hold ran out of scapegoats. Five days after MacCormick was sacked, Random Hold split up. "It lasted about five weeks less than I thought".
Founder member Ferguson didn't believe MacCormick was "right for the sort of music Random Hold should be doing. It was a question of not having the faith to carry on, David and I knew there was something missing".
It was Rhodes, the band's focal point on stage and writer of 90% of their material, who axed MacCormick, and it was between he and Ferguson that the decision to break up was made. To have carried on would have meant renegotiating a new record deal and touring round the small clubs and colleges which neither Rhodes nor Ferguson felt like attempting again.
Bill soon decided that he'd had enough of the music business and by early 1981 he had severed most of his links with the industry turning, instead, to politics. Within a few months, David Rhodes joined up with Peter Gabriel to form a partnership that endures to this day. David Ferguson signed a deal with RCA and recorded another Random Hold album, 'Burn the Buildings', and then did a deal with Atlantic with a band called 'Nine Ways to Win' (both soon to be re-released and made available through this web site) before turning to a lucrative and artistically successful career in soundtrack music.

For a couple of years, Bill was intermittently amused by the Polydor royalty statements which showed an oustanding balance of something like £69,000 on their advance. Then, in spite of this singular lack of commercial success, David Ferguson somehow persuaded a small, independent company to press up a few hundred of the original concept Polydor double album.

The rest is silence.

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