The Tulips Story - Part 1: The Beginning
Fat Tulips were formed originally, in the exciting miasma that was the late 1980s in Peterboro', England, where founder member and sinful breaker of young girls' hearts, Mark D. ("D" for "degenerate"!) was entertaining dreams of becoming a big, famous pop-star. Mark managed to coerce an acquaintance of his, young Sarah C., into becoming his wide eyed, spread-legged sex slave or else singing some songs he'd written.
She chose to sing the songs. It was a large relief for Sarah and a huge disappointment for Mark D. ("D" for drat!).
However, a demo was produced and from it a sweet little ditty entitled "You Opened Up My Eyes" was pressed onto a flimsy flexi piece of vinyl and sold to an unsuspecting public who thought it was an ashtray. But from small acorns Oak trees grow.
Or at least bigger acorns...
Sarah, having fulfilled her obligations and tiring of Mark's preoccupation with sheep and Clare Grogan, left the newly founded duo to pursue a career, designing crop circles in Peru. Down but certainly not out, Mark took his trusty guitar, his prized inflatable sheep and his Altered Images collection and moved his life to the lovely seaside paradise town of Nottingham - a place where
'Baywatch' beauties roamed the streets and dreams come true. He looked up at the ever blue sky and knew it wouldn't be long. Mark D. ("D" for delirious) decided this was the time to found the new Fat Tulips super-group. He knew if they were anywhere - they were here.
That same year, the young and ripe Mr. D. wrote and produced his own indie music fanzine, titled "Two Pint Takehome" - a reference to his slightly alcoholic tendencies and also because "Two Pint" was the nickname of his inflatable sheep. He sold the fanzine at indie shows along with the flimsy flexi he'd made with Sarah.
Around this time he met the basic line up of the new, nubile Fat Tulips. First came Matt Johnson, a lanky floppy haired goth type, with a pig van, a Shop Assistants fetish and an attitude. Johno had just finished serious rehab for a monumental football habit (he was up to 50 matches a year!) and in order to keep him on the straight and narrow, he agreed to join Mark D.'s ("D" for diabolical) new venture to conquer the Universe of Pop!
Also at that time Mark encountered a hugely talented, Scottish, pop diva with big honkers and an IQ of 545. Her name was ‘Sheggi’ and she was renowned for making young boys cry. At least in her own mind.
"Now all we need to make our music" Mark said delightedly, "Is someone with no memory who wants to play bass". That was easy. Matt and Sheggi knew of a local Nottingham boy named Paulie who had a memory deficiency and eleven cats. They knew instantly he was the one.
The line up was completed when they asked an innocent catholic school girl named Katie Keen, who'd been raised by wolves, to sing their songs, but she was so freaked out by the debauchery of the other band members, she left soon after recording the now splendiferously famous, "Where's Clare Grogan Now?" single. Legend has it the real reason Katie left the group was her inability to accept Mark's relationship with 'Two Pint' the sheep. The band told everyone she'd met an untimely end in a 'plane crash and blonde, uprightly challenged Sheggi dragged her guitar to the front of the stage to take over the singing. Thus the Fat Tulips we all know and love to blisters was born.....
The Tulips Story - Part 2: Stardom Becons?
The newly formed nucleus of the Fat Tulips, established itself, by recording a new set of three songs for a brand new seven inch vinyl release. They recorded long days and nights and of course had many pop star tantrums over such trivialities as pizza toppings and who got to help twiddle the knobs. Nevertheless, the results were satisfactory, until a friend of theirs, Simon Marshall, a man known for his indie pop sweet boy looks and his devotion to the lost cause that is Rotherham football club, told them in disgust, that the EP was, and would remain, substandard unless they added a fourth track in the name of Indie pop. Thus Mark and Sheggi whipped up a quickie to make the EP, now cunningly titled “4 Songs for Simon”, the pop masterpiece it is today.
With the success of “4 Songs...” under their belts, the Tulips, now playing live gigs around the UK, were blossoming into fully fledged rock legends. All was looking good! They followed up their “Simon” single with many other recordings on compilation albums and flexi discs and released another splendiferous single on the groovy Heaven Records, a happening young label, known for its speed releasing and large budgets. The song "Ferensway”, was named after a street in Hull, the band had noticed during their sellout tour the previous month. They stole the name, but paid all royalties due when the street threatened them with a lawsuit. They also fulfilled the 4 songs rule and kept young Simon happy as a pig in shit. The world was a big, old, slippery oyster and it was all theirs!
Around this time the band encountered someone who was to become a master of their universe, one smiley madman from Burton-upon-Trent, who had a recording studio built under a railway arch. His name was Ken MacPherson and he was a man of optimistic ideas and dubious T-shirts. The group, keen to enter it’s next phase of activity, took on the shiny headed, crazy man of Burton, as their own musical guru, although they could never learn to condone some of his sandwich fillings.
They recorded a new single on the popular CD format as well as the regular vinyl and plonked a photo of Sheggi’s sister Ahnnie, looking like a big, insane hippy on the sleeve. I think you’ll all agree the components of a huge hit single! The record looked set to be a major hit all over the Midlands!!! Then suddenly it happened! The Tulips were offered a sellout stadium tour in Germany, home of Nena, armpit hair and bad cheese. How could they ever refuse?
The Tulips Story - Part 3: The International Tour
The German tour started off as it meant to go on. Even the ferry ride was eventful, a fact proven by Matt ‘Johno’ Johnson’s near arrest on board, for throwing water bombs at an old man’s odd shaped head and peering up a nun’s whatsits. However the smooth, fast talking Mark D. (“D” for dynamic!) managed to keep a policeman entranced, long enough for Sheggi to hypnotise him with her magic, powerful, breasts, so they could all to escape and hide until leaving the boat.
After a hefty drive in their luxury velvet lined Ford Transit, complete with a mini bar and a large German, they arrived in Guterslöh to play their first warm-up show to 200 drunken German locals and a sheep called ‘Gunther’ - much to the pleasure of Mark D. (“D” for dickwad) The show went so well that they sold most of their merchandising and Sheggi boasted her fluent German with the now infamous, intellectual quote, “Deutsches Bier ist gut!” Even Gunther was amused! The Guterslöh show remains to this day their favourite ever performance.
The following dates found the group paired with another multi famous super-group called “Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan” - a six piece pop combo from Nuremberg with fearsome talent and a large capacity for alcohol. The two bands cemented their friendship with many additional dates and beers around Germany, most notably Bremen and Hamburg where the wild rock gods the Fatties stayed at the home of German self confessed twee boy and insane cataloguer of records, 'Mind The Gap' and 'Tweenet’s' Peter Hahndorf. After letting his mother make them breakfast and educating the frivolous Peter in the ways of the Reeperbahn, the band escaped into the countryside for their next few shows.
Later the Tulips separated from Throw That Beat and made their own way to Cologne, where a show and a three day stay in an apartment belonging to a large lady, promised the band rest, sleep and the frightening sight of Mark D. (“D” for dodgy) wandering around in only his pants.
The Cologne show was bizarre to say the least. The room was small and surrounded by wall sized mirrors. No-one could find the door. They were booked to play with those ultra famous hell rockers, ‘Souled American’, a band from Chicago, who were well educated in the ways of the weed. The drummer was obviously not feeling well, as he fell asleep while playing the same song for the tenth time. They were pretty cool guys. Sheggi and Paul hung out in their dressing room and giggled a lot. Did we mention the weed?
The place was full of weirdos and people who had married their sisters. At midnight they all turned into vampires and the Tulips had to stake ‘em with Matt’s drumsticks and make a hasty exit.
They set out on the last leg of the tour - a date in Belgium, in a little sleepy place called St. Vit which was situated in the middle of nowhere and where Sheggi almost electrocuted herself when her guitar suddenly went ‘live’ mid set, thanks to the fact she’d managed to drop it down a flight of stairs while slightly intoxicated in Hamburg. There were lots of Belgian mods, all under 15 years old, dancing up a storm at the front of the stage.
Sheggi again made the infamous quote: “La bière de Belgique est magnifique!” Not a marvellous repertoire but better than “Tew” which doesn’t mean anything to anyone, anywhere except the linguistically challenged Mark D. - (“D” for daft) who had difficulty remembering the phrase “Tchuss!”
The Tulips Story - Part 4:- Debut Album
The Tulips returned to their homeland following the tour, tired, with a van full of souvenirs - stolen beer glasses, photos, and that funny guy, Pete Hahndorf. They threw Pete out in a grey, rainy London at 6am, tired out by his endless jokey banter and sexual innuendos. Not even Mark D. Could keep up with his wacky sense of humour.
After their return to tropical Nottingham and a few days sleep in their luxury condos, the band were raring to begin their next big adventure - the recording of their debut, platinum selling album.The band took up root in Ken MacPherson’s Track Station and settled down to the always laborious task of tuning Matt’s enormous drum kit and percussion accessories.
One wonders how a mere man could handle so many drums, but “Johno”, with his lanky, flailing arms was the master of rhythm.
Next, there was the ritualistic “Paul’s bass fiasco”.
Paul’s quality advanced-pro bass had to be fine tuned, oiled, painted, primed, sent on holiday to Spain, and sung to by Pavarotti before any recording could begin. Then, when Mark and Sheggi’s guitars had been tuned to perfection by some bloke from Dire Straits, the recording would begin. The band would be locked in the studio for so long at a time, that all the boys grew beards down to their feet and Sheggi knitted a sweater from her own armpit hair.
During this creative time, the band refused the many interviews they were offered from Melody Maker and especially the low life, whiny people from the NME who’d show up at the studio pretending to be window cleaners in order to try and get an exclusive. Until Ken pointed out there were no windows and Matt got to kick them in the nuts. The album was proving to be an absolute gem. Lyrically it was rich, with prose and experience. Jewels such as “I wait every hour for the boy in the flowers”. Priceless! The lyrics were so heart wrenching and strong that even big, strong, Jasper Carrott lookalike, Ken, had to shed a quiet tear.
The band also had the genius idea of employing an illiterate Yorkshire man to supply dialogue on their hit, “Double Decker Bus”. He earned his place in the hall of fame with the charming, little, grammatically superior, quip “They’re very, very built well is the Routemaster”. Teachers everywhere groaned. And then the album was finished. Finished that is, except for the mixing...
The Tulips Story - Part 5: - The Untimely End...
The Fat Tulips’ record label, Vinyl Japan begged the group and offered them all houses in Tokyo, if they would just allow the record company to fly in a top producer to mix the album. The band in return, sent Vinyl Japan a pig’s head in a box and said they were doing it themselves. Mixing began one dark, rainy evening. Everyone sat in a circle on the floor of the Track Station, doing Yoga and chanting while Mark D. (“D” for daring) played a sitar and wore a big turban. Then the mixing began. It took approximately three months to get the right drum sound on each drum of Matt’s enormous kit. Then after many more months of earache and impatience the finished article was presented to the label in the form of a DAT tape. Next step was the product!
Paul and Sheggi were in charge of producing the album’s artistically acclaimed artwork. They offered to do it, then promptly forgot. The night before it was due, they miraculously remembered and spent the entire night, sitting up eating toast and drawing fishes with crayons, while writing the nobel peace prize winning literature for the sleeve notes. The work was a masterpiece and the original artwork can now be viewed at the world famous “Museum of Modern Art” in New York City, where it lives in a glass case, surrounded by large, alarming men with guns and the world’s most powerful security system.
The album went gold in it’s first two days of release, fuelled by a scandal involving Mark D. (“D” for Dunderhead), a jar of Nutella and ex prime minister and all time scary woman, Margaret Thatcher’s daughter Carol. Within a week it had gone platinum and the band were in demand for in store appearances and autograph sessions all over the world. The Fat Tulips had done it. They were superstars! The rest my friends, is history!
Through the following years, the group rose to never before heard of heights of superstardom. They acquired drug habits, groupies, servants and lived party lifestyles in the Hollywood Hills. They finally broke up in 1994 while still at the top, to pursue their individual careers. But one thing is for sure. The Fat Tulips were undoubtedly legends - in their own minds!