by Jeff Turner with Garry Bushell
John Blake Publishing
Growing up in the East End of London, got into a bit of trouble give
someone a slap. Went to school, got into a bit of trouble gave someone
a slap. Got into football at an early age, got into a bit of trouble gave
someone a slap. Formed a band, got into a bit of trouble gave
someone a slap. Played live, got into a bit of trouble gave someone a
slap. Band falls apart, got into a bit of trouble gave someone a slap.
Went hippy, got into a bit of trouble gave someone a slap. Reformed
the band, got into a bit of trouble gave someone a slap. Went heavy
metal, got into a bit of trouble gave someone a slap. Went to the USA
fans wanted the old stuff, got into a bit of trouble gave someone a slap.
Contented family man now and happy playing the punk nostalgia circuit.
Ok that was a tongue 'n' cheek not serious and very simplistic overview
of the Jeff (Stinky Turner) Geggus story. But all the way through this
book there is an overwhelming feeling of violence and menace that
swamps everything else. Jeff and brother Mickey Geggus come across
as borderline psycho's sometimes, and were very quick to resolve
every problem by giving someone a good slap. This book is not
Shakespeare, how could it be if Garry Bushell who I can't stand is
involved. But its a very easy read and once you start soaking it all in
you'll want to finish it even if you do occasionally look to the ceiling as
yet another slap is handed out. I was never a fan of the Oi! bands but I always had time for the Cockney Rejects and I
was a West Ham fan (c'mon ye Wolves - PDC). I wore a T-shirt of theirs around 79/80 with Mickey Geggus on the front
giving the fingers (I think the photo was used on 'Oi! the album Vol. 1' also). A mate of mine Bongo who managed the
legendary Manhattan punk club here in Belfast which me and Facer helped set up, constantly nagged me for this
particular shirt. So eventually I gave him it and he wore it while boxing training for a while. He was older than me and a big
fan of Madness at the time and reading this book just reminded me of him.
'Cockney Reject' is a real working class tale that could be repeated all over the world where numerous names of faces
are dropped into the story throughout, and the majority mean nothing to anyone outside of the bands inner circle and the
East End. Although some of the names like Grant Fleming (Kids Next Door) who was a mod glory boy would be familiar
to "Sounds" readers as well as some of the 4 Skins who are also mentioned. The whole story is written in a cheeky
chirpy cockney style, rhyming slang "me old china" and all that. Very proud of his up bringing and fiercely protective of
his family, there's a bit of English, Irish and Greek in the genes which is a volatile mixture. Jeff paints a picture of a
working class lad from the hard "Custom House" area trying to make a name for himself via boxing early on and
eventually stumbling into music via petty crime and football hooliganism. In 1975 Jeff a rated amateur boxer who fought
for England and brother Mickey, actually produced a very early hand written example of the fanzine culture that would
take a firm hold in the punk era a year or so later. Their mag was called "Slugger" and covered boxing and cost a pricey
5p. At 14 he was part of a football gang called the 'Rubber Glove Firm' who would become the original Rejects fan base
and were like a junior version of the notorious 'Inter City Firm'. The 'RGF' would change the one marigold glove they
wore to matches each month to a different coloured one to identify themselves. At this point in the tale though Jeff tries to
say he was a quiet kid who liked a joke but in reality he unintentionally comes across as the opposite, a bullying violent
type even trying his hand at prize fighting later on. At 12 years old he had been attracted by a rude band name 'Sex
Pistols' he had discovered on a poster on Hastings pier, but is soon put off them after watching Janet Street Porters
LWT show on punk in the winter '76. However he was soon back on board the punk rollercoaster when brother Mickey
brought home a tape of 'God Save The Queen' in '77. The Cockney Rejects after sensibly getting rid of the name 'the
Shitters' came to public attention in '79 from the ashes of 'the Postmen' a name Jeff used again to do a very avant
garde solo session for John Peel years later. After a few line up changes they recorded their debut single 'Flares and
Slippers' released on the Small Wonder record label and soon after they hit the ground running with an EMI contract and
knocked out (excuse the pun) some great records like 'I'm Not A Fool', 'Bad Man', 'Cockney Rip Off' (remember them on
Top Of The Pops?) and the 'Greatest Hits Vol. 1' LP.
Some of the lighter moments written about are when pre-Rejects Jeff was filmed "doing the rat" at a Boomtown Rats
gig so as to get a place at the front of the stage. A piece of film Jonathon Ross resurrected on TV in 2003, much to Jeff's
embarrassment. He also won a 'worst singer' competition in Hastings as a child, which was his inspiration to front a band,
as it was "piece of piss" as Jeff puts it. Hitting Les McKeown from the Bay City Rollers on the chin with a brush is another
funny moment. There are numerous tales of violence between rival gangs/fans and the Rejects entourage within the
274 the pages. Birmingham's Cedar club, Camden Electric Ballroom and an early support set with the Damned at their
local venue the Bridge House when the captain said something stupid from the stage and the crowd turned on the
headliners stick in the mind. As well as various high jinx with groupies and wrecked hotel rooms throughout their short but
action packed career. Mensi from the Angelic Upstarts and Jimmy Pursey from Sham 69 get affectionate but
unflattering mentions. The highs of being in a promising chart bothering band, to the depths of being forced onto the
dole are all covered. Mickey was even asked to audition for Ozzy Osbourne after his guitarist was killed, while Jeff
became a reclusive smoker if you catch my drift. Management rip offs, broken promises and police attention all played
their part in the downfall of the Cockney Rejects, but by the end of the book Jeff himself admits that aligning themselves
so closely to a football team was a big mistake. And along side their uncompromising stance they were asking for trouble
from the start.
Nostalgia punk tours seem to have been the Geggus brothers salvation minus original member bass man Vince Riordan.
And appearing on a bill with Nancy Sinatra in London recently as part of the Meltdown festival was a weird gig. This book
is definitely worth getting hold of. Its hard to believe that when most of this chaos was going on Jeff was just a kid in his
mid to late teens and the rest of the band weren't much older, plus they could certainly handle themselves in the old
fisticuffs department. Much as I imagined them to be a hardcore skin/Oi! punk band from the outset, they were more rock
fans early on and in their later less successful years and admit to liking the Stones, Aerosmith and UFO! Which might
shock people reading about them in 2006. I'd still go to see them live if they ever venture over to this side of the water.
So don't let miserable Morrisey writing the foreword put you off buying this book, coz its enjoyable reading. After finishing
the book I checked out a few video clips of the band playing in my collection and its clear to see they were lapping up
every minute and having a right laugh in the spotlight. And if your wondering where the punk alias "Stinky Turner"
moniker came from? I can reveal it was the name of a guy his dad had known at school who had bowel problems!
Check the book out!
Joe Donnelly Belfast 5/1/06.
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