Patrik Fitzgerald was born Patrick Joseph Anthony Fitzgerald, in Stratford East London March 19 1956, of working-class Irish immigrant parents. After finishing school, he spent 3 years on the dole, one and a half year in an insurance office, three months in Co-op offices in Stratford and six months with the Civil Services. He started recording and performing with the uprising of the punk movement in 1977, after working 9 months as an actor and musican in the Soapbox Theatre in Stratford. He auditioned for London SS with Mick Jones (The Clash) and Tony James (Generation X) in 1975.
His early songs were generally short, sarcastic efforts, recorded with just an acoustic guitar and occasional studio effects, with lyrics containing a large amount of social comment. Fitzgerald was soon regarded as an original of his genre, somewhere between a punk-poet and an urban folksinger, and was lauded in some circles as "the new Bob Dylan".
After starting out as a busker, he approached David Bowie's original manager, Ken Pitt, requesting his services; Pitt declined but an audition was set up with Noel Gay in 1975 who also turned Fitzgerald down.
In 1976 Fitzgerald auditioned, alongside Mick Jones and Tony James for the band London SS, again without success.
After a spell acting in a communal theatre group, he drifted towards the developing Punk scene. He was a regular customer at the Small Wonder record shop in London, and when Small Wonder launched a record label Fitzgerald was one of the first to submit a demo - and got a deal, with the new label releasing his first three EPs, the first being Safety-Pin Stuck In My Heart, still his best-known work, and one which he subtitles "a love song for punk music". Patrik became a regular performer at London Punk gigs, and supported The Jam on their national tour.
These early recordings attracted interest from Polydor who signed him up to record his first LP, Grubby Stories in 1979, recorded with established punk musicians including Robert Blamire of Penetration and John Maher of the Buzzcocks. The LP contained 17 tracks, 7 of them recorded with these musicians.
Two singles were also released by Polydor, either side of the album, and Fitzgerald undertook a tour with a new group of musicians: Colin Peacock (guitar), Charlie Francis (bass) (later to join Toyah), and Rab Fae Beith on drums (later of The Wall & UK Subs).
Fitzgerald appeared in the post-punk documentary 'Rough Cut and Ready Dubbed' in 1979/80 contributing the title song 'Island of Lost Souls' and one performance of 'Tonight' with Colin Peacock on keyboards.
After being dropped by Polydor, he continued to play solo acoustic concerts, gradually forsaking the ironic, sarcastic mode for a more deeply-etched, darker formulation.
Now without a manager, Fitzgerald returned again to acoustic solo performance, then releasing a single under the pseudonym Josef Garrett, then, using a borrowed Revox, he began recording a series of backing tapes to use in live performance. These recordings, based partly on the former group's unreleased material, with Patrik playing everything, were released in 1982 by Red Flame as his second album 'Gifts and Telegrams'.
At this point, Patrik Fitzgerald formed a small group of solo performers, working under the banner, Ghosts of Individuals, and featuring himself, David Harrow, U. V. Pop, Kevin Hewick and Anne Clark (known for her solo albums on Red Flame). The forerunner of London's cabaret scene, the Ghosts, like Fitzgerald's music, was aimed at, and appealed to London's loners.
In 1981, he released a five track 12" titled Tonight EP. This recording was credited to a trio, Patrik Fitzgerald Group, comprising Fitzgerald - credited with songs, guitars piano etc., Colin Peacock - credited with synth and guitar, and Lester Broad - credited with saxophone. Engineer was given as abbey. This EP had three tracks on side one - MR & MRS, Animal Mentality and Tonight. Side two contained A Superbeing and Waiting for the Final Cue.
Following this, in mid 1983, Patrik Fitzgerald formed a collusion with a peripheral musician from the Ghosts, clarinet player Alistair Roberts, and along with three more brass instruments players he recorded his next LP, Drifting Towards Violence. The music on it is mostly acoustic, accompanied by the gloomy sound of the brass section and hard-hitting lyrics. Released by the Belgian label Himalaya the record went completely unadvertised, and, consequently, sank without leaving a trace. The release was followed by a solo tour of Europe, where Fitzgerald has retained a loyal following.
Return in 1986
In 1986 he released Tunisian Twist, which introduced a radical change of style towards a more commercial sound. The album features a guitar/bass/drums/keyboards band, with a brass section; its sound is thus much fuller than Fitzgerald's previous work. The lyrics deal with subjects as diverse as terrorism, surrogate birth and trade unionism in the climate of Thatcher's "economic realism". While some of the songs are heavy with ironic humour in the manner of Patrik Fitzgerald's early days, there remains the biting incisiveness which has always been his hallmark.
In that year he also contributed a duo with Anne Clark to the compilation LP Abuse - Artists For Animals, dealing with the controversy of bullfights. In the absence of commercial success, Fitzgerald took a job as a waiter at the British House of Commons, before relocating to Normandy in 1988. However, he found himself disenchanted and unable to find gainful employment, and so returned to England three years later.
1990s and beyond
The early 1990s saw Fitzgerald return to playing gigs again, and he also re-launched an acting career, the most high-profile engagement of which was a version of Molière's The Miser at Stratford.
Seven years after his last release, 1993 saw the release of a new album on Red Flame, Treasures from the Wax Museum, a compilation of early 80s material, with four new tracks.
In 1995, he released Pillow tension on the Greek label Lazy Dog and relocated to New Zealand. Beat Bedsit Records issued Room service a CD with new bedroom recordings in 2001.
The album Floating Population (2006) was issued to coincide with a European tour with Attila the Stockbroker. It contains a few new songs and alternative versions/recordings of songs spanning his entire career.
Dark side of the room (2006) is a split CD with the band POG. It contains 12 tracks by Fitzgerald, mostly versions of old songs.
Spirit of Revolution (2007) is a split 7" single with punk poet Attila the Stockbroker. It contains 5 tracks, 2 new Patrik Fitzgerald recordings. The Next Revolution recorded live in Norway and Tired recorded in New Zealand and sent by email to Norway, where industrial classical musicians and the sound of rainfall were added and the track was mixed.
An early rough cut of film documentary called 'All the Years of Trying' directed by Dom Shaw previewed on 6 March 2009 at the Kosmorama Film Festival in Trondheim Norway. There was also a tribute concert organised on the same day as part of the festival, organised by Crispin Glover Records. The finished film, incorporating footage of the tribute gig as well as an excelent earlier gig at London's historic '12 Bar' club in Tin Pan Alley premiered at the Raindance Film Festival on 4 October 2009 and was shown at London's Whitechapel Art Gallery on 24 April 2010 as part of the East End Film Festival.
Grubby Stories (1979), Polydor
Gifts and Telegrams (1982), Red Flame
Drifting Towards Violence (1984), Himalaya
Tunisian Twist (1986), Red Flame
Pillow Tension (1995), Lazy Dog
Room Service (2001), Beat Bedsit
Floating Population (2006)
Dark side of the room (2006) - split with Pog
Subliminal Alienation (2012)
Treasures from the Wax Museum (1993), Red Flame
Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart - The Very Best of Patrik Fitzgerald (1994), Anagram
Safety Pin Stuck in My Heart EP (1977), Small Wonder
The Backstreet Boys EP (1978), Small Wonder
The Paranoid Ward/The Bedroom Tapes 12" EP (1978), Small Wonder
The Paranoid Ward 7" EP (1978), Small Wonder
"All Sewn Up" (1979), Polydor
"Improve Myself" (1979), Polydor
Tonight EP (1980), Final Solution - UK Indie #24
"Personal Loss" (1982), Red Flame
Spirit of Revolution EP (2007) - split with Attila the Stockbroker
FitzGerald’s songs come over as positive tales of survival and a way of exorcising his demons, mocking the affected and dealing with the shit life throws at you. He’s not a barrel of laughs but he’s a true a punk spirit as you can get. An inspiration to many an anti-folk, lo-fi troubadour
He doesn’t waste time onstage; like a one man Ramones, he’s wham, one song, bam! another and another ” no chat, no explanation, none needed, it’s all in the songs anyway. From Banging and Shouting to the Serving Classes and everything in between practically. Island of Lost Souls still sends a shiver down the spine. Irrelevant Battles is still a confusing bitter song, Trendy is still funny. Safety Pin In my Heart is the anthemic hit; a love song to punk (as Gary Bushell, of all people, astutely put it.)
There’s a lot of violence in these songs; Banging and Shouting, No Fun Football, but compassion in others. Despite being written in the Seventies they still seem just as relevant today sadly; stories of desperate lives and dreams of escape.
Patrik wrote in the sleeve notes to his Cherry Red Greatest Hits CD one of the most stark, honest statements any artist has ever made; “the recordings remain true to me, even when I don’t. this is what they are; the voice of a small, insecure, somewhat lost person, living in a small, insecure, somewhat lost country.