The Darling Buds

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The Darling Buds
Origin Newport, South Wales, UK
Genres Alternative rock, indie pop
Years active 1986–1993, 2010, 2013–present
Labels Native Records
Epic Records
Members Andrea Lewis
Chris McDonagh
Matt Gray
Paul "Chaz" Watkins
Erik Stams
Past members Geraint Farr
Richard Gray
Jimmy Hughes
Jon Lee
Dennis McCarthy

The Darling Buds are an alternative rock band from Newport, South Wales. The band formed in 1986 and were named after the H. E. Bates novel The Darling Buds of May – a title taken in turn, from the third line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18: "Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May".[1][2]


Influenced by the catchy simple sound of the early Beatles as well as that of Blondie,[1] the band created melodic, hook-driven, short-duration singles. They were considered part of the short lived "Blonde" movement (indie rock band fronted by blonde female singer with all other members being dark-haired males) along with the likes of The Primitives and Transvision Vamp, but also referenced the C86 scene of a few years earlier.[3]

The Darling Buds formed in Caerleon near Newport, South Wales, in 1986 by 19-year-old Andrea Lewis. Their debut single, "If I Said", was released on February 1987 and was well received. The group re-released the single on an established label, Native Records, receiving radio play on John Peel's BBC Radio 1 show.[2] Signing with Sony in 1988, several singles preceded their critically acclaimed 1989 debut LP, Pop Said.... The album, described as "relentlessly chirpy",[1] ultimately reached the Top 30 in the UK Albums Chart,[4] and the band appeared on Top of the Pops as well as the cover of Melody Maker twice (24 September 1988 and 18 February 1989). In 1990, the original drummer, Bloss, left the band and was replaced by Jimmy Hughes from Black. Their second album, Crawdaddy, was not as well received, even if, according to critic Doug Brod, it "reveal[ed] a more mature Buds, a group that has learned the value of a little variety."[1][2]

Pressing forward with their new style, the group followed with their third and final album in 1992, entitled Erotica, a few weeks before Madonna's album of the same name. The album contained the US single, "Long Day in the Universe", which was featured on the soundtrack for the Mike Myers film, So I Married an Axe Murderer. This line up featured second guitarist Matt Gray (ex-Soldier Dolls).[5] Although they toured the United States in support of the album for a year, the members of the Darling Buds grew increasingly frustrated by their lack of commercial success and disbanded. Speaking to the Q Magazine in 2012, Lewis explained the reasons behind their decision: "Sony's London office wanted to pass the financial buck after we'd moved to LA and the bureaucracy meant we couldn't tour or record. We got stuck in limbo for ages and eventually called it a day."[3]

Post break-up

Since disbanding Andrea Lewis moved on to acting, touring with a Cardiff theatre company. She later moved into presenting, hosting The Slate for BBC Wales and, in 1998 and 1999, she co-hosted a Welsh Saturday morning radio show, The Weekenders, with Gareth Jones. Andrea now runs her own theatre school called "CAST" (The Children's Academy of Stage Training) alongside husband Jamie Jarvis, based in Cardiff, Swansea and Caerleon.[6] Chris McDonogh now works at Le Mons studio in Newport. Richard 'Bloss' Gray became an assistant manager in a hotel near Cardiff; as of 2012 he ran the Red Lion Inn in Cowbridge.[3] Geraint Farr, Andrea Lewis' boyfriend during the band's early years, retrained as a dietician/nutritionist and moved to Bristol. "I don't know why, but he's turned his back on that part of his life," commented Lewis on Farr's refusal to join her for a one-off reunion.[3]

In July 2010, the Darling Buds with only Lewis from the original line-up, reformed for a one-off tribute concert in their native Newport in memory of John Sicolo, the owner of the music venue TJ's who died earlier in the year.

In October 2013 the band announced a further show, at the Borderline in London in April 2014, with Chris McDonogh and Matt Gray joining Lewis, to be proceeded by a warm up show at the Le Pub venue in Newport the day before.[7] The band announced the London show would be the last ever,[8] however, the significant interest in this show, lead to the band agreeing to play the Indie Daze festival at the Kentish Town Forum in September 2014, and two headline shows at London's Lexington in April 2015.[9][10]


  • Andrea Lewis - vocals
  • Chris McDonagh - bass guitar
  • Matt Gray - guitar (1992–1993, 2010, 2013–present)
  • Paul "Chaz" Watkins - guitar (1992-1993, 2010, 2013 to present)
  • Erik Stams - drums (2010 to present)
Former members
  • Geraint "Harley" Farr - guitar (1986-1993)
  • Richard "Bloss" Gray - drums (1986–1990)
  • Jimmy Hughes - drums (1990–1993)
  • Jon Lee - drums (1992- two of the B-sides on "Sure Thing"; later of the band Feeder)
  • Dennis McCarthy - drums (1993)




Year Song Peak chart positions Album
Mod. Rock

1987 "If I Said" non-album single
1988 "It's All Up to You"
"Shame On You" Pop Said...
"Burst" 50
"Hit the Ground" 27
1989 "Let's Go Round There" 49 27
"You've Got to Choose" 45
1990 "Tiny Machine" 60 Crawdaddy
"Crystal Clear" 5
"It Makes No Difference" 13
1992 "Sure Thing" 71 Erotica
"Please Yourself" 22
"Long Day in the Universe"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that region.

Flexi Disc


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Doug Brod. "The Darling Buds". TrouserPress. Retrieved 13 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Harris, Craig. "The Darling Buds". Allmusic. Retrieved 13 January 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Aston, Martin. Q Magazine September 2012. Where Are They Now? The Darling Buds, p. 33
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 141. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Darling Buds History".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. walesonline Administrator (21 July 2004). "Former pop star sets up theatre school". walesonline.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Not Forgotten: The Darling Buds, plus live dates this week". Backseat Mafia.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "The Darling Buds reunite for special one-off concert in London next April". slicing up eyeballs // 80s alternative music, college rock, indie.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "The Lexington".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "The Lexington".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "( The Darling Buds > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )". allmusic. Retrieved 17 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links