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Tubeway Army on Wikipedia
Tubeway Army
TubewayArmy2.jpgTubeway Army's line-up for most of their recordings
(L to R): Gary Numan, Jess Lidyard and Paul Gardiner
Background information
OriginLondon, England
  • New wave
  • post-punk


  • synthpop
Years active1976–1979
LabelsBeggars Banquet
Past members
  • Gary Numan
  • Paul Gardiner
  • Jess Lidyard
  • Bob Simmonds
  • Barry Benn
  • Sean Burke
  • Billy Currie
  • Trevor Grant
  • Chris Payne
  • Cedric Sharpley
  • Paul Simons

Tubeway Army were a London-based electronic and new wave band led by lead singer Gary Numan. They were the first band of the electronic era to have a synthesiser-based number-one hit, with their single "Are 'Friends' Electric?" and its parent album Replicas both topping the UK charts in mid-1979. After its release, Numan opted to drop the Tubeway Army name and release music under his own name as he was the sole songwriter, producer and public face of the band, but he retained the musicians from Tubeway Army as his backing band.


  • 1 History
  • 2 Personnel
    • 2.1 Members
    • 2.2 Lineups
  • 3 Discography
    • 3.1 Studio albums
    • 3.2 Compilations
    • 3.3 Singles
  • 4 References
  • 5 Further reading


Aged 18 years, Gary Webb had fronted London band Mean Street in 1976 (their song "Bunch of Stiffs" appeared on the Live at the Vortex compilation, and was the B-side of the Vortex 7"). After leaving this band, he auditioned as lead guitarist for another band called The Lasers, where he met bass-player Paul Gardiner. The pair left The Lasers soon after and formed Tubeway Army, initially with Webb's uncle Jess Lidyard on drums. Webb rechristened himself "Valerian", Gardiner "Scarlett" and Lidyard "Rael".

Webb was a prolific songwriter and ambitious for commercial success[citation needed]. The band began playing gigs on the punk scene in London and managed to secure a record deal with the independent Beggars Banquet label. They released two guitar-heavy, punk-style singles in the first half of 1978 ("That's Too Bad"/"Oh! Didn't I Say", and "Bombers"/"Blue Eyes"/"OD Receiver"). These failed to chart.

Soon afterwards, the Tubeway Army album was released on blue vinyl, at which point Webb adopted the name "Gary Numan". Numan actually took his new pseudonym from a local Yellow Pages where a plumber called "Arthur Neumann" was listed, the singer abandoning the German spelling, to become Numan.[1] Whilst still largely guitar/bass/drums-based, the album saw his first tentative use of the Minimoog synthesizer, which he had come across by accident in the recording studio during the album sessions. Lyrically the record touched on dystopian and sci-fi themes similar to those employed by authors such as JG Ballard and Philip K.Dick, of whom Numan was a fan (the opening lines of the song "Listen to the Sirens" are a direct lift from the title of Dick's book Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said). Whilst the album's modest initial pressing (which included a large batch of warped editions) sold out[citation needed], it did not enter the album charts at that time, and no singles were lifted from it. By this time Tubeway Army had decided to abandon live shows – Numan was unhappy with pub-venue gigs on the often violent London punk scene (the only known recording of a Tubeway Army concert – a London show from February 1978 – was released as a bootleg album in the early 1980s. It was later officially included under the title Living Ornaments '78 as bonus tracks on the 1998 CD re-release of the Tubeway Army album).

Following swiftly on in early 1979, excited[citation needed] by the possibilities of synthesizers, Numan took Tubeway Army back into the studio to record demos for John Peel and also for their follow-up album, Replicas. The result was more synth and science fiction orientated than the last album. The first single from the album, the bleak, slow-paced keyboard-driven song "Down in the Park", failed to chart, although it would prove an enduring cult track in the years to come, oft-covered by several well-known acts such as Marilyn Manson and Foo Fighters and Flight. However, the next single, "Are 'Friends' Electric?" was more successful, reaching the no.1 spot. The underlying context of this song was also a reference to another Philip K. Dick novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". A special picture-disc helped boost sales but what particularly grabbed the British public's imagination was Tubeway Army's appearance on the BBC show The Old Grey Whistle Test, followed soon after by a slot on Top of the Pops on the 24th of May. The band appeared all dressed in black and near-motionless, Numan in particular giving a performance often referred to as being "like an android" (a style that was later reported to have been a means of covering stage nerves but which then became his trademark). The single remained at number one in the UK charts for 4 weeks, with Replicas following suit in the album charts. With Tubeway Army still avoiding live shows, Numan recruited some additional musicians to make these television appearances (see above).

The 1982 Apple II video game Tubeway is named for Tubeway Army.


  • Gary Numan – guitar, lead vocals, keyboards
  • Paul Gardiner – bass, backing vocals
  • Jess Lidyard – drums
  • Bob Simmonds – drums
  • Barry Benn – drums
  • Sean Burke – guitar
  • Billy Currie – keyboards
  • Trevor Grant – guitar
  • Chris Payne – keyboards
  • Cedric Sharpley – drums

Studio albums


1 The demos were recorded in 1978 but not released until 1984. Beggars Banquet have re-released and re-mastered these recordings numerous times. Current CD editions supplement the original album tracks with all single A- and B-sides, 12" bonus tracks, studio out-takes, and recovered bootleg live material.


* Charted in 1983.[12]


  1. ^ Synth Britannia at the BBC program aired October 2009 on BBC4
  2. ^ a b c "Tubeway Army - Full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 January 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "New Zealand chart positions". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  4. ^ a b "Swedish chart positions". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "The Plan US chart position". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  6. ^ "UK certificates: searchable database". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  7. ^ "Austrian chart positions". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "German single positions". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "Belgian single positions". Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Irish charts: searchable database". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "Dutch chart positions". Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  12. ^ Official UK Charts - Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army

Further reading

  • Goodwin, Paul (2004) Electric Pioneer: An Armchair Guide To Gary Numan

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