999 are an English punk rock band, formed in London in December 1976. From 1976 to 1985, their line-up consisted of Nick Cash , Guy Days , Jon Watson and Pablo LaBritain . LaBritain was temporarily replaced in 1980 by drummer Paul Edward while he recovered from a motor accident. Bassist Jon Watson left the band in 1985 and was replaced by Danny Palmer, who was succeeded by Arturo Bassick in 1991.
Between 1978 and 2007, 999 released fourteen singles and twelve studio albums. Five of the singles released by 999 between 1978 and 1981 charted within the Top 75 in the UK Singles Chart, with one further single released by 999 in 1978, "Homicide", charting within the Top 40. In addition, as a result of extensive touring in the United States in the early 1980s, the band's third and fourth studio albums, The Biggest Prize in Sport and Concrete, each charted on the U.S. Billboard 200.
Despite having formed in 1976, 999 have only experienced two permanent changes to their original line-up and have continued to record and play live, leading AllMusic to describe them as "one of the longest-lived groups of the punk era".
Named after the UK's emergency telephone number, 999 were founded in London by two brothers: singer and guitarist Nick Cash, and Guy Days. Cash was a member of the pub rock band Kilburn and the High Roads, and Days a session guitarist who played on some of the band's demo tapes. In late 1976 they placed an advertisement in Melody Maker for band members, and ended up turning down Chrissie Hynde , Jon Moss and Tony James . They recruited Jon Watson on bass and Pablo LaBritain on drums, LaBritain having briefly played with the Clash. The band that eventually became known as 999 performed their first concert at the Northampton Cricket Club in January 1977. After experimenting with several different band names, they became 999 in May 1977.
999 soon established themselves as a powerful live act on the London punk scene, and became regulars at the Hope and Anchor, Islington. Their self-financed debut single "I'm Alive" was well received, becoming a firm favourite in the punk clubs. On the strength of it, 999 were signed to United Artists Records around the same time as the Buzzcocks. The band's second single, "Nasty Nasty", was cited nearly 20 years after its release as a seminal punk single.
Their self-titled debut album, produced by Andy Arthurs, was released in March 1978. One retrospective review claimed it "demonstrated their limitations as well as their strengths. The 45 cuts like "Me and My Desire" and "Emergency" demonstrated the latter, but the album lacked that special ingredient, uniqueness or originality to make it stand out from the crowd." The album reached No. 53 in the UK Albums Chart. The following year, the song "Emergency" from the album appeared — alongside songs by bands including the Jam and the Stranglers — on the punk compilation 20 of Another Kind. That album reached No. 45 in the UK chart. Years later, "Emergency" was included in Mojo magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.
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