The Charles Napiers

The Charles Napiers were a 'Mondo Wray' instrumental band that existed from 1991 to 2005. In those 14 years we NEVER played a single vocal number. Can you name any other instrumental band who resisted the temptation of the microphone for that length of time? No, thought not. And other than a couple of regrettable drunken occasions, we never spoke between songs. The reason why? Because there's nothing worse than watching a decent band on stage but having to put up with some tool saying 'This next one's called blah blah blah, hope you like it' or some similar cobblers.

and here are The Napiers, making a reassuringly ramshackle racket again in March 2014:

The Napiers were:

Guitar: Dan Whaley (1991-2005)
Guitar: Clive Pearman (1991-1995)
Bass: John Skittles (1991-2005)
Drums: Danny O'Brien (1991-2000)
Guitar: Lee Duggan (1995-2005)
Drums: Sophie Skittles (2000-2003)
Drums: Mark Braby (Mar-Apr 1999, then 2003-2005)

Dan, Clive, Lee & John

Mark, Sophie & Danny


Mark Norton: Sax/Flute
Parsley: Hammond Organ
Jim Carlisle: Harp
Johnny Johnson: Harp

Jim Mew: Bongos


Over the years we had the pleasure of playing gigs in England, France, Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and the Isle of Wight, although to be frank most gigs were within Zones 1-3 of London Town. We shared stages with many fine artistes such as The Phantom Surfers, The Untamed Youth, Cee Bee Beaumont, Armitage Shanks, Sir Bald Diddley, The Adventures of Parsley, The Green Hornets, The Waistcoats, Nigel Lewis, The Flaming Stars and a whole host of other fine combos. We also backed stripper Lois Lane at the legendary More Than Vegas.


Singles and EPs

First Plane... (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR008 (1995)

Valleri c/w Surf Rider (Hangman's Daughter) KETCH 11 UP (1995)
Regular Forty (Nana) NANA2 (1996)

Long Players

Square Root of Evil (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR007 (1995)

Il Suono di Violenza (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR021 (1997)

The Sinister Organisation (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR039 (1999)

Compact Disc

This Is...Mondo Wray (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR038 (1999)


Killing Time (Fat Ghost) FAT005 (2008)

18 track retrospective comprised of original Napiers' tunes recorded between 1994 & 1998 at London's legendary Toe Rag & Pathway studios. Many of these tracks are available digitally for the first time.

Most of this stuff is still available through your friendly neighbourhood mail order or internet dealer. You might even find some of it in regular record shops, but I wouldn't hold your breath. Killing Time is available through all good DSPs (iTunes, Amazon, eMusic, etc)

Ambassador of Love on That's Mighty Childish lp (Vendetta) VEND007 (1995)

Sultan of Sentiment on Larsen Vol 11 3inch cd (Larsen) (1996)

Faceful of Pasta on Spaghetti Vol 1: Duck You Suckers lp & cd (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR012 (1997)

Thunderball on Licensed To Hear: James Bond Tribute picture disc lp (442emeRue) (2002)

Ballad of Rock Ridge on Hour of The Gun lp & cd (One Million Dollar Records) DOLLAR057 (2003)

What's My Name? on This Is Rockabilly Clash 10inch & cd (Raucous Records) (2003)

Brand New Batmobile on Holy Bat Music: Tribute To Batman picture disc lp (442emeRue) (2006)

Things've Changed Round Here on Godspunk Volume 5 cd (Pumf Records) (2007)


One fairly constant feature of Napiers gigs over the years was the 'dialogue tape' running in the background. Because we'd made the conscious decision to a) never sing and b) never speak between songs, we hatched the idea of having a tape containing snippets of dialogue from films, television programmes, etc running constantly behind us. That way, in the gaps between the songs or even in the (few and far between) quiet bits within songs, you'd hear a choice quote or two. We particularly liked the random aspect of it, so you never knew what you'd hear from one gig to the next. We also used dialogue on the recordings, sometimes for effect and sometimes to hide a bum note.

In the early days, John used to have to disassemble his hi-fi before every gig, as we'd bring his tape deck and plug it into the PA. By 2001 we'd moved as far as transferring the dialogue to CDr and by the end it was all on an mp3 player plugged into an amp. A knackered vintage amp, mind.

What'd They Say?

Here's what a selction of fanzines, websites, etc said about us:

"The Charles Napiers seem to have escaped right out of an Italian Mafia movie on their way to a hit" Shakin' Fever

"No classically trained musicians here, nope" Grindstone

"The play instrumental gangster music, filled with powerful twangy guitars and movie dialogue thrown in here and there" Continental

"Noisy Surf'n'Gore-Trash" Malibu

"The original men in black, all attitude no words" Motorpsycho

"Les deux guitaristes sont des tueurs, et je ne parle meme pas des autres musiciens" Let's Play A Game

"The best UK instrumental spy rockers" New Gandy Dancer

"du rock 50s au punk 77 en passant par le surf, les 60savec une grosse dose d'influences cinematographiques" Underground

"Britain's best kept instro secret" Southern & Rocking

"We're talking trash and twang with plenty of energy and bite" Pipeline

"The Charles Napiers continue going places that other instro bands fear to tread" Pipeline

"With what would appear to be a surfeit of instro bands around at the moment it's good to see someone find a different angle on an otherwise hackneyed style of music" Sooprize Package

"I must confess to never having been all that impressed with The Charles Napiers" Hang Nine

"Not melodic, but dangerous and interesting. Big thunder, and interesting ideas, just poorly executed. Low browed with fuzz and murky sound" Reverb Central

Charles Napier RIP

Late in 2011 the sad news came through that Charles Napier has died. I liked him enough to name a band and a couple of songs after him. About 10 years ago he heard about the Napiers, got in contact and told me how chuffed he was to have a band named in his honour. We corresponded for a while, and he always came across as a true gent, and a fine fellow. He even had the good taste to send all the band members signed photos, and write a chapter about us in his autobiography in which he described us as "moderately popular".

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About Me

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West Sussex, United Kingdom
Upside Down Guitar, Bass, Uke, Mandolin, Banjo, Bouzouki and Cigar Box Git. In 1984 I picked up a right handed bass guitar, but being left handed, turned it upside down and taught myself to play cackhanded. Seeing no reason to change this, I have since applied the same logic to all other stringed instruments (doesn't work so well for piano). Over the years, I have been fortunate enough to play with upwards of 25 top combos, and have been lucky enough to play gigs in England, Scotland, Wales, France, Belgium, NL, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain & the US, releasing a number of records along the way. Further details can be found on the various pages of this site. I am also a quizmaster, record spinner, radio presenter and Scrabble obsessive. Contact: eviljackmcdeath[at]yahoo[dot]co[dot]uk