«Big Audio» - biography, albums, songs, video clips

Big Audio Dynamite (later known as Big Audio Dynamite II and Big Audio, and often abbreviated BAD) is a British musical group formed in 1984 by the ex-guitarist and singer of the Clash, Mick Jones. The group is noted for its effective mixture of varied musical styles, incorporating elements of punk rock, dance music, hip hop, reggae, and funk. BAD's one constant throughout frequent shifts in membership and musical direction is the vocals provided by Mick Jones. After releasing a number of well-received albums and touring extensively throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Big Audio Dynamite disbanded in 1997, but embarked on a reunion tour in 2011.


T.R.A.C. (1984)

After being ousted from the Clash in 1983 and following a brief stint with the band General Public, Mick Jones formed a new band called Top Risk Action Company (T.R.A.C.) He recruited bassist Leo "E-Zee Kill" Williams, saxophone player John "Boy" Lennard (from Theatre of Hate), and ex-Clash drummer Nicky "Topper" Headon. Headon was quickly sacked for his heroin addiction and Lennard either left or was fired and the band folded. Although the band released no material (only demos were recorded which have yet to be officially released), T.R.A.C. can be seen as a forerunner to Big Audio Dynamite in much the same way London SS can be seen as an early incarnation of The Clash.

Big Audio Dynamite (1984–1990)

Jones then formed Big Audio Dynamite with film director Don Letts (maker of The Punk Rock Movie, various Clash music videos, and later The Clash documentary Westway to the World), bassist Leo Williams (from T.R.A.C.), drummer Greg Roberts, and keyboardist Dan Donovan. In 1985 the group's debut, This Is Big Audio Dynamite, was released. The album's cover shows the group as a four-piece (minus Donovan); the full group is pictured on the back cover.

1986's No. 10, Upping St. reunited Jones for one album with former Clash band-mate Joe Strummer, who was a co-producer of the album and co-writer of a number of its songs. The cover painting, based on a still taken from the Brian de Palma film "Scarface" was painted by Tim Jones. BAD supported U2 on their 1987 world tour, then released 1988's Tighten Up, Vol. '88 and 1989's Megatop Phoenix. Tighten Up, Vol. 88 contained "Just Play Music!", which was the second No. 1 single on Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks. The band also recorded an unreleased track called "Keep off the Grass" which was a rock-style instrumental of the theme to the classic western film, The Magnificent Seven. A promo video can be seen on YouTube.

In 1990, the original line-up wrote and recorded the song "Free" for the soundtrack to the movie Flashback. This would be the final song written with the original lineup, as the band would dissolve shortly after. "Bottom Line" from the first LP was remixed and used as the title track for Flashback. However this track was not included on the soundtrack. It can be found on the 12" or by possible download. Later in 1990, Mick Jones debuted Big Audio Dynamite II and release the UK only album Kool-Aid. Dan Donovan remained in BAD II for one song, a re-working of the final BAD track "Free" renamed "Kickin' In".

Big Audio Dynamite II (1991–1993)

For 1990's The Globe, only Jones remained from BAD, and the band was now called "Big Audio Dynamite II". This new line-up featured two guitarists. The Globe featured the band's most commercially successful single, "Rush" which hit No. 1 on both the US modern rock chart and the Australian National Aria Chart. "Innocent Child" and "The Globe" were also released as singles.

BAD supported U2 on their ZooTV tour and released the live EP "On The Road Live '92".

Big Audio (1994)

The band later recruited keyboardist Andre Shapps (co-producer of The Globe and Mick Jones's cousin) and Michael "DJ Zonka" Custance as DJ and vocalist. Both appeared on the band's 1994 album Higher Power, which was released under the shortened name "Big Audio".

Final years and subsequent activities (1995–2010)

After signing with Gary Kurfirst's Radioactive Records in 1995, the band reverted to the original "Big Audio Dynamite" moniker and released their least successful album to date, F-Punk.

Radioactive Records refused to release the next proposed BAD album, Entering a New Ride. The line-up contained Mc vocals by Joe Attard (Punks Jump Up), Ranking Roger (The Beat, General Public) and drummer Bob Wond (Under Two Flags) In 1998, the band launched a new web site, primarily as a means to distribute songs from the Entering a New Ride album.

Since 2005, Jones has been working on a project with Tony James (ex-member of Generation X and Sigue Sigue Sputnik) called Carbon/Silicon.

In early 2007, a BAD II live DVD was released.

2011 reunion

In April 2010, Don Letts revealed to Billboard.com that he and Mick Jones broached the idea of a Big Audio Dynamite reunion in 2011. He explained, "I could lie to you and say 'Not in a million years,' but... if Mick wasn't tied up with Gorillaz it might happen this year. (Jones) has looked at me and said, 'Maybe next year,' but who knows. I've got to admit that in the past I'm not a great one for reformations; I always think if you're lucky in life, you get a window of opportunity, use it to the best of your ability and then fuck off and let someone else have their turn. But here I am 25 years down the line considering the thing." Besides a Big Audio Dynamite reunion, Letts said he was also hopeful for more Legacy Editions of the group's albums after finding more unreleased material—including live recordings—in the vaults. "There's definitely more stuff; whether Sony thinks it's worthwhile, that's another matter. But there seems to be a lot of respect for Big Audio Dynamite. Time has shown that a lot of the things we were dabbling in back then have come to manifest themselves today...so hopefully we'll get to do some more."

The reformation of the original line up of B.A.D was confirmed on 25 January 2011 with the announcement of a UK tour. The 9-date tour was a commercial and critical success. The first of their two sold out Shepherd's Bush Empire shows received a 4 star review in The Times ('Not just a reformation - this is their time'), The Observer welcomed B.A.D's return with a glowing review declaring, 'they remain a joy'.News Of The World awarded their Manchester Academy show a 5 star review and proclaimed, 'Easily the reformation of the year'. Their headline slot at Beautiful Days festival was favourably reviewed on the Louder Than War music website.

Big Audio Dynamite played sets at the 2011 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival,Glastonbury Festival 2011, and Lollapalooza. They are also confirmed to appear the Levellers festival Beautiful Days,BestivalV Festival, and Fuji Rock Festival.


Big Audio Dynamite (1984–1990, 2011–present)

  • Mick Jones – vocals and guitar
  • Don Letts – sound effects and vocals
  • Dan Donovan – keyboards
  • Leo Williams – bass
  • Greg Roberts – drums and background vocals

Big Audio Dynamite II (1990–1993)

  • Mick Jones – vocals and guitar
  • Nick Hawkins – guitar and background vocals
  • Gary Stonadge – bass and background vocals
  • Chris Kavanagh – drums and background vocals

Big Audio (1994–1995)

  • Mick Jones – vocals and guitar
  • Nick Hawkins – guitar and background vocals
  • Gary Stonadge – bass and background vocals
  • Chris Kavanagh – drums and background vocals
  • Andre Shapps – keyboards
  • Michael 'Zonka' Custance – DJ, percussion and background vocals

Big Audio Dynamite (1996–1998)

  • Mick Jones – vocals and guitar
  • Nick Hawkins – guitar
  • Andre Shapps – keyboards
  • Michael 'Zonka' Custance – Dj
  • Darryl Fulstow – bass
  • Bob Wond – drums
  • Joe Attard – Mc vocals
  • Ranking Roger – vocals


Studio albums

Year Album information Chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
1985 This is Big Audio Dynamite (as 'Big Audio Dynamite')
  • Released: October 1985
  • Labels: CBS Records
27 8 103
  • UK: Gold
1986 No. 10, Upping St. (as 'Big Audio Dynamite')
  • Released: October 1986
  • Labels: CBS
11 23 135
  • UK: Silver
1988 Tighten Up Vol. 88 (as 'Big Audio Dynamite')
  • Released: June 1988
  • Labels: CBS
33 102
1989 Megatop Phoenix (as 'Big Audio Dynamite')
  • Released: 5 September 1989
  • Labels: CBS
26 85
1990 Kool-Aid (as 'Big Audio Dynamite II')
  • Released: 1 November 1990
  • Labels: Columbia Records (limited release)
1991 The Globe (as 'Big Audio Dynamite II')
  • Released: 16 June 1991
  • Labels: Columbia
61 10 16 76
  • US: Gold
1994 Higher Power (as 'Big Audio')
  • Released: 8 November 1994
  • Labels: Columbia
1995 F-Punk (as 'Big Audio Dynamite')
  • Released: 20 June 1995
  • Labels: Radioactive Records
1997 Entering a New Ride (as 'Big Audio Dynamite')
  • Labels: Released on the Internet independently

Live albums

  • Ally Pally Paradiso (CBS/Columbia, 1991) (as 'Big Audio Dynamite II')

Compilation albums

Year Album information
1993 The Lost Treasure of Big Audio Dynamite I & II
  • Labels: Alex Records, Sony
1994 Looking for a Song (promo)
  • Labels: CBS
1995 Planet B.A.D.
  • Labels: Columbia
1999 Super Hits
  • Labels: Columbia
2000 Big Audio Dynamite I & II
  • Labels: Sony Music Entertainment
2008 Original Album Classics
  • Labels: Columbia, Sony BMG, Legacy Recordings
2009 The Best of Big Audio Dynamite
  • Labels: Sony Music Entertainment


Year Song Chart positions Album
Hot 100 Club Play Modern Rock
1985 "The Bottom Line" 97 34 38 33 This Is Big Audio Dynamite
1986 "E=MC²" 11 47 11 18 37
"Medicine Show" 29 42
"C'Mon Every Beatbox" 51 19 No 10, Upping Street
1987 "V. Thirteen" 49 15
"Sightsee M.C!" 94
1988 "Just Play Music!" 51 49 45 1 Tighten Up, Vol. 88
"Other 99" 81 13
1989 "James Brown" 19 2 Megatop Phoenix
"Contact" 86 18 6
1990 "Free" 47 22 Flashback OST
1991 "Rush" 1* 1 1 32 36 1 The Globe
"The Globe" 8 10 72 28 3
1992 "Innocent Child" 67
On the Road Live '92
1994 "Looking for a Song" 68
24 Higher Power
1995 "I Turned Out a Punk" F-Punk
1998 "Sunday Best" Entering a New Ride
  • Rush was the B side to the Clash's re-release of Should I Stay or Should I Go, hence its chart showing.


  • Flashback (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (WTG Records, 1990) - "Free" (UK No. 98, US No. 86)

Other information

  • Mick Jones was noted for playing a high-tech British-made guitar called the Bond Electraglide with BAD. It's worn by Mick Jones on the cover of No. 10 Upping St.
  • During the 1980s, "The Bottom Line" was used as the music for the opening credits to "Sports Sunday", a weekly sports magazine TV show shown on the Nine Network, an Australian television station.
  • During the 1980s, "The Bottom Line" was also used as the music for the opening credits to the weekly American Football highlights show on UK Channel 4.
  • Shawn Stussy was responsible for the album artwork and design for The Globe

See also

  • Dreadzone
  • Sigue Sigue Sputnik (featuring Chris Kavanagh from BAD II and Jones' partner in Carbon/Silicon Tony James)


External links

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