Unlike their peers in New York and London, punk bands from Toronto never signed with major record companies (with the exception of The Diodes) . Many of these bands had to record their own songs, either through booking a recording studio or through cheap ass direct microphone-to-tape. The Ugly were one such band.
Sam Ferrare (aka Sam Ugly) and Tony Vincent (aka Tony Torcher or possibly Torture) got together as teens in a group called The Markeys, playing the British sounds of The Yardbirds, Kinks, Animals, Who and the Stones. After hearing the first LP by The Ramones, their new direction becomes clear. They enlist longtime accomplice Michael Mulroney (aka Mike Nightmare). Markeys guitarist Brian Vadders refuses to cut his hippy hair, so they kick him out and bring in Mike’s brother Raymi (aka Ray Gunner).
Unfortunately, when Vadders is replaced, he conveniently forgets to tell the rest of the group that his PA system was leased. They try to borrow it for a while, until Vadders decides to stop payment. The cops come by, take away the equipment and the group lands in jail. It would be their first of many scrapes with the law, leading the gang to describe their music, not as Punk Rock, but as “Hoodlum Rock” (WKRP In Cincinatti alert: You may remember an episode where a British band came to Cinci and the radio station was promoting them. The band said they were not “punk rock”, they were “hoodlum rock”. I wonder who had the nomenclature first). Nonetheless, Mike found Vadders a week a later and punched his lights out.
But it wasn’t just that they were loudest, crassest and most obnoxious band on the Toronto underground scene. They really were rough characters who played tough punk rock (although they were capable of playing sweet, forlorn rock ‘n’ roll. Witness “Stranded In The Laneway (Of Love)” below — although I’m not sure it’s with the original lineup). And because they were always in trouble with the law (Sam says one of the biggest problems with the development of The Ugly was that one of them was always in jail), they were forced to play out-of-the-way joints so the cops had trouble finding them. And Mike Nightmare would wear a disguise. Sometimes, those disguises would consist of a full-face black leather mask, other times, his trademark oversized yellow sunglasses, so authorities wouldn’t be able to identify him.
"Yes, the band really ARE ugly." -Creem, 1978
Anyway, to cut a short story short (read more in the excellent liner notes to The Ugly’s equally excellent retrospective, Disorder ), their last show with the original lineup takes place at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, where they open for The Cramps. The last song they ever play is “Lust For Life”. When they finish, Raymi pushes over his Marshal Amp and smashes his guitar. He shakes hands with the band and splits.
The Ugly is over.
Mike Nightmare passed away sometime in 1997 or ‘98 (I don’t remember which), during one of his many stints in jail.The Ugly reformed for their first show in almost thirty years at Toronto's Bovine Sex Club on Saturday July 12th., with all the original band members, save for Greg Dick who's fronting the band.
Download The Ugly Here.