The Flying Pickets

The Flying Pickets is a British a cappella vocal group, that had a surprise Christmas number one hit in 1983 in the UK singles chart, with their cover of Yazoo's track - "Only You".


The name 'Flying Pickets' refers to mobile strikers who travel in order to join a picket. The band of six was founded by Brian Hibbard in 1982 from a group of actors who had been active with him in John McGrath's " Theatre group", a fringe theatre organisation who had sung a cappella in their production of the 1981 play One Big Blow. The Flying Pickets came up with the then novel concept of transferring the art of a cappella to the pop music scene. Joining Hibbard in the Group were Rick Lloyd (who also wrote the music to One Big Blow), Gareth Williams, David Brett, Ken Gregson and Red Stripe (real name David Gittins). The members of the group were internationally renowned for their flamboyant appearance: Hibbard's huge sideburns, Stripe's thick eye-liner, and four others showing off gaudy suits and large hats.

"Only You", their debut single, was the UK Christmas number one in 1983 spending a total of five weeks at the top, and also doing well around Europe and in Canada, where it hit #17 in the spring of 1984. Despite the radical Socialist politics of The Flying Pickets then Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher obviously unaware of this proclaimed to much amusement that it was her favourite record. A second single, featuring Van McCoy's "When You're Young and in Love" originally written for Ruby and the Romantics reached number 7 in the UK, but their third, a cover of the Eurythmics' "Who's That Girl" barely charted.

In 1986 Brian Hibbard and Red Stripe left the band and were replaced by Gary Howard and Hereward Kaye. Hibbard and Gittins tried desperately to stay in the music business, forming their own act called 'Brian and Stripe', but unfortunately their first and only single featuring a cover of Yazoo's "Mr. Blue" failed to chart and they returned to their separate acting careers.

There have been many different members of The Flying Pickets and the line-up kept changing constantly throughout the 1990s and 2000s; since the Pickets began, there have been at least 19 different band members. The last member of the original line-up, David Brett, left the band in 1990. However in 1994, the original line-up (minus Rick Lloyd) reformed to record one more album. Since the Original Flying Pickets split, new teams of ambitious men using the name The Flying Pickets have tried to follow in the Original's footsteps, but there have been no chart successes. The current line-up tours around Europe in lots of small venues all year round, but have not achieved the short-lived giddy heights of the original line-up.

Post-Picket duties

Brian Hibbard - Founder and lead singer Brian Hibbard went on to act in Doctor Who, and then briefly in Coronation Street as Dougie Murray. He has since appeared regularly on Welsh television. He also had a brief role as "Bobby-John Downes" on the popular soap Emmerdale in 2003 and then came back for another brief spell in 2006. In 2006 Brian won the BAFTA Cymru Award for Best Actor for his role as Tony in the film "Little White Lies."

David Brett - Has toured with The English Shakespeare Company and appeared as Mad Mike the Mechanic on BBC Children's TV programme Marlene Marlowe Investigates.. In 2000 David played the part of Dedalus Diggle in the film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Gareth Williams - Has toured in a production of South Pacific and also with The English Shakespeare Company; he played Nathan Detroit in a production of Guys & Dolls. He also worked with Jonathan Miller on a TV adaptation of Henry Mayhew's London Labour, London Poor.

David Gittins aka Red Stripe - Got a bread round after leaving the band, then decided to move to Australia where he got a job as a stage mechanist at The Victorian State Theatre. He also co-developed the techno act Poets of the Machine.

Ken Gregson- Emigrated to Australia and has made an appearance on the popular soap Neighbours.

Rick Lloyd - was a joint winner of a BAFTA TV Award for his work on the 1987 TV series Porterhouse Blue, and was musical director for the 1999 film 'Julie and the Cadillacs.'




Other past members


The Original Flying Pickets Albums

Post Brian & Stripe albums

Other albums featuring The Flying Pickets

The last Alan Parsons Project album, which was released simply as a solo album by Eric Woolfson. It was soon after adapted into Eric Woolfson's first musical of the same name. The Flying Pickets sing all the vocals on two tracks, (6)"Funny You Should Say That" and (8)"Far Away From Home."

The New Flying Pickets albums



External links

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