The Vibrators recorded sessions at for John Peel at BBC Radio 1 in October 1976, June 1977, and February 1978. They were one of the pioneering punk bands that played live in the first few months of London's Roxy Club. They headlined in January 1977, supported by The Drones, and in February they played twice at the venue. In March 1977 the band supported Iggy Pop on his British tour. Later that year they backed ex-Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter.
The band signed to Epic Records in early 1977. Their debut album, Pure Mania, reached the Top 50 of the UK Albums Chart. The album is well regarded by some music critics, and 17 years after its release, The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music named Pure Mania one of the best 50 punk albums of all-time.
The follow-up album, V2, narrowly missed the UK Top 30. The only single to be taken from that album, "Automatic Lover", was also the only Vibrators’ single to reach the UK Top 40. It earned the band a TV appearance on the prime-time music show Top of the Pops. The Vibrators’ final single on Epic, "Judy Says (Knock You In The Head)", was released in June 1978. Years later it was included in Mojo magazine’s list of the best punk rock singles of all time.
The band's song "Troops Of Tomorrow", also covered by The Exploited, has become a punk anthem.
During the 1980s, John Ellis recorded and toured frequently with Peter Hammill, and subsequently The Stranglers, eventually joining the latter full-time during the 1990s. Pat Collier went on to work closely with Robyn Hitchcock, producing and/or mixing a number of his albums (to which Knox also sometimes contributed). Despite numerous line-up changes, The Vibrators are still touring to this date as a three-piece; Carnochan and "Eddie" being the only original members.
The band's discography is notable for many live albums, outtakes, round-ups and best-ofs. One of the more recent is Live Near The Seedy Mill Golf Course, released in the UK by Invisible Hands Music in 2003.
A lack of further chart activity, and with only one UK Top 40 single to their credit, sees the Vibrators join the list of one-hit wonders; a list that includes other UK punk and new wave acts such as The Banned, John Cooper Clarke, The Flying Lizards, Jilted John, 999, the Radio Stars, and the Rich Kids.