The Piranhas

TrackAlbum / Single
Space InvadersVirgin VS314
I Don’t Want My BodyThe Piranhas
Coloured MusicAttrix RB/04/SUE
Yap-Yap-YapAttrix RB/06/YAP
Tom Hark Sire SIR 4044 / The Piranhas
Green Don’t Suit MeThe Piranhas
Final StrawThe Piranhas
BoyfriendSire SIR 4044
ZambeziDakota DAK 6
Easy Come Easy GoAvenue 6.13831 AC


Piranhas playlist


Contributor: Alan Haines

I only saw the Piranhas once. In Nottingham in 1980. They were irresistible that night, being in turn funny, spikey, irreverent, lively and bouncy, and all the while playing some great tunes. At that time, they were getting some airplay for their single Space Invaders, a catchy song about the irresistible lure of the arcade game, featuring row after row of little green aliens that needed zapping.

The game Space Invaders was a cultural phenomenon in the late 70s and the upright arcade cabinet was a familiar sight in pubs and student bars across the country. The lead singer of the Piranhas, the self-declared ‘Boring’ Bob Grover sang, I hate that bloody machine, I dread going into the green, those aliens are really mean, bombs drop on me in my dreams. Which just about sums it up really. If you were aged about 18-24 in 1979-81, a night out wasn’t complete without a few pot shots at the aliens. The single, which came out on Virgin Records in 1979, didn’t trouble the charts and soon after that the band left the label.

The Piranhas were an integral part of a thriving punk and pub rock scene in Brighton. They were also influenced by ska which was having a 2 Tone inspired revival in the late 70s. John Peel’s ever alert antenna ensured that the Piranha’s first single, I Don’t Want My Body, got some airplay in 1980.


I Don’t Want My Body was actually an earlier song of theirs and was included on an Attrix Records compilation album Vaultage 78 – Two Sides Of Brighton along with the songs Tension and Virginity. My copy of this is autographed by the band, at least I hope it’s them. The song also appeared on side two of their album The Piranhas.

Now with Hansa/Sire Records, the single came out in a pic sleeve with a suitably grumpy looking Bob Grover, the ‘adenoidal adonis’, reclining on the front, taking issue with God over his allocated physique. As he says, I don’t want my rib cage, lying on my back it looks like a toast rack, I don’t want my body, God give me another one, you can have this one back. If you’re not smiling when you listen to the Piranhas, you’re not listening hard enough. They never took themselves seriously and their humour is a major part of the appeal. Boring Bob was assisted in his musical and comedic endeavours by Dick Slexia (Richard Adland) on drums, Zoot Alors (Phil Collis) on sax, Reginald Frederick Hornsbury on bass and Johnny ‘Piranha’ Helmer on guitar and vocals. Yup, they had funny names too.


My third choice is the 1979 single, Coloured Music, released on Attrix Records; a strangely jerky little number that took a tongue in cheek swipe at the plethora of records coming out on coloured vinyl in the later 1970s. The chorus notes, colour is cool, hanging on your wall, records are really neat, every lump of wax is an artefact, music is obsolete. And I did have coloured and pic discs artfully arranged (or so I imagined) on the wall in my room at the halls of residence, just to impress any female student who might wander in. Needless to say, that was a wasted effort on my part.


The next single was Yap-Yap-Yap and perfectly captures the unremitting boredom of listening to middle aged/older people nattering on and on about friends and relatives common place activities. Surely all young people suffer from this. It’s what drives them out of the house to stand on street corners, or go to the pub if they’re old enough. Bob sings, I don’t wanna know what, when, who, why, I don’t wanna know yap yap yap, I don’t wanna know, if you don’t stop I will snap and the pic sleeve shows him looking beleaguered as he’s pinned to the sofa by a barrage of gossip from his mother/aunt?


If the Piranhas are remembered for anything, it’s the single Tom Hark that reached the unexpected position of six in the charts in August 1980. The song itself wasn’t a Bob Grover composition, although he did write some new lyrics to update it. It was a South African kwela song from the 1950s that, according to Wikipedia, featured as a theme tune to a British TV series The Killing Stones and in doing so reached number two in the charts in 1958 as recorded by Elias and his Zig-Zag Jive Flutes. Several other artists have covered the song in the intervening years, including Ted Heath, Millie Small and Georgie Fame.

The band inevitably got a slot on Top Of The Pops with their appearance made memorable by some of the worst miming ever on that show (and that’s saying something) and Dick Slexia attempting to play the drums with two large plastic fish. It’s worth a look (see below). The song was taken up by football fans as a chant and could be heard at many grounds, including Old Trafford where the Manchester United fans used it to praise Wayne Rooney, and at Arsenal where home fans sang along with it about Thierry Henry. Apparently, it has been belted out by rugby and cricket fans too. Other football clubs adopted it but it resonated once more in Brighton when a band called Seagulls Ska featuring Attila the Stockbroker recorded a version called We Want Falmer in 2005 as a part of the fundraising for Brighton and Hove Albion’s new ground, reaching #17 in the charts.


The 1980 album (which rose to #69 in the charts so not too shabby) simply entitled The Piranhas included Tom Hark and the cover made it clear the hit single was present. The artwork shows the band as they looked when performing the song on Top Of The Pops. They might as well have just called the album ‘Tom Hark’ and be done with it. A later compilation CD on Cherry Red Records (2004) did call itself Tom Hark – The Piranhas Collection.

On side two there is an anti-war song called Green Don’t Suit Me, green being the colour of an army uniform just to state the bleedin’ obvious. Of course, this was a time when CND were enrolling thousands of new members and the threat of nuclear war seemed very real amidst rising tension between the USA and the Soviet Union. Bob’s thoughts were quite succinct: You want another war, oh god what for, you’ve only just recovered from the one before.

Final Straw fittingly closed side two of the album. After receiving a ‘Dear John’ letter from his girlfriend and a load of bills to pay, the hero of the song decides that, right, that’s the final straw, put on me hat and coat and slammed the door, right that’s the final straw, then I got drunk and fell on the floor. All sung in a rousing ‘going down the pub’ sort of way.


I’m going back to the single Tom Hark for number eight in my Piranhas top ten. On the B-side are two songs, Getting Beaten Up and Boyfriend. The second song has to be listened to all the way through to appreciate the joke. It could have been lifted from a 1970s sit-com or even The Benny Hill Show. I won’t ruin the running gag by quoting any of the end lyrics, suffice to say it’s about a guy desperately trying to persuade a woman he fancies to have a dance with him, who responds to his evermore persistent overtures with the line, no thanks, I’m waiting for my boyfriend.

The band tried to repeat their Tom Hark success with a song called Vi Gela Gela in 1981. Unfortunately, this didn’t chart, even if I did buy it twice in the 7″ and 12″ versions. I did my best lads! By now the original band had split following a tragic car accident when the vehicle the band were in was hit by a lorry. The band’s manager was killed and Zoot Alors (Phil Collis) was badly injured.


When they did have further chart success with Zambezi reaching number 17 in 1982, they had a very different line up. This time they appeared on Top Of The Tops (see below) with two female singers who made lots of ‘ooh ooh’ noises to jolly things along. They shared the stage limelight with ‘Boring’ Bob Grover (now also described as ‘The Man With The Golden Trumpet’). Zambezi was previously recorded by Bert Kaempfert on his A Swinging Safari album in 1962 but the Piranhas version is a much jauntier take. It also includes some lyrics by Mr. Grover, delivered by him dressed as Dennis the Menace from the Beano!


The final throw of the dice for the band was a single called Easy Come Easy Go released in 1983. Once again ‘Boring’ Bob Grover (‘The Man With The Golden Trumpet’) had been inspired by a catchy overseas tune; this time the Afrikaans song Meadowlands, to create an upbeat version that didn’t get much airplay and so didn’t reach the charts. However, I feel inclined to include it as it’s a part of Piranhas history and is so little known.

After this, the band members went their various ways. Dick Slexia and his fishes went on to play in many other bands and he had spells with Wreckless Eric and John Watts. Sadly, he died in 2017 of lung cancer. Bob Grover had led some alternative Piranhas line ups over the years including the Piranhas Four and Piranhas 3D. He’ll probably go on playing the Piranhas set of eccentric, silly, and humorous songs for a long time yet, although he has a new passion, repairing classic old watches so they don’t end up landfill. And his old songs have had a new lease of life too with Cherry Red Records releasing a four CD set of everything the Piranhas ever did in 2021.





The Piranhas photo 1


7 of the songs in this top 10 can be found on the 20-track CD:
Tom Hark – The Piranhas Collection

All 10 are included (as you’d expect) in the 4CD set:
The Piranhas – The Complete Collection


The Piranhas (Wikipedia)

The Punk History of Brighton Bands: The Piranhas

The Punk History of Brighton Bands: Attrix Records

The Piranhas biography (

Alan Haines is now retired and enjoying not going to work but doing things he wants instead, such as reading, listening to music, researching family history and walking the dog.

TopperPost #1,061


  1. Austin Fisher
    Apr 6, 2023

    A very likeable band. Deserved more success I thought. Enjoyable read – thanks!

    • Alan Haines
      Apr 7, 2023

      My pleasure. It was fun to put together. At least they enjoyed a few moments in tbe spotlight.

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