'Skrewdriver' were a controversial 'Oi!' band from the early 1980s, and were reviled by most 'Oi!' fans for helping to tarnish the whole movement with their particular brand of white supremacy. Most punk bands didn't pick a definite target for their misery, adopting a blandly non-specific, anti-establishment stance (witness grunge a decade later). Skrewdriver were the exact opposite, and had they emerged in Germany in the 1930s they might have gone down well, but they did not and they... did not.

The band's first incarnation was in 1977, and consisted of Ian Stuart (the focal point), Kev McKay, John Grinton and Phil Walmsley. The band had evolved from a Rolling Stones tribute band (!) called 'Tumblin' Dice', and produced a number of singles and an album ('All Skrewed Up') before calling it a day the following year, as the group's skinhead image wasn't helping their commercial prospects. At the time they had not yet 'come out' as a white power band.

By 1979 they had reformed as essentially Ian Stuart and an ever-shifting backing band, and released the LP 'Boots and Braces' on their own Rock-a-rama record label. This was where the band sharply diverged from the mainstream, with songs such as 'White Power' ("Are we going to sit and let them come / Have they got the white man on the run") and 'Free my Land' ("Once a nation, and now we're run by Jews"). Under Stuart's leadership the band attracted a strong National Front following, by which time the band were persona non grata in most concert halls throughout Britain. They continued to release records until Stuart's death in a car crash in 1993.

For an example of the band's approach to the tricky problem of race relations (the first line references the Brixton riots), here is a verse and chorus from their song 'When the Boat Comes In' (lyrics by Ian Stuart):

They riot on the British streets, they're burning down our land
But the fools in government pour money in their hand
Give them money, give them jobs, ignore the British whites
We won't stand, so watch out now, we'll take it with a fight
Nigger, nigger, out! Out!
Nigger, nigger, out! Out!
Nigger, nigger, out! Out!
Nigger, nigger, out! Out!

The nasty thing is, there isn't a great deal of difference between Skrewdriver's stance and the 'New Wave of Right-Wing Punditry' that has been infiltrating the mainstream since the late-80s. Granted, neither Rush Limbaugh nor Richard Littlejohn would never chant 'Nigger, nigger out!', and neither can play guitar as far as I can tell, but the underlying message is much the same.

A search on Google for 'Skrewdriver' returns more than a few National Front / Combat 18 - related sites; it goes without saying that you won't make many friends if you wander around with a Skrewdriver t-shirt.

They are absolutely not to be confused with Swervedriver, and vice-versa. Or for that matter Skrew.

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