Beyond autographs: 80s band handwritten Q&As

Vintage band General Public

This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

From 1984 until 1988, I was a teenage music fanzine publisher — a self-appointed job that allowed me to creatively combine my love of music, writing and photography.

In my case, they weren’t edgy ‘zines or filled with pages of TV ‘shipping or poetry, but focused on bands I liked (and loved) — more mainstream British and Australian acts, as well as those still playing small clubs.

One of those bands was General Public, which happened to be fronted by two guys from another one of my favorite groups, The English Beat.

General Public – live and in person

I read dozens of “real” music magazines from the US, UK and Japan, and often picked up ideas from those glossy pages that I could use on my photocopied ones.

One thing in particular I loved reading were band members’ handwritten answers to basic, easy (and often silly) questions, so borrowed the concept and typed up my own Q&A forms. If I met or interviewed a band and there was enough time, I asked them to fill out one of the questionnaires, then featured them in my fanzine.

DON’T MISS: And The Beat goes on: 30 years later with Dave Wakeling

general public backstage 1986

In December 1986, after seeing them play shows in Sacramento and Berkeley, four members of General Public — Dave Wakeling, Ranking Roger, Horace Panter and Stoker — were kind enough to fill out these Q&A forms for me before their concert in Santa Cruz, California. (Backstage photos from that day are shown above.)

General Public/English Beat: Dave Wakeling’s Q&A

Dave was the lead vocalist for The English Beat and General Public.

1980s-band-questionnaire dave wakeling beat general public

General Public/English Beat: Ranking Roger’s Q&A

Ranking Roger fronted both The Beat/The English Beat and General Public, and performed throughout England with The Beat until his death in 2019.

1980s-band-questionnaire ranking roger general public beat

General Public/English Beat: Horace Panter’s Q&A

Horace is a bassist who played with The Specials before General Public. He has since gone on to continue his music — and also works as a teacher, and author (of Ska’d for Life: A Personal Journey with The Specials) and an artist.

1980s-band-questionnaire general public specials horace panter

General Public/English Beat: Stoker’s Q&A

Stoker is a drummer who played with Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Tin Tin and General Public, and has also worked as a producer for Sting, Dance Hall Crashers, and produced the hit single “Baby Come Back” By Pato Banton with Robin and Ali Campbell of UB40. He still works creating and producing music.

1980s-band-questionnaire stoker general public dexys

ALSO SEE: What is a fanzine? The basics of these DIY magazines

Nancy J Price

Nancy J Price

In addition to being the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lilyvolt, Nancy J Price was one of the two original founders of in 1999, helping turn it into one of the world's top lifestyle websites for women. More recently, she spent more than two years as the executive editor of Grateful, a Gannett/USA Today Network site. Nancy is also the founder of the Click Americana vintage & retro website. She lives in Arizona with her four kids and partner, novelist Daniel Price.

don't miss