Peter James Wylie (born 22 March 1958) is an English singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as the leader of the band variously known as Wah!, Wah! Heat, Shambeko! Say Wah!, JF Wah!, The Mighty Wah! and Wah! The Mongrel.
Wylie was born in Liverpool. He began his career in 1977 with lead vocalist Ian McCulloch and bassist Julian Cope, with whom he formed the band Crucial Three, which lasted from May to June the same year. In December 1977, he joined The Spitfire Boys, who dissolved the same month. Wylie and two of the band, Pete Griffiths and Peter Clarke, formed the same month The Nova Mob, alongside Julian Cope. The band lasted until May 1978. In August, he joined established local band Crash Course (December 1977 – January 1979) after seeing them supporting Big in Japan at the matinee of their farewell show in Eric's club on 26 August. The revised Crash Course made their first live appearance at Manchester University on 13 October.
On 22 December 1978, a professional recording of the band performing at Eric's was made for a live EP, to be released on the club's own label, and to follow the Pink Military EP which had also been recorded there. Crash Course disbanded in January 1979 and the record wasn't pressed (the tape subsequently lost). Earlier in December 1978, the band had recorded three tracks at Liverpool's Open Eye demo studios: "Someone Different" (with which The Glass Torpedoes had a minor hit in mid-1979), "The Tears of a Clown" (the Smokey Robinson song), and "Look Now". Shortly after the band's demise, the three Open Eye demo tracks were broadcast, in their unmixed form, on BBC radio. One of the last compositions to be rehearsed by Crash Course was the semi instrumental "Heart Surgery". A version of this later appeared on the Glass Torpedoes EP.
Active from 1979, Wylie and company garnered critical acclaim throughout 1980 for the singles "Better Scream" and "Seven Minutes to Midnight" (both as Wah! Heat), the latter being single of the week in the NME, Sounds and Melody Maker during spring 1980, and the 1981 Warner Bros. album Nah = Poo! – The Art of Bluff (as Wah!). Their biggest hit single was "The Story of the Blues", which was released in late 1982, and reached number 3 in the UK Singles Chart.
A follow-up single, "Hope (I Wish You'd Believe me)" was released in 1983, but found limited success. Next, Wylie released an officially sanctioned "official bootleg" of new and old songs entitled The Maverick Years 1980–81 on his own label. Clad in a cover that alluded to the early 1970s "Trade Mark of Quality" bootlegs, the record appeared as a white label with a blank outer cover and a sheet attached with sleevenotes by music journalist Adam Sweeting. This release did not shore up Wylie's dwindling fortunes and Wah! were subsequently dropped by WEA. In 1984, the Mighty Wah! had a Top 20 hit with the song "Come Back" (as with "The Story of the Blues", the song was chosen by the BBC Radio 1 radio DJ John Peel, as his "single of the year").
The accompanying double album, recorded for Beggars' Banquet, was entitled A Word to the Wise Guy. It was critically acclaimed, but sold poorly and the band were again dropped. By 1986, having ditched his backing ensemble, Wylie had a solo hit with "Sinful!", which peaked at number 13 in the UK, ostensibly produced by Ian Ritchie, but with major input from Zeus B. Held. "Sinful!" became the title track of his 1987 solo album, which included the enigmatically titled "FourElevenFortyFour".
In 1990, a single called "Imperfect List" was released under the project name of Big Hard Excellent Fish. The spoken-word track is a list of 64 least favourite people and things read by Wylie's then girlfriend and collaborator Josie Jones. The list was compiled by Wylie and the track was recorded by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins, although Wylie is not credited on the record. The list ranges from "Adolf Hitler" to "Lost Keys".
In 1990, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu released a limited edition (between 350 and 500 copies) white label version of "It's Grim Up North" featuring Wylie on vocals. This version was a club-only release. The main version was released in October 1991 with Bill Drummond on vocals, making the charts. Creative cracks had begun to appear by 1991, when the collaboration with the Farm on "Sinful! (Scary Jiggin' With Dr Love)" did little for either of the rival camps. In 1991, Wylie toured the UK in support of the Infamy! album with a band featuring Joe McKechnie on drums, Tony Jones on Bass and Peter Baker on keyboards. On 11 November of that year, Wylie suffered a near fatal fall when a railing gave way in Upper Parliament Street, Liverpool. He fractured both his spine and his sternum. A long period of rehabilitation ensued.
Wylie began to write songs again and sent demos to David Balfe, formerly of the Teardrop Explodes, founder of Food Records and by that time general manager and Head of A&R of Sony's Columbia label. There were reports that Balfe was so impressed he quickly gave Wylie £750,000 to record the songs, which Wylie did in London and Memphis, delivering Songs of Strength and Heartbreak to a delighted Balfe in 1998.
Pete quickly formed a new band line up recruiting Mike Joyce and a referral by band The Farm brought bass player Danny Lunt. The band relocated to London to record the new album 'Songs Of Strength and Heartbreak' at Abbey Road Studios with producers Mike Hedges and Peter Collins. The truth appears somewhat different as the album – despite being finished up to the point where artwork was finalised and discs had been sent out for review – was rejected by Sony, who chose not to release it. Subsequently, Wylie found himself in artistic limbo as Sony owned the rights to the music he had recorded as Songs of Strength and Heartbreak. He found it difficult to acquire the master tapes, and was without a recording contract. Eventually he was handed the master tapes, and Castle Records released the album.
Wylie's "Heart As Big As Liverpool" (1998) is popular within the city and especially with Liverpool Football Club supporters. It is used in the official Hillsborough tribute video, on a 2001 CD of Merseyside artists (compiled in collaboration with Liverpool Football Club) Mersey Boys and Liverpool Girls and features on Songs of Strength & Heartbreak, a 2000 album credited to The Mighty Wah! The song is also regularly played at Liverpool's home ground, Anfield. 2000 also heralded a compilation album entitled The Handy Wah! Whole. Wylie joined Dead Men Walking, featuring Mike Peters of the Alarm, Kirk Brandon of Spear of Destiny and Glen Matlock of the Sex Pistols. They toured extensively, performing old songs as well as new, including Wylie's "Your Mother Must Be Very Proud".
In 2003, Wylie voice is featured on the Apollo 440 the track "1234" from their Dude Descending a Staircase. Following an invitation from Alejandro Escovedo, Wylie performed at the 2006 South by Southwest festival in the United States at Austin, Texas. His next project was a twin album release with the working titles Pete Sounds and SLiME, both puns on mid 1960s Beach Boys projects.
Wylie was well known for his collaboration, professionally and personally with Josie Jones. Jones, from Merseyside is famous for singing on the Wah! hit single "Come Back" (the new wave band that Pete Wylie fronted) and for having sang on Wylie's solo efforts, such as "Sinful!" and "Diamond Girl" before doing the spoken word vocals for the Big Hard Excellent Fish release, "Imperfect List". News of her death surfaced in 2015.
For several years, Wylie expressed interest in making another record, as he hadn't made any "this century." In the autumn of 2017, Wylie eventually released his first album of the 2010s, entitled Pete Sounds. It was made with donations via Pledge Music, and then released on his own label.
|1981||Nah=Poo – The Art of Bluff
|1982||The Maverick Years 1980–81
|1984||A Word to the Wise Guy
|1991||Infamy! or How I Didn't Get Where I Am Today
|2000||Songs of Strength and Heartbreak
- The Way We Wah! (Eternal, 1984)
- The Handy Wah! Whole : Songs from the Repertwah! : The Maverick Years 2000 (Castle Music, 2000)
- The Peel Sessions (Strange Fruit Records, 1987)
- Heart As Big As Liverpool (When! Recordings, 2000)
|1980||"Seven Minutes to Midnight....To Be Continued"||-||-||-|
|1981||"Forget the Down!"||-||-||-|
|"The Story of the Blues (Part One)"||3||5||-|
|1983||"Hope (I Wish You'd Believe Me)"||37||18||-|
|1984||"Come Back (The Story of the Reds)"||20||19||-|
|"Weekends (How Come We Always End Up Here?) – The Recut!!!"||-||-||-|
|1987||"If I Love You"||76||-||-|
|"It's Grim Up North"||-||-||-|
|1991||"Sinful! (Scary Jiggin' with Doctor Love)"||28||-||-|
|"Long Tall Scally"||-||-||-|
|"Don't Lose Your Dreams"||-||-||-|
|1998||"Heart As Big As Liverpool"||-||-||-|
|"Sing All the Saddest Songs"||-||-||-|
|"The Milkyway Is Our Playground"||-||-||-|
|2011||"Silver and Gold"||-||-||-|
|2013||"The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies!"||-||-||-|