August 24 – Not Madness For Bedders To Keep Busy

It’d be “madness” not to wish a happy birthday to Mark Bedford today! “Bedders”, the bassist for legendary British ska band Madness turns 60.

He joined the band when they were called Morris and the Minors in 1979; soon after they changed names and quickly made a name for themselves. While over here remembered primarily for the single “Our House”, in their homeland they scored an impressive array of hits before breaking up (temporarily) in 1986. In fact, they tied UB40 – another ska act- for the most cumulative weeks on the British singles’ chart in the 1980s.No surprise since they lodged 19-straight singles into the Brit top 20 between 1979 and ’85, including classics (to a European at least) like “Michael Caine” and “One Step Beyond”. They varied considerably but were consistently fun, and consistently danceable. Bedford wrote a handful of their tunes but mostly was responsible for the pumping, rocksteady beat that characterizes their material.

His playing is probably much enhanced by his age and upbringing. He told Thom Hickey (who dubs Bedders an “RGB -right good bloke!”) Dark Side of the Moon was the first record he “couldn’t stop playing.” “Given my age,” he elaborated, “I straddled punk. I listened to Steely Dan, Neil Young, and Little Feat (but) was a massive Clash fan, and listened to a lot more reggae” after being exposed to them Throw in a bit of Motown – he lists Motown session man James Jamerson as his favorite bass influence – and you get a guy who’s drawn from a lot of musical wells. He still performs with Madness at times, including the closing ceremony of the London Olympics, and the official concert for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Outside of the band, in a brief hiatus in the late-’80s, he worked with Morrissey and Voice of the Beehive on the side. Music Radar recently called him “criminally-underrated” on a list of “30 Amazing, Unsung Bassists.” Some would consider him an under-rated graphic artist as well.

In between Madness albums he went to college as a mature student to study design and he told journalist Rhoda Dakar he considers graphic art to be a “parallel “ and equal love of his to music. Among his work, designing an entire line of housewares for a British retailer. It must be “madness” to Mark to sit and do nothing!

16 thoughts on “August 24 – Not Madness For Bedders To Keep Busy

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    The bass player and drummer in a ska band would never get bored…ever.
    I like a lot of their songs and think Our House was one of the great pop singles from the 80s.

    Is it just me or does the lead singer resemble 1950’s Biff from Back to the Future?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. he probably does – I’ll have to refresh my memory on what Biff looked like! I like most of what I hear by them, but “Our House”, the single, is only thing by them I ever bought. But back in the day they were highly enjoyable when played at a bar doing a retro night.
      An aside, yet another one gone – did you hear Charlie Watts passed away early today?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It will be great, yet eerie to hear an album with his last work on it. I’d never heard of Jordan, but looked him up & find he was SNL house band drummer and on some of the late night shows? Probably a good call, competent but not going to attract a lot of attention and try to steal the show

        Liked by 1 person

      2. badfinger20 (Max)

        Don’t tell Keith that lol. He loves that band and just released a live set from them from the 90s I believe. Yea they didn’t release a lot of albums…Talk Is Cheap was really good though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I see the Biff thing! Strange too how many people have artistic flair, not just in one field.
    And Charlie Watts? This is the end of several eras. It would sure be a sombre tour or recording session without him. Irreplaceable.

    Liked by 1 person

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