The History of Witchfinder General

Read the Official History of Witchfinder General as told by Phil Cope, along with answers to some popular questions.

Steve Kinsell and Phil Cope, (cousins), aged about 16 when WFG was just about forming – Click pic for blowup.

Steve, Phil and Rod Hawkes had been in a school band called “Electrode” and Zeeb Parkes was the roadie, with the late Rob Hickman and singer David Potter.

Steve and Rod went to a band called Medway and Phil went to another, but in the end they all came back together and WFG was formed.

Here are some pics from their first gig ever. It was taken at The Crown, in Dudley.


Click the image on the right middle or left middle to sort through all the images.

 

 

 


 

Encyclopedia of Popular Music blerb on WFG

This Midlands-based New Wave Of British Heavy Metal group are rather better remembered for two controversial album covers than for any of their actual music. Formed in 1979 by vocalist Zeeb Parkes and guitarist Phil Cope, with a name taken from a classic horror film, the initial line-up settled with a rhythm section of Toss McCready (bass) and Steve Kinsell (drums). Their debut single, “Burning A Sinner” (also jokingly known as “Burning A Singer”), revealed a primitive, Black Sabbath-influenced doom metal style, and was quickly followed by the Soviet Invasion EP, and a track on the Heavy Metal Heroes compilation. Saxon producer Peter Hinton was drafted in for Death Penalty, recorded in three days with a session drummer – this position remained unstable – and bassist Rod Hawkes replaced the departed Kinsell and McCready. The album showed promise, although it suffered from the rushed recording process. Most attention centred on its sleeve, which featured a mock-sacrifice scene photographed in a graveyard, with a well-known topless model and friend of the band, Joanne Latham, appearing semi-nude. The subsequent publicity reached the UK tabloids, and the band attempted to repeat the formula with Friends Of Hell, with the sleeve featuring several semi-naked models daubed with theatrical blood in a similar sacrifice scene, this time photographed in front of a church. This cynical effort succeeded only in losing what little support the band had garnered, and they quickly faded.

Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Copyright Muze UK Ltd. 1989

 


 

  

Kerrang! Magazine Interview

No.29, Nov. 19th – Dec. 2nd 1982

Interview with Zeeb Parkes of Witchfinder General

Witchfinder General and That Album Sleeve

If Venom are the spiritual descendants of the Marquis De Sade and Demon possess links with Dennis Wheatley, then Midlands quartet Witchfinder General have their roots buried deep within the fertile imaginings of Milton Subovsky, perhaps the greatest of all horror movie makers. For, like Subovsky, General have the capacity to invoke an atmosphere of gleeful Gothic torment, whilst never losing the ability to laugh at the ultimate absurdity of it all.

Click here to Read More

 


 

Phil Cope Interview

November 2004

Note: This interview was transcribed from a tape sent to me by Phil. I’ve tried to preserve not only the words, but also the accent in the transcription, so remember that ‘ = h. Read it with a rough British accent and you’ll be fine.

Hi Liam this is Phil.

I’d like to start by sayin’ thanks very very much for what you’ve done. This tremendous website. It’s such a help. Just givin’ the band a little bit of credit again. Brilliant. Thanks mate.

“Right… Go back to the start. Before the start of the band. This is where we all met… I’ll take it from there. It was at school, late 1974. There was myself, Rod Hawkes, Robert Hickmann who is no longer with us ‘Rest In Peace’. He played a major part in the band later on as it was ‘im who’s idea it was to give the name Witchfinder General. So…

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Witchfinder General Lineup

 

Zeeb Parkes – Lead Vocals ’79 – ’84

Phil Cope – Guitars ’79 – Present

Johnny Fisher – Bass ’79 – ’80
Live only. Did record with the band but recording was never used.

Steve Kinsell (aka Kid Nimble aka Kid Rimple) – Drums ’79 – ’82
Recorded Burning A Sinner and Soviet Invasion singles.

Kevin McCready (aka Toss) – Bass ’81 – ’82 (replaced Johnny Fisher)
Recorded Burning A Sinner and Soviet Invasion singles.

Woolfy Trope (aka Phil Cope) – Bass (replaced Kevin “Toss” McCready)
Phil played the bass tracks on Death Penalty.

Rod Hawks (aka Corks and Hawk Eye) – Bass ’82 – Present (replaced Toss)

Graham Ditchfield – Drums ’82-’83 (Replaced Kid Rimple)
Recorded Death Penalty, Friends of Hell albums and Music single.

Dermot Redmond (aka Derm the Germ) – Drums ’83 – Present
Live only – No studio work with the band.

Gary Martin (aka Gaz) – Vocals 2007 – Present