Taking his stage name from a murderous butler in a 1926 Laurel & Hardy movie (Do Detectives Think?), singer/songwriter/musician Jeff Plewman made his auspicious debut in 1975. He wrote and performed the soundtrack to ‘Un Chien Andalou’ at Toronto’s Roxy Theatre on March 17 – a 15 minute feature before the Rolling Stones’ feature ‘Gimme Shelter’.
He later formed the three-piece progressive-electronic pop group FM with fellow Torontonians Cameron Hawkins and Martin Deller. They spent the better part of a year working on their debut, but BLACK NOISE wasn’t released until 1979 when American Passport Records picked it up – over 2 full years after its completion. Despite the album going gold, the Canadian distributor (GRT Records) went broke, and distribution rights went to Capitol. FM to this point, had received nothing. Not until 1995, when FM re-issued the album on CD, did the band make any money from the sale of this record. To this day it sells very well on CD as one of Canada’s top progressive-rock recordings, highlighted by the cult classic “Phasors On Stun”.
He first donned his trademark body-bandages at a show at Toronto’s The Edge – based on the near-disaster at the 3 Mile Island nuclear plant. He came out on to the stage covered in green phosphorescent makeup shouting to the crowd “This is what happens!” By this time he’d ventured out on his own and formed the independent label Cut-Throat Records. His first solo release was 1978’s BEDSIDE COMPANION, a 4-song 12″ EP of instrumental electronic music. His live theatrical show had become infamous in the Toronto area, each based on a theme. Even his choice of instruments is unusual for the pop realm -preferring electric violins andmandolins to guitars.
The following year saw his second solo release – his first full length lp. DREAMS & NIGHTMARES was a collection of instrumental horror stories, destined to become another of Nash’s trademarks. It sold over 12,000 copies in the first year – one of the most successful independent releases at that time. He opened up some shows for Devo, Pere Ubu and Elvis Costello, all the while gaining a reputation for his bizarre yet intriguing interpretations of the macabre.
He released a 7 minute twisted cover of Jan & Dean’s “Dead Man’s Curve” as his first ever single the next year – prior to his first tour of New York. This led to opening slots for the likes of XTC and Gary Numan across North America. That summer he found himself on his most auspicious tour to this day, on the same card as The Who in front of his hometown crowd at CNE Stadium. Though he offered to do the gig for free, he would end up being paid $125 – minimum union wage. A second tour with Gary Numan was planned in the UK. But before he ever made it to the stage his electric mandolins were stolen – prompting a feature on a Scotland Yard tv program – similar to Crime Stoppers. Hastily-gathered replacements saw the completion of the tour.
After signing with Virgin Records’ affiliate DinDisc, CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT – recorded at Pink Floyd’s studio (Brittania Row) was released as his second full-length lp later that year, as was the ‘official live bootleg’ – HAMMERSMITH HOLOCAUST, a five song EP which included Slash’s own-take on a Who classic “Barbara O’Riley”.
With Bill Nelson producing, Slash released “Novel Romance” as a single in ’81, but his journey into actual ‘pop music’ was less than successful. His next full album was DECOMPOSING later that year. In between tours with The Tubes, Human League and Iggy Pop, he also appeared at a number of outdoor festivals. He also found time to appear on 3 tracks on Gary Numan’s DANCE lp as well as tour as part of his entourage. The first LP playable at any speed, DECOMPOSING gains rave reviews in Playboy magazine and The Village Voice and wins a number of awards throughout North America. Nash’s wide appeal also gained the album airplay here and abroad – in places as obscure as Poland.
1982 saw the release of AND YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE NORMAL. The single “Dance After Curfew” was produced by Daniel Lanois in an attempt to gain a commercial acceptance. North American tours with Iggy Pop again and Kim Mitchell preceeded more international fanfare – including top album according to Billboard magazine.
1984 marked the unofficial reunion of Slash with FM cohorts Cameron Hawkins and Martin Deller. They collaberated with him on his most commercial record to date – AMERICAN BAND-AGES. A collection of re-workings of rock standards, it featured covers of Grand Funk’s “We’re An American Band”, Joe South’s “Hey Joe” and CCR’s “Run Through The Jungle”. Ironically, tho he’d been a solo artist for the better part of eight years at this point, he was nominated that year for a Juno for best new male vocalist – losing to eventual winner Alfie Zappacosta.
That same year saw THE MILLION YEAR PICNIC – a greatest hits compilation, as well as 4 EXTERNALCUTS ONLY – 2 versions of 3 previously recorded songs see the light of day. He couldn’t have dreamed of a publicity stunt like what happened in ’85. Pepsi-Cola was running TV ads which featured Rough Trade being served pop by waiters dressed in bandages and wearing sunglasses and tuxedos. A legal battle ensued – and tho Pepsi had a point when saying Nash’s image was anything but original (he was criticized for stealing the gimmick from ‘The Invisible Man’) – they eventually settled out of court. All the while, his collaberation with Hawkins & Deller again inspired a full-fledged reunion for FM, good for 2 albums from ’85 thru ’87 – CON-TEST and TONIGHT – which contained 5 tracks from CON-TEST.
Some of their music was also featured on the 1988 film ‘Friday The 13th – Part 7’. Sporadic Canadian tours ensued over the next couple of years before Slash returned to his true mission in life – scoring the music to films. Between ’89 and ’96 he worked on several projects, including ‘Black Pearls’, ‘A Trip Around Lake Ontario – Roadkill’, ‘Father Snowshoes’, ‘Blood & Donuts’ and a pair of classic silent films – 1919’s ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ and ‘The Lost World’ from 1925.
In ’97 he released BLIND WINDOWS, a loose collection of instrumental remixes of his earlier works. The CD got worldwide distribution, reaching #3 on the Canadian Indie Charts. He continued doing local projects while finding time to write for the next album. THRASH was released in ’99 and contained Slash’s trademark penchant for the macabre set in an electronic atmosphere, including the title track, “Theory of The Black Hole,” “End Of The Millenium,” “Give Me The Creeps, and “Guns And Sandwiches.”
In 2001 he returned to adding modern a modern touch to silent films, scoring a re-release of the first actual vampire movie ‘Nosferatu’. That same year an FM greatest hits package called LOST IN SPACE – OBSCURITIES AND ODDITIES was released nicely summing up the group’s three albums.
In 2009, the long awaited concert captured on tape happened, when he released the nearly hour-long LIVE IN LONDON, taped during his 2008 UK tour, featuring a number of his own compositions, as well as covers of “21st Century Schizoid Man,” “Dead Man’s Curve,” “Baba O’Riley,” and “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”