Gerry Anderson and Colum Arbuckle go back all the way. Friends since they were young lads in Derry, picking out sounds on the guitar, sharing a flat in Manchester where they both played in bands and learned life, and eventually getting thrown out of a flat in Manchester.
After a spell in Gay McIntyre’s band, their paths diverged. Colum took off to the US, and Gerry made his way to Dublin before eventually finding his way to Canada, where he enjoyed many adventures, mostly musical, including a stint playing with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks in 1972. All this while they were just in their twenties.
The Dawn of Toejam
On both Gerry and Colum’s return to Derry some time later, the three-piece group Toejam was born featuring the two lads and Jim Whiteside. The origins of the band’s name is attributed to The Beatles song “Come Together” – and yes, other accounts of the moniker’s murkier origins are also available.
In an interview with Chris Kilpatrick in Belfast Live in 2015, Colum reminisces, “Even though our music careers separated us to different countries on the other side of the Atlantic, we reunited back home after a few years and formed the band Toejam and played filthy rock ’n’ roll’’ for almost 10 years.
The Toejam sound
Toejam set out to be a covers band, but in time developed their own style, their own sound, and their own songs – heavier than a lot of what was doing the rounds then. With their unique, well-honed sound they cultivated a strong and dedicated following and travelled as far south as Limerick and Cork playing to a younger, discerning cohort, and quite a few students too.
Though the record deal continued to evade them, their success meant a heavy touring schedule both in Ireland and in the UK often supported by up-and-coming groups, such as a fledgling U2.
Completing the full circle
As it turned out, Gerry and Colum both ended up working for Radio Foyle in the same room where Gerry became a star. As Colum says:
He never changed though. He still had his ways.
All the tracks and Toejam photos featured here have been kindly provided by Colum. Some songs are digitised versions of live recordings, and the remainder were recorded at home using various inventive household means to improve acoustics. We’re so very proud to bring them to you.
Maybe you were one of the Toejam devoted…