You Say It's Your Birthday: Madness' Chas Smash

With his post-Nirvana success, Dave Grohl has plenty to be happy about today. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Today is the birthday of Madness trumpet player and emcee

Chas Smith (born Cathal Smythe), who was born in 1959. During the 1980s

Madness, along with the Specials, revived '60s ska, updating it with snatches

of R&B, soul and pop music. What was once Morris and the Minors, a band which

featured Madness saxophonist Leo Thompson, guitarist Chris Foreman and

keyboardist Mike Barson, and later the Invaders, which added Graham "Suggs"

MacPherson on vocals, Dan Woodgate on drums and Mark Bedford on bass, changed

their name to Madness in 1978; Smash auditioned for those early bands but was

refused until 1979 when the band signed with Stiff records. The band released

their debut, One Step Beyond, that same year and the title song became a

top ten single in Britain. The followed with 1980's Absolutely and

somehow became the spokesmen for Cockney youth all over the UK.

In 1981

Madness made a film, called Take it Or Leave it, about what it took to

start a band. The group was constantly scoring top ten singles, from "Baggy

Trousers" to Cardiac Arrest" to "Driving My Car" and the ever-popular "Our

House," which was released in 1982. While they were top sellers in Britain,

American audiences were more interested in Madness' live performances than

their records. The group continued to score well with the British fans but

after the success of "Our House," were barely heard from in America again. They

disbanded in 1986, although some of its members reunited for an album under the

name Nutty Boys. And though they worked together as Madness in 1988, they

disbanded permanently that same year. Other birthdays: Mike Tramp (White Lion),

Dave Grohl (Nirvana) and Patricia Morrison (Sisters Of Mercy). -- Beth

Winegarner