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anarchy in the uda Terror chiefs Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair and Sam McCrory hailed as trailblazing punks in new book

Before their involvement with paramilitaries McCrory and Adair were members of skinhead 'Oi' band Offensive Weapon

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Members of Offensive Weapon which include Johnny Adair (L) and Sam McCrory (R)

Members of Offensive Weapon which include Johnny Adair (L) and Sam McCrory (R)

Members of Offensive Weapon which include Johnny Adair (L) and Sam McCrory (R)

Former terror chiefs Johnny 'Mad Dog' Adair and Sam 'Skelly' McCrory are hailed as trailblazing musicians in a new book on Ulster punks.

Before the infamous Shankill Road duo got involved in paramilitaries, they were members of skinhead 'Oi' band Offensive Weapon whose gigs in Belfast attracted hundreds of fans.

And they find themselves featured in the book Oi and Skinheads in Northern Ireland.

This week 'Mad Dog' Adair - who now lives in Scotland - said some people still identify him with the band instead of his later role as a UFF terror leader.

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The front cover of a new book Oi & Skinheads

The front cover of a new book Oi & Skinheads

The front cover of a new book Oi & Skinheads

"A few years ago I went on holiday to Greece and we went to see where the Popeye film had been made," he said.

"I heard a man shouting my name. He brought his wife and children over to meet me - he was an Offensive Weapon fan.

"But he told a story about when he was a young fella, he took time off work and got three buses to come to hear the band and apparently, we were rotten!"

Sam McCrory - who was better known as 'Skelly' - was the band's frontman and singer, while Adair was on bass.

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Offensive Weapon band strike a pose for the camera. Johnny Adair, holding bass guitar.

Offensive Weapon band strike a pose for the camera. Johnny Adair, holding bass guitar.

Offensive Weapon band strike a pose for the camera. Johnny Adair, holding bass guitar.

The 'Oi' musical revolution grew out of the early day 'Boot Boys' and 'Tartan Gang' culture from a decade before.

According to the book's author Stephen Smyth, the culture change happened when teenage gangs began forming in loyalist areas of Belfast in the early '80s.

Clothes and dress sense helped provide an identity. And working-class lads began wearing Wrangler denim jackets, parallel trousers or rolled-up jeans with DM or Oxford boots.

And the Boot Boy and Tartan Gangs popular in loyalist areas were also mimicked on the nationalist side of the city.

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Catholic teams with Protestant-sounding names like the Unity Flats Defenders or the Shamrock Tartan began being seen on streets.

And streets around the City Hall provided makeshift battlefields for both sides.

And female members who hung around with the gangs and wore very similar clothes became known as 'Millies'.

Offensive Weapon was Belfast's first 'Oi' band. Essentially they were a Shankill Road outfit.

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Sam McCrory (L) and Johnny Adair (R)

Sam McCrory (L) and Johnny Adair (R)

Sam McCrory (L) and Johnny Adair (R)

Like many other teenagers in Belfast, Adair was attracted to the punk music being blasted out in clubs like Harp Bar and The Pound.

He was already a skinhead when he began listening to the likes of Madness and Bad Manners. But after hearing the harder edged bands like the Cockney Rejects, Skrewdriver and the 4 Skins, he became hooked on 'Oi'.

Long before they had ever heard of the UDA, he and his pal Skelly made regular trips to London to hear the big bands, once even bumping into Madness frontman Suggs walking through Camden Town.

Back home in Belfast, they decided to form a new band. One of their friends had a drum kit and he could play it. And their buddy was already competent on guitar. He had a special interest in punk.

Adair persuaded one of his sisters to order a bass guitar and amplifier through her catalogue account.

Author Stephen Smyth says he was impressed by the number of people who urged him to consult Adair before writing his book.

"People told me you need to speak to Johnny Adair," he said.

"He was the driving force of Offensive Weapon. From an early age, it was evident - Johnny was a leader not a follower."

Yesterday, Adair says he still gets pleasure out of hearing people reflect on their days supporting the band.

"There was a wee man on the Shankill who was deaf and dumb. He couldn't hear, so he couldn't speak.

"But he eventually learned three words: 'Johnny, Skelly and Offensive Weapon.' I liked that!" he said.

Skelly continued to front Offensive Weapon until he was sent to jail for three years in 1984. With the frontman behind bars, Offensive Weapon broke up.

hjordan.media@btinternet.com

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