Before he and Gaye first crossed paths, Tim Smith messed about in a band named Slaby Witness, a creation born out of the daily routine of Okehampton Grammar School. When he moved down to Torquay to study at South Devon Technical College, he took Slaby's bassist Andy Bennie with him. The new band was to be Sleaze - a sign of the glam rock times. The group was no more by summer 1975 but fifty copies of a recording they had made remained. (One of the tracks, 'Listen Don't Think,' later turned up on 'Crossing the Red Sea' retitled, 'Newboys') Still intent on making music, Tim got together with Gaye, a recent convert to the bass, and - after moving from their native Devon to London - they advertised in Melody Maker for others to join a new band they were planning. Eventually Howard Boak responded - guitar duties were sorted out. Laurie Muscat got the drummer's position and the line-up was complete. Ideas for the band's name? 'One Chord Wonders' was thrown about but eventually they settled on the 'Adverts.' In the tradition of the Pistols and the Stranglers, their own names had to change as well: Boak was a Northern English anachronism for 'vomit' after all. Howard chose instead to be named after the defining element of an electric guitar. Gaye took the group's title; Muscat transformed into Laurie Driver; and Tim changed his first name to TV because - apart from its connection to 'adverts' - it was possibly as ubiquitous a piece of home furniture as 'Smith' was a surname. TV Smith on vocals, Gaye Advert on bass, Howard Pickup on guitar, Laurie Driver on drums. The story begins. 'Technique doesn't count for much these days, it's songs and lyrics that matter' - Laurie Driver The experimentation of the Summer of Love - the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Band, etc - had inspired an overload of technical sparring between groups during the early 70s. The public had given it a chance but after listening to it with their ears, brains, bowels and hearts they had drawn their own conclusions: Yes and the like were the Devil Incarnate, the antithesis of why people had begun playing music in the first place. Technical proficiency no longer mattered: punk had brought music back to its original foundations - unity and expression. The Adverts played their first gig on January 15th 1977 as support for the recently formed Generation X. Their second gig followed four days later. The reaction was mixed; NME, as becomes them, missed the point, describing the band's performance as 'chronic.'

By this time, the Damned's guitarist Brian James had taken an interest in the group and offered them a couple of support slots and an introduction to Stiff records. First single out was 'One Chord Wonders,' TV's self-aware humour at the fore, but - in the NME's words anyway - it was simply 'mundane rock music.' It failed to chart. The band left Stiff and instead went to Anchor, the UK wing of American giants ABC. First single released on the new label was 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' - simple, brilliant, it was a masterpiece, its disturbing subject matter accentuated by Gaye's ascending bassline. The idea for the song came from a tabloid article TV had picked up about the wish of a murderer facing execution to donate his eyes to medical science. It reached No.18 on a storm of controversy: the public heard the reference to a convicted killer and were quick to condemn. That the song was more an indictment of humanity's callous efficiency and rationality was superfluous; the irony was lost on the public. The single brought with it a well of publicity and a national affection for Gaye and her panda-eyed, amphetamine-drained looks. 'All I'm trying to do is get a good sound and play right, I'm not one of Pan's People' - Gaye Advert She quickly became the band's main focus, a sore point not only for the rest of the band but Gaye as well. To the male psyche, one girl's come-to-bed eyes are a lot more important than lyrics dealing with the destructive nature of humanity as a whole - forgive us, it's innate, it can't be helped. Meanwhile, in October 1977, the group's third single, 'Safety in Numbers,' followed a brief tour with Iggy Pop. The song emphasized the band's distancing from sheep-led movements like punk. The band had taken punk's ethos but it had swapped the genre's general lack of focus for a more committed stance and direction. End-of-year polls however subjected the group to such pigeonholing, dumping the band in categories ranging from Punk to New Wave to Heavy Metal. Gaye proved popular in the Female Rock Vocal category despite only taking a few bvs herself. NME, finally succumbing to the Adverts' sound, voted 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' as the 21st best single of the year.

By February 1978, the band's debut album, 'Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts,' was released by Anchor offshoot Bright. John Leckie was brought in as producer, a recording engineer whose CV included work on John and Yoko's 'Plastic Ono Band,' George Harrison's 'All Things Must Pass,' and Pink Floyd's 'Wish You Were Here' and 'Dark Side of the Moon.' 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' was rerecorded but never made the final track listing due to time restrictions - anyone who was going to buy the album most likely had a copy of the single lying around anyway. Released in the UK, it peaked at No.38 replicating the success of the single 'No Time To Be 21' a month previous. ABC however refused to put the album out across the Atlantic - something about it being a British fad that would pass by after a few weeks. That summer the Adverts would quit Anchor and ABC. The band continued to gig constantly through the next year. During a tour of Ireland, Laurie was hospitalised with hepatitis and replaced for a short time with ex-Generation X drummer John Towe, until a permanent replacement was found in May '78 with Rod Latler(ex-Rings), formerly of the Maniacs. The new line-up signed to RCA records and immediately set to work recording the first songs for a new album at the Manor studios in Oxfordshire, with producer Tom Newman - a friend of Dempsey's who had previously worked on the decidedly un-punk Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Newman brought in keyboardist Tim Cross to augment the sound in the studio, and the band adopted him as a permanent member. Recordings for the album continued sporadically for the next year, and in the meantime, TV began writing songs with Doctors of Madness member Richard Strange. 'TV is the only New Wave songwriter who can string two sentences together and still remember what the first one was . . . apart from me, of course' - Richard Strange The pair put together fifteen songs but only one made it onto record, 'Back From The Dead,' the b-side to 'Television's Over,' the first release from the new Adverts line-up, which came out in November 1978. Two further singles were released, 'My Place' and 'Cast of Thousands,' before the second album came out in October the following year. After a year of experimentation, the sound was radically different: the Iggy-influenced raw power was less at the fore, but the album retained TV's assured songwriting and forthright observations, combining it with innovative arrangements. The critics saw it differently, and universally panned it. R.C.A. refused to promote the album, and callers to the record company offices were told that they didn't know who the Adverts were.

The problems weren't over. Throughout 1979 Howard had been becoming increasingly distant. One day, he just didn't turn up. As a rare live treat for fans, TV took over the guitar parts for a while, but eventually the band recruited Paul Martinez. Not long after, seeing the writing on the wall, the group got together with manager Michael Dempsey and announced their split. Rod got the call and accustomed himself to life without the Adverts. A few days later he found out that they were touring again with Paul's brother Rick on drums: unbeknown to the band, when they announced breaking up, they still had gigs to fulfil contractually. But by October 27th 1979, it was over. The final concert took place at Slough Art College and the Adverts were no more.