Birmingham Music


Shy back in the mid-1980s

Shy back in the mid-1980s

Shy emerged from Brum band Trojan during the early 1980s and featured Tony Mills (vocals), Steve Harris (guitar), Andy Kelly (drums), Paddy McKenna (keyboards) and Roy Davis (bass) who replaced original bass player Mark Badrick. Playing a brand of 80s synth-led commercial rock the band gained a reasonable following and released a couple of albums – Once Bitten, Twice Shy (1983) and Brave the Storm (1985) – to a ripple of enthusiasm before 1987’s Excess All Areas gained the band a wider following in part due to the airplay gained for the single Break Down The Walls with was co-written with Don Dokken.

My first encounter with Birmingham rock band Shy was somewhat curious to say the least! I was about 15 and one of my teacher’s sons played bass in another Birmingham band called Hostage and, as I was an aspiring drummer at the time, said teacher recommended I pop along to the Railway Inn on Curzon Street to see them live. Having never attended a ‘proper’ gig I went along with some excitement and met the band and had a great time especially with the encore for which the band recruited Shy vocalist Tony Mills for a rendition of Judas Priest’s Exciter which was excellent. Post-show I plucked-up the courage to speak to Mr Mills and said ‘great cover of Exciter’, to which he replied ‘do me a f*ckin’ favour’ and walked-off: at 15 that was quite a snub. Fast forwarding 3-4 years, through another Birmingham rock band Marshall Law, I got the gig of being Shy drummer Andy Kelly’s drum roadie; it’s a funny old world!

The band tirelessly gigged and toured both in the UK and abroad during the late 1980s and my main recollections from that time being the band performing and impromptu version of Exciter during a sound check at the Duke Of York (following me voicing my first recollection of meeting Tony Mills), supporting Bon Jovi at the NEC and a two-night showcase at the Marquee during which the following incident still makes me smile. We were all staying at the Charles Dickens Hotel in London and the morning after the first night at the Marquee were having breakfast and a natter when Mr Mills, ever tactful, enquired “has anyone seem that big-nosed Jewish c*nt Levine this morning”, with reference to the band’s then-manager Neil Levine, which was immediately met by a very dour “good morning Tony” from aforementioned manager who had come up behind us unnoticed by Tony!

I have to confess that my time with Shy was great fun and they were a really top bunch of guys – especially guitarist Steve Harris who was one of the most humble, pleasant people you could wish to meet – with Tony Mills awe inspiringly good at off-the-cuff quips and one-liners (sometimes to his detriment, as above) and I’m not certain to this day quite why they never quite made the big-time; particularly following-on from the reasonable success of Access All Areas it was widely assumed that their 1989 follow-up Misspent Youth would build their reputation further but it never quite happened.

Over the years the line-up of Shy has changed with Tony Mills leaving, rejoining and leaving once more but the band are still very much together and worth checking out live as is a track called The Hunter from the Brave The Storm album which was one of my personal favourites back in the day.


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