Protex formed in 1978, inspired by the band members experiencing first-hand the Clash’s landmark visit to Belfast in 1977 when their gig was cancelled at the last minute due to insurance problems. The Clash's Belfast visit in 1977 is considered by many to be the catalyst for the punk movement in Northern Ireland. Protex was greatly influenced by The Clash and took their original name, Protex Blue, from an album track on The Clash's eponymous debut album. The band did not realise the Clash song was about condoms.
Protex's debut live performance was in 1978 at Knock Methodist Church Hall in Belfast. Shortly after the show they shortened their name to Protex to avoid any confusion about being a blues band. They performed around Belfast and eventually secured a radio session with local station Downtown Radio. By regular gigging around the city the band soon came to the attention of Terri Hooley who they initially met at a gig at the Glenmachan Hotel in Belfast. Hooley prompted them to record a three track debut 45 which he released on his Good Vibrations record label in November 1978 as issue GOT6. The Belfast label had previously released singles by Rudi, Victim, The Outcasts and The Undertones. The single was later re-released on London-based Rough Trade Records.
Following good reviews from the likes of NME writer Tony Parsons and more radio air play the band secured a BBC Radio 1 session for the Kid Jensen show. This led to interest from Polydor Records who signed the band. The band were all still in sixth form at school when A&R men came over from London to see them play live at Chester’s in Portrush. At Easter 1979 Protex went to London to record their debut single for Polydor - I Can’t Cope.....(Read more)
Links to Peel
Murtagh notes that Peel was an influence on him inasmuch as he went to Terri Hooley's (owner of the Good Vibrations label) shop to buy records he had heard on John's show, having heard the first Clash album and Anarchy In The U.K.   JP supported the band with regular airplay, as he had done for labelmates the Undertones: their first single moved him to murmur, "There are strange things happening in that part of the world." However, the first session was not repeated due to its provenance, an LP recorded in 1980, Strange Obsessions, lay unreleased for thirty years and an isolated outing for their first single on an edition of Peel's Pleasures ended John's interest in the band.
Festive Fifty Entries
- One session, no known commercial release.
- Don't Ring Me Up / I Can't Cope / Place In Your Heart / Popularity
Other Shows Played
- 03 October 1978: 'Don’t Ring Me Up (7")' (Good Vibrations)
- 02 November 1978: 'Don’t Ring Me Up (7")' (Good Vibrations)
- 02 January 1979: 'Don’t Ring Me Up (7")' (Good Vibrations)
- 22 February 1979: 'Listening In (7"-Don't Ring Me Up)' (Good Vibrations)
- 08 May 1979: 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 10 May 1979: 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 12 May 1979 (BFBS): 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 26 May 1979 (BFBS): 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 30 May 1979: 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 18 June 1979: 'I Can't Cope (7")' (Polydor)
- 23 June 1979 (BFBS): 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 26 June 1979: 'Popularity (7"-I Can't Cope)' (Polydor)
- 01 November 1979: 'I Can Only Dream (7")' (Polydor)
- 04 December 1979: 'I Can Only Dream (7")' (Polydor)
- 14 August 1982 (Peel's Pleasures): 'Don’t Ring Me Up (7”)' (Good Vibrations)
- ↑ He is also under the mistaken impression that their sole session was recorded for Peel's show.