York’s biggest chart-topping band are to split, it was announced tonight (Tuesday).
Two of the founder members, drummer Alan Leach and guitarist-keyboard player Joe Johnson, “have decided to take an indefinite break from Shed Seven following our upcoming festival dates”, the band said in a statement.
It comes weeks after Alan said he would have to walk away from future tours unless the government backtracked over “the rule that says we can only play in music venues to [Covid] vaccinated people who can prove this via an app”.
This is the full statement from Shed Seven.
We are sorry to announce that for personal reasons both Alan and Joe have decided to take an indefinite break from Shed Seven following our upcoming festival dates.
We remain good friends and respect their decisions. We would like to thank them both for the many years they have spent playing with the band and wish them all the best.
Rick, Paul and Tom remain fully committed to Shed Seven and Shedcember 2021 and are looking forward to rehearsals, taking the show on the road and then seeing what lies beyond….
We will let you know who will be joining us on the forthcoming tour very soon.
Thanks, Shed Seven
Fans were shocked and dismayed. “So gutted, such sad news. Alan and Joe you have been amazing and thank you. Good luck to you both,” wrote Diane Harrison.
Lea Hans said: “Very sad news. All the best to Alan and Joe and maybe they will come back in the future when the time is right. So glad and relieved that Rick, Paul and Tom are carrying on, couldn’t cope with no S7 in my life.”
‘A step too far’
Alan has been outspoken in his views on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Britain.
In a Facebook post last month, he wrote that the public had been divided into three broad groups – the first group being people who were worried sick by all the news about the virus.
The second group are “the people who are worried sick about themselves and their children being backed into a corner where they will be forced into getting themselves vaccinated and carry digital proof on a smartphone in order to not be excluded from day to day life”.
“And then there is my category. Those who are worried that the government is deliberately trying to cause these two groups, of very worried people, to turn on each other and that this is rapidly turning into a huge divide which seems poised to lead to hatred, segregation and physical unrest.”
He wrote: “Forcing musicians’ hands to take sides and discriminate against a section of society in this way is, in my opinion, an unthinkable step too far.
“So it is with a very heavy heart that I must declare that if no u-turn takes place here from the Government with regards to the rule that says we can only play in music venues to vaccinated people who can prove this via an app, then I will have a moral obligation to walk away and not be a part of the forthcoming Shed Seven tour.”
Today, he wrote that because no u-turn has happened, “regrettably, although we remain good friends, I will be leaving ‘Shed Seven’ after honouring the four remaining summer festival shows.
“I’m sorry to Rick, Tom, Paul, Joe, our crew, SJM, 13 Artists, Mark, Chris and Nigel and everyone who is trying to make this work under tricky conditions. And also to the fans who’ve bought tickets.”
Alan added: “I’ve never suffered from anxiety or depression before, but I’m finding this divisive shit very hard and if I stick around to hear the phrase ‘Our Hands Are Tied’ one more time, I’ll completely lose my mind.
“Did my musical heroes Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Bob Marley, Joe Strummer etc write loads of great songs about ‘putting up with your hands being tied’? No They wrote songs about fighting for freedom and standing up for what’s right.”
Shed Seven formed in York in 1990. Between 1994 and 1999 they had 15 Top 40 singles and four Top 20 albums in the UK.
The band officially broke up in 2003, but reformed for a greatest hits tour in July 2007. They have toured periodically ever since, and released a new studio album, Instant Pleasures, in 2017.