One of the first major bands on the Irish punk rock scene, the Radiators fused the angry, upstart attitude of their peers with a tough, guitar-based attack and intelligent songwriting that would earn them a potent cult following both in Ireland and Great Britain. The Radiators were formed in 1976 when guitarist and singer Philip Chevron, who had been fronting a band of his own, met guitarist Pete Holidai after reading about Holidai's like-minded band Greta Garbage and the Trashcans in an Irish music paper. Chevron, Holidai, and one of Holidai's bandmates, vocalist Steve Rapid, began rehearsing together, and after the addition of bassist Mark Megaray and drummer Jimmy Crash, the new band toyed with several different names before christening themselves the Radiators from Space.
The new group quickly began recording demo tapes of their material, and less than a week after they made their live debut opening for Eddie & the Hot Rods in Dublin on November 13, 1976, they signed with Chiswick Records, and their debut single, "Television Screen" b/w "Love Detective," was released in April 1977. The single went into the Irish Top 20, and Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy endorsed the band, but their luck took a turn for the worse when the Radiators from Space organized a punk rock festival at a college in Dublin; a fan was killed during a fight at the gig, and the publicity cost the band a number of major bookings, though they appeared on the bill at a massive open-air gig in August with Thin Lizzy, the Boomtown Rats, and Graham Parker & the Rumour. The Radiators from Space made plans to relocate to England, but Steve Rapid opted not to go, and Chevron took over as lead singer; both sang on the group's debut album, TV Tube Heart, which appeared in October 1977.
By this time, the band had streamlined their name to the Radiators and had signed a deal with CBS Records for Ireland. In 1978, the band started work on their second album with noted producer Tony Visconti at the controls; the group also added guitarist Bill Morley, who had been a member of Greta Garbage and the Trashcans. An early single from the Visconti sessions, "Million Dollar Hero," was well reviewed after it was released in April 1978, but it stalled in the charts, and the group's ambitious new material didn't click with fans at live shows, and the band stopped touring in England after a combative London gig at the end of October. It wasn't until August 1979 that the Radiators' long-completed second album, Ghostown, was finally released, and despite rave notices from critics, it didn't do well in the charts. By the time the album had finally appeared, Bill Morley and Mark Megaray had quit the Radiators, and rather than tour to support the disc, Chevron focused on writing and staging a musical, The Ha'Penny Place.
The Radiators soldiered on for a bit, recording new material with producer Hans Zimmer, but while two singles were released in 1980 and the band toured Ireland for the first time in two years, tensions grew within the group, and shortly before releasing a farewell single, "Song of the Faithful Departed," in March 1981, the group announced their breakup. In 1985, Chevron joined Celtic folk-punks the Pogues in time for the recording of their breakthrough album, Rum Sodomy & the Lash, and finally enjoyed the international success that had somehow avoided the Radiators. The Radiators reunited for a one-off show in 1987 to benefit a Dublin AIDS group, and the show was recorded for a cassette-only release, 1988's Dollar for Your Dreams. A new song from Chevron, "Under Clery's Clock," was debuted at the benefit show, and a studio recording was released as a single in early 1989; it was later added to a remastered reissue of Ghostown that appeared later the same year.
In 1996, the same year the Pogues announced their breakup, a live Radiators album, Alive-Alive-O!, recorded at a London gig in February 1978, was issued. In 2004, the Radiators reunited for a handful of live shows and released a new EP. More shows followed in 2005, and the following year the group recorded a new album, Trouble Pilgrim, which was released in Ireland on October 20, 2006; it featured the group name the Radiators from Space, possibly to avoid confusion with the American roots rock act the Radiators. The album was issued in Great Britain in 2007. ~ Mark Deming