The Dead 60s hailed from Liverpool, England. The combo was led by vocalist and guitarist Matt McManamon and featured guitarist/keyboardist Ben Gordon, bassist Charlie Turner, and drummer Bryan Johnson. Forming in their teens, they went by the name Pinhole for a number of years, releasing a couple of singles and recording a session for John Peel before dissolving. In 2003 the combo re-emerged as the Dead 60s, perfecting a patchwork of post-punk, dub, and ska influences, with touchstones like the Clash, the Specials, and dub legend Lee "Scratch" Perry. By 2004, the Dead 60s had signed with local imprint Deltasonic, home to U.K. indie sensations like the Coral and the Zutons. The insistent, boppy "Riot Radio" single appeared in October of that year, the dub-inflected "Last Resort" followed in March 2005, and a self-titled full-length mixed by the legendary Mike Hedges dropped later that summer. By that point, the Dead 60s had enjoyed plenty of positive press, as well as high-profile gigs with the likes of Morrissey, Social Distortion, and Weezer. They also headed out to woo the U.S. with dates on the Warped Tour and at Lollapalooza. "Riot Radio" became a hit on U.S. alternative rock radio and was used in the soundtrack of the film Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist.
Decamping to New York in 2007, the band began work on their second album, Time to Take Sides. The album in the can, they spent the rest of the year working on other projects, curating a compilation of their favorite reggae tracks, Riot Radio Broadcast, for Trojan Records, and even releasing their own limited edition tartan Harrington jacket in collaboration with fashion label Fred Perry. On February 8, 2008, the Dead 60s issued a press release via their website announcing their disbandment, claiming they felt the band had run its course. Time to Take Sides saw release in a number of territories including France and Japan, but remained unissued in either the U.K. or the U.S. despite high praise from fans. Turner and Johnson later worked with James McCartney on his first two EPs. Together with Gordon, they backed the Specials' Terry Hall in his 2008 comeback solo gig at London's 100 Club, while McManamon joined the Specials as touring guitarist. Johnson went on to drum for Cold Specks. ~ Johnny Loftus & John D. Buchanan