One of the groups wrapped up in the late-'80s/early-'90s wave of bands (Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, for one) that were hyped (and sometimes over-hyped) to the gills by such U.K. publications as NME and Melody Maker, the Sultans of Ping F.C. earned their notoriety with the infamous singles "Where's Me Jumper?," "Stupid Kid," and "Veronica." Formed in Cork, Ireland, the Sultans of Ping F.C. went through a number of roster changes and a breakup/ten-plus-year hiatus, only to re-form in the latter days of the 2000s to storm stages across the British Isles once more.
Original members Niall O'Flaherty (vocals), Pat O'Connell (guitar), Paul Fennelly (bass), and Ger Lyons (drums) came together under their football-esque moniker in 1988, and earned a following after some well-received local gigs. In April 1990, the band went into the studio to record demo tracks, and emerged with three songs that were packaged as Confessions of a Sellafield Sex Guru. They played their first gigs in Dublin in 1990, and were invited to play at the EuroRock Festival, held that year in their hometown of Cork. The first of many roster shakeups occurred in 1991, as Ger Lyons and Paul Fennelly left, and were replaced by Morty McCarthy (drums) and John McAuliffe (bass). Their show as headliners on the last night of the Cork Rocks Weekend in 1991 was witnessed by one Martin Heath, who quickly signed them to his Rhythm King label. Before the band could get into the studio, however, McAuliffe left, with Alan McFeely taking over.
The U.K. was next to feel the Sultans' energy, as they finally got an opportunity to play there in late 1991. The show was a hit, and the band recorded and released its first single, "Where's Me Jumper?," the following year. Its success in the music papers led to a John Peel appearance on BBC Radio One, and the follow-up track, "Stupid Kid," was a number one on the U.K. indie charts. In 1992, the Sultans of Ping expanded the festival appearance section of their résumé, getting slots at Fleadh, Feile, and Reading. In addition to their live appearances, the Sultans began studio recordings for album number one. As the year went on, the Sultans toured with Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, and scored a major-label deal with Epic.
In 1993, the full-length Casual Sex in the Cineplex was released and became a Top 30 hit. Spending the rest of the year on tour and hitting the festival circuit, the Sultans built up a buzz, and -- unexpectedly -- dropped the "F.C." from their name. In March of 1994, the Sultans of Ping released album number two, Teenage Drug (it was later released in Japan as Teenage Planet Sexy War), and toured Europe. The band's first foray into the United States came in 1994, as did the EP release Wake Up and Scratch Me. In 1995, the band dropped the "Ping" from their name, and toured with the Ramones.
But that was to be the end of the ride, as the Sultans split in 1996, following the release of the single "Mescaline" and the Arista album Good Year for Trouble. The bandmembers worked with other bands and projects, including Pharmacy, Mika Bomb, and Sister, but generally veered away from the Sultans' legacy, that is, until 2005, when the band re-formed for some gigs -- this time as the Sultans of Ping -- with former touring friend Jim Bob (of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine). They continued their renaissance into 2007, playing gigs at Brixton and in London (with the full complement of Carter USM) and returning to the sales bins with the release of the single "Girlwatching." The Sultans of Ping remained active with a number of smaller regional gigs the following year. ~ Chris True