Virgin Prunes  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Virgin Prunes was an Irish gothic rock band formed in 1977. They disbanded in 1986 after the departure of Gavin Friday. The other members continued under the name The Prunes until they split up in 1990.



The band consisted of childhood friends of U2's Bono. Lypton Village was a "youthful gang" created by Bono, Guggi (Derek Rowan) and Gavin Friday (Fionan Hanvey) in the early 1970s, where every member got a new identity and where they could escape from dreary and predictable Dublin life and be anything they wanted to be. It was both lead singers Friday and Guggi who first gave a teenaged Paul Hewson his alter-ego and now-famous moniker "Bono Vox of O'Connell Street," later simply "Bono." Known for its outrageous and controversial stage performances, led by the bands' theatrical singer/songwriter Friday, they first began playing small shows in Dublin gaining them a cult audience and ridicule from the culturally conservative community.

Friday and Guggi, along with third vocalist Dave-iD Busaras, guitarist Dik Evans (brother of U2's The Edge), bassist Strongman (Trevor Rowan, brother of Guggi) and drummer Pod (Anthony Murphy), completed the original lineup. Pod left the group and was replaced by Haa-Lacka Binttii (né Daniel Figgis, now a composer and multimedia producer and curator). With Binttii now on drums, tape loops and keyboards, the band secured a deal with Rough Trade Records. They released their first single "Twenty Tens (I've Been Smoking All Night)", through Rough Trade but on their own Baby Records label in late 1980. They released a second single "In The Greylight" in early 1981.

Two other Binttii tracks were released during 1980 before conflicts with other members forced him out of the band. "Red Nettle'" was included on an NME compilation C81 and "Third Secret" was included on the Cherry Red compilation Perspectives And Distortion. Work had already started on the project "A New Form Of Beauty" while Bintti was with the band, but after he was replaced by Mary D'Nellon (Drums), some of his tracks were re-recorded and his name was not included in the credits.

"A New Form of Beauty" was a project that originally contained four chapters and was released in various formats - 7" single, 10" single and 12" single. There was also supposed to be a cassette but this fourth part was never officially released, although all four parts did appear on an Italian version of A New Form Of Beauty which was released as a double album.

In November 1982, the Virgin Prunes released their debut album ...If I Die, I Die (produced by Colin Newman of Wire) and Heresie, a French boxset. Heresie was commissioned by Yann Farcy after seeing them perform at the Rex Club in Paris and was based on a loose examination of insanity. In 1984 both Guggi and Dik Evans, unhappy with the music business, left the band. This forced drummer Mary D'Nellon to take up the guitar and allowed Pod to return as the band's drummer. The Virgin Prunes started to record the album Sons Find Devils, which has never been released.

A retrospective video titled Sons Find Devils was released In 1985; this video had nothing to do with the unreleased album of the same name. During May 1985, Over the Rainbow, a compilation of rarities, was also released.

In July 1986 the band, now a four-piece recording music written for 'Sons Find Devils', finally released a new album, The Moon Looked Down and Laughed. Also that year frontman Gavin Friday left the group. His departure was confirmed in the liner notes of the band's 1987 live album The Hidden Lie which contained a short statement confirming the band's break-up.

After disbanding as The Virgin Prunes, D'Nellon, Strongman and Busaras formed an offshoot group called The Prunes, which released three albums between 1988 and 1990 (Lite Fantastik, 1988; Nada, 1989; and Blossoms & Blood, 1990). Dik Evans played on The Prunes' album Lite Fantastik and a seventeen year old, Justin Kavanagh (a.k.a. Valley Limberg) from the Dublin hardcore band Mutant Asylum (with his cousin Cormac Figgis a.k.a. The Master Switch, now with Paranoid Visions) took the helm as guitarist for "Blossoms & Blood". In 1993, Justin Kavanagh went on to form Gormenghast with childhood friend Ray Brock, Robert 'Gilly' Gilbert and Dave Walsh. After Ray's departure they were joined by Padraig O'Toole of "The Gods". Justin Kavanagh also formed Snifferdog with Gerard Griffin. The Band was hotly tipped for the top by Hot Press Magazine and courted much record company interest But was plagued by line up problems, eventually fizzling out in 2007. Griffin is working on new material with The the helm. Gormenghast reformed in late 2008 after 13 years and are currently working on a new album. Binttii's youngest brother Jonathan Figgis is the boy who appears on the cover of the second Virgin Prunes single 'In The Greylight'. Jonathan now runs the award-winning film production company October Eleven Pictures with his other brother Jason Figgis

In 1998, Cleopatra Records re-released the Sons Find Devils video, along with a soundtrack album on CD. This was the first commercially-available Virgin Prunes material to be released since 1993 and, for a few years, the only commercially available full-length Virgin Prunes album on compact disc (though studio recordings of the songs "Baby Turns Blue," "Pagan Lovesong," and "Caucasian Walk" had cropped up on CD compilations of various Goth and other dark/avant-garde post-punk bands).

Gavin Friday has since had a reasonably successful solo career in both music and film. Guggi remains an influential artist in Dublin. Dave-id still records as a solo artist in Ireland. After 20 years of self-imposed seclusion from the rock world, Dik Evans recently gave an overview of his and brother Edge's early years in U2 for the December 2005 issue of 'Word Magazine'. Trevor, Mary and Anthony Murphy live quietly throughout Europe.

As of 2004, Daniel Figgis is currently composer in residence with Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, Dublin. One of his more recent compositions, Post Production, a 23 section suite for four musicians was performed at the Winter Garden, New York City, in December 2006. In 2008, Arts>World financial centre commissioned Figgis to compose and perform the sole European commission to celebrate their 20th anniversary of arts programming. His multi-disciplinary festival, Snakes & Ladders, will be appearing on Broadway, January 8, 2010 at Peter Norton Symphony Space.

After much talk, years of anticipation from fans, and with much input from the band, The Virgin Prunes' discography was remastered and reissued on Mute Records, which included ...If I Die, I Die, The Moon Looked Down and Laughed, Over the Rainbow, Heresie and an album of selections from the A New Form of Beauty series. In 2006 Dave ID-Busaras, Guggi and Gavin Friday contributed a track to the sea shanty collection Rogue's Gallery, appearing in the track listing as Three Pruned Men.

On October 4, 2009, three original members of the band, Gavin Friday, Guggi and Dik Evans, performed two classic Virgin Prunes songs, Sweethomeunderwhiteclouds and Caucasian Walk at Carnegie Hall as part of "An Evening with Gavin Friday and Friends", to celebrate Friday's 50th birthday. J.G. Thirlwell appeared with them as backing vocalist.


Studio albums

  • A New Form of Beauty Parts 1 - 4 (double album; 1981, re-released 1993)
  • ...If I Die, I Die (1982, re-released 1991 and 1993)
  • The Moon Looked Down and Laughed (1986, re-released 1993)
  • The Hidden Lie (1987, re-released 1993)
  • Heresie (1993)

Live albums

  • The Hidden Lie (Live in Paris 06/06/1986) (1987)

Compilation albums

  • Over the Rainbow (A Compilation of Rarities 1981-1983) (1985)
  • Artfuck: A Compilation of Rarities (1980–1983) (1993)
  • An Exhibition (Promo) (2004)

Extended plays

  • Twenty Tens (1981)
  • Love Lasts Forever (1986)
  • Our Love Will Never Die (1994)
  • An Extended Play (2004)


  • Moments and Mine (Despite Straight Lines)/In the Greylight/War (1981)
  • A New Form of Beauty 1 (1981)
  • A New Form of Beauty 2 (1981)
  • A New Form of Beauty 3 (1981)
  • A New Form of Beauty 4 (1982)
  • Pagan Lovesong (1982)
  • Baby Turns Blue (1982)
  • The Faculties of a Broken Heart (1982)
  • Baby Turns Blue/Walls Of Jericho (1982)
  • Love Lasts Forever (1986)
  • Don't Look Back (1986)


  • Sons Find Devils (1985, re-released 1997)

Box Sets

  • Heresie (1982)


  • Moments and Mine (1981)
  • Reptiles (1983)
  • Moonshiner (1986)


  • Rolf Vasellari: The Faculties of a Broken Heart, Black Sheep Press, 1985.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Virgin Prunes" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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