INSIGHT: Terry Murphy

In our second edition of Home’s Insight, we give you a behind the scenes and in depth look at a landmark in Depeche Mode history… The Bridgehouse! This is the story of Terry Murphy, this is his INSIGHT!

There have been a lot of people who have had a role in Depeche Mode’s success over the years, but there was one man who saw something in them early on and really helped them get their big break. That man was Terry Murphy. Terry was the owner of one of the premier pubs in London, The Bridgehouse. The Bridgehouse was one of the most influential pubs in it’s time and had many amazing bands grace it’s stage while it was in business. The Bridgehouse was where Depeche Mode supported Fad Gadget and caught the attention of Mute Record’s Daniel Miller. We all know that story, but there is a whole other story you don’t know…Terry Murphy’s story. Home caught up with Terry to hear his side and to get his Insight!

In his early years, Terry was an accomplished boxer who would go on to own various pubs… and then The Bridgehouse!

“My early years were devoted to Boxing. At 13 years old I won the schoolboy champion of Great Britain. Then I won 2 London titles and the ABA Junior championship of Great Britain. At this time I was working as a Fish Porter in Billingate fish market. I then turned to being a Professional Boxer going on to box for 2 British titles. I also boxed on the opening night of Independent Television, so I was the first ever boxer on I.T.V. I retired from boxing and bought a green grocery business. I then moved on to other businesses before getting my first pub, “The Rose of Denmark”, in Canning town where I started to have music. It was a small pub, so we could have only duets and solo singers. I left there after 3 years and took over a Disco Pub, “The White Hart”, in Bethnal Green E2. From there (in 1975), I took over the Bridgehouse in Canning Town E16. My brother John ran this pub, he had left a year or so before I took over. I asked him if he thought it had potential, he said it was a good pub. So in I go. The set up then was having the same band playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and maybe a band in the week, all heavy hippie bands. I changed this and got rock bands in every night except my night off on Tuesdays. We also had audition day on Sunday lunchtime, when between 4 and 6 bands would show us what they could do. They would play 4 songs each. If I thought they had potential I would give them a support slot in the week with a band that was compatible with them. One of these bands, called Cafe Racers, did not do very well for me so I only gave them one gig, they were never going to make it. They changed their name to Dire Straits, and made it!”

Running a pub was not always easy, so that boxing background came in handy…

“Trouble was always round the corner, so me being an EX professional boxer who was born and bred in Canning Town was a big help to me and my 4 sons; Terry, Glen, Lloyd, and Darren. All the local customers knew my sons and their fathers knew me. So there was hardly any trouble. If any of them started, I would tell them to behave or I will tell your father. I did not have to wallop many people at all. Only a few when there was no other way to get them to leave the pub.”

As the success of the Bridgehouse grew, so did the desire of bands that wanted to play there. Terry also started his own record label and one day he came across a tape from a band calling themselves Composition Of Sound…

“We moved through the heavy rock, funk, American west coast music to blues, punk, new wave, gothic, psychedelic… I was always looking for new sounds, having started my record company. Then I get this tape from a band called Composition of Sound that was included in a batch of around 20, which I got daily. I quite liked the name, so I played it in my office at the Bridgehouse. I would always have a few of my staff with me to get their opinion. Nobody liked it, except me. I thought it was different and more so, adventurous, because anyone with the guts to send this type of music to a rock pub must be brave and got what it takes to make it. So I told my assistant to book them, give them a gig. My thinking at that time was they come from Basildon, which is down the A13, it was one straight road then and I thought they might fetch a crowd with them. No such luck, only about 20 people came to see them. The pub was capable of packing in over 1000 people, so you can imagine how empty it looked. I spoke to them after the gig giving them their £15.00 fee. Dave said we will definitely pull more of a crowd if you will give us another gig, Vince said yes we have got a residence at Crocs in Rayleigh and they will all come down. I said I did like the band and I will give you some support slots to build a crowd up. This I did and one of the bands I thought would be perfect for them to support was Fad Gadget.…”

Terry in his office

Composition Of Sound has now informed Terry that they will be known as Depeche Mode from this point on. Turns out Dave was a fan of Terry’s sons band and he would go on to help Depeche as well…

“When the band played their first gig for me, I am pretty sure that I had advertised it as Composition of Sound. I would put posters all around the pub with the forthcoming attractions, Saturday … Sun.. and so on. (If anyone has any old Melody Makers, NME, Sounds, or Face music papers with listings of bands who played at the Bridgehouse, Terry would be interested in getting them for his website) After the band arrived for their first gig at the Bridgehouse, Andy came and told me that the name they we’re going to use in the future was Depeche Mode. I said, “That’s a French name isn’t it?” He agreed, saying “we got it out of a magazine”. I said, “Good, wish you luck with it”. I carried on talking to them, trying to get the feel of there ambition. Dave told me that he was a regular at the Bridgehouse when Wasted Youth played, it was one of his favorite bands. Darren, the bass player in Wasted Youth, is my son and lived with us above the pub. Lucky his band was having a rest that day, so I called him down to meet and watch the band. He would be able to give me some ideas about the band. I introduced him to Dave who was very pleased to meet one of the band members of his favorite band. Wasted Youth were headlining all over England; Marque, Lyceum, Rainbow, The Venue, everywhere. After the gig Darren said to me that he thought the band (Depeche Mode) was great and I should get them to record for Bridgehouse Records. He said to me, “Next time we play here, give them the support.” Darren also said he would put the word around when they were playing. He also would give out free tickets to their fans to come to the Bridge to see Depeche Mode. This I did not know till much later, so well done Darren, he was a big help in building up the band, but cost me a nice few Quid as well.”

Terry with Wasted Youth

Terry is starting to feel strongly about the bands potential and really gets behind them…

“So I set about building them up, the crowd as well as the band, which I had, spoke to about signing to Bridgehouse Records. They were pleased with my offer, so I set about building them up over a six month period with support gigs. The idea being they would get the experience of playing together and learning on stage how a song should be performed. The headline bands supporters would like them and come down next time they played to see them. Things were going well, building a nice audience. We always knew the customers were for the support band because they would be there early, before 8pm. The main band would be on stage at 9:30 so their supporters would turn up during the support bands gig around 8:45. So all was going well, I spoke to Vince and Dave about the recording, they said any time you are ready. I spoke also regarding publishing and they agreed to come and meet my publishers Martin & Coulter. They met me at the pub at 10 in the morning and I drove them to Kensington for the meeting. We had a good chat for an hour or so with Richard Gillingson and Bill Martin. Dave wanted to sign there and then, but Vince had already spoken to another publisher and promised to him, who he wanted to sign with. This was wise Of Vince. It is always better to have one against the other, you always get a better deal. I was sad to have lost out on the deal when he signed with the other publishers.”

1980 gig advert

1980 gig poster

Frank Tovey? Is that Frank Tovey’s son??…

“So we continued to promote the band for the next few months. As I said earlier, I was always looking for something a bit different. And I noticed in the music press that Fad Gadget were doing the rounds and getting some rave reviews. I really wanted to book them. I had seen them when they supported Wasted Youth at the Lyceum in the West End of London, so I kept an eye on the music press. Then I read that the front man’s name was Frank Tovey, the same name as one of my good friends from our working days in the Fish Market. He was also a best friend of my brother-in-law, Joe Lucy, who ran a pub gig at The Ruskin Arms in East Ham E6. I rang Joe and got Frank’s number. I called him and asked about Frank Tovey. He tells me, “He’s my son. Don’t you remember? You played with him enough when you fetched your kids around my house in Stepney.” I said, “Yes, but why did you not tell me that he had a band?” So Frank, Sr. gave me his agent’s name.”

A call to Frank and the show is booked…

“I phoned him. “Yes, they would be delighted to play the Bridge.” Fad Gadget were really an up-and-coming band, and an ideal band for Depeche Mode to support…young, trendy and hip. Perfect. I ring Dave’s house and once again spoke to his mother, who was always very nice and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble [for her]. And she would always write down what I said, so as not to make any mistakes. Dave Gahan was never in whenever I phoned, but he always got back within an hour or so. When I told him Fad Gadget was playing and they could support him, he screamed out with pleasure.”

Andy was always on time…

“The night arrives, and it was going to be a good one. We never opened until 7pm, but we would let in the band at 5pm so they could set up all their instruments. Without fail,Andy Fletcher was always first to arrive. I think he was working in central London, and on finishing work, came straight to the Bridgehouse. The rest of the guys came from Basildon. The A13 was always busy that time of night, so they were always a little bit late. Not Andy…he would be banging on the back door, waking me up from my afternoon snooze.”

A close friend of Terry’s “Steve Fisher” wrote a kind of “Bridgehouse Memoir” a while back and here is how he remembers the offer to support Fad Gadget that night…

“Depeche Modes big break:

I think Wasted Youth and John must have been on tour, as I was hanging about in the office with you before opening up. We got into conversation about Depeche Mode who were headlining that night, and then about Fad Gadget who were headlining later that month, one of us or both of us thought we should see if Depeche wanted the support gig.

Being the boy I got sent down to ask, I can remember like it was yesterday getting up on stage while the band were setting up and having a chat, I asked them if they fancied the gig, 3 members played it very cool and strugged, Vince meanwhile grinned like a Cheshire cat and replied something very close to “bloody hell, yeah!!” at which point I spotted out of the corner of my eye the other guys clenching fists in a subdued celebratory fashion.

When the gig came about, Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) did it dressed, I think as a Womble, right at the front of the stage for the whole gig was one Stinky Turner (lead singer with “Cockney Reject”), who stood totally transfixed by this site.”

The night of the show and Frank is going crazy and a support band gets an unheard of encore…

“So the night was here. Was I right to put Depeche on with Fad Gadget? We had no problem except trying to calm down Frank Tovey. He was so active, even during the rehearsal when there were no customers. He really put 200% into it. It was also nice to see his brother, who was a really good boxer and was there with my son Glen and Ray Winstone, members of the Repton Boxing Club. The gig went off perfectly, and because of the good feeling to the evening, Depeche did not want to come off stage. They even got an encore and came back on, which is unheard of for the support act. Frank said to me, “Let them go back on again, as many times as they like!” A true professional, Frank was.”

Terry was introduced to Daniel Miller backstage and he was asking him about Depeche…

“When he came on the audience erupted. He was diving all over the place… in the crowd, on the bar, smashing all the glasses. Standing at the back, I thought there was riot happening and ran round to the back stage area. I was delighted to see everybody laughing and cheering. I was introduced to Daniel Miller, from Mute Records. He was also a recording artist himself. He told me he was impressed with Depeche Mode. I told him we were going in the studio soon to get some tracks down. He was interested in that. I said I would send a copy of the recording to him when they were finished. He replied “that would be nice.”

Things with the Bridgehouse get really hectic and gets in the way of Depeche recording while other labels like Mute and Some Bizarre take notice…

“We never got to get Depeche in the studio. We were very busy at the pub. The record company was releasing two albums and four singles. Wasted Youth were on a European tour so things were very hectic. Daniel spoke to the band and got them in the studio. Because of Bridgehouse Records, he did it as a one off, with no contract exchanged. So he was very fair to me. A bit different from a guy who I had given a Thursday night to for new bands, and who booked one of my regular studios, John Bassetts in Forest Gate, and recorded a compilation that included Depeche Mode’s first recording, which should have been mine. Sum Bizarrely [ed: Some Bizarre], I think the label was called.”

How things worked with the bands that played the Bridgehouse…

“Our deal with the bands was they get 60% of the door takings. Established bands got between 80% & 100% because we knew that there would be a big crowd and we would earn our money from the bar takings. Regardless of who’s playing, you must have a good staff behind the bar to serve the customers. Weekends we would have up to 10 staff behind the bar, so if no fans turned up you could lose money.”

1980 gig list

“Charles and Diana wedding day; Depeche returns home triumphantly.”

The Bridgehouse starts seeing some tough times and Depeche Mode don’t forget who got them started and a secret show is offered…

“I was speaking to a Melody Maker reporter, who was at the pub reviewing one of the bands, and it was a quiet night, not many customers. He said to me, “Lost money tonight?” I said, “Yes, it’s getting a bit to regular.” I am thinking of moving on, the record company was busy. I might channel my energy more into that side of the business and leave the pub. Of course the next week I was shutting down the Bridgehouse over falling sales. “This gig will be sorely missed”, Was a typical headline in the Melody Maker and some of the other papers. A phone call from Depeche’s agent, the band wants to do a secret gig at the Bridge. “Great” was my reply. He said they are on tour, and have Saturday free. A secret gig? At 12 o’clock crowds began to arrive, of course we had to keep them outside. Come 5 o’clock when Depeche were doing their sound check, the pub was full. They were climbing through windows, through the toilets at the back, no way could we keep them out. So the band let them stay for the sound check providing they leave after that and make an orderly que. Dave had made the speech and from my point of view we had to get them out so they could pay to get in, sounds funny doesn’t it? I thought the band wanted their money for the work they were putting in. They did however obey Dave’s instruction and left the pub. By 7 o’clock when we opened the doors the place was surrounded. Over 1000 paid to get in the pub. When they were in, we opened all the doors so the crowd outside could here the music. Needless to say it was a sensational gig. At the end I went into the dressing room with the door takings and Dave said we want you to keep it and keep the pub open, it’s a great gig. And he gave me the bundle of money back. The amount was…well I’m not telling. The Average amount for a good gig would have been around 200. A lot of time there was only 50 or 60. Remember this was before they even had a record out. This got the band around £40.00 for the gig.”

Martin, Alan, Dave , and Terry 1982

When asked if he has ever seen any of the bootleg recordings from the shows at the Bridge he replied…

“No, I never knew anything about bootleg tapes. The only time I saw a poster of the band somewhere was that the tape being sold. I would love to see the picture disc, which I have never seen.”

Terry’s life after the Bridgehouse…

“I was then and still now, over the moon with their success. It proved to me that I was right to back my judgment. The only time I have seen them since was on the TV. Vince came down to the Bridgehouse to watch Alison Moyet when she sang with The Little Roosters, we had a nice chat. I have seen Fletch a couple of times, the last time at Frank Toveys’ funeral. It’s great to hear, Fad Gadget supported Depeche (in 2001). I bet they had a good laugh about it. My son Glen joined the series “London’s Burning” and spent 15 years playing George Green, a very successful show. Last year he produced and acted in Peter Pan, of course he was Captain Hook. He has had many parts; he started acting by putting plays on at the Bridge on the Tuesday night, my night off. I appeared in one of his plays, it was good. Darren stayed in music with his own label and ran with son Terry, our record pressing plant in Stratford E 15, this closed in 2003. Darren has not played in any bands since Wasted Youth finished in 1983. I left the Bridgehouse in August 1982 and took a free house, the Merlin’s Cave in Islington. I only stayed one year, we had some more great bands there also.”

Glen and Terry Jr. working the bar

Mark, Terry, and Darren

What’s Terry doing these days?…

”The Bridgehouse was raised to the ground in 2002 to make way for a flyover. After we left it became a nightclub then a hotel. These days, I play golf twice a week and run my web site with my good friend from the Bridgehouse days, Jeff Ellis. We are keeping the old Bridgehouse alive, never to be forgotten.”

Vanessa, Terry , Glen , and Rita

For more information on Terry Murphy and The Bridgehouse, please visit:

Interview by Pete. (C) Home. Do not steal this article without giving full credit and a link! Photos appears courtesy of Terry Murphy. 1980 gig list and gig flyer Images courtesy of Daryl Bamonte. Layout: The Home Team

1 Comment

  • Jon Vogel


    I remeber that gig , me and 3 mates were into Depeche Mode and Fad gadget , we came from Harlow in my old Banger VW Beatle , I remeber frank wandering all over the place during his set , shme the bridge is now gone , under the A13 slip to Manor Road