Actor and comedian Rik Mayall sadly passed away today, 9th June 2014, aged just 56. The cause of death is not yet known.
Rik Mayall was born in Harlow, Essex. When Mayall was three years old, he and his parents — who taught drama — moved to Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, where he spent the rest of his childhood and performed in his parents' plays. After attending The King's School, Worcester, Mayall went to the University of Manchester in 1976 to study drama, where he befriended his future comedy partner Ade Edmondson. He also met Ben Elton and Lise Mayer, with whom he later co-wrote The Young Ones.
Edmondson and Mayall gained their reputation at the Comedy Store, from 1980. Apart from performing in their double act, 20th Century Coyote, Mayall also developed solo routines using characters such as Kevin Turvey and a pompous anarchist poet named Rick. This led to Edmondson and Mayall, along with Comedy Store compere Alexei Sayle and other upcoming comedians including Nigel Planer, Peter Richardson, French and Saunders, Arnold Brown and Pete Richens, to set up their own comedy club called "The Comic Strip" in the Raymond Revuebar, a strip club.
Their shows led to Channel 4 asking the Comic Strip to produce six short films called 'The Comic Strip Presents' which hit the screens in November 1982.
Rik Mayall starred in 'The Young Ones', Blackadder', 'The New Statesman' and 'Bottom' as well as the comedy films 'Drop Dead Fred' and 'Guest House Paradiso'.
What appealed to fans of Heavy Metal was the spoof rockumentry 'Bad News On Tour' which starred Mayall, Edmondson, Planer and Richardson. The band all had alter egos of Colin Gregson, Vim Fuego, Den Dennis and Spider respectively. The story told of a band on the road with little budget, little fanfare and big tempers. Coincidently this was being filmed as the same time as Spinal Tap was in America.
Bad News took on a life of it's own and they were invited to play at the Monsters Of Rock Festival at Castle Donington in 1986 performing after openers Warlock on a bill that also featured Motorhead, Def Leppard, Scorpions and Ozzy Osbourne where they filmed another rockumentry called 'More Bad News' which was first broadcast in 1988.
Following their appearance at Castle Donington, Bad News also appeared at the Reading Festival a year later in 1987 with Rik Mayall entering the stage on a wheelchair with his leg in plaster, some years before Kurt Cobain ironically did this with Nirvana.
Bad News recorded an eponymous album produced by Brian May of Queen. The tracks were written by both Mayall and Edmondson and featured such side splitting classic tracks as 'Warriors Of Genghis Khan', 'Masturbike' and 'Drink Till I Die' as well as a highly alternative version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody' which was a minor hit single with the 12" version also featuring a cover of '(Oh) Pretty Woman'.
Bad News also supported Iron Maiden for one night at Hammersmith Odeon in 1986 where they were joined onstage by Led Zeppelin legend Jimmy Page.
Bad News headlined the venue themselves a year later and this performance was filmed but never released although some live clips were featured in the video for the single 'Cashing In On Christmas'. Their last live performance was at the Marquee Club in 1988 where Jeff Beck and Brian May joined them onstage.
Only last November MetalTalk's Mark Taylor spoke to Rik Mayall in a chance meeting outside the Black Heart in Camden where Rik was watching his son Sid play drums for the rather excellent Pink Cigar.
Mayall expressed a very keen interest in reforming Bad News for one last time. Apparently, Richardson and Planer wanted to do it but Edmondson however was too busy with his own musical project.
Rik Mayall was a very entertaining and iconic figure for youth of the mid eighties and beyond. He will be sorely missed.