Potential Threat: Blackburn’s Punks Who Never Gave Up

Potential Threat formed in the very early 1980’s and used to practice in my favourite pub then – the Balaclava on Watford Street.

Bill Beattie was landlord of the Bala at the time.  He had half a dozen kids, including son Gary, who used to be a DJ and had lived in the squats of Amsterdam.  Gary had a great collection of music, some of it on his dad’s pub jukebox, with some outstanding Punk Rock.  This helped bring into the pub a lot of Blackburn’s spiky-haired and leather jacketed punk fans.

Amongst these Balaclava punks was a burgeoning group called Potential Threat.  They were a friendly bunch and let me and other punk rock fans in the pub watch them practice their incredibly fast music.  They had been through a few line-up changes already when I came across them back then.  They were Les on bass, who everybody who went boozing in Blackburn town centre seemed to know.  Woody, their drummer, was a big Rovers fan, who I used to bump into at matches.  Then there was Fos on lead guitar and girlfriend at the time, Pauline, their vocalist.  She is still fronting the group over 35 years later.

Strangely enough, this group’s first vocalist, Carl Rigby, went on to become a lecturer at Blackburn College.  I know this because he taught me Communication Studies in the early 90’s and helped me pass my only ‘A’ Level at this subject.

Like most groups, Potential Thread changed their members over the years and had dormant periods, but never actually split up.  Guitarist Andy Cowan was having a beer in the Napier one Friday afternoon.  I remarked upon Potential Threat being emblazoned across his jacket and we got talking about the group.  Andy said he had been a member of the band for over thirty years.  Along with Andy and Pauline, they currently comprise of Mick on bass and Ersy on drums.

Over the years the group has written their own material and toured with groups such as long-time Anarcho-Punks – Conflict – who, like Potential Threat, are still going to this day.  In 2014 they started rehearsing again and a year later played their first gig in over thirty years.  Unfortunately bad luck continued to blight the band, with Pauline suffering an attack of pneumonia and having to go in hospital at the end of last year.  Hopefully a new year brings new hope and Potential Threat will be back and showing everyone their own punk potential.

Roving Mick


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