If heavy metal was your bag in the late 70s and early 80s, you may well have found yourself headbanging to the three-piece band from Wakefield, West Yorkshire who went by the name of Vardis. Or they did after ditching their original band name of Quo Vardis (Latin for wither goest thou and the name of a fancy restaurant in Soho, London).
Fronting the band was the often barefooted, barechested Steve Zodiac (now that is a name!) and his mane of naturally ice-blond locks. And for all you fact fans, Steve Zodiac is thought to be a pseudonym adopted from the lead character of 1960s TV show Fireball XL5, or else tribute to his Selmer Zodiac 100-watt amplifier). Zodiac rocked the vocals and guitar (his Fender Telecaster was legendary), while Alan Selway played bass guitar and Gary Pearson took charge of the drums (though was later replaced by Terry Horbury).
With a glam rock/heavy metal blend, Vardis recorded their first vinyl under the title Jiving All Night with the B side Stay With Me - both of which were penned by Zodiac. This was hotly followed by covers of Chuck Berry's Roll Over Beethoven and Status Quo's Don't Waste My Time.
Vardis released their first album titled 100MPH in 1980 and, consisting of purely live recordings, this gained them a hardcore following. Their debut album is still thought to be their finest hour, and an original 100MPH with the enclosed tour guide and poster is now estimated to be worth around £500, as Vardis original records are extremely rare! Riding this high, Vardis were asked to play alongside rock legends Ozzy Osbourne and Motorhead at a huge music festival in the summer of 1981. That night, the PA system in place is reported to have reached new heights of amplification at over 100 watts!
For their second album, Vardis decided to add bagpipes into the mix when they covered Hawkwind's Silver Machine on their second album release. Entitled The World's Insane, this 1981 release also boasted a guest appearance from Status Quo's Andy brown, playing keyboards. It cemented their fanbase and even led to Steve Zodiac being voted in the top 15 rock guitarists by a magazine.
Unfortunately, by the mid 80s, memories of performing next to Ozzy Ozbourne and being an official rock god were mere memories. Like so many bands, Vardis' demise was brought about by legal disputes with their management. They have yet to make a comeback, but their fans still love em and Metallica have quoted Steve Zodiac to have been a heavy influence on their music. Pretty good going for three lads from Wakefield.