The story of Madness... in their own words
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How it all started

The story behind Seven Ragged Men. Or, How I Finally Found A Use For Three Hundred And Seventy Nine Thousand Words Of Nuttiness.

Hello, good evening and welcome.


Seven Ragged Men is a labour of love that started back in 1997 when, thanks to a new job and a few idle moments, I suddenly had access to a massive digital library of press cuttings.


Like all good anoraks, I dutifully began collating Madness interviews, with the vague notion of a book, much like The Beatles Anthology or U2 By U2, in which the bands told their own story in their own words.


Madness themselves have often said that few outsiders could capture what it meant to be a Nutty Boy, so I thought, who better than the band themselves to do the talking?


Over the years, the collection of quotes and interviews grew…and grew…but I was still no nearer to actually doing anything with them.

Both well worth a read.

It was only when I donated a few excerpts to the excellent Madness In Quotes Facebook page in 2015 that a lightbulb spluttered into life.


I thought I should finally do something with the reams of copy cluttering up my hard drive,  so…voila.


The content for Seven Ragged Men has been collected from far and wide, as you’ll see in the Credits section. Sources range from radio, magazine and TV interviews to the official Madness website and many excellent fanzines.


I’ve tried to mention where I found everything and give credit where credit’s due, but if you think I’ve stolen ‘your’ quote or stepped on your Tiptoes, apologies. Everything has been done with the best intentions – to share the Madness story and plug the gap until a proper book comes along.


I’d like the site to keep growing, so if you have a quote or interview you think I’ve missed, please get in touch (as long as it’s not the hoary old chestnut from Suggs about “lying on the floor of Lee’s flat in Caledonian Road…”)


And finally… this is not meant to be the definitive history of Madness. Basically, if they haven’t said it, it’s not here. But who knows? One day they might reveal the secrets behind Solid Gone and those Sekonda ads. And when they do, I’ll add ’em in.


UPDATE: In 2019, Madness released their official autobiography: Before We Was We. To readers of Seven Ragged Men, the format will have been very familiar – the story of the band told in chronological order, using quotes from the band themselves. As Suggs said about seeing The Specials for the first time in 1979: ‘I didn’t know whether to feel jealous or fuckin’ vindicated.’ If this site did inspire the first-ever book by the band in 40 years, then job done.


Happy reading.


Iain, 2017


PS if you’re not a Maddie, the title of the site comes from the song Mad Not Mad, from the 1985 album of the same name:


“Dancing over Big Ben / Seven ragged men.”