Strength – An Oral History [Part 7]

The Alarm Strength – An Oral History [Part 7 – The Spirit Of 76 in 86]

“‘In January of 1986, word came back from MCA that they realised they had made a mistake with The Alarm and ‘Strength’, and so in conjunction with IRS, they decided to release ‘Spirit of ’76’ as the follow up single. Mainly, because they thought it would appeal to the huge post ‘Born In the USA’ Bruce Springsteen audience and something that classic American Rock Radio stations would relate to and hopefully embrace. They were also ready to put the full weight of their promotion team behind the release and so we were persuaded to embark on a massive US Arena tour with Pat Benatar as an attempt to cross the band over from our alternative base and further into the mainstream. We were added as special guests to the tour by our agent at Premier Talent – Barbara Skydell, with the hope that all the radio programmers would come to see the show (mainly because Pat Benatar was such a staple act on US Rock radio with a string of hits including ‘Love Is A Battlefield’), and while they were there, see The Alarm and add ‘Spirit Of ’76’ to the playlist.” – Mike Peters


“The centerpiece of Strength is ‘Spirit Of 76′. Beginning with its moody, allusive harmonica intro, moving onto Mike Peters’ hoarse, unadorned vocal and running smack into a drum-bass-guitar salvo, this is a first-rate anthem. This 7-minute, layered drama comes, as it were, in two movements, as Peters and co-writer Eddie Macdonald give us time to catch our breaths. The lyrics contain all the fire and defiance associated with this act (“I will never give in until the day I die’) as well as the evocation: “Mersey lights calling . . . Some nights when I can’t sleep/I think of all the promises, all the dreams we shared/I know those lights still call to you/I can hear them now . . . ‘” Lennox Samuels, Dallas Morning News,  Nov. 17, 1985

In this audio clip, Mike Peters describes the meaning of the song Spirit of ’76

-Mike Peters, Backstage Pass interview  91x San Diego, CA

“When all is said and done, This is probably my all-time favorite Alarm song.  It’s as quintessential as any track they ever recorded.   It pretty much sums up everything I ever wanted from and/or loved about the band.  It’s Pure magic.” – Steve Fulton, Alarm Fan

January 4th 1986 The Alarm BBC TV1: “Saturday Superstore”

January 9th 1986 The Alarm Kanal 1 – Norwegian TV Show Humia

– Photo of Mike Peters Diary for 1986
– Mike Peters Diary Entry

January 12th 1986 The Alarm Grieg-hallen, Bergen, Norway


January 13th 1986 The Alarm – Spirit Of ’76 released as a single in the UK and also at Radio in the USA.

The Alarm asked their fans to choose their next single, and overwhelmingly so, they chose “Spirit Of ’76,” a song written by Mike Peters about his teenage friends. The 7 minute song was the obvious standout on the Strength album. It’s quiet beginning, punctuated with harmonica, exploded with full- force electric guitars like The Alarm had never produced before. The song was a hit with Alarm fans, but became the bane of music critics. Missing the true meaning of the song, they called The Alarm naive for writing a song “glorifying punk.” “Spirit Of ’76” may have been set against a punk background, but it’s main themes were friendship, and teenage dreams, both lost and found. Loved by their fans, the song became The Alarm’s most popular of all-time. The “Spirit Of ’76” single was released in January of 1986. The UK 7″ included an inferior 4 minute edited version of the song, and a live version of “Deeside.” The USA 7″ include the edited version of “Spirit Of ’76” and the b-side “Reason 36.” In theUK, two 12″ singles were released. The first included the album version of “Spirit Of ’76,” as well as live versions of “Deeside” and “Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke” The other 12″, a limited edition double-pack, included the same 12″ single from the standard version, plus a second 12″ with live versions of “Sixty Eight Guns” and “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” All the live songs on the “Spirit Of ’76” singles were recorded Nov. 5th in Boston, MA. Only a 12″ promotional single was distributed in the USA, including the album version of the song, and a special A.O.R. edit. “Spirit Of 76” reached #22 on the UK singles charts, and grazed the top 60 in the USA.  –Steve Fulton, Goldmine 1995

-Andy Strickland, Record Mirror

January 13th 1986 The Alarm Figgjohallen, Stavanger, Norway

Photo – Alarm Tour Bus and Equipment Truck in Norway
– Mike Peters Diary Entry

January 14th 1986 The Alarm Ibsenhuset, Skien, Norway

– Mike Peters Diary Entry
Photo – Nigel Luby Live sound engineer and the man who recorded the album ‘Strength’.

January 15th 1986 The Alarm Skedsmohallen, Lillestrøm, Norway

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

“I remember the incident of Dave Sharp falling into the crowd really well. We had just come on stage and launched into ‘Marching On’. Dave was trying to make a big impression obviously, and came running from the back of the stage to the front, tripped over the monitors and headlong into the crowd. At first, he tried to play on but soon ended up going down like a sinking ship into the ocean of fans! It took quite a while to rescue him and get his guitar and amps sorted out. The fans were extremely bemused and weren’t sure if this was supposed to be a part of the show or not. We should of gone off and started again as we had a hard time getting the gig back on track after that. It would have made a killer ‘youtube’ moment if it had happened today.” – Mike Peters

January 17th 1986 The Alarm Eiksdalshallen, Stockholm, Sweden


– Mike Peters Diary Entry

January 18th 1986 The Alarm Hagadal, Hultsfred, Sweden
January 19th 1986 The Alarm Konserthuset, Gothenberg, Sweden
January 20th 1986 The Alarm Saga, Copenhagen, Denmark

January 21st, 1986: Spirit Of ’76 Video Premieres On MTV

IRS Press Release for Spirit of ’76 Single


“I never understood the edited version of ‘Spirit Of ’76’ released as single.  I think I heard it on the radio once on KLOS in Los Angeles. I distinctly recall the DJ wondering why they tried to edit it and being baffled by it.   Afterwards they played the original version a few times, but I think the ‘edit” confused matters.  It kind of ruined a great song.   Likewise, The local “alternative” station, KROQ never really got into the song at all.  This was the first in a long string of bizarre record company decisions that I believe really hampered The Alarm’s efforts on the Strength album” –Steve Fulton, Alarm Fan

January 22nd 1986 The Alarm Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany

Photo – Mike Peters boarding a private jet in Hamburg bound for London and Top Of The Pops
– Mike Peters Diary Entry


Photo – On stage at the Markthalle, Hamburg same night after flying back following the taping of the show at BBC studios in Wood Lane, Shepherds Bush.

January 23rd 1986 The Alarm Rotation in Hanover, Germany. Top Of The Pops Broadcast in UK.

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

January 25th 1986 The Alarm Quartier Latin in Berlin, Germany

January 26th 1986 The Alarm Alter Wartesaal in Koln, Germany
January 27th 1986 The Alarm Music Hall in Frankfurt, Germany

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

January 28th 1986 The Alarm Alabamahalle in Munich, Germany

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

January 29th 1986 The Alarm Day Off Switzerland

Photo – Day off Road crew and band dinner.

January 30th 1986 The Alarm Zurich, Switzerland
January 31st 1986 The Alarm Teatro Tenda in Bologna, Italy
February 1st 1986 The Alarm Tenda Planeta in Rome, Italy
February 2nd 1986 The Alarm The Rolling Stone in Milan, Italy

February 4th 1986 The Alarm Lyon
February 5th 1986 The Alarm Marseilles, France

Concert filmed and recorded for French Tv

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

February 6th 1986 The Alarm Toulouse, France

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

February 7th 1986 The Alarm Tours (see exclusive concert poster at
February 8th 1986 The Alarm Salle de la Cite in Rennes
February 10th 1986 The Alarm “4C+” France
February 11th 1986 The Alarm Paris, France
February 12th 1986 The Alarm Manhattan Club in Lueven, Belgium

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

February 13th 1986 The Alarm The Arena in Rotterdam, Holland

-Photo Mike Peters and Redeye (Nigel Luby in goal), Strength Tour Aftershow 5-A-Side Soccer.

February 14th 1986 The Alarm The Paradiso in Amsterdam, Holland

– Mike Peters Diary Entry

Come back to the tomorrow for Strength – An Oral History….  and witness the world premiere of the unseen Alarm concert from Marseille filmed on February 5th 1986.

Strength – An Oral History. Created by Steve Fulton  and Mike Peters ©2015

Memories come flooding back…… If you have attended any of the shows or incidents mentioned in Strength – An Oral History and have recollections and photos of your own then please share them with us at

Only 5 days to go until Mike Peters and The Alarm appear at Wales Millennium Centre with The Welsh Pops Symphony Orchestra and the Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir. Get your tickets here.