I was copying the text from the C88 booklet for last Saturday’s posting on Holidaymakers, when my gaze was attracted to words elsewhere on the same page:-

Hailing from Nottingham, Fat Tulips announced themselves on a shared flexi, where ‘You Opened My Eyes’ – ringing guitars courtesy of Mark D and lilting vocals care of Sarah C – shared space with a Rosehips cover of ‘Ask Johnny Dee’

The C88 song from Fat Tulips was the very one featured on the flexi, and given that Ask Johnny Dee is one of my all time favourite singles of the period, I really had to track down this cover:-

mp3 : Fat Tulips – You Opened Up My Eyes
mp3 : Rosehips – Ask Johnny Dee

You couldn’t really ask for anything more derivative of what many associate with C86/87/88 than these two totally DIY, fragile and near amateurish pieces of music…everyone involved sounds as if they are on the very edge of their abilities, concentrating hard to make sure nothing falls apart before the final notes are struck or sung.

The booklet goes on to offer a reminder that Fat Tulips, after a number of line-up changes, would release a single which paid homage(?) to a pixie-like and gorgeous pop star of the early 80s:-

mp3 : Fat Tulips – Where’s Clare Grogan Now?

There’s an excellent website devoted to Fat Tulips – they seem to have been a band who enjoyed what they did without ever getting hung about fame or fortune.   Click here for more.



  1. What a treat. What an incredible treat. Thank you for this.

    The songs: You Opened Up My Eyes, Ask Johnny Dee and Where’s Clare Grogan Now? perfectly capture the very essence of DIY and eloquently evoke a time that I would describe as punks second coming.

    The original Ask Johnny Dee is a fantastic song in it’s own right but the cover by The Rosehips is a joy; it flies in the face of the lazy definition of twee.

    The style, attitude and beautiful crafted pop songs of The Fat Tulips deserved greater recognition at the time but it was not to be. The Fat Tulips are much regraded now by the indie-pop elite and quite rightly so. Where’s Clare Grogan Now? …. it should have been a massive hit.

    Some of my other Fat Tulips ‘hits’:

    Catch Me By Surprise

    Oh, and I thoroughly enjoy To Cut A Long Story Short (Spandau Ballet) cover. It cuts right through the pomposity of the original.

  2. I’m not sure what I like best about TnVV but JC’s enduring devotion to Clare Grogan is well up on the list.

  3. Careful Jonny – he may ask you to run your legal eye over the small print on the Restraining Order!

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