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Metal legend was Harrogate's 'class clown'

Acid Reign including Howard H Smith.
Acid Reign including Howard H Smith.

One of Harrogate’s greatest unsung rock heroes is coming to his old stomping ground this weekend as part of his legendary band’s UK tour.

Howard ‘H’ Smith has been hoping for years to bring Acid Reign, the band he formed as a teenager at Harrogate High School in the 1980s, to his hometown.

The bad news for fans is he hasn’t quite pulled that off yet. But the pioneers of thrash metal who went on to achieve worldwide fame from humble Harrogate beginnings, will come as close as they managed thus far this weekend.

For tomorrow night, Saturday (December 9) will see Howard and his band perform at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds.

Lead singer Howard said: “We were a pure Harrogate band but the whole time we were in the top ten heavy metal charts we were Harrogate’s dirty little secret.

“I was the class clown at Granby. The headmaster said to me “what are you going to do when you leave school?

“I said “I’ve got the one qualification I need” “What’s that?” “My mouth!””

The band, who first rose to fame with their 1988 Moshkinstein mini-album and debut ‘long player’ The Fear, were originally a purely Harrogate four-piece consisting of Howard and his school friends Gary “Gaz” Jennings (guitar), Ian Gangwer (bass) and Mark Ramsey Wharton (drums).

Success combined with line-up changes and the rigours of world tours took their toll and Acid Reign split up in 1991. But Howard resurrected the band in 2016 and quickly brought Acid Reign back into rock’s vanguard with an acclaimed appearance at Bloodstock Festival in front of an audience of 5,000 people.

Known for his sense of humour - Acid Reign’s first ‘best of’ compilation album which appeared in 1991 was entitled The Worst Of Acid Reign, the crowds at Bloodstock discovered nothing much has changed on that score.

Howard said: “Bloodstock was great We absolutely went out there and slayed them.

“It would have been good to have had the original line-up. But it was a reboot not a reformation.”