Grimly Fiendish

Album: Phantasmagoria (1985)
Charted: 21

Songfacts®:

  • "Grimly Fiendish" is based on a comic book character called Grimly Feendish - the spelling was changed to prevent a lawsuit. In the song, Grimly is sent away because he frightens children.
  • A band composition, this song was spearheaded by Roman Jugg, who joined The Damned in 1981. In a Songfacts interview with lead singer David Vanian, he explained that when they were kids, they saw British cartoons in newspapers like TV Comic and Wham!. Said Vanian: "There was a version, which was obviously completely ripped off from The Addams Family, that had a character called Grimly Feendish, who looked like Uncle Fester, complete with the bald head, but he had fangs and bats would fly out of his mouth. So Roman and I had been talking about this stuff for a while, and we wrote a song about it."
  • The Damned were one of the first British punk rock groups, emerging in 1976 along with The Sex Pistols. They got a lot of press attention and were highly influential, but their sales were modest. Their sound fell out of favor in the early '80s, but in 1985 they peaked in popularity with their Phantasmagoria album, which was their most successful. "Grimly Fiendish" was the first single from the album, returning them to the UK Top 40 for the first time since "Smash It Up" in 1979.
  • The Damned made a music video for the song that played to its baroque harpsichord sound. It takes place in some kind of dungeon where Grimly is dealt his sentence.

    Early in the clip, David Vanian carries a torch down a set of stairs, which led to what he called a "Michael Jackson moment."

    "It was freezing cold - the middle of a bleak winter - and I came down the staircase for one shot with this flaming torch, and I was singing," he told Songfacts. "What I didn't realize was the flaming torch actually caught my hair on fire, and everybody suddenly jumped on me and was hitting around my head. I didn't know what was going on, but it was because I'd caught fire for a second."

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