Troubles in The Triffids
By Harry Bryan, lead singer for The Triffids: 1966-67
My band, The Sound, broke up in late summer 1966, leaving me looking for a new band. When I met Roger
and Gundy of The Triffids, little did I know the association would lead to a world of crime. The article
below speaks for itself, but as with any news story it only tells one side. After reading the article I will
explain what happened.
The Commercial Appeal, October 1966
Wayne, the bass player for The Triffids, was one of the coolest musicians I had ever met. He dressed,
spoke, and epitomized the 60’s. Wayne picked me up one cold night in the fall of 1966 to go hear and sit
in with a band in West Memphis, Arkansas. With Wayne was a fellow named Malcolm, not a musician, but
a well to do “intellectual” attending Memphis State University and studying philosophy. In truth, he was
of little intellect but full of big opinions. We drove to West Memphis in Wayne’s girlfriend’s car, and Wayne
and I sit in with a band at the high school gym there. As usual, the girls were all over Wayne and avoided
Malcolm like the plague. We left the gym and went to a nightclub, the El Toro Lounge where Wayne knew
some of the employees. Wayne had several beers. I was served two or three and Malcolm had none.
Neither Wayne nor me was drunk. On the way home to Memphis, Malcolm began a discourse on
evolution and religion. Bit by bit, Malcolm became louder in his proselytizing that man evolved from
monkeys. Wayne had been to California – San Francisco and Haight-Ashbury – to be exact and having
taken some sugar cubes said he had seen God and talked to Him. I had been brought up in church and
my mind had been made up since I was a kid.
The conversation was something like this:
Mal: Man evolved from ancient life forms in the ocean and through adaptation learned to walk upright and
Way: God created man and God created the earth, Malcolm!!!
Mal: I’ve studied the subject in school and I know the truth.
Way: You don’t know crap!
Mal: We all came from the ocean and evolved into species similar to monkeys.
Way: (loudly) ARE YOU CALLING ME A MONKEY, YOU SOB?!!!
Mal: The truth is the truth.
With this remark, Wayne had had enough and jerked the steering wheel, turning the car sharply onto the
shoulder of the highway. He was going to beat the stew out of Malcolm, but then the red lights came on –
it was the police. They had been following us for sometime. We were busted. They took us to the West
Memphis jail where Wayne asked for a sobriety test, but the police said the machine was broken. We all
made a phone call and Malcolm’s parents came to pick him up that night. Wayne was charged with DWI
and I was charged with drinking underage. I was guilty.- Wayne was not. Wayne and I spent the night in
the West Memphis jail and Wayne’s girlfriend came to get us out the next morning, she only had enough
money to bail one of us out. As my charge was the lesser of the two, she and I went to her apartment,
leaving Wayne alone in jail – innocent. Wayne got out the next day. I never saw Malcolm again except
once, I think, in the monkey house at the zoo.
The following February I went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans with Wayne and had a great time. Then
Wayne went back to California and I have only seen him once since, 1986. There was a great commotion
in the courtroom during our “trial”. I enjoyed being in the band with Wayne and have been friends with
Roger even to this day. That was my only crime binge, but I guess it was worth it to be the lead singer for
The Triffids, a truly unique band that was way ahead of its time. I wrote this at the request of Yonderman
and have other stories yet to be told about The Triffids.
As hard as this is to say..We've lost Harry..My heart is sad
of this news..He was a true friend and a Triffid..May he be