The group got together on Toronto's Queen Street West. It originally consisted of Toby Swann (guitar, voice), Colin Fox (drums, mayhem), and Robert Stewart (bass, voice). The group made a point of playing as loudly as possible. After a while Fox was deported from Canada; the band fell apart, but Swann eventually reformed it with a new line-up.
The reformed Battered Wives, consisting of Toby Swann (guitar and vocals), Larry "Jasper" Klassen (bass and vocals), John Gibb (guitar) and Cleave Anderson (drums), released their first eponymous album in 1978. This spawned the hit singles "Daredevil", "Suicide", "Lover's Balls", and "Uganda Stomp (Bomp Idi Bomp)", which poked fun at the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
Their second album was released in 1979 on Bomb Records and was titled Cigarettes. They acquiesced to complaints from the public, shortening their name to simply 'The Wives' for this album. The most notable songs from this album was "New Wave Robot", and Cigarettes won a Juno for best record design.
They released Live On Mother's Day in 1980, inserting the 'Battered' back into their name. This album was marred with lawsuits from various record companies and did not really see the light of day. Then, the group broke up. Anderson worked with Blue Rodeo, replaced by Patrick Mooney. Swann went solo, releasing a cover of "Over the Rainbow" on his 1981 album Lullabies in Razorland. Klassen is still working as recording artist in Toronto.
- Worth, Liz; Pig Gold, Gary (1 October 2011). Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond, 1977-1981. ECW Press. pp. 375–. ISBN 978-1-77090-055-4.
- Cary Darling (22 January 1983). Rough Trade Rises from Canadian Underground. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 54–. ISSN 0006-2510.
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- "Bands With Very Bad Names".FYI Music News, David Farrell 09/18/2015
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- Bomb issues punk finale. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 2 June 1979. pp. 89–. ISSN 0006-2510.