Captain Sensible

Raymond Ian Burns (born 24 April 1954), known by the stage name Captain Sensible, is an English singer, songwriter and guitarist.

Captain Sensible
Captain Sensible, performing live with the Damned in 2015
Captain Sensible, performing live with the Damned in 2015
Background information
Birth nameRaymond Ian Burns[1]
Also known asCaptain Sensible
Born (1954-04-24) 24 April 1954 (age 67)[2]
OriginBalham, London
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
InstrumentsGuitar, bass, organ, vocals
Years active1976–present
LabelsA&M, Deltic, Humbug
Associated acts

Captain Sensible co-founded the punk rock band the Damned, originally playing bass before switching to guitar. He embarked on a solo career during the 1980s, following a UK number one hit with his cover of "Happy Talk".

Captain Sensible's distinctive appearance includes a red beret and sunglasses, typically with white frames. He was also a founder of the Blah! Party.

Early lifeEdit

Captain Sensible was born in Balham, London, on 24 April 1954.[2] He went to Stanley Technical School for Boys in South Norwood, Croydon. The first musical instrument he played was a Bontempi organ. Growing up, he listened to Brian Auger, Syd Barrett, Small Faces, Egg, Stray, Soft Machine and the Groundhogs.[6]

The DamnedEdit

Originally a member of the Johnny Moped band, Captain Sensible joined the Damned in 1976 on the suggestion of his colleague Rat Scabies, the band's drummer, filling a number of positions during his tenure (including bassist, lead guitarist and keyboardist), and eventually becoming the band's main songwriter following the departure of Brian James.

Captain Sensible left in the 1980s to concentrate on solo projects, but rejoined in 1996 after Scabies left, and co-wrote Grave Disorder, the band's first new studio album for 8 years, in 2001. He continues to tour and record with the band.[7][8]

Solo careerEdit

Captain Sensible's first solo release came in 1978 with the single "Jet Boy, Jet Girl", recorded while the Damned were on hiatus.[9] He followed this in 1981 with the This Is Your Captain Speaking EP on Crass Records.[9] He signed to A&M Records and had a UK number one hit in 1982 with a cover of "Happy Talk", the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from South Pacific, featuring backing by Dolly Mixture and a band including Robyn Hitchcock on guitar.[9] This was later sampled for hip hop artist Dizzee Rascal's 2004 song "Dream".[10]

Other Captain Sensible songs that became hits in the UK and Europe were "Wot", "One Christmas Catalogue" and anti-Falklands War "Glad It's All Over", which was co-written and produced by Tony Mansfield. After quitting A&M Records he continued recording for various independent labels, including Deltic Records and Humbug Records. He has also toured with his solo band Punk Floyd.

Captain Sensible's recording of "The Snooker Song" from Mike Batt's musical The Hunting of the Snark was used as the theme music for the BBC gameshow Big Break, and he also wrote and performed a song called "Brain's Theme" for the movie Skinned Deep in 2004.

Playing live in Abergavenny in 1994

Captain Sensible is also a member of Dead Men Walking, a supergroup featuring Mike Peters, Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny) and Slim Jim Phantom,[11] and The Sensible Gray Cells with former Damned mate Paul Gray.


"I always wanted to put a brick through the TV when I saw Blair pop his head up. It's quite easy to write lyrics when politicians are so corrupt. I had to start my own political party I was so angry. I called it the Blah Party. It was 50 per cent joke, 50 per cent serious but was my way of dealing with it."

Burns in November 2008[12]

In September 2006, Captain Sensible formed a new British political party known as the Blah! Party,[13] saying, "We believe that voting is an important part of the democratic process, and we want the Blah! Party to be the party of protest, a channel through which the people of the U.K. can vent their dissatisfaction at nonsensical everyday things, and protest against the government and the current crop of political parties."[14]

The Blah! Party was largely modelled on the principle of direct democracy, with suggestions being made by anyone on the party website. These suggestions would then be voted on by the membership, resulting in a "rolling manifesto."[15][16] The party was launched on 24 September 2006 at a conference in Manchester.[17] Initial policies included stopping "chav culture and the idolisation of airhead celebrities like the Beckhams, Paris Hilton and Jade Goody", alongside more serious policies of opposing the Iraq War and ID cards, instead spending money on public transport, hospitals and renewable energy.[16]

The Blah! Party entered into a sponsorship deal with Seabrook Crisps in September 2006, with the party logo and details on joining for free printed on their packets.[17][18] The party also received non-financial support from PR company Propaganda. The party received £168,309 in the last quarter of 2006.[19] The party was debt-free in 2008, with a membership of 8,544, up from 5,000 in 2007.[20]

The first Blah! Party candidate was Carl Finlan, who stood in the 2007 local elections in Thornton and Allerton ward, Bradford.[21] He gained 69 votes (1.6%).[22] Deputy leader Melodie Staniforth stood in the Holme Valley North ward of Kirklees as 'Boney Maroney' in 2008.[23] She gained 38 votes (0.68%).[24] She resigned shortly afterwards.[25]

On 11 September 2007, Propaganda handed total control of the Blah! Party to Captain Sensible, former Official Monster Raving Loony Party deputy leader Melodie Staniforth, Robert Staniforth, Sadie Ingoldby, Shaun Nightingale and Gary Spate.[25] In December 2008, Propaganda closed the website. The party ended its association with Propaganda and Seabrook, launching a new website. At the same time it de-registered from the register of political parties, deciding to instead be a protest group.[25]

Personal lifeEdit

Captain Sensible was previously married to Rachel Bor of Dolly Mixture.[26] The couple have three children together.[26] He later remarried and now has four children.[26][27]

Burns adopted his stage name Captain Sensible ironically because he used to be a "debauched maniac" who had fun "regardless of the consequences."[28] However, after living at Dial House (the commune where the anarcho-punk band Crass lived) for a week to record an EP in 1981, his life changed and he became a vegetarian who adhered to Crass' pacifist and creative aims.[28][29] Captain Sensible has written several songs about animal rights, including "Torture Me" and most notably the 1985 single "Wot! No Meat?".[30][31]



  • Sensible Singles (1984), A&M
  • A Day in the Life of ... (1984), A&M
  • A Slice of Captain Sensible (1997), Humbug
  • The Captain's Box (1997), Humbug – [contains A Slice of Captain Sensible and Meathead]
  • Sensible Lifestyles: The Best of Captain Sensible (1997), Cleopatra
  • The Masters (1998), Eagle [reissue of Mad Cows and Englishmen, including bonus tracks]
  • The Collection (2003), Spectrum Music
  • This Is Your Captain Speaking (1981), Crass – UK Indie No. 3[32]
  • The Universe of Captain Sensible (1998), Jarmusic [contains 5 tracks from Revolution Now and The Universe of Geoffrey Brown]
Year Single Peak chart positions
1978 "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" (Netherlands-only release)[A]
1980 "Millionaire"[B]
"Disco Girls" / "Blu Shoes"[C]
1982 "Hey Jo"[D]
"Happy Talk" 1 35 36 1 37 24
"Wot" 26 30 4 3 4 24 14 6 3
1983 "Stop the World" 82 72
"I'm a Spider"
1984 "Glad It's All Over" / "Damned on 45" 6 6
"There Are More Snakes Than Ladders" 57
"One Christmas Catalogue" / "Relax" 79
1985 "Wot, No Meat?"[E]
"Come On Down"
1987 "Revolution Now"
1988 "The Snooker Song"
"The Toys Take Over"
"I Get So Excited"
1990 "Smash It Up (Part 4)"[F]
1993 "Holiday in My Heart"
"Wot '93"
1994 "The Hokey Cokey" 71
1995 "Flip Top World"
1997 "While Wrecking the Car" (Germany-only release)
1998 "Cigarette Sandy"[G]
1999 "Missing the Boat"
2005 "Wot (I Say Captain)"[H] 80
2014 "Wot"[I]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released


  1. ^ Credited to 'Captain Sensible and the Softies'. The song also appeared as the B-side to the Damned's 1982 single "Wait for the Blackout"
  2. ^ Credited to 'Magic Michael with Rat Scabies & Captain Sensible'
  3. ^ There were three different simultaneous releases, which had different credits: 'The Sunset Boys + Captain Sensible', 'Maxims Trash with Captain Sensible', and 'Maximum Mania with Captain Sensible'
  4. ^ Split promo single with Dead Kennedys, Infa Riot and Flux of Pink Indians titled "Extracts from Wargasm"
  5. ^ Credited to 'Captain Sensible & the Missus' (duet with Rachel Bor of Dolly Mixture)
  6. ^ Split single with the Brotherhood of Lizards
  7. ^ Split single with the Real People
  8. ^ Credited as 'Erkan & Stefan feat. Captain Sensible & Trooper Da Don'
  9. ^ with LaBrassBanda

The DamnedEdit

Dead Men WalkingEdit

  • Live At CBGB New York City (2005), Resistance
  • Graveyard Smashes Volume 1 (2006), Resistance
  • Easy Piracy (2015), Slimstyle Records

The Sensible Grey CellsEdit

The Jack TarsEdit

  • The Jack Tars EP (2015)[42]


  1. ^ Valcourt, Keith (4 May 2017). "The Damned's Captain Sensible: 'What Is Punk?'". The Washington Times. Retrieved 29 August 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Captain Sensible Official Site – Bio". Archived from the original on 4 June 2014.
  3. ^ Turner, Luke (10 November 2009). "The Damned's Captain Sensible on Why He Likes Trains". The Quietus. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  4. ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "Captain Sensible – Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 May 2015. Damned member's quirky solo work ranges from showtunes to psychedelic rock.
  5. ^ Abjorensen, Norman (2017). "New wave music". Historical Dictionary of Popular Music. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 367–368. ISBN 978-1-538-10215-2.
  6. ^ Coyote, Ginger. "Captain Sensible Interview". Punk Globe. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  7. ^ "The Damned Return with First Album Since 2001". Uncut. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  8. ^ Kielty, Martin (23 January 2018). "The Damned Announce New Album, 'Evil Spirits'". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  9. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin Charles (2003). The Great Indie Discography. Canongate. pp. 23–24. ISBN 1-84195-335-0.
  10. ^ "Happy Rascal". NME. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Dead Men Walking". BBC Online. 5 October 2006. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009.
  12. ^ "The Damned are back". Derby Telegraph. 28 November 2008. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  13. ^ "The Blah! Party". Archived from the original on 12 November 2006.
  14. ^ "Captain Sensible Starts Political Party". Retrieved 6 January 2014.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Campling, Katie (10 August 2007). "It's a load of Blah! as punk and politics mix". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  16. ^ a b Balakrishnan, Angela (3 May 2007). "Voter apathy? Here's the Sensible solution". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  17. ^ a b Loweth, Jenny (27 September 2006). "Crisp firm backs the new force in politics!". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 2 October 2007.
  18. ^ Varley, Melinda (29 September 2006). "Seabrook sponsors political party". Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  19. ^ "Tories' donations outstrip rivals". BBC News Online. 26 February 2007. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  20. ^ White, Roland (1 June 2008). "Atticus". The Times. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  21. ^ Winrow, Jo (9 April 2007). "Election hopefuls line up for ballot". Telegraph & Argus. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  22. ^ "District Council Election" (PDF). City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. 3 May 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2010.
  23. ^ "Candidates for the 01 May 2008 District Council Election by party". Kirklees Council. 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008.
  24. ^ "Results for the 01 May 2008 District Council Election". Kirklees Council. 2008. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008.
  25. ^ a b c "Welcome to your new home". Blah! Party. 13 December 2008. Archived from the original on 18 March 2009.
  26. ^ a b c De Silva, Lisa (April 2009). "Almost Famous: Dolly Mixture". South Downs Living (47). Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  27. ^ Dewhurst, Tony (11 July 2013). "The Damned, Clitheroe Grand". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
  28. ^ a b Sullivan, Jim (21 October 2014). "40 Years and Counting: The Damned and Captain Sensible Still Rock the Stage". WBUR-FM. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  29. ^ Gentile, John (1 November 2016). "The Damned's Captain Sensible on "punk," Lemmy, and the band's new LP". Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  30. ^ "Damned : "Torture Me"". La Terre d'abord ! (in French). 23 September 2015. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  31. ^ Tamarkin, Jeff; Rockmaker, Deirdre (November 1985). "Greening of Rock". Vegetarian Times. No. 99. pp. 32–36. ISSN 0164-8497.
  32. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1989. Cherry Red Books. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2020.
  33. ^ "Captain Sensible". Official Charts Company. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  34. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 54. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "Raymond Burns". (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  36. ^ "Captain Sensible" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  37. ^
    • "Captain Sensible". (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
    • "Raymond Burns". (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  38. ^ "The Irish Charts – All There Is to Know". Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  39. ^ "Captain Sensible" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  40. ^ "Captain Sensible". Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  41. ^ "Captain Sensible – Wot!". (in German). Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  42. ^ Woodhall, Dave (1 December 2015). "Ahoy there Jim lad!!!". The Birmingham Press. Retrieved 19 January 2021.

External linksEdit