No doubt influenced by the emergence of gothic punk in the early 80s, the Skeletal Family emerged from Bingley in Yorkshire, towards the end of 1982.
Early demos recorded in September and December featured the input of Anne Marie Hurst (lead vocals), Trotwood (b. Roger Nowell; bass), Stan Greenwood (guitar), Steve Crane (drums) and Karl Heinz (synthesizer). After a debut single, ‘Just A Friend’, on the Luggage label in March 1983, the band signed to Yorkshire’s established indie, Red Rhino Records. By this time, Howard Daniels had taken over on drums. ‘The Night’ shared the same influences championed by the band’s ‘goth’ counterparts - the Cramps, Bauhaus and the Birthday Party. ‘Alone She Cries’ in January 1984 featured new drummer Martin Henderson, and was followed by ‘So Sure’ in June, alongside Recollect, a 12-inch EP comprising early demos. By the advent of Burning Oil in August, Skeletal Family had attracted a sizeable following, principally through support slots to the Sisters Of Mercy. This ascent continued with ‘Promised Land’ in February 1985, where they were aided by Graham Pleeth on synthesizer, the a-side backed by a cover version of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’. Futile Combat fared well in the UK independent charts, securing a contract with Chrysalis Records, but singer Hurst had left to join Ghost Dance. Recruiting drummer Kevin Phillips and Katrina on vocals, it was a new, more commercial Skeletal Family that issued ‘Restless’ in March 1986 and ‘Just A Minute’ in August, but neither made significant headway and the band were soon dropped (a fate that Ghost Dance would soon come to share).