In summer 1996, Adam Bickers (lead guitar) and Lloyd Bonson (vocals/keyboards) decided to form a band, named Masquerade. They enlisted their school friends Greg White (keyboards), Mike Higgins (bass) Lee Smith (rhythm guitar) and Kris Kirven (drums). Over the summer, they rehearsed several songs; a mix of covers and original material (some recordings of the rehearsals exist). Most of the band started at Palmer’s College in September. After numerous personnel changes and arguments, the band soon fell apart, going their separate ways by the end of the year.
Lloyd joined funk band the Harry Monk Experience, and Mike joined acoustic band Peppermint Fire. In May 1997, Mike and Adam were playing together again, this time in Zephyr, with Peppermint Fire singer/songwriter Pete Reilly. Unfortunately, Mike and Adam lost contact with Pete in the summer. Greg, Lee and Kris formed Nurse, playing mainly Therapy? covers (and the theme tune to Only Fools And Horses).
In summer 1997, a new band emerged from the ashes of Masquerade. Project X was a studio-based project, with core members Lloyd Bonson (vocals/keyboards), Greg White (keyboards/brass/vocals) and Adam Bickers (guitars), plus others sharing vocal and instrumental duties. The plan was to record an album, Out Of The Darkness, over the summer, and release it independently. The album was a mix a styles, containing some of the old Masquerade songs, plus some from the Bonson/White musical A Weekend Away! Sadly the recording was never completed.
In September, the band had changed to a fixed line-up of Jim Sadler (vocals), Adam Bickers (lead guitar), Lloyd Bonson (keyboards/vocals), Mike Higgins (bass) and Rowland Whiskin (drums). They rehearsed regularly, and began to put together a set. Lloyd temporarily left the band in November, and the band changed their name to Black Fedora, named after the Guy N. Smith novel. On 6 March 1998, the band had a small article in the Thurrock Gazette, and soon Lloyd rejoined the band.
Black Fedora’s first gig was at the Luna Club, Stanford-le-Hope on 17 March, supporting Decranoid, Actual Size and Leech. The gig went well, with no major hitches, and a decent sized crowd (for Luna Club). After the gig, the band added Ian Aberdein (rhythm guitar/vocals). Lloyd also joined industrial metal band Crazy Sadie on keyboards.
The band’s second gig was on 29 April, at the Market Tavern, Basildon, and was the bands first headline slot, supported by Mentally Yours and Nurse. However, things didn’t go quite according to plan, as Rowland walked out following an argument with a soundman, before most of the band had unpacked their equipment! The band frantically programmed Lloyd’s drum machine ‘Ziggy’ in 4 hours, and still managed to play their set. The band was also listed as ‘Black Ferado’ on the venue’s leaflets. Thankfully, nobody turned up to see them.
On 8 May, the band returned to the Luna Club for what would turn out to be their final gig. Rowland had returned to the band, who were headlining again, this time supported by Noonie. The Luna Club was packed out again, and the band played probably their best performance.
The full line-up never recorded together, but over the summer, a demo tape was recorded on Adam’s 4-track recorder with Ian (vocals), Adam (guitars/drum programming) and Mike (bass). The tape, Distrust, was released in August, and sold at the Luna Club, also getting a good review in the Thurrock Gazette. Black Fedora finally split in September, when Adam and Mike started degrees at University of Southampton.
In December 1998, the band discussed a possible reunion, but the idea was scrapped. However, in December 1999, the band decided to reform for a one-off performance at the Thurrock Music Festival 2000. Rowland was unavailable, so the band decided to play the festival using a drum machine instead. Adam and Mike were still at university, so there was only time for two rehearsals before the festival. The festival show went well, despite the lack of practice, in fact the band got through their set in half the time they had planned, getting the festival back on schedule! The band was mentioned in the write-up of the festival in the Thurrock Gazette. Black Fedora finally called it a day afterwards.
In October 2002, Mike launched the blackfedora.co.uk website.
The Distrust demo was re-mastered to digital format by Mike in 2009.
In 2013 Adam made two guest appearances with Power Quest at their final two gigs at Camden Underworld and Bloodstock Festival.