Bruce Smith (aka "Minty") left school in Britain at 16, and within a couple of years got his big break as a professional musician, becoming the drummer for the extremely influential Mark Stewart-fronted and John Waddington-crewed Pop Group in 1977, Nick Cave once referring to the band's first album as the "best music of the 20th century". Further establishing his credentials and reputation in the British punk music scene, 1979 saw him also recruited as a drummer for the Slits, featuring the unmistakable Ari Up.
With such formidable On-U personnel-in-waiting in his midst, it wasn't with any surprise that in 1981 as punk slipped away, and after both the Slits and the Pop Group had folded, that Bruce along with a string of former members of these bands accepted Adrian Sherwood's offer of musical sanctuary within the walls of his newly formed On-U Sound (dis)organisation.
Given the creative space to explore and experiment, and with an array of talented and like-minded singers and players in his company, Bruce for a while in the early and mid 1980s formed one of the core On-U crew - writing, playing and recording variously for the New Age Steppers, African Head Charge and Playgroup. Around the same time, he married Neneh Cherry (briefly also a New Age Stepper, though their marriage was to only last three years).
In 1981, Bruce and Neneh formed Rip Rig & Panic, initially also including fellow On-U suspect Sean Oliver, plus Gareth Sager and Mark Springer. Powerful and disturbing live, their playful, anarchic jazz-funk was well captured on the irreverent 1981 debut album "God" but was too radical for daytime air play or significant sales. Unwilling to compromise further, but feeling the strain of constant innovation, they split in 1984, only to realign briefly as the smaller outfit, Float Up CP.
Originally recruited by PiL for the 1986 "Album" tour, Bruce stayed for nearly four years, playing on two studio albums ("Happy?" and "9") and forming an important part of the "new" group (Jah Wobble having been the bass player in one of its much earlier incarnations). Bruce also simultaneously did session work for Terence Trent D'Arby (1987) and Guided By Voices (1989), amongst others. After excessive touring he finally left PiL at the beginning of 1990. More session work followed, including for The The ("Dusk", 1993) and Björk ("Debut", 1993).
After a lifestyle of "partying and drugs" had started to take its toll, Bruce Smith moved his life on, but is still actively involved in and around the music scene - composing, performing and producing for various recording artists, films, documentaries, commercials, etc. He now lives with his family in Soho, New York, USA.
Taken and supplemented from information found at www.discogs.com/artist/Rip+Rig+%26+Panic, www.fodderstompf.com/MEMBERS/drummers.html#bruce and information formerly displayed at www.generalthinking.com.