After the split at the end of 1976, the various band members went their own ways, either breathing new life into old projects, or looking ahead to newer horizons. Deke Leonard reconstituted Iceberg, with Memphis bend man Lincoln Carr on bass, and Terry Williams who was moonlighting from his other project, a reformed Rockpile. In the summer of 1977 Micky Jones briefly put together a band to demo some new songs, working with John McKenzie, Malcolm Morley and Derek Ballard, previously drummer with A Band Called O. Phil Ryan and John McKenzie had intended to work together on a project described as 'Vista Sylvector' with Taff Williams and Steve Jones, but found that this didn't work out as planned.

Deke Leonard found himself the only Manband survivor with a recording contract intact. Back with United Artists he began recording for a new solo album, working at Rockfield Studios again, with a rhythm section of Martin Ace and Terry Williams. the sessions were junked however. In 1979 a second attempt was made with Martin Rushent producing. The resulting album, 'Before Your Very Eyes' was held back for two years thanks to an unimpressed record company exec at UA. Deke was at that time working with amongst others Reg Isadore, a drummer who had previously been with guitarist Robin Trower, Help Yourself guitarist Richard Treece and slide guitar player B.J. Cole and who had also briefly worked with him in Help Yourself, adding some superb atmospherics to their performance on the 'Christmas At The Patti' album. With Deke's career effectively on hold though he relocated briefly to Los Angeles. He was invited across to do some session work for a Walter Egan solo album, 'The Last Stroll', but wasn't fully utilised; "I ended up sitting in L.A." he said, "Getting wrecked all the time - which is easy to do in L.A! After ten weeks I said I've got a life to live, I can't just sit around. I'm a go-getter, turn me loose!"

The Force

Back in the UK it was ex-Help Yourself roadie and Ducks Deluxe frontman Sean Tyla who kept Deke occupied with a stint in another shortlived project 'The Force', together with Micky Groome on bass and drummer Paul Simmons. An album - entitled 'Force's First' was recorded and released in Germany and also featured Terry Williams and Martin Ace on two tracks. The band collapsed spectacularly in 1982 when Sean Tyla suffered an onstage panic attack at Dingwalls in Camden. Says Deke; "We'd done the album, and in the middle of the set Sean shuffled up to me and whispered in my ear, 'I'm just going off, I'm gonna have a nervous breakdown!' So I laughed, but then I saw he was serious. Off he went behind the stage so we went on as a three-piece...When we got backstage Sean was a real mess, said he couldn't face it any more and as far as I know that's the last gig he ever did." So The Force became Iceberg once more and gigs were soon coming in thanks to the services of agent Dave Betteridge who had seen the demise of the Leonard/Tyla project. Deke again; "So he started booking gigs for us and that's when people started telling him 'What are you bothering with Deke Leonard for; why don't Man get back on the road?' So that was the start of all that..."

Micky Jones also found the intervening years to be a frustrating time. In mid-1978 he formed the Micky Jones Band, with Tweke Lewis on second guitar, Steve Dixon on drums and vocals, Ray Jones (ex-Sassafras) on bass and vocals and Steve Gurl from Wild Turkey on keyboards. Ray was later replaced by Al McLaine. 'Talk About A Morning' - an old Buzzy Linhart number - featured live from 1978 onwards as did the unreleased 'Welsh Boy' but the five piece lineup didn't last long. "It was at the height of Punk and that made it very difficult. It was a cold shock to anything else going." explained Micky in a TWC interview. Through a process of gradual attrition the group slimmed down to a three-piece line up of Jones, Dixon and McLaine, appearing through 1980-1981 as Manipulator, and later briefly as The Acidtones. Tweke Lewis turned his attention to more mundane matters; "I had to get myself together and earn some money to buy a house. I settled down with a girlfriend, then went into computers and worked for Abbey National for ten years on their mainframe computer at Milton Keynes."

Micky reflects on Manipulator; "Stripping down to a three-piece band was a hell of a change...never having been in one as far back as I could remember. I'd always worked with another guitarist or a keyboard player. It took a bit of getting used to, but as soon as I realised I wasn't frightened of the space I really enjoyed it. For me it was the best line-up of the whole period." During this time some later Manband favourites would be written or remembered, and honed through live performance. 'Asylum' and 'Last Birthday Party' were co-written by Steve Dixon, 'Talk About A Morning' and 'Back Together Again' were also frequent live songs. The three-piece band weren't fashionable though, a wry Micky Jones remembers; "We were likened to The Police at times. I honestly think we didn't push it enough....that was basically it."

The Flying Pigs
The Flying Pigs

In late 1981 he disbanded Manipulator and with Mick Hawksworth from Ten Years Later on bass and drummer Phil Little formed the Flying Pigs. Some recordings were made at Alvin Lee's studio, and also at Peter Ker's Scarf Studios in London - later the scene of recording for The Twang Dynasty - but no releases came about as a result of these sessions. Andrew Middleton says of this period; "Micky was now using his Stratocaster and playing just as it pleased him. Numbers were a mix of his own material, popular covers, and some long songs with extended solos on all instruments. I think most of the Manipulator songs had gone, but they were still playing 'Talk About A Morning'. Around the Autumn of 1982 the band would leave Micky alone on stage, and with a series of effects pedals he would play some of the strangest guitar I've ever heard, sometimes for up to 20 minutes, and even the pool players would look up. Micky was also playing from time to time at the Tunnel Club with a band called 'Corporal Henshaw', who lived by 'the more the merrier' attitude. Mick Hawksworth was often involved, sometimes Albert Lee, but Micky always blew them away when it came to his turn."

Terry Williams moved straight from Man into Rockpile, and caught the crest of a brief rockabilly revival with Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and Billy Bremner. Tours of the USA followed, hit singles and albums and Rockpile survived the new wave until 1982. Terry joined up with Meatloaf after being told by his then manager; "I've just had an offer I can't understand never mind refuse, I think you should take it..." The association didn't last long, difficulties over finances sending Terry back to Swansea where within five days the phone rang again with an offer from Dire Straits.

Pete Brown and Phil Ryan

With the Vista Sylvector project abandoned, Phil Ryan rekindled his partnership with Pete Brown, ex-Cream lyricist and Piblokto band leader. Joining forces wth ex-Neutrons colleague guitarist Taff Williams, John McKenzie on bass and Steve Jones on drums, The Brown & Ryan Band played a handful of gigs on the south coast and in London during 1977. Ryan was involved briefly in Martin and George Ace's Flying Aces project before recording a few demos with Pete Brown, Taff Williams, Dill Katz on bass and Jeff Seopardie on drums in mid 1978 under the name of Ray Gammond and the Interoceters. Relocating to Denmark he then concentrated on writing soundtrack music for film and TV. Further collabarations with Pete Brown resulted in two albums, 'Ardours Of The Lost Rake' in 1991 and 'Coals To Jerusalem' in 1993. Tracks from these two issues were later compiled into the 1996 offering 'The Land That Cream Forgot'.

John McKenzie's post Man career took him on a journey through some unfamiliar stations. After the failure of Vista Sylvector and an abortive spell in the Brown & Ryan Band, John briefly put together a project called Kid Plato. With Canute Edwards on guitar, Nick Garnet on drums and Zarndee Gordon on keyboards, John handled the bass and vocals but, as he later said; "That didn't amount to much." Two years were spent gigging with guitarist Steve Hillage, which resulted in a brief appearance on Hillage's 'Live Herald' album. He spent time in an Irish band called Pulling Faces commuting backwards and forwards to Dublin for eighteen months. There were also tours with The Explorers - Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay's post Roxy Music band - with The Christians and Seal, gigs and two albums with Alison Moyet, albums with Bob Dylan, The Pretenders, George Michael's group Wham and comedian Lenny Henry. Moving mainly into session work since the early eighties John has an enviable CV and remains in touch with Phil Ryan and Pete Brown with whom he works on an occasional project.

After leaving the group at the climax of the Maximum Darkness tour, Martin Ace returned home to concentrate once more on The Flying Aces with his then wife George. The Aces were joined by Micky Gee on guitar and, from the collapsing Neutrons, Phil Ryan on keyboards and Stuart Halliday on drums. Before long however Ryan had returned to Man for The Welsh Connection, and Halliday had joined up with Will Youatt, Jimmy Davies and Jeff Singer for a spell in Alkatraz. Martin and George invoked the Dave Charles clause for a short while. This unwritten clause specifies that Dave Charles has to play with every group associated with Man at some point in their existence without ever actually playing for the Manband directly. Soon the line up changed again, with ex-Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins and guitarist Richard Treece joining up, and an occasional appearance from Phil Ryan during the summer of 1977. The Flying Aces toured extensively around Britain during 1976 and 1977 but, apart from a fleeting appeance on Man's Christmas At The Patti album of 1972, never recorded. In Martin's view there was; " reason why the Flying Aces should never have made a record, it was as good a band as any that have made records." George Ace had a major input to the group's direction and according to Martin; "The band sounded like it did because of her rather than because of me. That's what I thought was interesting about it, her contribution made it sound different."

Community spirit wasn't in short supply during these years. Here, John Eichler recalls the Blanket Coverage events:

"Yes, this is back in Thatcher times of austerity! We had read in our local paper that a pensioner had died of hypothermia for lack of electricity payments and that we were in for a very cold winter. So in a typically Hope And Anchor way we jumped in without thinking it through. The idea was raise some money as quickly as possible and pay some electricity bills. So we talked to a few bands set a two week time slot and dedicated a percentage of the house take to the event and the bands gave their door."

"Can't remember all the bands but I'm sure Ian Dury, The Specials, 999, and Selector played. If anybody can remember please remind me. Great gigs, Great nights, lots of money. I think we raised over £3000, not bad for that time. The local papers followed the event and pointed a finger at the local council. One councillor stood up and asked for matching funding but nothing came of it. The next thing we did in our hippy naivety was approach the council for help with distribution of the funds, only to be told that they could have nothing to do with the event as for them to help would be an invasion of pensioners privacy and it was possibly illegal as we were not registered. They suggested we give the money to Help the Aged. Then we approached London Electric, yes we were that dumb."

"Our aim all along had been to keep it local so we got one of our punters who worked in social services to reach out to the meals on wheels ladies. After a lot of problems with mistrust of something for nothing, fear of charity and pride they managed to get a list of items that would help specific clients and passed it on to us. We turned the first floor of the Hope into a distribution warehouse full of slippers, kettles, soup thermos flasks, heaters, leg warmers and hundreds of Blankets."

"[Martin]Ace and Richard ]Treece] volunteered to be an early Santa and Elf and had it done in about two weeks. We didn't learn. We did a Kids Toys thing the next year and buggered that up."

"Still, the Music was Amazing!!!"

After the Aces split Martin spent some time helping out on the Stiffs UK tour, acting as guitar mechanic and occasional MC. In the early eighties he had a spell working with Micky Jones, backing local singer Peter Singh in the The Screaming Pakistanis. Then there was a Dutch tour with acoustic guitar player and singer David Tipton (check out the superb "Queen Of China" album) which also involved ex-Gentle Giant drummer John 'Pugwash' Weathers.

1983 was just around the corner.