Tackhead started as an experimental collaboration between producer Adrian Sherwood and musicians Skip McDonald (guitars), Doug Wimbish (bass), and Keith LeBlanc(drums).
In the early 1980's Wimbish, McDonald, and Leblanc were the Sugarhill Records house band, providing backing for, amongst others, the Sugarhill Gang , Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel. After the demise of Sugarhill the three musicians continued to work on various projects including recordings for Tom Silverman's Tommy Boy label.
Keith Leblancs work for Tommy Boy, most notably "No Sell Out", which featured samples of civil rights activist Malcolm X set against Keiths distinctive drum patterns brought him to the notice of On-U Sound label owner Adrian Sherwood. Together with McDonald Wimbish the foursome began work on a new project which they christened, Fats Comet.
On-U sound was a particularly fluid operation at this time, with musicians moving between projects, and tracks by one band being reqorked and re-dubbed for use by another.
After four releases as Fats Comet, and some work as The Maffia backing former Pop Group frontman, Mark Stewart, Doug Wimbish came up with the name Tackhead, New Jersey slang for homeboy. The Keith Leblanc credited album, "Major Malfunction" was released in 1986 in the wake of the space shuttle disaster and signalled a shift to a more industrial sound. This style continued with "Mind At The End Of Tether" and "What's My Mission Now?", but was dropped for "Sharp As a Needle", originally intended as a Maffia B-side featuring football samples, appearances by Al Jourgensen, and Rollo (Woodentops), and eventually released under the name Barmy Army.
Urban legend has it that in 1987 a Bristol scaffolder called Gary Clail made someone a bet that they anyone could have an indie number one if they knew the right people. Introduced to Sherwood through Mark Stewart Clail had his number one with "Hard Left" and the Tackhead Sound System was unleashed, using Tackhead backing tracks over which Clail would rap. After a couple more singles the "Tackhead Tape Time" album was released.
Clails other work was released under his own name, and Tackhead were introduced to ex-Peech Boys vocalist Bernard Fowler by Mick Jagger for "Friendly As A Hand Grenade". With Fowlers vocals the Tackhead sound started to head towards the mainstream. A more industrial edge continued in more releases under the name of Keith Leblanc, as well providing backing for countless other On-U sound acts, notably Mark Stewart, Gary Clail, and Andy Fairley.
In 1990 Tackhead released the "Strange Things" album, and were dropped by EMI.
The use of the name to promote new material largely dried up. Though Tackhead as a name has slipped out of use, collaboration between various of its former members continues, such as the Strange Parcels ("a Tackhead re-duction"), the Barmy Army and the Skip McDonald-fronted Little Axe.
Tackhead's members also played, produced and remixed for a wide range of more mainstream artists: e.g. James Brown, Africa Bambaataa, George Clinton, Seal, BB King, Robbie Robertson, Annie Lennox, Mick Jagger, R.E.M., Tina Turner, Depeche Mode, Bomb The Bass, Robert Palmer, Neneh Cherry, Malcolm McLaren, ABC.
In 2007 Echobeach label owner Nicolai Beverungen started the Sharehead project. Fans can buy shares that will make a whole new Tackhead album possible.