The 4-Skins are an English working class Oi! band from the East End of London, England. Originally composed of Gary Hodges (vocals), 'Hoxton' Tom McCourt (guitar), Steve 'H' Hamer (bass) and Gary Hitchcock (drums), they formed in 1979 and disbanded in 1984 – although new line-ups formed in 2007 and 2008. Many of their songs dealt with violent topics, but the band has claimed they were discussing the realities of inner city life, not promoting violence. Other 4-Skins song topics include police harassment, political corruption, war and unemployment.
Initially the band members had known each other from football, or from following bands such as Sham 69 and Menace. Most of the original four band members were or had been skinheads, thus the double meaning of the band's name. However, Steve Pear had a rockabilly style, and Hoxton Tom McCourt — who was a suedehead — was one of the leading participants of the mod revival. Prior to the release of the band's debut single, "One Law For Them", The 4-Skins contributed songs to the first three Oi! compilation albums, alongside bands such as Cockney Rejects, Cock Sparrer, The Business and Angelic Upstarts. The 4-Skins went through many personnel changes during their five-year existence, with only bassist/songwriter 'Hoxton' Tom McCourt being present in every line-up of the band. Other former members include Roi Pearce, who was also the frontman of The Last Resort, and Paul Swain, a guitarist who later joined the white power rock band Skrewdriver.
In 2007, the band reformed with two original members — lead singer Gary Hodges and bassist Steve 'H' Harmer, plus guitarist Mick Geggus and drummer Andy Russell of Cockney Rejects. This line-up recorded two songs, "Chaos 2007" and "Glory Days" for the compilation album Kings of Streetpunk, released by the independent record label G&R London.
In 2008 Hodges formed a new version of the band under the name Gary Hodges' 4-Skins. This line-up played three shows – one in Berlin at the Punk and Disorderly festival, in Allentown, PA at the East Coast Oi Fest and as the headlining act on the final day of the Blackpool Rebellion punk festival in August 2008. Two newly recorded tracks were also released for free on The 4-Skins' official web page. Both were covers of Slade songs – "Cum on Feel the Noize" and "Thanks for the Memories". Following this, the band decided to continue recording and touring. On 4 April 2010, they released a studio album, The Return, on German label, Randale Records.
Along with The Business and Cock Sparrer, the 4-Skins were the most culturally important of the Oi! Bands, their sound influencing a new host of new American bands such as Rancid and Anti-Heroes.