Simon Underwood, previously of The Pop Group was invited to join, along with his old friend and tenor sax player Ollie Moore. Simon's connections with manager Dick O'Dell landed their first gig, supporting The Slits at Bristol's Romeo and Juliets. Based on the crowd's enthusiastic response to a 20 minute performance of their first song, O'Dell invited them to record the track for his label Y Records the very next day.
Their first single, "Papa's Got a Brand New Pigbag", was released in 1981 on Dick O'Dell's Y Records, taking inspiration for the title (if not the music) from James Brown's "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag". The instrumental release quickly became an underground dance hit, selling many thousands of copies and appearing high in the independent charts. Feeling that he had created and lost control of a 'monster' with too many egos to contend with, Hamlin abandoned the band.
April 1982 saw the release of their first album "Dr. Heckle & Mr Jive", which was massively successful topping the indie charts for several weeks. A major college tour followed in the spring which put a lot of stress on the band, particularly Roger Freeman. "Papa's" was re-released, receiving club play and making the UK charts, peaking at number 3. The band also made two appearances on "Top of the Pops" on April 8th & 22nd. Freeman departed before the first (turning up later in Dr. Calculus).
A new lineup, including Brian Nevill and Oscar Verden, began rehearsals on April 27th, following up with "The Big Bean" (which peaked at number 40) and a tour of the UK, Europe, New York and Japan.
New York vocalist Angela Jaeger, previously of The Drowning Craze, joined for the next LP, "Lend An Ear," recorded in late summer 1982, followed by a Christmas "Top of the Pops" appearance. In 1983, Angela and Simon Underwood were married at Hammersmith Registry Office with notables from the music scene in attendance, including John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten).
A single, "Hit The 'O' Deck" and the album "Lend An Ear" were released in 1983, followed by a final tour of UK and Europe. Following poor critical reception to the new direction and internal differences, Pigbag split in June 1983, with Angela, James and Simon forming Instinct.