Thought I'd resurrect this thread from the dead as Lawrence directly answered a question about this on Friday night. Nick Gilbert was his best friend at the time (they were "like brothers") and after Lawrence made Index, Nick said he wanted to do his own single as well. Lawrence told him to get off his **** and do one, and released it on Shanghai. He does not play or sing on the record itself (he said!), it was "nothing to do with him" other than releasing it.
Strange to think that it as Nick's record that got them the support slot with The Fall rather than anything Lawrence (or Maurice) wrote.
Nick Gilbert and Lawrence were chums from age 11 ... Lawrence bought a guitar and recorded his own single onto a cassette, which he released in September '79 under the name of "Felt" (past tense of "feel") [Shanghai #1]. Next, Lawrence and Nick decided to make a record together, and with two drums and three chords, the Versatile Newts debuted in early 1980 with 'Newtrition' b/w 'Blimp'. Presently Maurice Deebank joined on [more competent] guitar, and they began playing together as Felt. In the meantime, however, Nick had mailed the 'Newts single to his heroes the Fall - who adored it, and invited the Versatile Newts to open for them in Manchester. Nick nervously advised Mark E. Smith of the name change (fortunately Felt and the Fall had a certain euphony) and the first-ever Felt gig was pronounced a success. (Sadly, Felt never performed the Newts songs live.)