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There's only one thing worse than being talked about - and that's not being talked about

The story of the lost pioneers of heavy metal

Beyond Black Sabbath and Judas Priest: The extraordinary story of heavy metal's originators – Iron Butterfly, Leaf Hound, Bloodrock, JPT Scare Band, Bang and more . . .
In the beginning, there was love, hope and happiness; there was no ‘heavy’.
It was the Sixties, man – nobody particularly needed heavy; they had The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and marijuana. But by the tail end of the decade things got ugly. Suddenly there was war, sex, drugs, violence, tension, revolution and fighting in the streets. And so ‘heavy’ came to pass.
Heavy metal, that immortal hoary beast of lust, power and violence, was born in those murky last moments of the 1960s. The debate over who coined the term ‘heavy metal’ and which band was the first to bash out the initial fuzzed-out power chord will likely rage on forever. But one thing we know for certain is that metal’s first five years laid the diabolical groundwork for everything that would come later.
Doom rock, stoner-metal, power-prog, slam-boogie… every hard, mean, gutbucket form of heavy rock’n’roll you can think of originated in that brief but fertile period between 1968 and 1973 when innocence and optimism was suddenly yesterday’s news, and rock was ready for some darkness.
Cream [pic right] was the first definable heavy band,” claims Joe S Harrington, a full-contact rock journalist from Portland, Maine in the USA and author of the mammoth, and quite brilliant, Sonic Cool: The Birth & Death Of Rock’N’Roll, arguably the most complete and thorough examination of rock music ever written.
In that book he traced the beginnings of metal back to the power-blues of Cream’s Disraeli Gears album: “They had heavy solos, serious musicianship and Druidic imagery, all things that would become trademarks of metal years later. And this was still in 1966. However, metal didn’t start until two years later. By 1968 you had four bands that could definably be called heavy metal: MC5, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly and Blue Cheer.
All four left big footprints on the heavy rock trail. But only one of them can play the same song for an entire show.
Formed in San Diego in 1966, Iron Butterfly began as a psychedelic band but achieved a quite spectacular metamorphosis just two years later when bassist Lee Dorman joined the band and they recorded the now legendary 17-minute proto-metal classic track In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, a swirling acid attack of incessant twin guitars and gorilla-fingered organ plunking.
Lee remembered its creation well: “That song was actually only about a minute-and-a-half long when it started. I’d just joined, and the guitar player had just joined in August, so we kind of experimented with that song to kind of get the band together. The song took on a life of its own, it just kept going and going. The engineer just left the tape rolling, the producer wasn’t even there when we recorded it.
“The other miracle was that we played it all the way through without any mistakes. Except for a couple of guitar and vocal overdubs, what you hear is what we played. If we had to do that in pieces, we might still be there.”
Lee cites free-form FM radio shows for the track’s inexplicable success. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida stayed in American charts for a staggering two years. As for Iron Butterfly’s status as metal pioneers, Dorman was diplomatic: “I have heard it said that Iron Butterfly are the fathers of heavy metal, but we were certainly not alone in that.”
With the success of Iron Butterfly, the music industry scrambled to find similar veins to plunder. “The record companies were all owned by old men until The Beatles,” Joe Harrington explains. “As it progressed, they hired hippies to run the labels. Suddenly, everything goes, because they have no idea what’s going to hit. Everybody was caught off-guard by the revolution. It was a time of wild experimentation. Heavy metal went into a bunch of directions.”
One of the first offshoots of early metal was ‘downer rock’, a term coined by Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward. Sabbath’s minor chords, apocalyptic worldview and relentless gloom hit a nerve in a generation haunted by the draft into the US military, by the end of the peace and love era, by the encroaching funk of political and financial instability.
And then, as Joe Harrington explains, there were also the drugs. “Downer rock was all about Quaaludes. I mean, they were called downers. The drugs went along with it. Drink wine, do some Quaaludes, listen to Black Sabbath. The downer rock movement was the last drug movement based in some kind of spiritual quest. In this case it was a dark, satanic quest. It was a dark buzz, fuelled by Altamont and Manson.”
While Harrington cites Sabbath as the undisputed pioneers of downer rock, he believes it is Texan band Bloodrock who define the genre.Bloodrock were the all-time champions of negativity,” he claims.
To find out if that’s true, let’s get it straight from the horse’s mouth. John Nitzinger is a legend in Texas rock. His long and storied history includes a brief but eventful solo career in the early 70s band that spawned the gritty hits Louisiana Cockfight and LA Texas Boy, as well as stints with Carl Palmer and Alice Cooper. But he’s best-known as the man who orchestrated the career of Bloodrock [pic left], one of the most nihilistic proto-metal bands to ever write a seven-minute song about bleeding to death.
From his home in Lake Worth, Nitzinger explains how he got blood from the rock: “Jim Rutledge came up to me when I was playing at the Cellar and asked if I would write some songs for his band. So I said sure, and I got with ’em. I tutored them all in how to play the songs and their instruments.”
Vocalist Rutledge and his band were hand-picked in 1969 by Grand Funk Railroad manager Terry Knight, who imagined his scruffy young hires as the meanest, loudest heavy metal band possible, a sort of Sex Pistols for the freak generation.
“I taught them how to play the songs, and we went out to a lake house here in Fort Worth every weekend and jammed for months and months, putting it all together,” Nitzinger says.
The band ended up releasing eight albums throughout the 70s and reformed for a reunion show in 2005, but they are most remembered for DOA, a song from their 1970 album Bloodrock 2, which became an enduring, and highly unlikely, hit on FM radio. DOA is seven minutes of pure pain; a doomy, funeral organ-fuelled creepy-crawler complete with a bleating ambulance siren and hopeless lyrics like: ‘The sheets are red and moist where I’m lying/God in Heaven, teach me how to die.’ If you’re looking for the darkest moment of 70s rock, look no further.
Nitzinger remembers how the song came to be: “Jim said to me one day: ‘I’m gonna write the sickest, most twisted song I can think of.’ And I’ll be damned if he didn’t write DOA, and it became a hit.”
As to why such a nihilistic song could ever catch on, Nitzinger has his theories: “It came out on Halloween, which was good, and it got banned, because it had the sirens in it. And when you’re driving down the street and you hear sirens on the radio… well, cars started pulling over. The song became a traffic hazard. So they banned it. Which made people want it all the more.”
As to Bloodrock’s reputation as the mood killers of early metal, Nitzinger admits that the band courted the dark side on occasion, but he’s quick to point out that their mysterious image was largely just a fan creation. “There is some dark, tongue-in-cheek stuff in there,” he says about the early Bloodrock albums.
“At the time, we were very serious. We wanted to get down to the nitty gritty and really look at the dark side of things. We didn’t want to be a sunshine band,” he laughs. “This band always was mysterious. But it was the fans that made them that way. The fans built up this image. We didn’t know we were on the dark side, we were just young guys doing our thing. It was the crowd that defined us that way.”
As to chemical influences, well, that’s a story left untold. “Drugs? Quaaludes?” Nitzinger bristles at the question. “I don’t talk about drugs. Hell, this band has been clean and sober for years now.”
Downer rock was not the only direction metal went in. By 1971 it had fractured into dozens of different micro-genres and had become a worldwide phenomenon. Suddenly the record bins were filled with wild new bands. As Joe Harrington put it: “The crazier, the more controversial, the more off-the-wall the music was, the better.”
Dorman split from Iron Butterfly and formed the ground-breaking psychedelic-boogie band Captain Beyond. Sir Lord Baltimore, often cited as the godfathers of ‘stoner rock’, started up in New York. In Washington DC, Pentagram out-Sabbathed Sabbath and laid the groundwork for American doom metal. From Germany, Tiger B. Smith mixed bone-crunching hard rock with psychotic glam. South Africa spawned the acid-punk metal of Suck. Japan’s Flower Travelin’ Band mixed Middle Eastern rhythms with crushing, Blue Cheer power rock.
Many bands released a single album or two and then disappeared into the ether: bands with sinister names and screaming guitars like Antrobus, Iron Claw, Josefus, Necromandus, The Firebirds, Warhorse, Armegeddon, Mourning Sun, Epitath, Jamul, Primevil, Savage Grace and Black Merder. All these bands are the forgotten pioneers of heavy metal. With little label support and spotty distribution, it’s a wonder they were heard at all.
As Joe Harrington points out: “There was no heavy metal section at the record store in 1972. You just had to look at the record and figure it out.”
While most proto-metal bands succumbed to disco, punk, obscurity or James Taylor by the mid-70s, a few of them managed to endure. Some were even rediscovered by new audiences decades later. Three such bands are JPT Scare Band, Leaf Hound and Bang.
JPT Scare Band was the death metal of early-70s hard rock. Formed in Kansas City, Missouri in 1973, their nearly freeform psyche-metal went further than any band before them. Aptly named, they constructed towering walls of terrifying, evocative, druggy guitar noise, but played mostly for like-minded stoners in their rehearsal space, leaving them one of the most obscure proto-metal innovators. As Scare Band drummer Jeff Litrell recalls: “We played live almost every night, it was just that we did it down in the basement with only a few tripped-out freaks in attendance.”
Like their forebears in Sabbath and Bloodrock, the Scare Band were not afraid to explore the dark side in their music. Their first album, Sleeping Sickness – recorded between 1974 and 1976 but not released until 2000 – sounds like the death of the American dream at 150 decibels. But as Litrell tells me, the idea was not to bum the audience out.
“Nah, we just weren’t eating regularly,” he laughs. “We lived in a war zone of gunfire and stake-outs, pimps and hoes. When you had to walk somewhere you walked with purpose. It was right toward the end of the Vietnam débâcle and the times were somewhat oppressed. Believe it or not, we thought we were really up and just psychedelic. We never purposely intended to bum people out. We definitely wanted to scare them, though.”
The JPT Scare Band reunited in 2001 after 25 years apart, and released Jamm Vapour in 2007 on Kung Bomar Records.
Peter French is legend in the annals of proto-metal, having fronted three seminal bands from 1970-74: Cactus, Atomic Rooster and his own creation, Leaf Hound. The latter’s sole album, 1970s Growers Of Mushroom, is now acknowledged as an undisputed classic of heavy riff’n’roll, and has gone on to influence countless bands, including nearly every major player in the stoner rock movement, from Kyuss to Monster Magnet.
But, as French explains, the band’s leafy-green imagery was more horror show then dope show. “The name Leaf Hound was not what some people have presumed it to be,” he says, “the idea of the name coming from a short horror story by Ray Bradbury called The Emissary, about a dog that had returned from the dead covered in mud and leaves.”
Furthermore, French says, the band’s image, like Bloodrock’s, was largely the figment of revisionist imaginations: “The drug scene of course was around, but we never really took to it. The drug-crazed image of Leaf Hound that some people seem to have assumed couldn’t be further from the truth. The band was as straight as a die when we wrote and played and recorded our album.”
Through a series of murky circumstances, Leaf Hound were dropped from their label on the eve of their first album’s release.
“We found out, much to our complete and utter dismay, that our album was not now going to be released after all,” French remembers. “The band broke up after hearing this. Ironically, about a year after the band had finished, the record appeared, but of course now there was no band to promote it.”
French, who went on to play in Big Bertha with Cozy Powell, as well as Atomic Rooster and Cactus, felt that Leaf Hound never got their due. Then, in 1993, the band finally got the recognition they deserved: “Record Collector magazine rang me out of the blue, to my surprise, to tell me what a fantastic band they thought Leaf Hound was,” he says, “and invited me to do what was to become quite a major interview for their magazine.”
Growers Of Mushroom was re-released in 1994 to critical acclaim. French re-formed Leaf Hound with an all-new lineup, and released a new album, Leaf Hound Unleashed, in 2009, followed by Live in Japan three years later.
Meanwhile, what of the final band in our deadly trio: Bang? [pic left] We tracked down Tony D’Lorio, drummer for the Philadelphia metal combo, who immediately told us: “We had to be the first band to use shotguns on stage. We had a guy dressed in black shooting a shotgun. Because we’re named Bang, see?”
Bang formed two weeks after the Woodstock festival in 1969. “We were basically doing Black Sabbath then, trying to figure out what we were all about,” Tony says. “Loud music and smoke, that was the theme of the band.”
After fitfully trying to get somewhere in their home town and enduring more than their share of strange events, including a singer who “went crazy and ended up in a mental institution”, Tony took Bang and a tent on the road, travelling to Miami to find a record distributor to sign his band. Somewhere along the way they ran out of pot and pulled over in Daytona.
“So we score a bag on the boardwalk, and now we’re looking for papers,” he remembers. “So we pass by this record store, and there’s a sign in the window for a Battle Of The Bands. We go in to talk to the guy, I tell him we want in. He has a real snotty attitude and tells us it was last week, we were too late. And then he says: ‘Hey, Rod Stewart is playing over in Atlanta, why don’t you go there and play with him?’
“So we’re sleeping in a tent, and I say: ‘We’re going to Atlanta to play with Rod Stewart.’ We get to the place where he’s playing; it seats 17,000 people. I start knocking on doors until I find this guy who I think is the promoter. I tell him: ‘We’re Bang, from Philly. I’d like you to hear us play. If you like us, we’ll play on the show, if not we’ll go away.’ So we set up, we do our set for the guy, and he loves us. He says: ‘Yeah, okay, you can open up the show.’ That night it was Rod Stewart & The Faces, Deep Purple, Southern Comfort and us. We had like six inches at the front of the stage to set up.”
After that fateful night, Bang began opening for major bands such as Steppenwolf and Ike & Tina Turner, and eventually got signed to Capitol Records. They released four albums of hard, politically charged rock, but split in 1974, when heavy metal fell out of favour, and the label asked if they could write a song like Helen Reddy’s feminist hit I Am Woman.
“We couldn’t,” Tony shrugs resignedly. “Twenty five years later we got back together and carried on.”
The official history of heavy metal will probably continue to put Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin on page one, but there is a rich, secret history of the hard stuff out there, buried under stacks of old, crackly vinyl. These are the forgotten ghosts of metal. Relics from the dark ages of rock’n’roll. Ancient astronauts floating soundlessly into the void. But bands such as Bloodrock, JPT Scare Band, Leaf Hound and Bang remember. And so do a growing cult of fans who are rediscovering the missing links of metal, one acid-fried memory at a time.
“We had a ton of fun, we made love to beautiful women, we travelled to the edge of the cosmic universe and returned semi-intact,” says JPT Scare Band’s Jeff Litrell. “We experienced interesting times, made great music and recorded a lot of it. Terry, Paul and I are still alive, we are still best of friends and we can still play scary music together. A lot of cool cats that we met along the way didn’t make it. Everything has turned out just fine, all things considered.”
Bang's Tony D'Lorio concludes
as we wind up the Bang story “Man, I still get emails from people that say: ‘I just wanted to tell you that you blew Black Sabbath off the stage that night in Columbia,” And did you? “Oh yeah, we definitely blew them off the stage. No doubt about it."


Tony Iommi dismisses ‘rock is dead’ talk
as he
readies Tony Martin-era Sabbath box set

'I don't think rock is going to die' says Black Sabbath riff lord Tony Iommi, as he promises new Sabbath retrospective.

uitarist Tony Iommi is convinced that rock music is in rude health, and isn’t about to fade away anytime soon.
Sabbath’s founding guitarist addressed the topic raised on an annual basis by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, and said, “I don’t think rock is going to die… that’s been said for years.”
“Good music is not going to go,” Iommi continued. “There's always going to be a market for it. There are going to be an amount of bands that fall by the wayside — as there always is, there always will be. But there are certain bands that are going to stick out and going to be there. You've got Metallica up there — they're not going to go away. They've got a lot of fans and they've got a great fanbase. There are a lot of bands out there. No, the music is not going to go away.”
Iommi revealed that, having reissued Ronnie James Dio-era Sabbath albums Heaven And Hell and The Mob Rules, he’d like to dig into his personal vaults in order to compile a proper retrospective of Tony Martin’s time in the band, which began with 1987’s The Eternal Idol album and lasted through to 1995’s Forbidden (save for the period when Dio returned to the band for 1992’s Dehumanizer).
“I've got a lot of lots and lots and lots of recordings of stuff we've done in the past that's never seen the light of day,” he revealed. “I'd like to sort some of that out and put that on some of the albums. We are gradually going through these box sets and then there will be a Tony Martin [era] box set at some point coming out and stuff with Ian Gillan maybe.”
“It's unfortunate that over the years Tony Martin has got buried in all this Ozzy and Dio stuff and everything,” Iommi added. “There will be a period now where we'll be able to release the box set with the Tony Martin albums with some good outtakes as well. I've already mixed [it] here at home, so that's all ready to go, but we have to wait until the time is right. We can't put all these things out together — it would cause confusion.”
“I've got boxes and boxes of stuff that's probably never been heard,” the guitarist admitted. “Even I can't remember it all, it's just a matter of rolling through it and finding it.”



Some musicians just have a freakish amount of talent. Most of us learn at a young age that we are not those people. The realization probably came as soon as you were old enough to read social cues and you tried showing off your amazing talents to anyone except your pet. (Daisy is a very good dog, but maybe not a very good judge of musical ability.) Those who do have that freakish amount of talent are the singer-songwriters, the people who can play any instrument they pick up, the ones who get lost in the music of their own making whether they're in the studio or on stage. There's something almost magical about listening to a true musical genius, and they've definitely earned our respect. But it's easy to forget that behind all that music is a very ordinary person, and sometimes, that ordinary person is a terrible human being.


There's a lot of dark stuff in Johnny Cash's life, but let's talk about how horrible he was to women. Vivian Cash's book I Walked the Line was a heartbreaking tell-all detailing how she continued loving her husband even through the drugs and the affair with his more famous second partner, June Carter Cash. It was Vivian who gave him four daughters, raised them, and stuck with him through the worst of the arrests and the accidental forest fires (via USA Today), but Johnny gave all the credit to June.
Behind closed doors, June Carter didn't actually have it any easier, in spite of the storybook romance performed for the public. Biographer Robert Hilburn (via Esquire) says he was stunned when he found out Cash had cheated on her when she was pregnant with son John Carter. There were many women, but the most painful was probably June's own sister, Anita. John Carter has also talked about his parents' less-than-perfect marriage, and has said (via Reuters) his mother's drug addictions and descent into paranoia came from a near-constant fear Johnny was cheating again. That fear spread to their son, who grew up well aware that his family could fall apart at any time.


Chuck Berry was a legend who helped shape rock and roll, and when he died in 2017, The New Yorker described him as "a proud and difficult man" who "was also a genius." He also once punched Keith Richards in the mouth for touching his guitar while they were getting together to organize Berry's 60th birthday party. That's the attitude that got him into all kinds of trouble, and Berry even had a name for those incidents: his "naughties."
It started when, as a teenager, he did three years in a reform school for stealing cars and armed robbery. Fast-forward to 1962, when Berry was 36 years old. He was tossed in the clink for violating the Mann Act, a law that prohibits taking a woman across state lines with "immoral" intentions. Oh, and the girl was 14. He served 20 months of the three years he was originally sentenced to (via NPR), getting out on appeal after the judge made racist comments.
And the hits just kept on coming, according to the Riverfront Times. In December 1989, Berry was accused of videotaping women in the bathroom of one of his restaurants. The following June, his property was raided, with law enforcement finding weapons, pot, and the videotapes in question, placing him at the center of a class-action lawsuit. Berry's camp eventually settled, but that seriously tarnishes any legacy.


It's impossible to describe the effect Elvis had on music history, so let's get right to the dirt. He was 21 when he became ridiculously famous with the success of "Heartbreak Hotel," and after that, all bets were off when it came to how far he was going to go. Along with the fame and fortune came the admiration of countless women, but according to biographer Joel Williamson (via Broadly), there was a particular type of woman Elvis liked: the really, really young ones.
The right age to be an Elvis girl was 14, and when the 22-year-old megastar went on those early tours he took along a little group of 14-year-olds. Williamson says he was a huge fan of tickling and wrestling, along with everything else short of actual intercourse. Future wife Priscilla was 14 when she met 24-year-old Elvis, and just what went on behind closed doors is debated. What's not debated is that after Lisa Marie was born he lost interest in her, instead courting another 14-year-old named Reeca Smith.
There was a bit of violence in Elvis, too. Years later, he was engaged to a 21-year-old who claimed he once pulled out a gun and put a bullet in the headboard of the bed she was sleeping in, saying it was "an attention getter." The Guardian says in between those major relationships there were a ton of others, many with underage girls who preferably had tiny, tiny feet.


Frank Sinatra was iconic on stage, but there was a lot of shady stuff that happened off-stage. Let's talk about one part of that: his temper. According to The Telegraph, it was so bad that one of his wives once described him as a sort of Jekyll-and-Hyde character, and there's a whole list of physical altercations he was involved in. First, the ones where someone got seriously hurt.
He punched a reporter in 1948, eventually settling the assault and battery charges filed against him. He was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel when he threw a phone at a random businessman who was also there, and cracked the man's skull. He nearly killed his then-wife Ava Gardner by throwing a champagne bottle at her so hard it cracked the bathroom sink.
Sinatra destroyed an insane amount of stuff, too, usually in fits of rage. He took a knife to a Norman Rockwell painting and shredded it, threw a malfunctioning TV out a window at Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, and smashed a car radio when The Doors' "Light My Fire" came on. GQ says some of the stuff that met an untimely end under his boot was pretty priceless, too, like the Ming vase he destroyed at a Hong Kong hotel after someone missed a lighting cue. That's what happens when you get too used to having things your way.


Talking about the sins and vices of Jerry Lee Lewis is a little difficult, for one simple reason: He's got pretty much all of them. He changed the face of rock and roll, he helped shape decades of music, and he also has a ton of shadiness in his past. A lot can be traced back to a nasty temper and a violent streak, but finding it all is tricky. The Guardian interviewed him in 2015, and said it's almost impossible to figure out what's truth and what's legend, including the circumstances around his nickname: the Killer. The story Lewis tells is that a friend just ... called him that one day for no discernible reason, but it's also possible it came after he tried to strangle and kill one of his teachers, an act he fully admits to.
Lewis has had seven wives, and two died mysteriously: one by drowning and one by overdose. The latter incident went to court, where Lewis was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing. But the law was not on his side after he shot his bass player in the chest and had to pay out $125,000. Lewis's seventh marriage was to the ex-sister-in-law of his third wife, the most infamous. Myra was 13 years old, and the daughter of Lewis' cousin. Oh and, Medium says, he was still technically married to his second wife at the time. It's no wonder Lewis lies awake at night and worries whether he's going to heaven or hell.


You can't get much bigger than the Metropolitan Opera, and for more than 40 years, conductor James Levine was at the head of it. He sported titles like director emeritus and worked with the company's young artists program as artistic director. The last one is particularly creepy, given that the New York Times announced in March 2018 the Met was officially — and loudly — ending its association with him amid accusations of "sexually abusive and harassing conduct."
Not a lot of details were released, but sometimes, just a few details are enough. The Met's investigation involved interviews with 70 people, and it ended with an official statement saying there was "credible evidence that Mr. Levine engaged in sexually abusive ... conduct toward vulnerable artists in the early stages of their careers." Levine didn't comment on the firing — which came after a December 2017 suspension prompted by four men who came forward to say they had been targeted by the conductor when they were still teenagers. Levine denied the accusations then, but things started looking very, very bad with the revelation it wasn't the first time he'd been accused of that sort of thing. There were rumors of abuse as far back as the 1960s, when Levine was working at the Meadow Brook School of Music. With accusations firmly out in the public eye now, one of his accusers was quoted as saying, "The truth can be very useful. The truth creates good."


Cee Lo Green hit something of a rough patch in 2012 and 2013, and it gets a little complicated. According to The Guardian, his troubles only started when he was accused of both giving a woman ecstasy and later raping her. Green ultimately pleaded no contest to the drug felony and got three years of probation, along with 45 days of community service. The rape charges simply went away because Green's lawyer argued there was no proof it wasn't consensual.
That's skeevy, and it gets worse. Green took to Twitter to voice his opinions on rape, and saying they're horrible opinions is a huge understatement. He wrote, "People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!" and "If someone is passed out they're not even WITH you consciously! So WITH Implies consent."
The Twitterverse's meltdown was immediate, and even though he deleted the tweets, other Twitterers saved them to prove that once something's on the internet, it's definitely not going away. That's true for everything, and it's especially true when it's a sentiment like that. Green apologized, saying he'd "never condone the harm of any women," but he still became another poster child for proof of just how healthy modern rape culture is (via Mic).


If there was ever a human being who embodied the spirit of music, that human was Miles Davis and the spirit was jazz. But he was also such a horrible human that when the New York Times reported there was going to be a movie made about his life, they also said it presented some problems.
First, let's mention the fact he used to play with his back to his fans, and God help anyone who was brazen enough to walk up to him. There was the insane vanity, to the point where (via The Atlantic) he condemned music critics for writing pieces that sang the praises of anyone else, claiming they were just out to take away his spotlight. Then there were the heroin and cocaine addictions, stories of pimping, and his abusive relationships with the women he married.
Ex-wife Frances Davis has claimed she wasn't just terrified of him, she ran away a few times convinced he was going to kill her. He admitted to the whole sordid trend of beating his wives in his autobiography, Miles, and even admitted he approved of other men hitting their wives and girlfriends to keep them in line.


Brian Jones (at right) died when he was 27, and when Rolling Stone reported on the mysterious circumstances of his death, they did it in an article subtitled Sympathy for the Devil. That's not just a clever play on one of the Stones' songs — Jones made Keith Richards look like the one you'd choose to bring home to meet your parents.
There were, of course, the drugs and the pills that ultimately led to him parting ways with the rest of the band not long before his drowning death. His troubles started long before that, though, and he was kicked out of his grammar school for inciting rebellion. He held down a ton of random jobs, got in the face of the popular press who didn't understand — or particularly like — what they were doing, and behind closed doors he had a violent streak a mile long.
Anita Pallenberg was one of the original muses for the Stones, and she'd eventually go on to have a long-term relationship with Richards. But she started out with Jones, says Rolling Stone, and it was an abusive relationship that ended when Jones hit her so hard he broke his hand on her face. Sympathy for the devil, indeed.


If you want to talk about a guy who's been very vocal about some unpopular opinions, Morrissey is your guy.
In 2007, the Independent picked up an interview he did lamenting what he saw as the death of British-ness. While he denied being either xenophobic or racist, he was still quoted as saying things like, "Although I don't have anything against people from other countries ... the price (of immigration) is enormous. Travel to England and you have no idea where you are." (The Manchester-born Morrissey is the son of Irish immigrants, and he later immigrated to Los Angeles and then on to Rome, so ... yeah.) Three years later, The Guardian ran an interview with the vegetarian, who went on record condemning the animals rights abuses going on in China. He then continued, "You can't help but feel that the Chinese are a subspecies."
When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, Morrissey (via the Independent) had this to say: "I hate sexual situations that are forced on someone. But in many cases, one looks at the circumstances and thinks that the person who is considered a victim is merely disappointed." He's targeted so many people Rolling Stone did a round-up of his most controversial opinions, and it included blaming Kate Middleton for the suicide of a nurse, shrugging off a massacre that left 77 people dead as "nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's ... every day," and called for Elton John's head to be served to him on a plate.


James Brown's daughter, Yamma, released her memoir Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me in 2016. It was a heartbreaking, cautionary tale of a girl who grew up in a family where domestic abuse was the norm, a girl who ended up in an abusive marriage of her own. She says even though he never turned on her, she grew up terrified he would. She described some insane incidents, including one (via the Independent) where she wrote, "Blood spurted from my mother's face. She started thrashing around, kicking her legs, holding up her arms to ward off the punches and trying to break free, trying to save herself."
There were other incidents, too. In 2004, Rolling Stone reported Brown was arrested for shoving then-wife Tomi Rae Brown and sending her to the hospital. That mean streak didn't keep him from having an indeterminate amount of illegitimate — and often unacknowledged — children, as The Telegraph reported after his death, forgotten sons and daughters started coming forward with DNA proof they were Brown's kids.
Brown was also at the heart of a change in legislature. Jacque Holland came forward in 2005 and accused Brown of a 1998 rape, but the case was refused because of the time that elapsed. NME reported the laws were changed to give victims more time to report a crime, a result Hollander was happy with.


Cake is one of those groups you probably forgot you used to listen to all the time, but before you go back and dig out your CDs, let's talk about what drummer Peter McNeal has been up to. McNeal — who was also the drummer for Norah Jones — made Rolling Stone headlines in 2014 for one of the most despicable reasons you can imagine. The verdict of his court case was in, and he was sentenced to 15 years to life in jail and was a permanent addition to the sex offender registry.
Noisey said it wasn't just because of a single incident, either. The details are way, way too terrible to repeat, so let's just say one incident happened while he was volunteering at a school in Los Angeles. Another one of his victims was only 3 years old at the time, and that's as terrible as it gets.


There are two sides to every story, and really, both sides to this one are uncomfortable. When Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler wrote his 2011 memoir Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, he talked a bit about early girlfriend Julia Holcomb (and managed to misspell her name in the book's acknowledgements, notes the Boston Globe). Tyler wrote he had nicknamed her Little Bo Peep, said they liked to get it on in public, and left out a lot of the other details.
Holcomb wanted to clear the air about what she says really happened, so she took to Life Site to tell her side of the story. According to her, she was a 16-year-old from a broken family when she met Tyler and kicked off a relationship with him that really started when her troubled mother signed documents making Tyler her legal guardian. Holcomb says she was already pregnant by the time he asked her to marry him, and plans for a family started to fall apart when his grandmother refused to pass on her ring. Five months into the pregnancy, Holcomb was trapped in a house fire and sent to the hospital, where she says Tyler convinced her to have an abortion. (Jezebel notes that he also talks about it in Walk This Way, Aerosmith's autobiography.) Holcomb left him — he had already moved on to other women — and returned to her parents. Tyler returned to the rock star life.


Chetham's school of music is a prestigious school in Manchester, and until 1994, the director of music there was Michael Brewer. Brewer — who was also the director of the National Youth Choir and was awarded an OBE for his services to music — was handed a jail sentence in 2013. The charge was sexual abuse, and the story gets even darker.
According to the BBC, it started for Frances Andrade when she was 14 years old. Brewer was her teacher, and repeatedly assaulted her between 1978 and 1982. Brewer's then-wife, Hilary, was also involved in the assault and was arrested, charged, and convicted separately. None of this came to light until years later, and when it did, law enforcement stumbled into other complaints that had been covered up, and another affair with a 17-year-old student.
Andrade testified in court, and several of the charges against Brewer and his ex-wife were dropped mid-trial. Only six days after hearing that news, Andrade committed suicide. The Telegraph reported her son blamed not only Brewer, but his defense counsel, too, for taking the route of calling his mother a "liar" and a "fantasist." Even as the judge declared Brewer to be a "predatory sex offender," law enforcement was still tracking down former students and taking more statements about all that had gone on behind the orchestra curtain.


Spade Cooley was born in 1910, so you get a pass if you're not incredibly familiar with his name. He was huge in the 1950s, declared he was the "King of Western Swing," led a 30-piece band, hosted his own TV show, and made appearances in more than 50 movies. He's even got a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and you may have had a better chance of remembering him if his career hadn't been derailed by alcohol, pills, jealousy, and murder.
Weirdly, he was the one who filed for divorce from his second wife, Ella Mae. According to Taste of Country, they were on the verge of getting back together when he killed her on April 3, 1961. It gets worse, believe it or not. The murder wasn't just incredibly violent (the LA Times says Cooley choked, beat, and stomped her to death), but he did it in front of their 14-year-old daughter, Melody. He also reportedly put a cigarette out on her to make sure she was dead, then sat around in bloody clothes for a few hours before finally calling someone.
Melody's testimony ultimately led to his conviction, and he was actually up for parole in 1970. He was granted permission to perform at a charity concert in 1969, but collapsed and died backstage. It's a weird end to the tale of the only celebrity with both a Walk of Fame star and a murder conviction.


Lead Belly died in 1949, and if you don't remember him, you should at least be glad groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival and artists like Bob Dylan didn't forget him. Even George Harrison once said, "No Lead Belly, no Beatles." You know the songs he recorded, too — like "The Midnight Special" and "Goodnight Irene" (via The Telegraph).
Huddie Ledbetter was born in 1888, and he picked up the name Lead Belly in prison. He did several stretches in jail, starting with 30 days on a chain gang in 1915 for getting in a particularly violent fight. Two years later he was arrested again, this time for killing his cousin's husband and nearly killing another. He was pardoned in 1925 but went back in jail in 1930, this time for stabbing and what Black History Now says was "assault with intent to murder." It was during this stint he was discovered by a pair of musicologists who were recording songs for the Smithsonian, and Lead Belly recorded hundreds for them. The rest of his life was a combination of performing at venues of all sizes across the country, and more time in jail. There was another stabbing incident in 1939, but he stayed out of trouble for the next few years. He was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease only months before he died from it in 1949, and he left behind an incredible legacy. And some dead people.


You likely know John Lennon as the guy who sang "imagine all the people living life in peace." Before trying to fix the world's problems, the ex-Beatle should have probably sorted out the not-at-all-peaceful mess that was his home life. Despite his hippy image, Lennon was a guy who left a string of broken people in his wake. He abandoned his first son, Julian, when the poor boy was only 5. As Julian himself has said, Lennon then basically blocked the kid from his mind, giving Julian's mom, Cynthia, just enough money for school and clothes and not a penny more. Acceptable when you're barely scraping a living for yourself, maybe, but kinda unacceptable when you're part of literally the most famous band on Earth.
Still, in some ways Lennon's abandonment of Julian may have been a blessing in disguise. Vice reports that while he was still with Cynthia, Lennon would verbally abuse the boy over the slightest things and leave piles of drugs lying around the house. He also had a string of affairs, a practice he carried over to his marriage with Yoko Ono, although Ono doesn't seem to have minded. Perhaps worst of all, though, was Lennon's admission in a 1980 Playboy interview that he used to sometimes hit the women in his life. It really doesn't take much effort to imagine Lennon was a prize jerk.


In terms of musical significance, no one has had such an impact on RnB as R. Kelly. In terms of making your lunch want to exit your body at high velocity, no one has had as much impact on your stomach as the same man. R. Kelly is a guy who has taken male privilege and pushed it to extremes so sickening that even the abstract concept of toxic masculinity finds him disgusting. For 25 years now, we've had well-documented instances of Kelly abusing women, harassing women, grooming teenage girls, and allegedly even doing utterly screwed up stuff like peeing on a 14-year-old, according to Variety. The accusations are now so unrelenting that Lifetime was able to dedicate six whole hours for its harrowing documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.
Perhaps one of the worst accusations is that Kelly kept black teenage girls in a demented sex cult, grooming them, abusing them, and having them cut off all contact with friends and family to become his personal slaves. A 2019 BBC documentary found evidence that Kelly kept 14-year-old girls as "pets," a term that probably sums up all you need to know about his view of women.
Still, we happily now live in a world where being rich and famous is no longer a guaranteed get-out-of-jail-free card. Following the broadcast of Surviving R. Kelly, Chicago and Atlanta prosecutors opened new investigations into the singer (via Guardian).


There's an old anecdote about British musician Ian Dury's drunken antics that kind of sums up everything about him. Disabled in one arm and one leg by a childhood battle with polio, the alcoholic Dury nonetheless liked to get drunk and insult the biggest, meanest, nastiest guy in any given pub, just to see if they would try and fight a disabled person. Sometimes they would, and Dury's bandmates would step in and finish the fight for him. Since it often ended in a beating for the band members, sticking up for drunken Dury became known as "Dury Duty."
Dury's acid tongue wounded more than just random bruisers in various London pubs. According to his son, Baxter, Dury was like a "Polaris missile," able to lock onto anyone's weakness in seconds and verbally destroy them. This violence was dished out basically whenever he'd been drinking; he would hurt family, friends, children, or whoever happened to wander into sight.
Speaking of Baxter, Dury was also kind of an ... unusual father to him. By which we mean that he once left teenage Baxter in the care of a violent drug addict known as the "Sulphate Strangler" for three whole years. The two bonded and became friends, but that doesn't change the fact that this was basically a terrible idea.


Before he became famous as Tina Turner's husband, Ike Turner was famous for being one of the handful of people who could claim to have invented rock 'n' roll (via Mic). After he married Tina, Ike was yet more famous for being a husband so abusive that murdering him might have led to the creation of a whole new category of justifiable homicide.
Tina once wrote that their lives together were "defined by abuse and fear." According to the Cut, Ike took Tina to a brothel on their wedding night. He routinely did cocaine and then had sex with her in such a brutal way that Tina admitted it felt more like rape. He sometimes beat her. At various times he broke her nose, broke her jaw, gave her two black eyes, and left her with third-degree burns after hurling hot coffee in her face. At one moment in her autobiography I, Tina, the star writes with shocking frankness about tasting blood from a beating as she sang on stage.
There are also rumors, many recounted in a Spin Magazine interview in which Ike tried to defend his behavior, that he threatened to kill Tina, shot bullets into her house after they split up, and once drove her to attempt suicide. When asked about it, Ike said, "I didn't hit her more than the average guy beats his wife." What a class act.


In the post MeToo era, we've learned that the rich and powerful will frequently do everything they can to silence accusers. That may be why, despite an all-out assault by the Jackson estate calling its subjects' credibility into account, the documentary Leaving Neverland is actually getting shown on TV. A four-hour film featuring detailed interviews with two men who say they survived persistent abuse at the hands of Michael Jackson as children, it was so shocking when screened at Sundance that Indiewire's reviewer said it "proves Michael Jackson sexually abused children."
According to Variety, Leaving Neverland slowly builds an effective, methodical case with so many damming details that it becomes hard to question. Not that people haven't tried. The two accusers, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, had previously defended Jackson at his trial and later lost a civil suit against the estate for abuse allegations. Jackson's estate says this shows their story is motivated by greed.
Still, what a story it is. Robson and Safechuck credibly allege that Jackson groomed them as children, molested them, forced them to perform sex acts on him, and even staged a mock wedding with Safechuck. All the while Jackson threatened them with prison if they ever told a soul. That's a classic abuser power play. It might finally be time to delete Beat It from your Spotify.


Not every supergroup has been able to sustain the lasting appeal of Cream or Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The following list shows how many of these acts have been forgotten over the years.
For every Asia or Bad English that managed to reach, or even exceed, the commercial success of their members' earlier work, there are seemingly dozens that never got beyond a single album and tour cycle. This was often due to personality conflicts within the band or a record that simply failed to capture the public's imagination.
Sometimes these were simply side projects -- never intended for a long reign -- where members of one or more previously famous bands decided to moonlight with other musicians, perhaps to explore different styles of music then they performed with their main group.
Perhaps most frequently these forgotten supergroups formed when two or more former members of other famous acts decide to hitch their wagons to each other in order to climb back up rock's mountain of fame.
Whether these musicians left their original group because of personality conflicts, a desire to lead their own band or even due to the death of a former bandmate, they often find that it is difficult for the public to accept them under a new moniker.
In some cases, the supergroup's short tenure was by design. This below list includes one-off performances by members of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a Rush-fronted collection of Canadian stars who recorded one song for a movie and a Guns N' Roses-Metallica-Skid Row aggregation that was put together for a party we really wish we had attended.

The Gak
Sebastian Bach participated in a one-off supergroup called the Gak with three members of Guns N' Roses -- Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan -- and three members of Metallica: James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Lars Ulrich. The occasion was a party thrown by 'RIP' magazine in Los Angeles. They took their name from a slang term for cocaine.

Big Dirty Band
When the Canadian TV show 'Trailer Park Boys,' was set to make a movie, Rush's Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson led an all-Canadian supergroup comprised of members of Big Wreck, Three Days Grace, Die Mannequin and the Tea Party. They recorded a cover of Bobby Fuller Four's "I Fought the Law."

Lord Sutch and Heavy Friends
Screaming Lord Sutch was an eccentric British horror rocker who gained a cult following in the '60s. For his 1970 debut he got contributions from stars Jimmy Page (who co-produced), John Bonham, Jeff Beck, Nicky Hopkins and Noel Redding. Despite the musical firepower of the guests, it received savage reviews and reached only No. 84 in the 'Billboard' album chart.

Steampacket (or Steam Packet) could be called a reverse supergroup, in that everyone in it went to greater fame. In the summer of 1965, Long John Baldry, a mainstay of the British blues scene, formed the group with singers Rod Stewart and Julie Driscoll, keyboardist Brian Auger and guitarist Vic Briggs. They gigged around the U.K. for a little more than a year, with Stewart leaving in March 1966 and Baldry quitting that August.

Shadow King
After a pair of solo albums following his departure from Foreigner, Lou Gramm got together with guitarist Vivian Campbell, who had established quite a reputation by this point with Dio and Whitesnake, and Donnie Iris and the Cruisers drummer Kevin Valentine to form Shadow King. Their only album, a self-titled release from 1991, was produced by Keith Olsen, with whom Gramm had worked on Foreigner's 'Double Vision.' Another song they recorded, "One Dream," appeared on the soundtrack to 'Highlander II: The Quickening,' although it was credited to the Lou Gramm Band.

During a break from the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger created SuperHeavy with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), singer Joss Stone, reggae star Damian Marley and Bollywood composer A.R. Rahman. They reportedly cut 29 songs in only 10 days, and 12 were released on a self-titled album in 2011.

The Law
Singer Paul Rodgers teamed up with drummer Kenney Jones and created the Law. Their 12-song self-titled album came in 1991. Despite featuring songs written by Phil Collen, Bryan Adams and Chris Rea, and guitar work from Dave Gilmour on one track, the record peaked at only No. 126, although "Laying Down the Law" was a big hit at album-rock radio.

The Dirty Mac
The Dirty Mac was a one-off supergroup put together in 1968 for the Rolling Stones 'Rock and Roll Circus' television show, but it can't get much more super than its lineup: John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell. They performed the Beatles' "Yer Blues" and backed Yoko Ono on a free-form piece called "Whole Lotta Yoko."

Despite decades of well-known animosity between them, former Cream bandmates Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker looked to recreate their magic in 1993 with a new power trio. They brought in Irish guitar legend Gary Moore, who was also the principal songwriter, and put out 'Around the Next Dream' a year later. They broke up following a handful of concerts in the U.K. and Europe.

Eric Clapton’s Powerhouse
Looking to fill out a few tracks for a 1966 blues compilation called 'What's Shakin',' producer Joe Boyd, on the suggestion of Manfred Mann's Paul Jones, looked to use some of the stars of London's blues scene. Eric Clapton, fresh off his time with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, was the guitarist, and Steve Winwood, who was starting to make his name with the Spencer Davis Group, was recruited to sing. The rest of the group was comprised of three members of Manfred Mann -- Jones (harmonica), Jack Bruce (bass) and Pete York (drums) -- and pianist Ben Palmer. They recorded four songs, three of which made the record, and Clapton and Bruce formed Cream soon after.

Damnocracy was created in 2006 for the purposes of a VH1 reality program called 'Supergroup,' in which a bunch of rockers had to live together and collaborate on putting on a show. The group consisted of former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach, Ted Nugent, Jason Bonham, Scott Ian (from Anthrax) and Evan Seinfeld (Biohazard). After the show, which includes highlights from their respective catalogs, some Led Zeppelin and AC/DC covers and a new song called "Take It Back," the members returned to their day jobs.

Captain Beyond
One of the longest serving supergroups, Captain Beyond formed in 1971 and, despite a handful of periodic breakups in between, toured as recently as 2015. Blending prog-rock intricacy with blues-based psychedelia, the band featured original Deep Purple singer Rod Evans (who fronted the band during their more prog-focused incarnation), guitarist Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt and bassist Lee Dorman, both of Iron Butterfly, and Johnny Winter drummer Bobby Caldwell. The band released three records including a live album during their initial run from 1971-73, and the current touring lineup includes Caldwell as the only original member; Reinhardt and Dorman both died in 2012.

Rock Star Supernova
After INXS found a new lead singer on the reality TV show 'Rock Star,' the second season featured a supergroup consisting of Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted and Gilby Clarke holding a competition to find a new singer. After 15 episodes, Lukas Rossi was crowned the winner. An album was released in late 2006, and they went on tour to promote it.

In 1983, Sammy Hagar got together with Neal Schon of Journey, and recruited bassist Kenny Aaronson (Billy Squier, Foghat) and drummer Michael Shrieve (Santana) to form HSAS. They recorded their album, 1984's 'Through the Fire,' live in concert at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco, with minimal overdubs added. Their lone single was a cover of Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale."

Planet Us
Sammy Hagar, Neal Schon, Michael Anthony and Deen Castronovo formed Planet Us in 2002. They tried to snag Slash too, but he turned them down, so the guitarist gig went to Joe Satriani instead. They didn't last long, but the seeds were planted for another supergroup - Chickenfoot.

In 2011, Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath got together to raise funds to help rebuild a music school in Gyumri, Armenia, that had been destroyed by an earthquake. Along with friends Jon Lord, Jason Newsted, Nicko McBrain (from Iron Maiden) and Mikko Lindstrom (HIM), they recorded two songs as WhoCares, "Out of My Mind" and "Holy Water." That was followed a year later by a two-CD set that packaged those tracks with rarities from throughout Iommi's and Gillan's careers.

In 1985, prog-rock guitar heroes Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) and Steve Hackett (Genesis) formed GTR with singer Max Bacon. Their lone album reached No. 11 on the 'Billboard' album chart and they had a Top 20 hit in "When the Heart Rules the Mind." But perhaps it's best remembered for the review it received from J.D. Considine in 'Musician' magazine: "SHT."

Formed in 1991 by brothers Johnny and Joey Gioeli, glam-metal supergroup Hardline included Todd Jensen (Sequel, Harlow), Neal Schon (Journey, Bad English) and Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Tony MacAlpine). The band released one self-titled album in 1992 before disbanding. They re-emerged in 2002 with an altered lineup, and have continued to record and perform.

The Storm
Exiled from Journey in 1985, the rhythm section of Ross Valory (bass) and Steve Smith (drums) picked up founding Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie and 707 vocalist Kevin Chalfant and created the Storm. A one-hit-wonder, the Storm earned a Top 40 hit with their eponymous debut album's power ballad "I've Got a Lot to Learn About Love" in 1991 before dissolving two years later.

Blizzard of Ozz
A bit of explanation is in order: Ozzy Osbourne's first project after leaving Black Sabbath was originally intended as a supergroup. In 1980. he enlisted Randy Rhoads (Quiet Riot), Lee Kerslake (Uriah Heep), Bob Daisley (Rainbow) and Don Airey (Rainbow), and christened it Blizzard of Ozz. But even though early press photos confirmed it as a group, Jet Records instead credited the album to Osbourne and used the band name for the album's title. Daisley has since argued that he co-founded the band; Osbourne and Rhodes are generally recognized as the principal songwriting engine.

More than two decades after GTR, former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett got together with another Yes legend, bassist Chris Squire, and formed Squackett. It came about when Squire was looking for a guitarist for a solo project and was put in contact with Hackett. Their one album, 'A Life Within a Day,' came out in 2012.

The talents of former Cream bassist Jack Bruce and ex-Procol Harum guitarist Robin Trower were always best-suited for a power trio, so it made sense that the two virtuosos would eventually work together. In 1981, they enlisted drummer Bill Lordan (from Sly & the Family Stone) and released 'B.L.T.' Although Lordan didn't last beyond that album, Trower and Bruce recorded 1982's 'Truce,' and returned for 2008's 'Seven Moons.'

After his time with Motley Crue came to a halt, singer John Corabi formed Union in 1997 with late-era Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick, David Lee Roth bassist James Hunting and touring drummer Brent Fitz. They lasted for three studio albums, 'Union' (1998), 'Live in the Galaxy' (1999) and 'The Blue Room' (2000), before calling it quits in 2002.

Brides of Destruction
Initially called Cockstar, Nikki Sixx and L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns formed Brides of Destruction in 2002 following Mötley Crüe's 2001 hiatus. After briefly flirting with the moniker Motordog and testing differing lineup configurations, the group released its 2004 debut 'Here Come the Brides' with singer London LeGrand, drummer Scot Coogan and guitarist John Corabi. After further lineup shakeups, the band released its second and final album, 'Runaway Brides,' in 2005.

During Motley Crue's turn-of-the-century hiatus, Nikki Sixx got together with Boxing Gandhis guitarist Dave Darling, Steve Gibb (son of Bee Gee Barry) and drummer Bucket Baker. Taking their name from the year in which Sixx and Darling were born, 58's lone album, 'Diet for a New America,' featured a mash-up of genres, including a cover of Gilbert O'Sullivan's soft-rock 1972 hit, "Alone Again (Naturally)."

Paice Ashton Lord
After the breakup of Deep Purple's Mk. IV, founding members Ian Paice and Jon Lord picked up veteran singer Tony Ashton, who had worked with Lord in the past. Released in 1977, their only album, 'Malice in Wonderland,' veered away from the progressive hard rock of Deep Purple into R&B and funk territory. They broke up a year later.

Adler Z'Nuff
Chip Z'Nuff of Enuff Z'Nuff had played bass in Adler's Appetite, a project of former Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler from 2005-11. A year before Z'Nuff left, they recorded a self-titled five-song EP using both their names that they sold at gigs and online.

After being fired from Ozzy Osbourne's band, guitarist Jake E. Lee formed Badlands with two former members of Black Sabbath, singer Ray Gillen and drummer Eric Singer, and bassist Greg Chaisson. After their 1989 self-titled debut, Singer left to join Kiss, and was replaced by Jeff Martin of Racer X. Internal squabbling led to Gillen being fired around the time of 1991's 'Voodoo Highway,' although he was brought back to tour behind it. The band broke up in 1993.

Duff McKagan’s Loaded
Assembling a backing band to tour in support of his 1999 solo album 'Beautiful Disease,' Duff McKagan's Loaded became a full-time operation when the album was shelved. McKagan's Loaded released their debut, 'Dark Days,' in 2001 with Martin Feveyear, Dave Dederer (from the Presidents of the United States of America) and Geoff Reading (New American Shame). The group disbanded in 2002, but returned with 'Sick' in 2009 and 'The Taking' in 2011.

Neurotic Outsiders
By the mid-'90s, punk rock was enjoying its third wave. And one of its premier architects, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones, assembled a cast of like-minded industry luminaries to establish Neurotic Outsiders. Joined by Duran Duran's John Taylor, Guns N' Roses's Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, the decorated quartet released their only album, 'Angelina,' in 1997.

Living Loud
After Ozzy Osbourne had reissued his first two solo albums with a different rhythm section, the men who played the original parts, bassist Bob Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake, got together with the albums' original keyboardist, Don Airey, Deep Purple's Steve Morse and singer Jimmy Barnes to form Living Loud. For their self-titled 2004 record, they cut new versions of six Osbourne songs that Daisley wrote and five originals.

Saints of the Underground
Comprised of well-established glam-metal veterans, Saints of the Underground formed the way most first-time acts do: by light-heartedly jamming cover songs with peers. Featuring Jani Lane (Warrant), Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), Keri Kelly (Alice Cooper) and Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot), Saints of the Underground released their sole album 'Love the Sin, Hate the Sinner' in 2008.

In 1990, L.A. Guns manager Allen Kovac set out to construct a band consisting of glam-metal scene VIPs. Recruiting the likes of Michael Schenker (Michael Schenker Group), Richard Black (Shark Island), Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns), Share Pedersen (Vixen) and Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), the group released a self-titled album in 1991. The band was short-lived, however, dissolving two years later.

New Race
In 1981, a pair of Detroit proto-punks, Ron Asheton of the Stooges and Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson of MC5, joined up with three members of Australia's Radio Birdman -- Deniz Tek, Rob Younger and Warwick Gilbert -- to create New Race for an Australian tour. 'The First and Last' was a live album compiled from those dates, although Younger re-recorded his vocals in the studio.

Blue Murder
In 1987, John Sykes picked up a record deal after getting fired from Whitesnake on the eve of the band's breakthrough. But rather than go solo, he hooked up with Firm bassist Tony Franklin and veteran drummer Carmen Appice and launched Blue Murder. But after their 1989 self-titled debut, he replaced them with Marco Mendoza and Tommy O'Steen for 1993's 'Nothin' but Trouble.' A live album released only in Japan followed the next year, and Sykes then opted to go solo.

Birthed by Tim Bogart and Carmine Appice, the former Vanilla Fudge members enlisted the talents of Jim McCarty (Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels) and Rusty Day (the Amboy Dukes) to form Cactus in 1969. The band managed four albums before dissolving in 1975. They resurfaced for 'Cactus V' in 2006.

When the Electric Flag dissolved for the second time in 1974, blues-rock guitar legend Mike Bloomfield and Electric Flag co-founder, keyboardist Barry Goldberg, enlisted songwriter Raymond Kennedy. The trio used the first letter of their last names for their project, and they released 'KGB' in early 1976. The rhythm section was comprised of two men who had histories with supergroups: bassist Ric Grech (Blind Faith) and Carmine Appice (Beck, Bogert & Appice).

The Greedies
During some time away from Thin Lizzy in 1978, Phil Lynott formed a loose supergroup with Steve Jones and Paul Cook, who were without a band following the breakup of the Sex Pistols. Called the Greedies (short for "Greedy Bastards"), they played a handful of gigs, and sometimes Lynott's bandmates Gary Moore and Scott Gorham joined them. Their lone release was a 1979 Christmas single, "A Merry Jingle," a medley of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Jingle Bells." It was featured on 'The Kenny Everett Video Show' Christmas screening.

After leaving the folk-inspired progressive group Renaissance in 1970, former Yardbirds singer Keith Relf then took to producing other artists, including Steamhammer. It was out of this venture that came his next musical project. Recruiting Steamhammer's Martin Pugh and Louis Cennamo on guitar and bass, respectively, the newly formed Armageddon would additionally include Bobby Caldwell, a drummer from Johnny Winter's backing band. Aided by Cennamo's friend Peter Frampton, the group struck a recording and management contract, releasing their only album, the eponymous 'Armageddon,' in 1975.

Orion the Hunter
As a result of internal band disputes, guitarist Barry Goudreau left Boston in 1981. In establishing Orion the Hunter, Goudreau sought the assistance of former Heart drummer Michael DeRosier and Fran Cosmo, who had performed on Goudreau's 1980 solo album. They released their sole self-titled studio album, which featured backing vocals by Boston's Brad Delp, in 1984.

Every aspiring guitar hero has to start somewhere. But Joe Bonamassa outdid most when he, while still in his preteen years, had refined his blues licks to the point where he was opening for B.B. King at the age of 12. Before Bonamassa was legal, he formed Bloodline, featuring musicians associated with Miles Davis, Robby Krieger and Berry Oakley. The group scored a minor hit with "Stone Cold Hearted" in 1994.

Mother's Army
A supergroup in the truest manifestation, members of Mother's Army covered the spectrum of rock acts. Featuring Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple, Rainbow), Carmine Appice (Cactus, Ozzy Osbourne), Bob Daisley (Black Sabbath, Rainbow), Jeff Watson (Night Ranger) and Aynsley Dunbar (Journey, Frank Zappa), the short-lived Mother's Army released three studio albums between 1993 and 1998.

When several members of Kansas became born-again Christians, Steve Walsh left to form Streets with guitarist Mike Slamer, bassist Billy Greer and drummer Tim Gehrt. '1st' arrived in 1983 and 'Crimes in Mind' followed two years later. The band broke up and Walsh returned to Kansas, where he remained until retiring in 2014.

Former Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet formed Alcatrazz in 1983 with former Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr and rising guitar wizard Yngwie Malmsteen. But Burr left after a week and was replaced by Iron Butterfly's Jan Uvena. Their debut, 'No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll,' peaked at No. 128 on the 'Billboard' album chart. Malmsteen left for a solo career a year later and was replaced by another up-and-coming guitarist, Steve Vai. The group disbanded , but were revived from 2006-14.

Bad Moon Rising
Lion was most known in the U.S. for contributions to 'Transformers: The Movie' and 'Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.' But when the group disbanded and Lion alums Kal Swan and Doug Aldrich forged Bad Moon Rising in 1990, they'd find soundtrack-free superstardom in Japan. They'd enjoy a fruitful eight-year run before disbanding in 1998.

After King Crimson's 1974 breakup, the rhythm section of John Wetton (bass) and Bill Bruford (drums) decided to keep working together. They brought in guitarist Allan Holdsworth (Soft Machine, Gong) and keyboardist/violinist Eddie Jobson (Roxy Music) for U.K. An album followed in 1978, but Bruford and Holdsworth left after their tour. Deciding to go without a guitarist, they brought in drummer Terry Bozzio for 1979's 'Danger Money' and a live album, 'Night After Night.' Wetton formed Asia shortly afterward, but the trio reunited in 2012.

Three years after Canadian rockers Sheriff split up, their song "When I'm With You" became a hit in the U.S. Unable to get the band back together, singer Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi turned to three founders of Heart -- Roger Fisher, Steve Fossen and Mike DeRosier -- and created Alias. Their 1990 album resulted in two major hits, "More Than Words Can Say" and "Waiting for Love," and a minor one in "Haunted Heart." However, the Heart contingency soon left, and the two Sheriffs re-formed the group in 2009 with other members.

As Iron Maiden grew in popularity in the mid-'80s, two former members, singer Paul Di'Anno and drummer Clive Burr, teamed up with guitarists Janick Gers (White Spirit) and Pete Wells (Def Leppard) and bassist Pete Murray (Whitesnake). They released a three-song EP, 'I Will Be There,' in 1985 and then broke up.

In 2000, Les Claypool of Primus and Trey Anastasio of Phish were asked to put a project together for the New Orleans Jazz Fest. The got Stewart Copeland of the Police to drum, and they called themselves Oysterhead. It worked out so well that they kept it going, releasing 'The Grand Pecking Order' in 2001 and mounting a North American tour. They reunited in 2006 for a few festival dates, and have wanted to get back together, but their schedules have not synched up.

Street Sweeper Social Club
When Zack de la Rocha exited Rage Against the Machine in 2000, the remaining members soon found themselves fronted by late Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, performing as Audioslave. Tom Morello, however, still desired a more political outlet. For this he paired with the Coup emcee Boots Riley to form Street Sweeper Social Club in 2006. The duo released a self-titled studio album in 2009 and a follow-up EP in 2010.

Tinted Windows
In 2009, former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha assembled a group of power-pop stalwarts under the banner of Tinted Windows. Accompanied by Tyler Hanson (from the brothers group Hanson), Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos and Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger, the group released a sole self-titled studio album in 2009. While no breakup was ever officially announced, the group has remained inactive since.

Satellite Party
When three-fourths of Jane's Addiction formed the Panic Channel, Perry Farrell went off with Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and established Satellite Party, with 2007's 'Ultra Payloaded' featuring guest contributions from members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, New Order and the Black Eyed Peas. But Bettencourt and drummer Kevin Figg took exception to the increased role given to Farrell's wife, Etty Lau Farrell, and quit before the North American leg of their tour.

By the end of 1984, Duran Duran were a worldwide phenomenon - but one in need of some time apart from each other. So in 1985, they splintered into two side projects. Power Station, John and Andy Taylor’s team-up with singer Robert Palmer, grabbed the majority of the headlines. Meanwhile, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes and Roger Taylor formed Arcadia, a synth-pop outfit that achieved a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic with “Election Day" before dissolving the following year.

The Wondergirls
More of a collective than a supergroup, extra-populated one-off project the Wondergirls was formed by Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland in 1999. The Wondergirls released only two songs, "Let's Go All the Way" and "Drop That Baby," with contributions shared among an army of alternative-rock peers, featuring members of Sugar Ray, Orgy, the Cult, Queens of the Stone Age, 30 Seconds to Mars and more. A new version of "Let's Go All the Way" surfaced in 2013 for the 'Iron Man' soundtrack.

During his second stint with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante went off with Fugazi's Joe Lally (on bass) and drummer Josh Klinghoffer and created Ataxia. The experimental rock band put out two records: 'Automatic Writing' in 2004 and 'AW II,' a collection of tracks left over from the initial sessions, three years later. Klinghoffer would later replace Frusciante as the Chili Peppers' guitarist.

Automatic Baby
Both R.E.M. and U2 had been strong supporters of Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign. For his inauguration, two members from R.E.M. -- Michael Stipe and Mike Mills -- joined up with two from U2 -- Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. -- and performed "One" at MTV's inaugural ball. They called themselves Automatic Baby, after both bands' recent hit albums, U2's 'Achtung Baby' and R.E.M.'s 'Automatic for the People.'

The Backbeat Band
Ian Softley's 1994 film 'Backbeat' focused on the time the Beatles spent woodshedding in Hamburg. To underscore their lack of polish in 1960, Softley recruited a sextet of alternative rockers -- Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Don Fleming (Gumball), Mike Mills (R.E.M.) and Dave Grohl (Nirvana) to play revved-up versions of covers that were part of the Beatles' set lists in those days.

The Both
After touring together in 2012, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo decided to start collaborating with the hopes of putting out an EP, which resulted in enough material for a full-length. They called themselves the Both, after the hashtag they created to promote their gigs. 'The Both' was a rare moment when two established acts came together and created something greater than the sum of its parts.

Between Dave Navarro's tenure in Jane's Addiction and the Red Hot Chili Peppers lies a short-lived project called Deconstruction that's been lost to the dustbin of alt-rock history. Navarro, with drummer Michael Murphy and Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery, used Deconstruction as vehicle for more sensitive and experimental material. The trio released a self-titled album in 1994, but while the commercial impact of the record was nil, 'Deconstruction' has regained a modest cult following.

Eyes Adrift
In 2002, former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic got together with longtime friend Curt Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets and Sublime's Bud Gaugh to create Eyes Adrift. The group released only one self-titled album and one single, “Alaska,” which failed to chart.

Fear and the Nervous System
In 2008, Korn guitarist James "Munky" Shaffer began corralling his friends, including members of Faith No More, Avenged Sevenfold and Repeater, into the studio to jam. Four years later, the tracks saw the light of day in the form of Fear and the Nervous System's self-titled debut. Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit was also involved early on, but his contribution in the end was limited to the album's artwork.

The Glove
In 1982, the Cure's Robert Smith spent a bit of time playing guitar with Siouxsie and the Banshees. The next year he and Banshees' bassist-keyboardist Steven Severin went off and formed the Glove, with Jeanette Landray handling vocal chores. They released one album, 'Blue Sunshine,' which included drums by Andy Anderson, who would soon become a member of the Cure.

Hindu Love Gods
Hindu Love Gods were what R.E.M. and their friend Bryan Cook called themselves when they wanted to semi-anonymously play covers in the bars in their hometown of Athens, Ga., On one occasion in 1984, Warren Zevon sat in with them. When Zevon hired R.E.M to be his backing band for 1987's 'Sentimental Hygeine,' they devoted a late-night session to recording a bunch of folk and blues standards ... and Prince's "Raspberry Beret." They released the session under the Hindu Love Gods name in 1990.

The I Don't Cares
Friends for years, Paul Westerberg and Juliana Hatfield branded themselves as the I Don't Cares and released 'Wild Stab' in 2016. The record included a new version of "Born for Me," a track that was first found on Westerberg's 1999 release 'Suicane Gratifaction.'

After leaving the Arctic Monkeys in 2006, Andy Nicholson formed Mongrel with his former drummer Matt Heiders, Drew McConnell (Babyshambles) and Jon McClure and Joe Moskow (Reverend and the Makers). 'Better Than Heavy,' their album that focused on political issues, was released in 2009.

The Panic Channel
When Jane's Addiction broke up for the third time in 2004, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and bassist Chris Chaney picked up former MTV VJ Steve Isaacs and established the Panic Channel. After the fatefully titled and critically dismissed 'ONe' in 2006, Powerman 5000 bassist Siggy Sjursen replaced Chaney. But the band disbanded later that year.

Following the dissolution of Smashing Pumpkins' original lineup, Billy Corgan took drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, longtime friend Matt Sweeney, David Pajo and future Pixies bassist Paz Lenchantin and formed the True Poets of Zwan, who are better known as just Zwan. They broke up due to internal conflicts a few months after the release of their only record, 2003's 'Mary Star of the Sea.'

Mick Nick Pick Mick Nick
If the idea of a supergroup named after Mick Mars (Motley Crue), Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran), Pick Withers (Dire Straits), Mick Box (Uriah Heep) and Nick Hogan (Hulk's son) sounds too weird to be real, you're right. It's a concoction of the comedy team of Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster, and referenced on numerous occasions during their routines on their podcast 'The Best Show.'


That amazing cover of Don Maclean's American Pie was by none other than local rockers -

Just received this corker of a superbly-engineered Rock cover song from a local band. I was gonna host their picture and mention what a rockin' uplifting version this was but . . . another slant - take a listen and see if you can guess who these guys are. And oh yes, they're North-East regulars; you've heard of them, seen them, and they have featured in Riffs many a time. This seven-minute rendition just blew me away - (and if I was in a Rock band [I can dream can't I?] this is the drum sound I would insist on) - and I just have to share . . .
Oh - and do I really have to say: PLAY LOUD.
I'll leave it a few days and then tell y'all who can take credit.


WELL, IF THERE'S one thing you can say for definite about Thunder’s thirteenth studio album - 'ALL THE RIGHT NOISES', it’s that the roll continues.
Having returned to the fray with 2015’s triumphant Wonder Days, Luke Morley, Danny Bowes and co. seem to be mining an endlessly generous seam of rock’n’roll gold.
Given the events of the past year or so, this is precisely the kind of thing that hits the spot – top-drawer tunes and no-nonsense, full-throttle delivery, with chief writer Morley clearly fuelled by anger and frustration, but still finding inspiration to lighten the mood with some cheery, upbeat rockers.
If you’re going to tackle serious stuff then you might as well go big straight from the off. Here it’s with the urgent and driven Last One Out Turn Off The Lights, putting the boot into Brexit, followed directly by possibly the heaviest song the band have ever written, Destruction, about mental illness and depression, and then we have The Smoking Gun, a low-key acoustic number smouldering with righteous fury.
It’s quite a triple whammy to kick off the album with, and the dark mood is echoed on Force Of Nature, focusing on Donald Trump and what must have gone through his mind as he rose to power, the brooding Don’t Forget To Live Before You Die (carpe diem, baby), and St George’s Day, which, dissects immigration and intolerance.
Fortunately the heavy stuff is expertly balanced by some wonderfully carefree feel-good rockers. Going To Sin City, where ‘bad girls and pretty boys strut their stuff’, is a gloriously low-slung stomper. She’s A Millionairess is a bright and breezy piss-taking rocker (‘She can’t be too blond and she can’t be too thin’). Young Man is propelled by an infectiously bouncy riff.
The strutting, cheeky You’re Gonna Be My Girl is decorated with honky-tonk piano and has a middle section surely designed for crowd participation for when such things can happen again. And sitting in the middle of it all is I’ll Be The One, one of the finest ballads the band have ever written, featuring a rather ace Morley guitar solo.
Honest, consistent and uncompromising, All The Right Noises is quite the classy tour de force of songwriting prowess and pacy execution, with Thunder sounding enraged, engaged and thoroughly energised throughout. Which is just what we need right now.

Having been one of the UK's most popular rock acts in the early '90s, Thunder found that record labels were no longer willing or able to promote their releases properly. Now they have taken matters into their own hands, using the Internet and new methods of distribution to get their records back in the charts.
Speak to any artist, producer or manager who has been around for some time and they will tell you that the global record industry has changed enormously over the last decade or so. While CD burning and the illegal downloading of MP3s have robbed the industry of necessary record sale revenue, other entertainment industries such as computer games are believed to have appropriated a portion of consumer spending once destined for singles and albums.
Whatever the reasons for industry difficulties, the upshot of it all is that record labels have less money to spend developing new acts, or indeed, sustaining the acts they already have on their books. Bands that were once flavour of the month are quickly dropped when their heyday has passed, and those that still have contracts often find there is no money in the pot for promoting and advertising their releases.
It's not surprising, then, that bands with loyal and active fan bases are now questioning whether signing to a label is the right thing to do, when they get so little in return for signing over the rights to their music.
Ups And Downs
British hard rock band Thunder are a good example, having recently enjoyed a top 30 hit despite having no label or management company, and without the help of any TV or radio advertising. They reached their commercial peak in the early '90s, performing sell-out gigs at London's Hammersmith Odeon and appearing at the Monsters Of Rock Festival. Their second album even reached number two in the charts, but they found themselves out of fashion when the grunge rock movement, spearheaded by Nirvana, knocked stadium rock from its pedestal.
Thunder kept their recording contract with EMI until 1995, when they were finally dropped because of declining sales. Nevertheless, they still had many record-buying fans, and on that basis were picked up by independents Castle Communications for one album, and then by Eagle Rock. By the end of the decade, though, the band had decided cut their losses and pursue other interests.
"Signing to Castle and Eagle Rock went well at first, but we soon realised that they'd spent loads of money on signings and didn't have anything left for marketing," explains Danny Bowes, singer and now also manager of the band. "We had a decent-sized fan base and that encouraged them to pay a lot of money to sign us, but, with hindsight, maybe they paid too much — which is why they couldn't afford any promotion and marketing. We began to feel like we were going round and round in smaller circles, so I told the band that I was getting tired. It takes just as much effort to make a record that doesn't sell as it does to record a hit album."

After The Storm
The split came in 2000, but only lasted for two years before the band regrouped to take part in a series of live shows. "We didn't come back with a view to starting a label and selling records in any kind of meaningful way," explains Danny, who was quite happily working in production after leaving Thunder. "I'd been involved with a Smash Hits tour and thought that it would be really good to have the same kind of thing for rock music, although I was thinking of a Monsters Of Rock-type thing for indoor arenas really. So I came up with a few solutions to some of the logistical problems and took the idea to a guy who runs Clear Channel in the UK and became sort of a back-seat partner.
"There were a lot of classic rock bands waiting for an opportunity to go out and play, so we asked Neil Warnock of the Agency Group if he had a big-name act to headline, and he said that Alice Cooper would love to do it, so suddenly we had a show! Clear Channel then asked Thunder to take part because our 'powder was dry', metaphorically speaking, after two years away, and they knew that we always sold well live.
"We didn't want to play some shows and then split up again because the fans would think we'd just done it for the money, so, before we knew it, we were making an EP to sell via our web site and at shows. In the end we sold 5000 copies to a total audience of 50,000, which was very encouraging."
The success of the EP started Thunder thinking about the possibility of making further single and album recordings, but they had no label, management or distribution, and did not intend to release anything half-heartedly. "I'd never considered just using the Internet to sell records because I didn't fancy doing the cottage-industry-style thing of licking up labels and sticking them on CD-Rs," Danny admits. "So I had a couple of long conversations with a guy called Bruce McKenzie about selling our music through shops without label distribution. He runs a chain of record stores called Townsend Records, but he's very much the new breed of record-store owner who wants to be involved in making records as well as selling them. He agreed to help me sell them on-line if I took care of the manufacture and finance of the records.
"Thunder had a good relationship with retail, so I knew it was possible. We used to do in-store tours around the time of the release of our records. We'd do an acoustic set in the morning, signing in the afternoon and we'd literally tour the country that way. We'd take a little PA and a driver who doubled up as a technical guy. Retail loved it and we sold loads of records on the strength of it. So I knew that if we said to retail that we were doing an album ourselves, as long as we had someone who could distribute the record correctly, they'd be interested. We couldn't have done that from scratch, though — we were in a position of strength."
Teaming Up
For Thunder to be able to manage their own affairs, each band member has had to take on a certain area of responsibility. Danny's friendship with guitarist and writer Luke Morley dates back to their school days (they formed their first band at the age of 15), so the idea of drawing up a contract denoting each Thunder member's role was never discussed. Instead, each person simply gravitated to their own area of interest. "We're very fortunate that everybody is qualified to do something that we need within the framework of our organisation," says Danny.
When he isn't singing, Danny manages the band, taking care of budgets, promotion and distribution, and sorting out contractual legalities and licensing deals, as well as other tasks that would otherwise be handled by a label. "I take care of a lot of the business, and do all the shouting and screaming and coordinating," he says. "Luke is very much the songwriter and the arbiter of taste when it comes to music. He writes the songs, occasionally with a bit of help from Harry James the drummer and Chris Childs the bass player. Luke's always been interested in that side of it.
"Ben [Matthews], one of our guitarists, is the Pro Tools man. He's a qualified studio engineer, and knows what the band needs. Last year we bought a big TDM Pro Tools rig [consisting of a dual-1.25GHz G4 Mac, an HD2 system and two 192 interfaces, each with the A-D expansion card, plus numerous plug-ins] and that's worked out very well for us. HHB designed it to fit in two cases which we can get into the back of an estate car. You can take it pretty much anywhere because all you need are a pair of plug sockets and two cables to connect the units together. The racks are also filled with Focusrite preamps so we don't need a desk, and the Mac fits in the cases too. You can operate the whole thing using pair of headphones. It cost approximately £20,000 but it saves us thousands too. We still have to record the drums and loud stuff in a controlled studio environment, but we can take the rig away and overdub and mix in our own home studio, so it's the convenience as well as the money savings that makes it a worthwhile way to work.
"We also get help from a Pro Tools expert called Rupert Coulsen who has worked with us on the last four studio albums. He's based at AIR Lyndhurst, and was trained by George Martin. He shares the programming stuff with Ben.
"Chris, our bassist, takes care of all the design, and what he isn't doing himself he's coordinating with a designer. He has a very keen eye for it although it has only emerged in the last year or so. He's done all the T-shirts for latest tour, as well as things like labels, but he has had to find his way in terms of what needs to be sent to the factory for production. A lot of it is learning as you go.
"Chris came up with the design concept for the new album. He wasn't quite up to doing the whole album package himself, so we gave the concept to another guy who we've used before, but the work was based on Chris's ideas. Chris also has a PC-based studio at home, so together with Ben, he's one of the technical guys."
The Knowledge
When Thunder temporarily split up in 2000, Danny immediately threw himself into a series of industry production jobs which gave him valuable experience. "Even when I first started singing in the band I was interested in what happened behind the scenes. I was always interrogating the manager, accountants and lawyers. While the rest of the guys were working on the tunes or chasing girls around after the gigs, I was analysing the merchandising figures! After the split I started doing production work for MTV, staging dance and club shows, managing a band and singer, and during that time I met the finance director of the company who manage the Barfly venues around the country. They were looking for someone to sort out all their production troubles, so I became their production manager.
"I also began acting as a consultant for the label started by Dave Stewart from the Eurythmics. We started with just an empty building, so I found myself doing things like getting the networking of the computers sorted out and tour managing Jimmy Cliff, who Dave had signed. I ended up negotiating with the BBC for the worldwide TV rights for the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, which was performed by Dave and Jimmy Cliff's band."
Calm Behind The Storm
Despite having an able team of people within the band, releasing records and managing everything that goes with that process still requires outside help, particularly when it comes to distribution, accounts, manufacturing, publicity and promotion. Thunder hire in the help they need as and when necessary rather than retaining anyone on a salary, although it's possible that the situation may change as more and more recordings are released and need to be managed. "We're bringing in a production girl to help with manufacturing, which we haven't done before," admits Danny. "Her job will be to solely oversee the production and make sure records get made on time. We now manage four records including some singles and a Bowes & Morley album Luke and I recorded together, and they're all selling constantly.

"I do a lot of the accounting but we have a book-keeper who comes in a couple of days a week and we have a business manager who steps in every now and then. He used to manage a very big company, so he and I have the 'big picture' conversation a few times a year. We hired a radio plugger and a publicity person for the last single, but we won't use a plugger for the LP because there's no point trying to get LP tracks for this band on the radio. The publicity lady has some radio connections with all the kinds of stations we could expect to receive plays from, as well as local national and digital radio stations."
Many labels set aside a percentage of their production budget for advertising, promotion and so on, but Danny admits that he hasn't really found time to work out an exact system. "I have a gut feeling on how much I think we need to spend, which is based on how much we spent last time and how many records we sold. Each production run seems to bring in more and more money because we're reaching a bigger audience, and that makes you feel like you could reach an even bigger audience with a little more promotion, but we're very careful about how we go about it. We work on the assumption that sales pay for more records, and occasionally the band get some money out of it. Touring pays the band, so after we've paid our costs, the net income is distributed to the band members. So they all earn from touring but not from record sales at the moment."
As band manager, Danny takes a cut of the band's net income too. The amount also covers his work as the Thunder 'label manager'.
Thunder: The Band As Business
Bring On The Web

It's ironic that the very technology that many record labels blame for forcing them to cut back on their support for new signings and artist development has enabled some acts to go it alone without any label involvement. On the one hand, downloading and CD copying has allowed the public to get their hands on music without paying for it; on the other it has also made it easy for artists to place downloadable taster tracks on their official web sites to draw in the punters. Thunder have done just that, but the biggest benefit they have found has come from the way the site is used to publicise gigs and new releases, and to canvas fans' opinions on a day-to-day basis.
"Our web site is absolutely vital," insists Danny. "Direct communication is what it's all about. When there are thousands of people looking at your web site every week you are in a position where you can swap information with them, inform them of events, and they can tell you what they think about it. For example, when it came to the idea for a one-off T-shirt to be sold at the Christmas show, I became very aware that we might be demanding too much from our fans. We had already asked them to buy our single which came in three formats, each with a different B-side. All of those add up in terms of money, and we'd also asked our fans to buy Deep Purple tour tickets in November, tickets for our tour in March, and again for our Christmas show.
"I was able to ask directly via the web site how they would feel about us doing a limited-edition T-shirt specifically for the show, explaining that we were concerned that they might think we were trying to fleece them. We got over 200 replies saying that they wanted the T-shirts, and they were just the people who could be bothered to reply, so we went ahead."
The web site has also made it easy for the band to notify the fans of up-and-coming concerts, and to point them directly to the place where tickets can be bought, therefore removing the need for expensive advertising. "For our Christmas show at Rock City in Nottingham, we did a deal whereby all our tickets were sold directly from their box office. We didn't go to a promoter, or advertise it anywhere apart from on our site, we just pointed people to the Rock City credit-card hotline, and sold all 1000 tickets in six days at £25 a head. Being able to send out a blanket email to 10,000 people is just incredible."
Feedback from the public has even helped Thunder tackle problems with manufacturing and distribution, as Danny explains. "Recently we had to delay a single release date by two weeks because we had so many orders that we needed a larger print run. The problem was that some singles leaked out from the distributor to Virgin stores and started selling, and this happened while we were busy on tour with Deep Purple. Our web site manager called us having received emails from people who were buying singles two weeks early, and with that information I was able to call the distributor and get them to pull the stock from the stores. Without that instant communication we wouldn't have been able to do that, and would have lost our chart placing because of it."
Passing It On
Now that Thunder are having success managing their own releases, they are in a position to help other bands get started in the industry. Ever the businessman, Danny is considering the possibilities. "We've talked about it, and we've found a couple of interesting acts, but we need a substantial pool of money to help them develop and get a name, and at this moment in time we're still building the label and the Thunder catalogue by ploughing the money we make back in, but if we had some fat we could devote it to other acts, and I'd be happy to do that.
"If you find acts you believe in you have to be able to put your money where your mouth is, but there's no point berating record labels if you are just going to do the same thing as them. We need to have the courage of our convictions, find the acts and then get to work.
"It's actually hard to find acts who believe that you can help them, because there is still this misconception that only record companies can do it, which is patently untrue. In November we charted a single at 27, and we have no record label. What we do have is UK record distribution, lots of expertise, and a group of people working to help us put a proper campaign together.
"A new band starting out might want to do it themselves but don't have that experience. The Internet makes it very easy to have a go, but unless you have some experience and/or some kind of industry contacts then it's very hard. I'm sure a lot of bands have gone into it very gung-ho and come out disheartened by the whole thing.
"I wouldn't have gone for it if I was a new act starting from scratch. Luke and I had already been waiting for a deal for nine years by the time our band Terraplane were signed to CBS in 1984, so we've built up a following and have loads of experience. The problem is that it costs a fortune to find a fan base, and you can't manufacture one out of nothing. People tend to go and see the bands they know, so you have to get in front of other people's audiences initially and hopefully take advantage of your opportunities. After a while you can book your own shows in your own right, but you have to start small and build up, and it all costs money.
"I'm about to start managing a new band, but I'd probably release something by them independently purely and simply to help gain attention from a bigger record company who can supply the money to develop a fan base."
Selling The Hard Stuff
So far, actually selling records via their site has been less of an ambition for Thunder, who are determined to continue placing records in high-street shops. "We did an excusive deal with HMV for our first single because knew we weren't going to sell enough copies to put them in every shop in the country," says Danny. "We told fans that it was available in HMV and as a result we got it to number 48 in the charts, which was very good considering the limitations, and we made money out of that record!
"We used to sell all our on-line stuff through Townsend's on-line setup, although we do now have our own shop from where we sell some merchandise exclusively. For records, though, we still have links to Townsend's site. They buy the new stock from us, and have a large on-line store which carries all the old Thunder titles, rarities, imports and so on."
Naturally, Thunder have investigated the possibility of releasing MP3s, but Danny remains unconvinced that the necessary infrastructure is ready. "We are embracing every aspect of the digital revolution, but at the moment I don't feel totally comfortable that they've got it right. We did a deal with a company in the States to make the second Bowes & Morley album available on iTunes, but I wasn't very happy with how it turned out because although we do get revenue, it is not a massive amount because there are about eight people in the chain. For us it's not so much about the money, it's more about reaching a new audience through another shop window, but the whole thing took about six months to happen which I thought was ridiculous when the Internet is all about high speed. It's work in progress, in my opinion."
Danny is also sceptical that MP3s, and future download formats, are necessarily the way music will ultimately be delivered. "Downloading is very useful for people who live in remote places, but I don't think it will take over as the main way to buy records because of the physical need we all have for retail therapy. There's something irreplaceable about the feeling you get when you've found the thing you've been looking for or happened upon something you weren't expecting. The thing about the Internet is that it is all very good if you know the answer to the question.
"When I was young I bought records just because I liked the cover, although there was a lot more to look at on 12-inch vinyl. If something caught my eye I would buy it. Dark Side Of The Moon is a classic case of something I bought just because I was intrigued by the cover. When I got it home I was blown away. It shows how artwork can motivate people to do things."
The Here And Now
Thunder are understandably pleased with themselves, having recently charted a single at number 27 and completed a successful UK arena tour with Deep Purple and Peter Frampton. At one point it must have seemed as though their 15 minutes of fame were behind them, but it just goes to show what a little determination and organisation can do. Danny: "This is a fascinating business at this point in time, because all the rules that were accepted five years ago are gone. It now appears that you can do pretty much whatever you want.
"Running your own affairs is incredibly empowering. You don't see anything when you're a band signed to a record label; you just hear what your manager tells you. A&R don't like having difficult conversations with artists. I used to ask fairly pointed questions of people in our record company and they used to get very nervous. They'd be trying to get out of giving me the answers. The manager acts as the go-between, and there are things that record companies will tell a manager that they never tell an artist. Like the singer looks like he's put on two stone, he needs to lose weight — that kind of thing. The manager has to tactfully call the singer and say 'Have you thought about going on a diet recently?'
"Having the experience to know whether something is worth acting on in the first place is fairly vital. If you've been in the business long enough you know someone who knows the answer, even if you don't yourself. It is just a case of making enough phone calls and staying on good terms with people.
"But, for me, the most important thing is that you live and die by your own actions. If, at the end of the day, it all falls down then it is our fault. By applying a business-minded approach, we feel we're going about it in the same way as a label, only we're responsible for every decision, and every mistake, as well as every success. We won't go into old age thinking it was all the fault of record companies. It shouldn't be like that. If you don't like a situation, do something about it."


51 years ago last month, Black Sabbath released their debut album and kicked off the entire genre of heavy metal. We take an in-depth look at its creation, reception and legacy.
It was a clarion call that echoed from the void, a raucous cry of unity for rockers that couldn’t relate to the peace and love vibes of the Woodstock era. The sound had less to do with the escapist tone of most popular music and more to do with the desperation and frustration of living in the detritus of post-World War II Europe.
The eponymous album by Black Sabbath, which was released in Europe on February 13, 1970, and in North America on June 1 of the same year, was like nothing hard rock fans had ever heard. There were elements of Led Zeppelin and Cream in there, sure, but the music was grimmer and far less euphoric.
Instead of flaunting exuberant energy, Sabbath focused on the bleak and barren, confronting listeners with buzzing, overdriven guitars, meandering bass, lumbering beats and nasal, almost sepulchral vocals that sliced through the organized cacophony like a scalpel through a corpse. It was loud, it was weird and, for many, it was almost an overwhelming sensory overload.
Black Sabbath started with atmospheric sound effects and then guitarist Tony Iommi launched into one of metal’s most influential licks, the devil’s tritone – a dissonant, unsettling configuration allegedly once banned by the church and shunned by composers. Rarely was the tritone heard in popular music; it was most often heard along with the haunting noises in horror film soundtracks. Yet Black Sabbath relished the uneasy feeling the repeated three-note passage engendered.
Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian first heard the track when he was a kid listening to his uncle’s stereo and the experience left an indelible imprint on his brain. “I just sat there scared,” he says. “From the start, I was listening to the rain and the wind and the bell and then that riff started and just blew my mind.”
Disturbed frontman David Draiman had a similar experience years later when, during a game of "Dungeons & Dragons" his friend put Black Sabbath on the turntable. “They just brought a vibe and a feel that no other band on the planet ever tried to do,” he says. “Before them, no one played those notes and no one played these doomy riffs with that sludgy, heavy sound.”
Other heavy artists — including Blue Cheer, The Stooges and Jimi Hendrix — had dipped their toes into the gut-twisting morass of chords and notes that was to become heavy metal, but Sabbath were the first to capture the sound, vibe and attitude that defined the genre.
Over the next five years they recorded five of the most influential and essential metal albums ever, but Black Sabbath was truly groundbreaking — a structurally complete blueprint for doom. Even the cover art foreshowed the originality within. The strange, unsettling image of a plain-looking woman (a witch, perhaps?) standing in the woods in front of a farmhouse contained no occult symbols or violent imagery, yet it was as disturbing as the original cover of The Beatles’ Yesterday and Today. The shot was taken at the Mapledurham Watermill in Oxfordshire, and it remains one of metal’s iconic images.
For such a seminal album, Black Sabbath was practically an afterthought for Fontana Records, which booked the band a single day in the studio, October 16, 1969, to record with beginner producer Rodger Bain and engineer Tom Allom at Regent Sound Studios in London.
After the album was tracked the label washed their hands of it, shuffling Sabbath’s debut to Vertigo Records. Just being in the studio was an exciting opportunity for Sabbath, which started as a 12-bar blues band called Earth before changing their name, and the musicians were eager to prove themselves.
As Earth, they had tested crowds with the songs “Black Sabbath” and “Wicked World” and the reactions were promising. “That was the first time that people started looking up and going, ‘Wow, what’s this?’ says Iommi. “They’d come up afterwards and say, ‘What were those songs? We really liked those.’”
As soon as Earth decided to stray from their blues roots, they expanded upon their new sound with a batch of dense, equally textural tracks, including “N.I.B.” and “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and rehearsed them until they could play them from start to finish, time and again. They were tight, they were heavy and they were ready to transform rock 'n' roll in a day.
“We went in the studio and we were off from the word go,” Iommi recalls. “It’s hard to even remember the session. One second we were playing these songs and then the next thing we knew we were out of there. Some people think the album was recorded in a haze of drugs, but we hadn’t discovered that yet and we didn’t have time to get stoned. We had one day to prove ourselves, and that’s what we did.”
“We literally went in and played as if it was a live gig,” adds Butler. “We didn’t know anything about studios or production or engineering. We just went in, set up and played and they recorded us. It sounds easy, but it’s actually a really hard thing to do – to record a band live in the studio and get the whole feeling across. A lot of producers tried that but dismally failed. But Roger and Tom just had the knack of doing it.”
Aside from the cult Chicago band Coven, which wrote Satanic lyrics and included a recording of a black mass on their 1969 album Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, Sabbath were the first group to write songs that mentioned Lucifer and Satan and featured occult themes. To a large extent Sabbath knew they were playing with fire and enjoyed being provocative. They wrote from a knowledgeable perspective since they had dabbled in occult rituals and readings.
“We were into it,” Iommi says. “Certainly [bassist] Geezer [Butler] and myself were. It was certainly an interest. There was this thing called ‘the occult’ and we wanted to soak in as much as we could about it and find out what it was about. I suppose we got wrapped up a bit too much sometimes.”
Black Sabbath didn’t exclusively write about darkness and evil and they stopped short of endorsing the occult. “Black Sabbath,” which is often referenced for its blatantly Satanic lyrics, was actually written by Ozzy Osbourne and was based on a paranormal experience Butler had one night.
“In the middle of the night I felt this presence,” Butler recounted. “I woke up and there was this black shape looming over the bottom of the bed. It frightened the pissing life out of me. I told Ozzy and that inspired him to write the lyrics to the song as a warning to people that were getting heavily involved in black magic.”
Considering the band’s name, it’s not hard to grasp how Satanists misunderstood the meaning of some of Sabbath’s lyrics and assumed the musicians shared their blasphemous views. Despite their interest in black magic, Sabbath were hardly devil worshippers.
In response to vocal and vehement adoration from witches and Satanists, Sabbath mocked them in interviews and started wearing large crosses around their necks at the suggestion of the head white witch in England. Sabbath’s response pissed off disciples of Satan. At the same time, the band’ s dark imagery incensed parents and religious figures, neither of whom stopped to consider that Sabbath’s lyrics didn’t endorse Satanism.
“There was one incident where we were due to play in a town and we got banned by the church,” Iommi says. “The show was announced in all the papers for two weeks before we got there. The church managed to ban us. And then the bloody church burned down and we got the blame. They were trying to say that we had caused it, which was just weird.”
It’s no surprise that most of the mainstream press didn’t cater to Sabbath’s charms, labeling them primitive and untalented. “They thought our music was for yobs and doubters,” Iommi says. “They didn’t see it as music at all.”
That didn’t stop hard rock fans from reacting to the band’s trailblazing music. Not long after its Friday the 13th release, Black Sabbath was No. 8 in the U.K. album charts. And when the record came out in North America three-and-a-half months later, it climbed to No. 23 on Billboard and remained on the chart for a year, chalking up more than a million album sales.
“We built up our reputation through word of mouth,” Iommi says. “Every time we’d play in clubs [in Europe], we’d see more and more people coming to the show. Little pockets would build up and then eventually they became big pockets. Then, when the album got in the charts in the U.S., we could say, ‘Look what we’ve done,’ and more people started to check us out and if they liked it they brought in their friends. It became this ever-evolving thing.”
The U.K. release of Black Sabbath featured two cover tunes, Crow’s “Evil Woman” (which was previously released as a single that also contained “Wicked World”) and Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation’s “Warning.” The U.S. release removed “Evil Woman” and blended “Behind the Wall of Sleep” into a single track that also included “N.I.B.” and the U.S.-only cuts “Wasp” and “Basically.” The original U.S. version also merged “Warning” into a medley that also featured “A Bit of Finger” (U.S.-only) and “Sleeping Village.”
Through the decades, Black Sabbath has been repackaged and re-released numerous times with previously unreleased songs, outtakes and alternate and instrumental versions. Most recently, the album was remastered and issued in 2016 as a two-CD deluxe edition. The recurring reissues are hardly surprising and, maybe, less of a cash grab than an effort to keep the album vital. There wasn’t a band around in 1970 that was as heavy as Black Sabbath; the influence of their debut is incalculable.
50 years after its release, Black Sabbath remains a must-have for any metal collection.
“They wrote the playbook for heavy metal,” Scott Ian says. “That's where every riff ever written comes from. Tony Iommi is the guy responsible for all of this.”
These days, Butler is far too much of a polite English gentleman to brag about Black Sabbath being the most important metal record of all time, but he concedes that he considers it the band’s greatest achievement.
“The odds were completely against us when we did the album,” he says. “Nobody wanted to give us a chance. Nobody wanted to manage us. Our families didn’t believe in us. But we persisted. And we made this album that we liked and, apparently, loads of other people liked. For us, it was the beginning of an incredible ride.”


The Story Behind The Song: Metallica’s Enter Sandman
By Rich Hobson (Metal Hammer)

How a grunge band inadvertently inspired the song that would turn Metallica into the world’s biggest metal band.

By the end of the 1980s Metallica’s place as thrash metal’s biggest band was unassailable. They entered the 90s with their sights set on an even greater prize: becoming the world’s biggest rock band, period. The only problem was that there was no way they were going to do it with another record like 1988’s prog metal-tinged epic …And Justice For All.
“When we were done with …And Justice For All there was no place to go,” drummer Lars Ulrich told Uncut in 2020. “We’d hit the wall. After playing all those songs on the road for a couple of years we said, ‘There’s got to be a reset here.’”
It wasn’t just Metallica who felt that way. By the start of the new decade the entire music industry was looking to hit the reset button. Glam metal, which had ruled MTV for the last few years, was fast approaching its sell-by-date, and while thrash may have crossed over into arenas with the landmark Clash Of The Titans tour, it too felt long in the tooth.
Yet something was stirring in Seattle. Bands such as Soundgarden, Mudhoney and a pre-superstardom Nirvana were mashing together punk and metal into an abrasive new sound dubbed “grunge” by the press – and it would provide unexpected inspiration for Metallica.
"It was about two or three o'clock in the morning. I had just been listening to Louder Than Love, the Soundgarden album," recalled guitarist Kirk Hammett in 2017. “I heard that album, I was inspired; I picked up my guitar and out came that riff."
Hammett’s early morning riff would become the basis of Enter Sandman, itself the first song the band wrote for what would become their self-titled fifth album (aka the Black Album). Metallica wanted their next record to be a 180-degree shift away from …And Justice For All’s complex time signatures and epic running times, and Enter Sandman encapsulated this back-to-basics approach.
Stripping their sound right down wasn’t the only thing that that had changed. Metallica had enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen since Ride The Lightning, but they figured they needed fresh input to help them execute their great leap forwards.
Enter Bob Rock, who had worked with Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, The Cult and Mötley Crüe. Recruiting such a commercial producer was a clear signal of Metallica’s intent.
“Some people thought Bob would make us sound too commercial,” said James Hetfield. “You know: ʻOh, Bob works with Bon Jovi, Bob works with Mötley Crüe.ʼ But if Flemming Rasmussen worked on a Bon Jovi record, would Bon Jovi all of a sudden sound like Metallica?”
Not that Metallica were entirely comfortable with Rock at first - nor vice versa. But having worked with some of rock‘s biggest egos, the producer certainly wasn’t unafraid to trample over the band’s feelings.
“I really didn’t give a shit, to be honest,” Rock recalled to Uncut in 2014. “When they started doing things the way they had always done, I just gave [songs] back to them. They were quite taken aback. When they’d do stupid things I’d call them on it. Lars would show up really late and I’d say, ‘What a fucking asshole you are…’ I don’t think people did that to them before.”
Yet Rock’s impact on Metallica was immediate. Where the band had previously recorded their parts separately, he insisted they play together in the studio.
It was Rock, along with Lars Ulrich, who pressured James Hetfield into rewriting the song’s lyrics. The frontman’s original subject matter revolved around Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or cot death – the line "Off to never never land" was originally "Disrupt the perfect family”. But the drummer and producer both thought the subject matter was too heavy, and told Hetfield so.

“That pissed me off so much!”
the singer told Guitar World in 2018. “I was like, 'Fuck you! I'm the writer here!' But that was the first challenge from someone else and it made me work harder."
Hetfield swallowed his annoyance and rewrote the lyrics, reframing it as a kind of twisted lullaby that drew on a child’s fears, real and imagined. The Sandman of the title was a reference to a mythical figure who would sneak into children’s bedrooms to sprinkle sand in their eyes (ironically, the band had been sitting on the title Enter Sandman for “six years”, according to Lars Ulrich).
Not everything Bob Rock suggested made it past Hetfield and Ulrich. The producer wasn’t convinced that the completed Enter Sandman was an obvious hit, preferring the thrashier Holier Than Thou as the album’s first single. This time the drummer intervened, holding firm in his belief that the track was the perfect way to launch what he knew would be Metallica’s most important album.
Released on July 29, 1991, Enter Sandman reached No.16 in the US and No.5 in the UK. But this was more than Metallica’s biggest single so far - as Lars intuited, it was the perfect jumping off point for the next stage of their career, teeing up the Black Album just under two months later.
Enter Sandman and the Black Album proved to be game-changers, turning Metallica from one of metal’s biggest bands into a genuine mainstream phenomenon (they also hastened the demise of the thrash scene - which of their former peers could hope to match it, artistically or commercially?).
Thirty years on, Enter Sandman marks the biggest turning point in Metallica’s career, and a song that’s embedded deep within not just metal’s DNA but the DNA of popular culture as a whole – how many other songs have been covered by crooner Pat Boone, Motörhead and King Crimson mastermind Robert Fripp and his wife Toyah?
“It really did sweep across the board,” said Lars Ulrich in 2020. “What's interesting for me is I burn out on a lot of the stuff we do, but it has such staying power. A short, simple rock song.”


There's four stages to life:  Child, Failure, Old, Death.


German band turns van into club
so fans can rock out one at a time

German two-piece rock band Milliarden have turned a van into a club where they stage gigs for one fan at a time as a way of reaching music-lovers during the pandemic.
Separated by a plastic sheet, Milliarden (www.milliardenmusik.de) which translates as Billions, treat fans to acoustic versions of their songs, recreating a club atmosphere with lighting effects, posters and plastic roses.
Large cultural events, including concerts, have become virtually impossible in Germany due to the pandemic.
“The fact that we have the club with us, that we are the club owners, so to speak, is something we use to get to the people who are not so close to this, to this cultural landscape, who are not in the big cities,” band member Ben Hartmann said.
“We actually went to the villages and stopped in front of people’s houses and played for them. A crisis like this one brings so many opportunities that you only recognise once you do stuff. You just have to do it.”
Milliarden this month released their third studio album “Schuldig” (“Guilty”). Fans can win tickets for the exclusive shows via social media.
“I think it’s so nice that it works like this and that people respect it and accept it like that and get so emotionally connected to us here on this van. I think that is a gift,” said Johannes Aue, in charge of keyboards and clapping.
“And that’s why it is awesome that we were able to pull it off without thinking how we could earn money with it. Because we are in an immense debt with our fans.”
“I’m just happy. Just happy. It was so nice ... It was so great, it was really great,” said fan Nadine Spichal, exiting the van parked outside a Berlin nightclub.                                           25/02/2021
Riffs thanks Reuters for permission to re-create this article.


Y'know that speck of light at the end of that really long tunnel? - well it's just increased in brightness. Just check out our Listings page where we have some reet royal rockin' in store . . .


Anvil’s debut album Hard ’N’ Heavy is an 80s metal classic that should have turned them into superstars. Mainman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on a career of missed chances.
History doesn’t always get it right. While every metalhead knows that the 80s began with a flurry of classic albums from Ozzy, Priest, Maiden, Motörhead and many more, one of the most important and influential records of the decade’s first couple of years rarely gets a mention. Released in the spring of 1981, Toronto trio Anvil’s debut album, Hard ’N’ Heavy, was one of the catalysts that set metal’s wheels rolling towards the birth of thrash and beyond, influencing Metallica, Anthrax and countless more iconic bands in the process.
Today, genial frontman Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow looks back on those early days as a time of wide-eyed enthusiasm. “When the 80s started, metal really didn’t exist, particularly in North America,” he recalls. “It was something that was mainly coming from the UK. We formed in ’78 and I guess we were kind of bringing metal to our country. We had cassette tapes that we’d run through our PA system and we’d introduce other cool bands to the audiences that we were playing for. So it was a really new thing, but to us it was just a continuation of the hard rock that we’d been listening to since we were kids. They just started to call it heavy metal and we were happy to be part of it. It was exciting, man.”
"We were always intrigued by
and loved Deep Purple"

Hindsight is a glorious thing. Looking back to the music Anvil were making in the early 80s, it’s easy to see how wildly ahead of their time they were and how, along with Motörhead, they contributed several major new weapons to metal’s creative armoury. Although Hard ’N’ Heavy was a largely straightforward hard rock record, songs such as Bedroom Game and Bondage are some of the earliest ever examples of what would become speed and thrash metal.
Robb [Reiner, Anvil drummer] and I were always really intrigued by and loved Deep Purple a lot, and the higher- tempo stuff really attracted us and inspired us to want to be able to play like that,” Lips explains. “So in doing that, instead of single bass drum beats, Robb started using double bass drum beats and I would chug the guitar in much the same way as [Ritchie] Blackmore did on Speed King or Flight Of The Rat or any of the higher-tempo Deep Purple songs. And I guess that became speed metal, but we didn’t know that’s what we were doing! That’s just what it became.”
Recorded at Quest Studios in Oshawa, Canada, Anvil’s debut album was entirely self-financed, not least because the North American music industry was yet to pick up on this new and exhilarating breed of none-more-heavy rock. As Lips notes, the songs on Hard ’N’ Heavy were written very early on in Anvil’s development as musicians and songwriters, and it wouldn’t be until 1982’s Metal On Metal that the band’s more brutal ideas started to gain traction.
“Realistically, the material that was written for that first record was written two to three years before it was recorded. So it’s really previous to metal even being called metal, if you know what I mean. What were we influenced by? Obviously English stuff and also American stuff. Bedroom Game was directly influenced by Rainbow. Then there’s Bondage, which was directly influenced by Ted Nugent. So it’s really all that stuff that was part of the 70s. It just so happened that we didn’t release it until 1981. As soon as that came out, we started writing for the second record, which came out in 1982. Metal On Metal was much more of a heavy metal record than the first one.”

"It makes sense that the first album
was so much about sex"

Hard ’N’ Heavy
was released on May 25, 1981 via Canadian rock imprint Attic Records. Lips notes that securing a record deal hadn’t been too much of a problem, but that at least one prospective benefactor at Capitol Records had flinched when confronted with the sexually charged (but slightly juvenile) lyrics to songs like School Love, I Want You Both (With Me) and, in particular, Bondage (opening line: ‘Tie me down you mean old bag!’). Lips cackles at the memory.
“Anybody between the ages of 18 and 23, that’s all that’s on your mind, right?” he muses, not unreasonably. “That guy hears School Love and he says, ‘Oh my god, that’s absolutely filthy! We’re not signing that!’ Ha ha! So it makes sense that the first album was so much about sex. The second one made a slight departure from that, because I guess it became a little less important. Maybe my hormones weren’t working as strongly, I don’t know! Ha ha ha!”
If you’ve seen Sacha Gervasi’s astonishing documentary, Anvil: The Story Of Anvil (and if you haven’t, what the fuck?) then you will know that Lips’ hopes for world domination never quite came to fruition. Despite his and Robb Reiner’s resolute determination, an initial flurry of low-key success in the early 80s never led them to a major commercial breakthrough, and due to poor management decisions and a whole stack of bad luck, the 80s didn’t turn out to be golden age that Anvil unquestionably deserved. In fact, it all sounds a bit rank.

"If you slept in those beds
you were gonna get scabies and crabs"

“Getting the first album recorded was a massive highlight,” Lips states. “But I don’t look back at the 80s with great nostalgia. I’ll be honest, I’ve had better times! Some of those days were pretty rough. Some of the hotel rooms were horrible. There were holes in the walls. You had to bring sleeping bags, because if you slept in those beds you were gonna get scabies and fuckin’ crabs. If you slept with anyone you’re gonna get a dose. It was just a dirty time and a dirty environment, so yeah, we had a lot of fun but there was some pretty awful stuff going on.”
In musical terms, Anvil plainly made their mark in those grubby early days. Glowing tributes from the likes of Lars Ulrich and Anthrax’s Scott Ian at the start of Anvil: The Story Of Anvil tell their own story about the lasting impact and power of Lips’ prescient contribution to metal history, even if the band themselves are underdogs to the last and proud of it.

"I knew what we had was special,
even back on Hard N Heavy"

“When you’re ahead of your time, it’s a real problem,” he shrugs. “You can have something extremely unique and cutting edge and you send that to a record label, and they won’t sign it because they don’t understand it. But I knew what we had was special, even back on Hard ’N’ Heavy. I was never going to give up and now I’ve been doing it for 40 years nonstop. And we are still playing School Love!”
Even as Lips bemoans the struggles that his band had to endure during their pioneering early days, he still sounds very much in love with the whole notion of playing in a heavy metal band. He’s also happy to admit that it was Sacha Gervasi’s support and the impact of his documentary that finally, after 30 years of trying, enabled Anvil to become the secure recording and touring unit that they always wanted to be.

“We fell between the cracks and that’s what caused the fall into obscurity,” he notes, cheerfully. “But it never put an end to what I wanted to do. I just waited until it came around again. In the end, a kid that we met back at The Marquee in London grew up to be Steven Spielberg’s screenwriter, and what does he do? He makes a movie about Anvil and that’s it, bingo! Had I given up in ’83, there would’ve been no history for that movie to base itself on. So you can’t wish anything different.”
"We don't want to play Glastonbury,
we want to be up close and personal"

Despite the 40th anniversary of their debut’s release in 2021, Lips and his band have absolutely no intention of wallowing in nostalgia. Their 2020 album Legal At Last upheld their mighty legacy. True to form, it failed to set the world on fire. But then Lips long ago gave up on that dream.

"We don’t want to be playing at Glastonbury, 100 feet from the nearest hand,”
he says. “I want to be right there, up close and personal. I want everyone to say that they were really in the same room, at the same place and time as Anvil. That’s the magic. I want to be the biggest club band that ever existed and then I can walk away saying that I’ve really done what I wanted to do. It’s been a long haul, but it’s better than having a day job, trust me!
[all pics taken by Riffs' Nige at Newcastle Riverside: April 14, 2016]


Bon Scott R.I.P.   1946 - 1980


Drugs, drink and disorder:
UFO look back at the making of Strangers In The Night

Strangers In The Night captured a great rock band at their peak, and is one of the all-time great live albums. But by the time it was released they were no longer the band who’d made it.
It seems incredible now that a live album could be a band’s defining statement – as much a relic of the 1970s as the Raleigh Chopper and only TV three channels. But so it was.
For bands who never quite achieved great consistency on studio records, or who were never quite as comfortable in the studio as on stage, the live album was the perfect vehicle: part greatest hits, part introduction for newcomers, part proof that the band really could be as good as their supporters might claim. And it worked.
Just ask Thin Lizzy for one. Or ask UFO, for whom Strangers In The Night was just as important as Live And Dangerous was for Lizzy.
“We were always more of a live band,” says UFO singer Phil Mogg. “We had a pretty cool set-list. We didn’t get to that until we reached the live album though.”
That’s important, because Strangers In The Night isn’t just a record of what UFO sounded like on stage in October ’78. It’s also a record of their transformation over five years since Michael Schenker had joined as lead guitarist – their transformation as players, as songwriters, as arrangers. It’s a record of how they became, for a while at least, a truly great rock band. The UFO that Schenker had joined were a very different group to the one he helped them become.
"We were dropping acid and going to the Roundhouse"
“Basically, they were a psychedelic rock band,” Schenker says. “Instrumentally there wasn’t much going on, it was more atmospheric. But there was a completely different chemistry [with the new line-up]. You take one piece out and put another in and you get different outcomes.”
“I think at that point we were all living in a house in Bounds Green, dropping acid and going to the Roundhouse,” Mogg told me last year. “I guess we went from there to straightening up, thinking: ‘Do you really want to do this? How serious are you?’ Basically, we got serious. Not too serious, though.”
Over the course of five albums – Phenomenon, Force It, No Heavy Petting, Lights Out and Obsession – they went from a band who were trying to find their way to one that barrelled down the road. They toured unrelentingly, generating excitement and buzz, but never quite made the leap to the top echelon.
Often, in the US, they were an opening act, but that suited their dynamism and gave them the chance to hit hard.
“We were very lucky to get some good opening slots,” drummer Andy Parker says. “We were getting exposed to larger audiences. If you do a decent job, a lot of those people will come and see you in the future, and that was working for us. I used to love that Special Guest slot, the second band on a three-band bill. You didn’t have to play for too long, the crowd was already warmed up and you could get home early. You could really hit them hard with a shorter set.”
"So paralysing was the drug that Mogg could barely move his mouth"
A shorter set and no headliner responsibilities allowed the band to indulge themselves too. Take the three shows they played with Fleetwood Mac in California in 1976. On the way to one of them, Mogg told me in 2012, they realised they were lacking in certain pick-me-ups, so they arranged to meet up with the April Wine touring party at a truck stop.
“So we got there, and this guy comes along with a briefcase chock-a-block with stuff. ‘Oh, this is great,’ we said. It was a bit like one of those movie scenes where they chop out a line that goes from here to next week. In our bravado we were: ‘Yeah!’ But by the time we reached the gig no one could talk. We were absolutely rigid. Time to go on, and we couldn’t move. We were on stage, absolutely stationary.”
So paralysing was the drug that Mogg could barely move his mouth to get the words out.
There was alcohol by the bucketload too.
“It seems comical now,” Parker says. “It was white wine for the sound-check, then beer, then on to the hard stuff in the evening. That was the good thing about the Special Guest slots, there was always booze left if you raided other people’s dressing rooms. We were doing cocaine and weed. The really heavy stuff, the really nasty stuff, didn’t come in till later. I never dabbled in that. I did quite a bit of blow, but then you end up staring at the ceiling at three in the morning when you have to be up in three hours.”
The arrival of Paul Raymond in July 1976, to play keyboards and rhythm guitar, was the thing that gave UFO the extra depth they needed.
“He completed the chemistry,” Schenker says. “He was very good at colouring in, and that made it perfect. He was an excellent songwriter, too. But he didn’t take all the credit for his writing because he had a contractual situation.”
Pete Way, the bass player who was the band’s irregular heartbeat, was writing too, and UFO became a band in which every member was making the maximum possible contribution.

"By autumn '78 the band were on the brink
of something"

“Pete was writing dirty stuff, and I would put in a melodic chorus to it, like Lights Out, that would balance it out,” Schenker explains. “The keyboards coloured it. It’s incredible how Paul Raymond did the intro to Love To Love, which started as an instrumental I wrote, then it turned into a vocal song. And the colouring in Lights Out is really good.”
By autumn ’78, although relations with Schenker were already fraught, there was a sense that the band they were on the brink of something.
“We were probably just about hitting our peak then,” Parker says. Michael was still with the band. We were at the stage where we could do decent-sized arenas on our own. We would do three nights in Chicago, which was our biggest market.
"Before, we’d been doing them with the likes of Rush and Blue Öyster Cult, Foghat, Styx and Jethro Tull and those kinds of bands as Special Guests, but by this time we were doing them on our own.
“I always thought that while we made great studio albums, if you really wanted to know what UFO was about, go see us live. We were always a band that tried to include the audience. I’ve seen so many big bands that play at the audience – it’s all about what they want to do, rather than what the audience wants – but with this band we included the audience.”

"He [Nevison] was obnoxious, but he knew what he wanted"
Strangers In The Night was recorded over two nights in October 1978, in Chicago and Louisville. Ron Nevison, who had produced UFO’s two previous studio albums, was brought in again to oversee its completion.
“He wasn’t the easiest guy to work with, but man he was good at what he did.” Schenker says. “He was obnoxious. But he knew what he wanted and he knew what the end result had to be.”
There’s no doubting Nevison’s contribution to Strangers In The Night. It’s an album on which muscle and melody are in perfect balance, from front to back (and the bonus live sets that accompany the CD version of this year’s reissue prove that UFO could cut it without the need for additional studio work).
It’s a mixture of great songs and bravura performances – the out-and-out rockers have a force and attack missing from the studio versions (Doctor Doctor, especially, makes the original sound like a demo); the longer and more emotional tracks, such as Love To Love and Rock Bottom, have an expressiveness that heavy bands at the time rarely bothered to attempt.
But even as UFO reached their zenith, things were going wrong. The exact circumstances of Schenker’s departure remain cloudy – you’ll get a different answer depending on who you ask, and possibly which day of the week you ask them.

"Schenker left just as the band were working on mixing Strangers"
Parker is certain the band knew he was going to be leaving at the end of the US tour in autumn 1978. The version that will go down in history – because it’s on Wikipedia – has him leaving shortly after the final show of the tour, in Palo Alto on October 29. But according to Schenker he didn’t leave until the band were working on the mixing of Strangers.
What isn’t disputed is that relations between him and his bandmates, especially Mogg, had been deteriorating for some time. Schenker hated touring, and drank to combat his stage fright. After the success of Lights Out, rather than celebrating a breakthrough, he told his partner Gabi that this meant years more of being trapped.
“It happens to many bands: the moment they make it big, they all collapse,” Schenker says. “And they get into a vicious cycle of being obnoxious and completely controlled by alcohol and drugs.”
He was also sick of Mogg, who he felt was violently aggressive. Indeed, even with decades of distance, mention of the singer still riles him. Five minutes after completing our interview, he calls me and embarks on a monologue that opens with:
“If you look at Iron Maiden, Steve Harris copied Pete Way, and the guitarists copied me, but the singer didn’t copy Phil Mogg. Same with Guns N’ Roses – a complete different vocal. Metallica – a complete different vocal. And Def Leppard – a complete different vocal. Strangers In The Night had an influence because of the guitar playing. It was the guitar playing that was copied by all of these bands…”
A few minutes later, he concludes: “It’s impossible for me to comprehend how people think. Why are people only seeing what they can’t get? People have a problem saying thank you. Instead of saying thank you, they say fuck you. Nobody is copying Phil Mogg, by the way. Goodbye.”
Then there were disagreements during the compiling of the album, at the Record Plant studio in New York, one being Schenker demanding they go for a different take of Rock Bottom from the one Nevison had chosen. By the time Strangers was released, on January 2 1979, Schenker was no longer in the band.
“He did an awful lot of walking, didn’t he?” Mogg says. “He used up the shoe leather. Dear oh dear. He’s always walking away from something.
"I can’t remember when he actually went. I remember him doing the album with as much enthusiasm as everybody else was putting into it. I remember that he wanted to keep replacing stuff, and in the end Ron said: ‘I ain’t fucking replacing shit. This is a live album.’ And Michael went: ‘Poor, poor Rock Bottom’, and walked out. We didn’t see him for a while."

"UFO were paid £86,000 for headlining Reading - but each band member got only £1,000"
The sad thing for all concerned was that this was happening when the band were at a high point. UFO moved on to a poppier sound. Schenker rejoined Scorpions, briefly, then formed his own band. Neither parties ever topped the music they had made up to then.
Money problems were arising, too. In 1980 UFO headlined the Reading Festival for a fee of £86,000, of which the band members saw £1,000 each, apart from new boy Neil Carter who got half that.
After UFO spluttered out in 1983, Mogg was so poor he had to go to live with a friend and sign on for unemployment benefit.
Strangers, though, was when things were special for UFO. It’s one of those rare live albums in which the interaction between all the band members is perfect – not just Schenker’s spotlit lead playing, but also Mogg’s command of the audience (interestingly, Schenker notes the “monotony” of Mogg’s voice, then observes that it combined perfectly with his own melodic sense to produce something greater than they could have been separately).
Parker’s drumming is combustible. Remember too the contributions of the two members who have passed away: Way and Raymond were just as integral to the sound of Strangers In The Night as Mogg and Schenker were. The just-released expanded version of the album stands as a tribute to the pair of them.
Nowadays even Schenker, who was merciless about its inadequacies after its release, has made his peace. “Today Strangers In The Night sounds good to me, because I’m not in it. I have distance and I hear it differently. I am affected by it differently because it became popular. And everybody likes it and you automatically become part of that wave. Everything influences your later opinion.”
Parker’s reaction is less complex: “We were at the apex of our career, and it just exemplifies the band. It will always be my favourite.”
Let’s be honest, mine and yours too, probably. It’s UFO’s defining statement.

By Michael Hann (Classic Rock)
[The tracks attached to the above images are from the Deluxe Expanded Edition which feature both Chicago and Cleveland gigs].


The Sweet:
Is it finally time to give them the credit they deserve?

From Little Willy to a six-foot, confetti spewing penis, The Sweet had it all... except for the credibility they craved. Were these critically derided glam tarts really rock gods after all?

“We were like four dissipated old whores, mincing about on Top Of The Pops and churning out computerised pop, just being as flash as assholes. Everybody thought we were a bunch of poofs…” The above, offered by drummer Mick Tucker in 1974, is evidence of the many misconceptions concerning The Sweet, or merely Sweet as they became known once the affections of teenyboppers wore off. The four members of Sweet were actually womanising, drug taking, hell-raising, macho alcoholics. And although they burst onto the scene miming to early hits such as Funny Funny and Co-Co, then emerged as highcamp stalwarts of the UK singles with glam-rock anthems such as Blockbuster, The Ballroom Blitz and Teenage Rampage, their best music by far was created once the glitter had worn off. If you flipped over just about any of the quartet’s classic singles, a selfpenned B-side such as Burn On The Flame, Rock ‘N’ Roll Disgrace or Need A Lot Of Lovin’ would be ready to assault your eardrums.
Yes, Sweet were rockers… albeit frustrated ones. At their prime, circa the Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard albums, they were making records good enough to have matched any of the true giants of the 1970s, including infinitely more credible names such as Bowie, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Sadly, you probably never heard any of them. That’s because Sweet were never anywhere near as cool as the icons whose respect they craved. Though unmissable, their exploits on Top Of The Pops branded them damaged, novelty goods. To make matters worse, wrapped up in their own vanity and self-importance, they often behaved like complete and utter fools. This, then, is a tale of glorious underachievers. But by Christ, did Sweet have fun while it lasted…
Gigs fuelled by a concotion they called 'The Benny Buzz'
The year was 1966. Vocalist Brian Connolly and drummer Mick Tucker formed a band called Sweetshop with bassist Steve Priest and guitarist Frank Torpey. Various small-time gigs were performed, some fuelled by a unique concoction they nicknamed The Benny Buzz. Consisting of the contents of a Benedryl inhaler and Coca Cola in a glass, it helped The Sweet (as they later abbreviated themselves) to numb the pain of seeing their first four singles all flop dismally.
Torpey was briefly succeeded by Mick Stewart before the line-up solidified with the arrival of former Elastic Band guitarist Andy Scott. Behind the scenes, Sweet had also signed to RCA and been introduced to producer Phil Wainman and songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman. Mere months later, Funny Funny had peaked just outside the Top Ten, becoming the first of Sweet’s 15 hit singles.
At the start, these were exclusively penned by Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who along with producer Phil Wainman insisted that Connolly should be backed by session musicians. Wigwam Bam was the first single that Sweet were actually allowed to play on, though they had been responsible for their own B-sides since the start. Naturally, these restrictions caused immense unhappiness. To further compound the situation, Sweet had agreed to let Chinn and Chapman manage them.
“What a stupid thing for us to allow them to do,” commented Steve Priest years later. “We were being controlled by a couple of novices. Mike Chapman could write what sounded like hit songs, but Nicky was brought up in a private boys’ school and didn’t know his arse from his elbow.”
Whatever anyone’s reservations, the pair’s formula proved immensely successful, and they soon began using it on such other acts as Mud, Suzi Quatro and Arrows. “Chinn and Chapman’s songs were banal and simple, but they offered endless possibilities,” admits Andy Scott now. “We wanted to start having some of our own material used, so the arrangement was never going to last forever. So other bands ended up using our rejects, though I won’t name any names.”
One of these was Mud’s Tiger Feet, a fact confirmed years later by Mick Tucker when he bitched: “Any group who’d recorded that would have got a hit. Even though it went to Number One, it was still an awful song.”
For the first and last time The Sweet topped the charts with Blockbuster in early 1973. It beat off stiff competition from David Bowie’s Jean Genie, which featured an almost identical guitar riff and was released via the same label just a week apart. “I swear I’d never heard Bowie’s song before ours was released… I was onto Nicky Chinn as soon as I heard it on the radio,” says Scott now, adding gleefully: “We felt a bit shabby about Blockbuster coming out a week later – but ours went to Number One.”
". . . purchased vast quantities of our new release
and dumped them in the Thames"

 Sweet would go on to stall at Number Two on no less than five occasions, most annoyingly in September ’73 when the Simon Park Orchestra’s Eye Level repeatedly held off Ballroom Blitz for weeks at a time. As a small child I recall sobbing in the kitchen when the single began to plummet down the charts, but as Scott rightly points out: “Sales-wise, what would have been a Number Two in those days would now top the charts for months on end.”
Steve Priest admits that certain underhand tactics were used to massage their sales. Indeed, at least one of Sweet’s early 45s may still be ‘bubbling under’, in a manner of speaking: “Nicky [Chinn] sent Phil [Wainman] and Mike [Chapman] around the country to the stores whose sales were used to compile the Top 30. Between them, they purchased vast quantities of our new release and dumped them in the Thames.” Nevertheless, the group’s bubblegum anthems and über-camp delivery established them as mainstays on Top Of The Pops (“We got to know the guy who let us into the bar very well,” winks Scott). Nobody who experienced it on the small screen will ever forget Priest batting his eyelids and mockstuttering “W-w-w-w… we just haven’t got a c… oh!” during Blockbuster or Connolly prefacing Ballroom Blitz with the legendary questions, “Are you ready, Steve… [“Uh-huh”]… Andy?… [“Yeah”]… Mick?… [“Okay”]… well, alright, fellas, let’s go-o-o-o-o-o.”

As Sweet later discovered, the dressing up and cosmetics would haunt them when they decided to get serious. According to Scott, upon seeing Marc Bolan in all his glam glory they realised they simply had to compete.
“Steve Priest very aptly summed it up,” winces the guitarist. “They already thought we were poofs, so we may as well elaborate. And it worked. Steve had fan clubs all over the world. In places like Sweden there would be bunches of geezers hanging around outside the hotel. I guess that Wigwam Bam is the one that people tend to remember, with the miniskirts and headdresses. There was definitely a sense of competition with Dave Hill of Slade and – dare we mention his name – Gary Glitter, who used to come up with daring outfits. Top Of The Pops sometimes seemed a bit like a pantomime, and The Sweet were definitely the ugly sisters!”
"Bowie would tell our make-up girls:
'No, no, no their eyes aren't right"
"At the start, we just used make-up as a giggle,
” recalled Mick Tucker years later. “We were at Top Of The Pops for Little Willy and Bowie kept telling our make-up girls, ‘No, no, no, their eyes aren’t right’. We all thought, ‘What a strange young man, taking it so seriously’. Perhaps for Bowie it was the excuse he needed to wear make-up in public, but for Sweet it was all a piss-take. “
"After a while things rapidly got right out of hand,” Tucker elaborated. “At gigs, Andy would mince onstage swinging a handbag and call himself Andre. Steven became Stephanie and I changed my name to Michelle. Brian was the only one who never really went along with the make-up thing.”
Gradually Sweet became aware that their audience was polarising. While younger sisters were playing the A-sides of their singles, older brothers were appreciating the harder, self-penned rock of flipsides like Burning and Someone Else Will. 1974s Sweet Fanny Adams is generally acknowledged as their first real album. Besides the two Chinn/Chapman compositions, the tracks Set Me Free and Sweet F.A. were undoubtedly the handiwork of a credible hard rock act. Critically panned, it barely charted in the UK, though Germany and mainland Europe were more open-minded.
Released the same year and featuring the hits The Six Teens and Fox On The Run, the follow-up, Desolation Boulevard rewarded Sweet with their first self-composed success. With Chinn and Chapman away in the US, the latter was re-recorded even without Phil Wainman and climbed to Number Two. Musically, Sweet were on a roll. They had made no secret of their appreciation of Deep Purple. Priest, in fact, had very quickly arrived at the conclusion that Tucker was in awe of Purple’s Ian Paice. “Mick had decided that he and Ian were in competition,” Steve later said. “In my eyes, this was a mistake. He expended a lot of energy trying to play like Ian, but he didn’t have to.”
However, other acts also benefited from Sweet’s innovative use of vocal harmonies. Among them were Queen. “They beat us to it,” later conceded Phil Wainman. “I saw them as a support band at Hammersmith Odeon. I went up to Roy Thomas Baker, who was producing them and had been an engineer for me. I said, ‘Roy, that band are phenomenal. I’ll swap you all my acts for that band’. He said, ‘I can’t do that’. I played Killer Queen to Sweet, and all Andy could say was, ‘Yeah, Phil, we’re being ripped off’”.
“I was scared to death when I heard Queen’s first album, because till then I thought we were doing alright,” comments Scott now. “I remember having a wry smile when I met Brian May in Los Angeles. Bohemian Rhapsody was out, and there were definite similarities. I told Brian I liked the last part of that one, that it was very reminiscent of [our own] Action. But that’s okay, you beg, steal and borrow. I’ve put a lot of Jeff Beck and Hendrix into some of the cheapest and nastiest pop singles ever, and nobody realises.”

"The most disgusting performance I've seen in 11 years" - Mecca Ballroom
The Sweet were also becoming notorious for their lewd, hedonistic ways. Each night they took to the stage to the strains of The Stripper, and Someone Else Will was introduced by the line “If we don’t fuck you then someone else will”. There were reports of a band member pulling down his strides in a lift to a Swedish teenage girl, and in March 1972 the group were banned by the Mecca Ballroom chain after John Chapman of the Portsmouth Mecca said their show was “The most disgusting performance I’ve seen in 11 years” at the venue (Sweet duly responded with the B-side Man From Mecca). Considering their audience comprised of under-age females, does Scott believe that Sweet always behaved responsibly?
“Does anybody in the music business?” he parries. “At the time what we sometimes did was considered out of order, but you only have to look at Channel 5 late at night to put it into perspective. Compared to Sex In Japan, which was on the other night, what The Sweet did was fuck-all, mate.” Nevertheless, on another early Swedish tour it was alleged that Sweet beat up a promoter, broke a window, rubbed excrement into a tablecloth and pissed in an ice bucket. “The incident you’re probably referring to was an open air show in Stockholm,” clarifies Scott. “It was pissing with rain, 15,000 fans were angry that the show was cancelled and because there were no curtains on the dressing room window we smeared some guacamole over a pane. It was also reported that we took a shit into a fucking piano… that would’ve been really stupid. But afterwards we couldn’t get a hotel in Stockholm for more than two years.”
Sensibly, Scott does not attempt to deny that there were other moments of excess. “I personally couldn’t drink and take drugs, so it was one or the other,” he explains. “There are now only two of us left [alive], so I shouldn’t need to add too much to that fact. But we definitely lived the life. Rarely a week went by without Brian being in the press for something or other.”
"Pete Townshend invited Sweet to open for The Who"
In his autobiography Are You Ready, Steve, Priest portrays himself to be something of a serial shagger. So what would be the most people that Andy ever shared a bed with? “Ha ha… my prowess wasn’t in that department,” he grins. “You should be asking that to MT or BC, the two that aren’t here.”
With kudos for their talents a rare commodity in Britain, the rock world was astonished when Pete Townshend personally invited Sweet to open for The Who at an open-air show at The Valley in south London. Alas, in one of those exploits that Scott previously alluded to, Connolly was then beaten up outside an Uxbridge nightclub. Brian had exited the club to find some youths dancing on top of his Mercedes, and upon confronting them received several kicks in the throat. While the rest of the band were sympathetic to his injury, which resulted in them cancelling their big break, they nevertheless felt that one of the most famous faces of 1974 had put himself in an unnecessary position. “Brian had apparently smiled at and been talking to this guy’s girlfriend,” explains Andy.
Some say that Connolly’s voice was never the same again, a possibility that Scott refuses to dismiss. “I’ve never heard a range drop as drastically,” he sighs. “There was no way he could get anywhere near Set Me Free when we began to tour America.” Sweet attempted to crack the States to promote 1976’s Give Us A Wink album with a 50-date US tour, but once on US soil they found themselves promoting material that was 18 months old. Ballroom Blitz, out in 1973 at home, had emerged in the middle of ’75 Stateside and Capitol Records opted to issue an amalgam of Sweet Fanny Adams and Desolation Boulevard, under the latter’s title.

Support for The Sweet was Back Street Crawler
On the US tour’s closing night at Santa Monica Civic, Sweet were joined onstage by Ritchie Blackmore. Back Street Crawler had been the advertised support act, though just 24 hours earlier Paul Kossoff had died. “I hope that if Paul was watching, he didn’t think it too disrespectful that at the end of the show, a six-foot dick [stage prop] came swinging down from the ceiling, spraying the audience with confetti,” related Priest. “It was a realistic looking affair, with all the attributes of the male appendage. It was huge, with coloured veins and a subtle 1,000-watt bulb inside.”
Sweet were still making great albums and scoring hit singles. Give Us A Wink featured Action, later covered by both Def Leppard and Scorpions, and The Lies In Your Eyes, though they reached just 15 and 35 respectively. The graffiti on the record’s sleeve also bears the legend: “Queen are a bunch of winkers”. The track Yesterday’s Rain described an encounter with a hooker (“She gave me love for a fiver/Up to my balls inside her”), further proof not only of the quartet’s salacious underbelly, but also that they were leaving the singles market behind.
Sure enough, Fever Of Love and Los Angels both vanished without trace from the next album, Off The Record, and with their attempt to become an album’s band foundering, Sweet were in serious danger of falling apart. “There was a certain indifference in our attitude while we were recording,” admitted Scott in an interview shortly afterwards. “I think what was missing was honesty.”

Perhaps addressing Scott’s admission that “Brian’s vocals were no longer all they could have been”, Andy and Steve shared the singing with Connolly on their band’s first album for new label, Polydor. An incredible 300 bottles of wine were consumed in just a month upon decamping to Clearwell Castle to record the Level Headed album. Their inner circle all knew that Connolly had been drinking too much since the mid-70s. But by the time, his alcoholism had almost completely ostracised him from the rest of the group, and he took up residence in a separate area of the castle.
Brian had been telling anybody who would listen of a plan to jump from his bedroom window, and land fully unscathed some fifty feet below. No attention was paid until a night when the band and crew were eating. After a series of loud bangs and crashes – one of which resulted when he thudded from the roof of the mobile recording studio – Brian limped into the room and proudly boasted: “See, I told you I could fucking do it.” The incident earned Connolly the nickname of Spiderman.
Brian’s depreciation also caused him to return to the sessions from a weekend at home armed with a shotgun. From his window he proceeded to take potshots into the bird sanctuary behind Clearwell – over the heads of his incredulous band-mates who at the time were playing cricket. Describing the band’s stay at Clearwell, Priest later commented: “After downing up to a dozen bottles of wine at dinner, we would rush to the pub and imbibe some of the local brew. The rest of the evening was spent fornicating.”
Against all the odds, Level Headed turned out to be a fine, adventurous album when issued in 1978. Happier still, Love Is Like Oxygen provided Sweet with their first Top Ten hit in three years. “The verses in Oxygen…, the ones that Brian sang, were some of the best he’d done in years,” says Scott.

"Cocaine was beginning to ruin our lives"
 Buoyed by their return to the charts though sensing the last chance saloon was looming, Sweet undertook another US tour. With hindsight, it said plenty that JJ Cale’s Cocaine had been introduced into the set. Priest and Tucker had discovered the drug while recording Give Us A Wink in Munich, but by the time of Off The Record as Steve admits: “It was beginning to run our lives.”
By this point Sweet had recruited second guitarist Nico Ramsen and keyboard player Gary Moberly, and with Priest and Scott handling more and more of the vocals, Connolly often had nothing to do onstage. However, this was no excuse for his behaviour in America, where the band were supporting labelmate Bob Seger. A deposition from Capitol Records flew to check up on their charges in Birmingham, Alabama, and returned to their bosses with absolute horror.
“Brian had absolutely no idea where or who he was,” related Priest in his book. “It looked like he had taken some serious downers. The show had to go on, but I wished it hadn’t. We struggled through Love Is Like Oxygen, but eventually had to call it a day and left the stage.”
“Being drunk onstage in front of 20,000 people was the final straw,” agrees Scott sadly. “Brian was dragged off after one song, and Ed Leffler [US manager] was still shouting at him an hour later.”

"Connolly due to be replaced by Ronnie James Dio"
The next couple of shows proceeded well enough, but in Atlanta the same problems emerged. With Scott lobbying the band to sack Connolly and appoint former Rainbow frontman Ronnie James Dio in his place, Brian vowed to behave and somehow scraped through the dates, but invaluable options to extend their touring in the US had to be declined. Bridges with Capitol were unceremoniously burned. Back home, the singer tried and failed to dry out, and after the band tried to begin work on a new studio album he was given the ultimatum of quitting with a semblance of dignity or being dismissed. In February 1979, he accepted the former option, claiming to have been planning a solo career for three years.
Although Andy says he “definitely spoke to Ronnie Dio” about replacing Connolly and received positive interest, Sweet eventually elected to continue with Priest and Scott doubling up on vocals. The trio’s debut offering, Cut Above The Rest, continued their creative growth. More mature than previous albums, songs like Play All Night and the anti-dance music diatribe DiscoPhony retained much of the original group’s charisma, but Polydor showed precious little enthusiasm in promoting them as a trio. Although Steve Priest somewhat uncharitably said that it “sucked”, 1980s Water’s Edge was another excellent collection of songs, though again there were neither adverts nor live appearances. And with Steve relocating to live in New York and Mick Tucker attempting to pick himself up after his wife Pauline was found dead in the bath, things looked bleaker still.

Just as their fans were giving up hope, the three-piece Sweet played an incredible comeback gig at London’s Lyceum in January of 1981. An unknown act called Duran Duran were billed as support, though for unknown reasons they pulled out. Besides playing all their hits, two new numbers were previewed. One of these, Identity Crisis, was sung by Priest with all the schizophrenic affectation at his command, and was pure vintage Sweet. Such was the impact generated by the Lyceum show that a dozen more UK shows were quickly arranged, though it was all in vain when Polydor only released the Identity Crisis album in Germany.
The UK tour had sold well, but at a show in Nottingham a disturbance ensued that involved a youth, Andy Scott and an wanted pint of beer, which resulted in the guitarist storming from the stage. Priest later commented: “Mick and myself had to busk for 20 minutes before Her Royal Highness would return. It was not the first time, but it was definitely the last. I felt that we made three very creditable albums after Brian left,” Scott reflects. “But of course it was never gonna be the same. The Lyceum show was incredible and we could have turned things around, but because the record company were dragging their heels we never managed to capitalise upon it.”
"Scott produced for Iron Maiden"
Sweet finally bowed to the inevitable. Besides releasing several solo singles, Scott moved into production, becoming involved with Iron Maiden in their earliest stages. However, interest in 1984s Cherry Red Record compilation Sweet 16… It’s It’s… Sweet’s Hits and a 12” Disco Club Megamix of the singles Blockbuster, Fox On The Run, Teenage Rampage, Hell Raiser and Ballroom Blitz almost succeeded in reuniting the classic line-up. The situation had become unworkable.
Kevin Smith, a long-time Sweet fan who ended up becoming their tour manager from between 1983-1996, has his own theory about why they never fulfilled their immense potential. “They had absolutely no qualms in telling people to fuck off, even if things were being done for their benefit,” he says. “In the early days there was a controversy at Top Of The Pops when they turned up wearing jackets with ‘Fuck You’ and ‘Bollocks’ written on the back. The cameras just shot them from the front, but they weren’t invited back onto the show for several weeks, despite their single selling well.”

"Reformed Sweet to feature Maiden, Heep and Weapon members"
At around the same time that Connolly resurfaced with his New Sweet, Andy was assembling his own Sweet line-up. According to Kevin Smith, Steve Priest had even “made noises about re-joining” a grouping that featured Tucker, plus former Iron Maiden frontman Paul Mario Day and future Uriah Heep keyboard player Phil Lanzon. Promo photographs were even taken with Priest supposedly featured ‘live from New York’ on a TV screen, though eventually they had to settle for ex-Weapon bassist Mal McNulty instead. But the reunion would not last.
Things reached a nadir when a prime time TV documentary followed Connolly as he played a show at a holiday camp. For those who recalled the band at their peak, it was painfully tragic viewing. Brian hobbled to the stage, seemingly oblivious to the small children that were mocking him in the background. Indeed, the show made such an impression upon Scott that he phoned Connolly afterwards.
“Brian was understandably livid because he’d been ill and his backing band had played a gig as The Sweet without him,” he states. “I told him the only solution to everybody’s problems was for him to come and play some gigs with my band. We’d play the first half of the set and he’d come on for the last part. He was really into the idea.” Scott’s call was made around Christmas of 1996, but by the following February Connolly’s illness had worsened and he died. A stroke had led to liver failure. Members of Queen, Def Leppard and Slade all paid tribute to the singer, with Ritchie Blackmore commenting: “He was a great singer and a fantastic man.”
“I still have great memories of Brian, and without warning sometimes they still make me laugh out loud,” says Andy. “Things like the hotel receptionist calling our tour manager and asking to retrieve him from a corridor, where he’d been found spread-eagled and bollock naked. He’d mistaken a pot-plant for his bathroom door, peed on it, and passed out.”
Equally tragically, Mick Tucker succumbed to complications related to the leukemia he had been suffering from for five years. “Mick had had his own problems with alcohol; generally with the lifestyle,” offers Scott now. “It amazes me how are Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones are still out there doing it? Compared to bands like those, we were novices.”
Despite the occasional niggle expressed in this article and Steve’s reluctance to tour, don’t be surprised if Scott and Priest work together again someday. Confides Andy: “At Mick’s funeral I told him, ‘The next one of these could be yours or mine, let’s not wait till then’. There’s life in the old dogs yet, and we are working on project together.”

For the moment, Scott has his hands full with his own Sweet activities. Last year, his latest incarnation of the band (bassist/lead singer Jeff Brown, guitarist/keyboard player Steve Grant and drummer Bruce Bisland) released Sweetlife, a marvellous slice of melodic, anthemic pomp rock that somehow managed to slip under the world’s collective radar, and a UK tour beckons in the early part of 2003. The current Sweet are also about to issue Chronology, a re-recorded collection of the band’s best songs. Even with 30 million records sold, and with Ballroom Blitz having re-entered people’s consciousness via Wayne’s World, Andy Scott is aware that there are many brick walls ahead, but he’s determined to overcome them.
“When we go on the road we frighten people. Like the original band, everybody now sings,” he says proudly. “We can re-create all the old stuff as well as the things from Sweetlife. The nostalgia tag simply does not bother us, we’re happy to play music from all eras of the band… even some of the stuff like Funny Funny and Co-Co that we didn’t do for a while. Musically, The Sweet always kept the fans guessing. There definitely aren’t many other bands that have had careers like ours.”
By Dave Ling (Classic Rock)


Interesting quote from dj Kid Jensen on today's (10th) Sky News. He is now suffering considerably from Parkinson's Disease.
"Scientists are now becoming the new Beatles."


At last - some local news (hats thrown in the air, blast of trumpets, roll of drums . . .)

This concerns the release of
"Norrthumbrian and Proud", an album that was recorded and produced during lockdown 2020.

It was conceived and put together by local musicians, with lyrics by Jackie Davidson who sings about his memories of Northumberland. It's described as "a mix of rock, pop, folk and blues-penned tunes." Produced by Steve Coates at Red Tape music, the album is now for sale online for a total price of £9.50 which includes postage and packing.

There are two ways to pay: by Paypal to Idavidson1@sky.com, click 'sending to a friend'. (Riffs recommends you use that email first to contact Jackie just to check you have the correct address); or by bank transfer using: Mr J. Davidson   sort code 60-08-45    acc 73365009.  And please remember to forward Jackie your full postal address.

If you want a snippet from the album then YouTube have three videos available; 'Our River North Tyne', 'Tynedale Boy Soldiers' and 'We Are Northumbrians'.


Why I ❤️ Led Zeppelin's debut album

Budgie's Burke Shelley
The first listen of which was “an experience that can never be beaten”.
"I heard Led Zeppelin for the first time on John Peel’s Saturday afternoon radio show, and was so shaken up that I had to buy their debut album.
I loved the way they riffed along, propelled by John Bonham’s incredibly tight drumming. But what struck me most about the Led Zeppelin album was Robert Plant’s voice. They used it as more of an extra instrument than just somebody singing. There are a lot of gaps in the band’s music, but they whack on the delay and use them perfectly.
Led Zeppelin may be old, but certain albums will always stand the test of time. A song like Communication Breakdown lasts alongside any contemporary rock music.
I suppose if you wanted to pick a few technical holes then that’s possible; it was recorded in 36 hours, after all. I was never a great fan of the band’s lyrics – Robert sometimes sang ‘Baby, baby, baby’ or ‘Oh woman’ too often – but it didn’t matter.
Two years later, when Budgie’s self-titled debut album was released, some critics likened us to Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad. Without being disparaging, those comparisons were both completely inaccurate. But we were proud to have been influenced by Led Zeppelin. Although we didn’t have anything like that voice, we were already riffing away ourselves.
Some of the tracks on Led Zeppelin sounded like they were being jammed, but there’s a real magic in that. Good Times Bad Times is the perfect way to kick off an album; and I prefer the studio version of Dazed And Confused to the live one on The Song Remains The Same.
I also like what they did with Willie Dixon’s You Shook Me, although their electrified versions of Chicago blues songs caused some to accuse them of plagiarism. To me, that was complete rubbish. Zeppelin were covering songs by artists whose time had gone, bringing them new respect. No way did any of their treatment of those songs sound like black Delta bluesmen.
Some of my all-time favourite Zeppelin tracks, like Kashmir and Black Dog, are on other albums, but hearing the band for the first time was an experience that could never be beaten. A bit like your first girlfriend, I suppose.
Led Zeppelin changed everything in rock music. It was an ending to what had gone before and a whole new starting point. Ritchie Blackmore once admitted that after hearing Planty’s voice, Deep Purple had to get rid of Rod Evans and find someone like Ian Gillan who could scream. That, to me, says it all.


Soz everybody peeps but there is just no news coming in................ and, unlike the NME, we don't make it up.


Over 23 million people in the US now have the Corona Virus.


Well, here we are, hurtling into 2021 (and by hurtling, I mean crawling miserably). But if there's one positive we can all take from the experience of Covid 19 it's the fact that we've been nursery sloped for the real medical apocalypse we're all about to face; the planet-wide collapse of anti-biotics. Soon, bacterial death will be delivered with no effort on our part at all, from the slightest paper cut or a light case of cystitus, everybody's last words will be . . . "ow".


"We are Motorhead, and we play Rock 'n' Roll"
R.I.P. Lemmy.

A Christmas Message from Riffs . . . HERE


Just remember - Covid doesn't give a fuck about Christmas (in common with a lot of us, no doubt).


Whoever thought that being on your own at Christmas would become such an advantage..........?! 


Not sure what to get for Chrimbo for your Heavy Rock and Metal friend/relative? This may help . . .



Local lads STAN have just released their new album. Details . . . https://stan.bandcamp.com/album/love


The Shaggs, 'Philosophy of the World' (1969)
Made up of sisters Dorothy, Betty and Helen Wiggin, the Shaggs were an obscure power trio that nearly remained in the dustbins of history. Their father, convinced of his children's talents, put them in a recording studio in 1969 to record an LP, 'Philosophy of the World.' Issued on their own Third World label, it immediately went nowhere. In 1980, mega fans Terry Adams and Tom Ardolino of the band NRBQ, convinced Rounder Records to reissue this long-lost work. "Better than the Beatles – even today,” claimed Frank Zappa on the back of the LP sleeve. The title track makes the observation that "the rich people want what the rich peoples want, and the poor people want what the rich peoples want," contrasting fat and skinny, boys with cars and those with motorcycles and so on, before arriving at the conclusion that "you can never please anybody in this world." Later, they ask the existential question, "Who Are Parents?" before giving us the tale of "My Pal Foot Foot." Ultimately, the girls come to terms with this philosophy of the world declaring "We Have a Savior." Not only were their lyrical observations intriguing, but musically, they influenced Sonic Youth and many other indie rock bands with their distinctive guitar tunings.


If anyone is interested in supporting music venues then this link may be of interest


Former Uriah Heep keyboard player Ken Hensley has died at the age of 75.
Hensley wrote several of the London rock band's early tracks, including Easy Livin', Stealin', and Lady in Black - which he also sang on.
He died "peacefully" on Wednesday evening following a short illness, his management confirmed.
Former bandmate Mick Box said his music "will be in people's hearts forever".


Well, if the area in which I live is a snapshot of the rest of the country, we're in trouble. Many homes around me are still being visited daily by family and friends during this Lockdown - putting the efficacy of these regulations seriously in question. Due to the selfishness of the few, we will either have the Lockdown not being as effective as it should, or the country's stability suffering acutely - with the ensuing closures and redundancies. Who was it that said "There is absolutely no point in having a rule if it cannot be enforced."


SATURDAY NOVEMBER 7: The US is now on the verge of hitting a truly frightening infection rate of 200,000 per day - that's two hundred thousand human beings becoming infected with Covid 19 every single day.
We must hope that the UK's national lockdown is being observed by each and every one of us.
(Unlike my next door neighbour whose daughter came and picked her up yesterday to take her out for lunch!!).
Lunchtime today: Workers/owners
in a builders' van visiting family at home. Unashamedly parked in full view in the driveway. If you're going to break regulations probably not a good idea to do it with the builders name plastered all over your van!
Is it any wonder we are struggling to combat this virus!!!!!!!!


There seems to be a lot of people who are finding the Government's advice on this terrible worldwide epidemic ambiguous and confusing. So Riffs would like to help out by not only making it very clear, but even shouting it so it gets through . . .


Over 80% of all Covid infections come from friends or family.


Lurgy update Sunday November 1:
From Thursday Nov 5 a National Lockdown will be in force.
For details check out the Government website:

To check on rules for your local area check out the BBC website:
For more information just access any of the main free News channels. CNN is mainly US election news now; Euronews is good for worldwide news; Sky News is good for across the board; BBC News seems to leave out more than it includes.
And above all: Wash your hands often; wear a mask; and stay 2 metres away from anyone and everyone. Or, of course, you can ignore one or all of these measures and prolong the lockdown well into 2021.....


America sets world record: highest ever daily infection rate since the virus began.


Many countries, including France and Germany going into Lockdown due to 'unprecedented' increase in infections. American scientists now indicating that mask-wearing to become mandatory "or we will suffer the consequences". Also, same scientists saying the country to be nowhere near 'normal' till at least 2022. As for the UK - we're struggling. And yet Taiwan has no - NO - cases; for over 200 days. They put this down to very early track and trace and then immediate isolation.


Well it seems it’s happening,
outrageous funsters of Rock Fizzyfish will be closing out Hartlepool Round Table's Beer Festival “Webstival”.

Amongst 30+ hours of bands, including the Electric Sheep on Friday and entertainment, Fizzyfish will be playing two online sets on Halloween from 8:30 – 9:15 and then 10:15 – 11:00.

More details from here https://www.facebook.com/roundtablehartlepool.

They are also endeavouring to get beer packs delivered, probably just in the Hartlepool local area but if you’re interested get in touch with them, all for a great cause. As Alan Fizzyfish told Riffs when asked if any monies are changing hands: "Hell no, we are doing it just for the pure fun of it".


Corona Virus update Monday 19
: Many countries now adopting the 'circuit breaker' or 'short sharp shock' of a total lockdown for two to three weeks. Wales included. This is looking more and more likely for England as time goes by. Virus infection now reached 40 million worldwide. Some countries seeing a doubling of infections every week.


There is a petition on behalf of musicians and live music venues which Riffs urges you to sign. Check it out  . . . HERE


Corona update Sunday 18th: My niece works for M&S and has recently been put on 'door duty'. She says the level of stupidity and ignorance of the public is frightening. She has to practically urge and cajole customers to disinfect their hands; one of whom said "You can't force me to do it". They ignore floor markings which are there purely for their own benefit and often bump into one another. Many do not wear masks and even try to get into an argument with her on why they won't. She was reprimanded the other day when she lost her cool when a customer asked if she had the right to force her (the customer) to wear a mask. My niece replied: "No, I don't, but if you want to be the reason for many people to die by you not social distancing or wearing a mask or disinfecting your hands then you just go ahead".
I despair of people, I really do. Who was it that said: "I like company, I just don't like people".


(Sat 9.10am) If it wasn't so serious I'd be laughing: Sky News has just shown (live) a meeting of cyclists (forget exactly where) who had ridden in from around the area for a big meet. They were all congregating with no social distancing on a paved area and I didn't see one person wearing a mask. Not one.   And we wonder why we're not beating this virus . . .


A Fish's Eye View

LIKE MANY BANDS we are sitting around waiting for the latest restriction and whilst we full appreciate the need for controls and safety we also understand the utter frustration that limited freedoms are bringing, especially in this industry!

"We all have to work together to survive"
Avoiding politics….. all we can do is be ready, be as accommodating as we can be to venues who are facing a bleak future in many cases, we all have to work together to survive and we are committed to doing what we can.
"Beer Festival over the internet"
Announcing gigs seems to be a waste of everyone’s energy at times, and we know Hartlepool Round Table are trying to resuscitate their Beer Festival as an online event, it was due to be last weekend but events overtook events, they are now looking at Halloween weekend with us doing a couple of socially distanced sets on Friday 30th broadcast over the interweb.
"We miss being match fit"
Much like your piece from the lads in The Force we miss being match fit and our only gig since March was outside, mainly distanced and was great to be playing again, but we did add in 8 new songs just in case Dr Adrenaline didn’t turn up, but he did, so it was all a bit “without a net”. For the future we are just focussing on people having a good time as bloody hell it’s needed now more than ever!
"Let us in and be noisy"
I know we have a few venues on our remaining bookings list hoping to let us in and be noisy and we hope they can go ahead, we have an open but quite barren 2021 calendar but like I said, our venues have supported us in the past and we will be doing the same going forward because our industry really does need to pull as one as it's clear we are all in “this” together.
Cheers, Alan, Fizzyfish

Fizzyfish will be playing their own brand of chaotic Rock/Pop tonight (Friday) at The Maggie Bank. Tickets on sale at the bar, but give them a call to check if you can just roll up:  0191 312 1407.


Not sure about anyone else, but I rather like hearing feedback on gigs that have taken place. It's one thing seeing them on the Listings page, but as soon as that gig has been and gone we tend to forget all about it. But what was it like? Were the band any good? Is it a good venue to play?
We all know that difficult question "How was it for you?" And the reply: "Well, it was okay, but I've had far better". Oh, how we laugh about it now . . .

Anyway, these lockdown rules have forced changes in how we go see bands - but how do the bands find gigging now? Thanks to Norman Force we have an insight into that very question.
I won't insult anyone by giving a background on
The Force, suffice to say you don't get to play for as long as they have, in as wide a variety of places, if you're not damn bloody good at it.
I know a few bands (mention them Nige, go on, mention them) who still have the attitude "well, that'll do, it's close enough". Or think that playing on auto won't be noticed by the crowd. How wrong. Phil, Mick, Geordie and Dave are perfectionists and now not only play with an edge that most bands would give their eye-teeth for, but look as though they enjoy it too. (Although a while ago it was pointed out that they looked too serious when on stage - in fact, I think that was . . . er, well, let's move on now . . .)
But I digress, back to good ol' Norm who got in touch with Riffs with an insight into how the band has found playing their last three gigs: Hartlepool Steels Club, The Rose Inn in Wallsend and Thornaby Sports and Leisure.

Hartlepool Steels Club was their first gig back, which consisted of three separate sets: Self penned, then a set of pure Rush, then some Classic Rock. A candid admission by the lads that it wasn't quite that easy getting used to playing together again after a long lay-off. But the big plus was the sell-out audience who were really enjoying themselves, so much so that they had to be reminded that there was no dancing. "Brilliantly organised and marshalled", said Norm. So a big thanks to Tommy Wormald.
The Rose Inn, Wallsend was the band's second gig and, if you remember, the venue has their very own Rock Club so all members are known to the venue. Due to the new, tighter restrictions, there were many punters unable to get in, but those who did were "very vocal and appreciative". As with their previous gig at Steels Club the lads specifically mentioned the organising of the gig "
Brilliantly managed & hosted by Mick & Jilly - who plied the boys with drink and food." Now, this I find to be very important when dealing with bands, as I learnt when Val organised bands for the Earl of Warwick in West Auckland. She always "fed and watered" the band, believing that if the band were happy and content then they played better, punters enjoyed them more, and then bought more beer. Everyone's a winner babe, that's no lie.
Last but certainly not least we have Thornaby Sports and Leisure which had the lads finishing by 9.30pm. Again, The Force played to a full house and did their full three-set performance which "went down well to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience." The band members never feign perfection and readily admit that now, three gigs in, they are feeling "close to being 'gig fit' again"

I'll give Norm the final and candid say on the three gigs:
Following the long layoff the band really enjoyed all of the gigs and had really missed it. Playing together they realised that being 'gig fit' takes a while especially with some of the more complex numbers. However, under the new restrictions it did feel strange to have the whole audience sitting and not dancing or right 'in yer face' in front of the stage. But they still get a real buzz out of doing what they do and the reaction it gets."
The next gig by The Force is Saturday 17th at Heaton Buffs - but is now totally sold out. Soz.
Ooops, nearly forgot: I didn't take any of the above pics, they were all supplied by The Force.


These restrictions affect people in so many and varied ways.
On a musical note, completion of the new Black Rose album is now held up. Guitarist Kenny tells Riffs:
"I've got two songs to finish off the guitar solos & fills on, but I can't get round to the studio to finish it until lockdown rules change for the better."

Pic from last year when Kenny (right) and the lads were rockin' at the Bay Horse in Bishop Auckland.

Okay, so it's not headline news, but hardly anything's coming in to Riffs at the mo', so if you've got something slightly more earth-shattering - then let us know...   riffsonline@gmail.com


Corona update Tuesday 13th:
Scientists are recommending a national and total lockdown (circuit breaker) for at least three weeks to stem the spread of the virus, but the Government is fighting this tooth and nail.
"We are going to have to learn to live with this virus as it is not going away anytime soon" - W.H.O.


Corona update Sunday 11th:
Heard something very interesting on Sky News: If we ceased all lockdowns and got everyone back to work, we could test every person in the country regularly and it would cost just £2m a month - a fraction of what the current situation is costing the country. The Prime Minister is to make an announcement today regarding further restrictions...


Corona update Saturday 10th:
W.H.O.: "The spread of the virus is down to a large minority of the public totally ignoring safety recommendations."

It is now being recommended by the BMA that mask wearing will be compulsory in all workplaces and even outside where social distancing is not applicable. Could be announced over the next few days.
A warning:
Covid 19 could be just the start - watch this video (narrated by Stephen Fry) . . .HERE


"The more contact you have with people, the more likely you are to contact the virus".

Not rocket science, you don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind's blowing. Not just that, but we are finding out that survivors are left with organ complications that they will have for the rest of their lives.
900 students confined to a building. Over 100 have tested positive. Hardly any students in the building wearing masks. Are we really surprised the infection rate is growing so quickly?!

Do these three things over and over and over and over again:
If we'd all have done this from the very beginning we wouldn't be in this mess now.                    Just saying.


All bars, restaurants and cafes are to close totally from Friday 9th. This is in Scotland only at this time. And Marshals to ensure the use of face masks are now being used in many public buildings. If these restrictions prove effective in controlling the infection rate of the virus then it is likely that the same or similar restrictions may be used in the rest of the UK.


Eddie Van Halen died today (Tuesday 6th) aged 65. He passed away due to throat cancer.
One of the world's greatest guitarists.


The World Health Organisation announced today (6th) that they believe ten per cent of the world's poplulation may have been infected with Covid 19. That's around 700 million people. One out of every ten. May be something to bear in mind next time you're in a group of ten or more . . .


Can anyone watching the various News channels available to us have any doubt about not only the voracity of this virus but also the incompetence of those dealing with it. Only today (5th) we have our very own 'experts' accidentally omitting over 15,000 cases from statistics - which of course means none of these contacts were traced, and President Trump (confined to hospital with the virus) actually leaving the hospital to do a drive around the building waiving to supporters. You couldn't make it up. One prominent doctor exclaimed: "His irresponsibility is outstanding."
And France, as of today, is in lockdown for 14 days.
Focussing on our local situation; don't expect change anytime soon. It's gonna be quite a while before our Metal hunger's fed.


*I think we need to look no further than the President of America. This is what happens when you dis the virus.


Any gig that gets cancelled is a big disappointment - for the band, the venue and not least for the punters who are Hungry For Rock. So the Qween lads are doubly disheartened as both their sell-out gigs at the Mayfair Centre in Hartlepool have been cancelled.
However, all is not lost as Rob from the band has been able to re-schedule the gigs at the same venue early next year. Hang on to your tickets as no doubt arrangements will be made regarding those. Rob told Riffs: "
Of course we are devastated that the gigs are not going ahead as planned this year. But our ever-increasing Qween fanbase will be delighted that the gigs are to be rescheduled for next Feb / March 2021 - I will update you with the finalised dates. We have been invited to America next year to do some shows albeit with the current health situation we can only hope that things will get better. To all our loyal Qween fans - dont worry 'The Show Will Go On'."


Like a lot of people, I have no surprise at the sporadic and local lockdowns we are forced to endure in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid 19. My personal experience is that too many people are totally ignoring the rules - whether it be complacency, ignorance, or they just don't give a shit. Because of these morons the virus has got away from us and we must now suffer because of these idiots*.


UPDATE TUESDAY SEP 29: There are now just over one million people dead worldwide because of the virus.

Well, not all of us have been wasting our time during Lockdown. Local lads Diablo have been working on their forthcoming album, and Riffs has been given a sneak preview. Have A Lovely Day


Up to today, Saturday 26th September, over 32 million people worldwide have been infected with Covid 19.
A curious and interesting fact: From the beginning of the outbreak, If every single one of us washed our hands, wore a mask and observed a 2metre distance, the virus would be totally under control today.


Corona Virus update Tuesday September 22: All retail and hospitality staff to wear masks. Venues to close at 10pm. In a nutshell this is the very last chance we have got before a total lockdown. Wear a mask, wash your hands, observe social distancing. If we don't  - and we can all see how many people are ignoring these rules - we will inevitably have a total lockdown and the devastating effect that will have. "Complacency will be our undoing."


Please - don't be a twat
Covid 19 is a world-wide deadly epidemic that has killed many thousands, hospitalised hundreds and hundreds of thousands - and this misery and heartache has affected everyone around them from mothers, daughters, fathers, brothers etc and their many friends. Bands in the North-East have acted magnificently, and venues have bent over backwards to accommodate the ever-changing restrictions and rules. But Riffs has heard of morons attending live gigs making a fuss about what they are required to do. So please, please, if you enter a venue and find yourself being just a tad put out by these safety measures, don't be a twat. Feel for the people so much worse off than you who don't even have the opportunity to get out. Or the people grieving, or the people who are house bound. And feel for the venues who are having to walk a ridiculously fine line between sticking to the Government regulations but desperately trying to stay in business. Wear a mask, wash your hands often (soap destroys the protective coating of the virus and then the virus dies quickly) and go along with what you are asked to do. And then, perhaps, we may survive this horror until a vaccine is available for mass distribution (some time early next year with fingers crossed). So by all means enjoy yourself, but spare a thought for the people who are unable to do so............


There's been some cancellations and start times amended for this weekend.
Both the gigs for High Howden Social Club have been cancelled (so no Shannon or London Calling), but David from the club hopes to have 'some sort of compromise' for the following weekend. Tubesnake for Friday cancelled.
Both Force gigs have been cancelled, but as Norm Force informs us (don't know where those lads would be without you Norm): "Both were sold out and both venues (Steels Club and Easington Colliery Club) have said tickets will remain valid for the next Force gigs at the venues (in Steels case 18th December and Easington 28th November)".
And a slight amend to the Overdrive gig this Sunday from 7.45 to the earlier time of 7pm.
It's very satisfying to know that there is a hardcore of Rock bands that bravely lead the vanguard
on behalf of us all against this wicked virus . Michael Overdrive stoutly proclaims: "We will wield the sword and fly the flag till the bitter end !!"


CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: There will be an announcement today (17th) by the Health Secretary concerning the lockdown of the North East of England from midnight tonight due to a significant rise in cases. It is possible that many gigs may still go ahead but early closing is likely so we strongly suggest you contact the venue for details. We will update today with further details.......... Mind you, it's worth noting that if everyone in the area stuck to the rules (mask, and 2 metre distancing) then we would not be facing a lockdown.


 Just to clarify the Government's recommendations which may affect live gigs. The rule of six stands. However, "Training, Education, and Covid-secure venues or establishments are exempt."


With reference to the statement from the Prime Minister today, Wednesday September 9, concerning the maximum number of people allowed to congregate. If you are in any doubt whatsoever about a gig taking place please contact the venue directly for detailed information.


The poster tells all, but Riffs has just added two gigs in October featuring quite a few well known North East musicians who have got together to form AIR4CE, paying tribute to the one and only Ginger Baker - music from Cream, Blind Faith, Air Force, and more of Ginger's solo work and collaborations.

Saturday 17th October at Redcar Blues Club

Saturday 24th October at Platform 1, Bedlington

Both fantastic venues who are doing everything possible to promote great live music in these 'strange times'. Mind you, we're not sure where 'Recar Blues Club' is!!

For further details, or to book tickets, contact air4ce2020@gmail.com.

Oh, and if you want to see the drummer from Air4ce - Tom Atkinson - before these gigs, then nip along to the Tuns in Gateshead this Friday (11th) where he will be doing an acoustic session and quite definitely, no way, not on this Earth, not in a million years, not a hope in Hell will he be doing anything from Ginger Baker's massive back catalogue where he can pick from Cream, Blind Faith, Ginger Baker's Air Force - although he does concede the number one rule of a live gig is ya gotta send your punters home happy...............


Rockin' at The Rose

The Rose Inn, Wallsend has taken a novel approach to gigs: As they are limited to only 30 persons because of current distancing guidelines they have initiated a private Rock Club. Members get first refusal to attend, so there's no entry to strangers or pay on the door, and the venue knows everyone who is attending. So basically it's 'sold out' as soon as the gig is announced. Seems strange at first but the longer I think about it, the more logical it seems. So The Force gig there on Friday October 9th is sold out. Straight away. Full house. I imagine it makes for a very friendly and comfortable - and relaxed - atmosphere. [Until the guys take to the stage and raise the bloody roof].



Any Queen fans who missed out with the near-instantaneous sell out of the
Qween gig on Saturday October 10 in Hartlepool need cry no more, as the venue have given the band chance for a second gig - and it is the very evening before (that's the 9th if you're too excited at the news that you can't work it out). So the lads are gearing themselves up for two consecutive nights at the 'pool where mothers will be tied, magic will be made, and no doubt there will be some girls with rather fat bottoms....


I was just about to have a Riffs whinge about nobody sending in any News - anything to cheer up the Rock-going public; and then in pops this totally live recording by FM from their recent gig at The Turf in Consett. Riffs was rather more than just a tad impressed with this. Just goes to show why FM is one of the North-East's most trusted and reliable bands for a bloody good rockin' night. "I think it sums up just where everyone is with live music at this moment" explains Dave from the band. To listen to the track just click . . . HERE


Bloody hell - if it's not Covid putting the kybosh on things it's the damn weather. My heart goes out to bands and venues who, at long last, thought we could re-introduce some much-needed Rock. The venues have been outstanding in their efforts - and the bands are itching to get those riffs a-rockin'. This time last year it was an average of 25 degrees. One step forward and two steps back; but we WILL get there.

"We've found something . . . something in the ice"

To be honest, not heard much about local lads
Fossil - well, not until today (Tues) when a snippet of info came Riffs way. We understand the band includes Rich Manley-Reeve who was in (and most likely formed) a Thin Lizzy covers band, Tyne Lizzy from way back. Fossil are playing at Steels Club on Sat 19th September. We hear from a very reliable source who actually booked Tyne Lizzy a few times . . . well, I'll give you the exact quote that we got: "Rich is a solid, switched on guy and an excellent guitar player. If he's involved it'll be a tight, well-rehearsed gig."  [pic taken at Murton, not by Riffs - was in our file but God knows where we got it from!]


Rock in the North East just wouldn't feel right if THE FORCE wasn't involved so check out the Listings Page as we have just added four Force gigs. Mind you, I had to admonish Norm Force for typing the venue names in all caps. How soon we forget! "I just got so excited that I blasted them to you from our website" explained Norm.


And a follow up to the
Newcastle Buffs gigs as Robert explains the set up from now on:
"As you can see we are back up and running and we can't wait until we open the concert room doors once again on 29th August. We have been inundated with questions since we announced the first date, when The Pre-Amp finally make their debut at The Heaton Buffs. We have decided NOT to make these gigs ticket only. We are very lucky to such a large concert room and feel we can accommodate the vast majority who wish to attend. Our concert room held about 250 before the lockdown, now we believe we can safely seat 120 with strict social distancing in place.
We have set seats out in 2s, 4s, 6s & 8s, when you arrive at the club there will be a chaperone at the door, simply tell him how many are in your group (bubble) and he'll show you to a suitable table.
All are welcome at the club, you don't have to be a member and, its not compulsory to play bingo......yet 😉
Oh, and we've also reduced the price of beer 🍺 "


Looks like live music is under threat at The Schooner in Gateshead. Recently bought by Paul Tuns (of The Three Tuns), he has been busting a gut to get live Rock and Punk running at The Schooner, but a spanner may just have been thrust into the works. Full story which appeared in the Chronicle here. [thanks to UK/DC for bringing this story to Riffs' attention].


Another entry for this weekend - Saturday 22nd in the Beer Garden at the Mallard in Seaham. An acoustic act by The Missing Cats Duo. It all kicks off at 7.30pm. Be there or be square (yeah, still got it, down with the kids).


Iron Maiden and Rush’s Geddy Lee have joined the flood of tributes to legendary
UFO and Waysted bassist Pete Way, who died on Friday (14th August) aged 69. Pete Way’s untimely death came just two months after the passing of his UFO and Waysted band mate Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman, and 16 months after UFO guitarist and keyboardist Paul Raymond’s death. Testament to his revered status in the rock world, numerous musicians have paid tribute to Pete Way including Michael Schenker, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott, Black Sabbath’s Geezer Butler, Sons of Apollo’s Mike Portnoy and Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx


A sharp eyed Riffs reader emailed furiously to point out that it is highly unlikely that the Mini-Fest at the Mallard in Seaham on Sunday August 30 has AC/DC on the bill. Well, you do hear about mega bands playing little gigs . . . but just me hitting the wrong keys again I'm afraid. It is, of course -
UK/DC. Bon commented: "I know we're good, but we're not there yet. We're much younger too!". Feather in Bon's cap for checking (but all the bands do that - don't you?!!). And speaking of UK/DC, their last minute inclusion for the Schooner this Sunday is now a last minute EXclusion, as it is off. Cancelled, finito, expunged, it is no more. It is an ex gig. Paul Schooner put this down to "objections/problems with the local council". Make of that what you will. Mind you, still waiting for Paul to let Riffs know . . .


And another one popped in - it's
OVERDRIVE, adding to their gig at St Peters Social in Newcastle on Sunday Sep 20, they now have one at Trimmers Arms in South Shields for Friday Sep 25. Once hailed as 'Riffs most hard working band' the lads are just happy to be out and gigging. Michael from the band told Riffs: "List's a little shorter than usual but I'm counting everything and anything as a blessing. Big thanks as always."


You can now treat yourself to a bit of Heavy Metal this Sunday (23rd) at 5.45pm with the strains of young Bon belting out the classic era AC/DC, courtesy of local lads

Get along to the Schooner in Gateshead for an outdoor treat.

Tickets from venue. They will all go I have no doubt so get along and snap yours up toot suite (think that means quick or straight away, it's French - hands across the water and all that. We're pretty sophisticated here at Riffs Towers, we've got nothing against those cheese-eating surrender monkeys)..


Now this is what we like to shout about - another venue dipping their toes into the live music water. So a big welcome back to Platform One in Bedlington. Two gigs booked:
MULHOLLAND DRIVE Friday Sep 4; WEST COAST BAND Friday Sep 11 and BIG RIVER Friday Sep 18. Details of times and prices on the Listings page. [pic not taken by Riffs; of Mulholland Drive - somewhere]


Hot on the heels of The Turf in Consett opening with North-East stalwarts of Classic Rock FM this Friday (21), we now have St Peters Social in Newcastle opening with this Sunday the renowned 101. It's ticket only (from the venue) and start time is 7.45pm and finish will be around 10pm. Tony is happy to point out that future gigs will be in the bar not the Concert room which, as he explains, the bands should be happy about as there are no stairs to battle with. And he adds "no bingo, no quizzes - just great live music". Ahh, a man after my own heart. "Any bands already booked between now and start of 2021 will have there gigs honoured, if able, empty slots I will try to fill with those that have had cancelled gigs." In these difficult times, no-shows can be quite disastrous for an already struggling venue and Tony has come with a novel way of limiting no-shows. He explains: "I have limited seats available (no standing) to assist social distancing so gigs will require tickets to gain entry, priced at £5.00 - this will be returned at door with £5.00 worth of drinks tokens. I will contact all bands with gigs to confirm situation and their booking."
And from now on please take it that social distancing is in operation whether we mention it or not because - some of you may have noticed - we are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, so don't complain if you are just a tad put out.


We've just heard that The Turf in Consett is opening today (Tuesday) and their first band on is rockers
FM for this FRIDAY 21st at 9pm. Social Distancing rules apply.
FM also played at the second Rose Inn mini-fest. And did you know that FM supplied staging, lighting and 20k rig for the two mini festivals at the Rose Inn Wallsend? Both days were a huge success and they are available to offer their services as long as the weather window for outdoor events continues. Contact Dave or Steve and all your outdoor gig concerns will be sorted:
Dave Johnstone 07841 340986. Steve 07488 284905.


Mega kudos to Michelle from Usworth and Washington Gardeners Club, Industrial Rd Washington who are dipping their toes into the 'new normal' with three nights of live entertainment - Friday 21, Sat 22, Sun 23. Just to see how it goes, so get along and support the brave ones (that's not a band, you understand, it's those who are . . . well, you get the gist). It should go without saying (and a lot of people have said that about me) but all social distancing rules will be strictly followed - we don't want to be thrust into lockdown. So please be compliant. Details about those three nights are on our Listings page.


Slowly but inexorably the gigs are dropping in - this time it's those whacky funsters
FIZZYFISH, who have snapped up a gig in the Beer Garden at Hornseys Bar, Seaton Carew. It's on Saturday September 5 with a 7.30pm start, and to say the Fizzies are looking forward to it is a tad of an understatement. Vocalist and 'chief entertainer' Alan told Riffs: "We are changing tack again especially as the scene will naturally be more competitive so we are going back to majoring on higher energy well known songs; it’s still fairly rocky, but we are including some more indie and fun stuff. People have had too much misery of late, they don’t want a po-faced band surely? We are entertainers - or at least we try." Alan did include a quite exhaustive list of all the bands they cover. Suffice to say I'm not exaggerating when I say whatever band you like - Fizzyfish cover a song by them!   [above is a recent pic supplied by the band]
So just a reminder of the band: this is a Riffs review and some pics from a gig they did at Bishop Auckland's Grand Hotel way way back . . . er last year. But to kick off I have included a review of the band from 2006 done by Colin Smoult - all pictures by Riffs.



Back to 2009 for a brief reprise of
Bad Reputation at The Hearts of Oak.


This is your lot then, no more previously unused pics of Val with bands (well, not the ones suitable for publication - let's leave the lass with the microscopic amount of dignity she may have left). These are the last -
Powerage, KooKooNauts and Witchkraft. I'd much rather post news of what local bands are up to - as little as it may be - but if nothing comes in then I'll find some pics to post from Riffs archives...


No more news from bands coming in to Riffs towers, so we continue with our Powerage theme with pics backstage at their Newcastle City Hall gig and other nefarious places, and talking of nefarious, all gigs feature Riffs regular shrinking Violet.



0191 4777404. [If you get the gig please let us know so we can advertise it and also save wasted calls].


Queen tribute WE ARE CHAMPION now have gigs lined up for August - all of which are now on our Listings page. But for at-a-glance ease they have kindly supplied a photo with all of their current gigs. Even with the restrictions, they are still putting on a full show. Paul from the band told Riffs: "Things can't go on like this as these gigs are so expensive to put on due to limited capacity and extra expenses that everybody involved from the band, the crew, promoters and the venues are doing it at a vastly reduced fee. Indoor gigs may be impossible for a long while yet due to costs of putting on a show to such small audiences being non-viable. It really is a desperate time but we hope you can come out and support these few gigs and have some kind of summer and fingers crossed we can be back properly sooner rather than later."
Paul also supplied a link to a video the band did during lockdown -



You know things are shifting when Paul Tuns is at the helm; The Schooner in Gateshead is now up and running with live bands. He has been verbally slapped for not getting this info to his favourite online magazine sooner! Little tinker. Live music tonight (yes, that's Friday 7th) with Taylor Payne, then Saturday they have THE WHODLUMS and RIGID DIGITS. Queen cover band WE ARE CHAMPION for Sunday is now completely sold out. check out The Schooner's gigs on our Listings page.  [Both pics Rigid Digits by yours truly]



And for those of you who have got out of the habit of checking the Listings page . . .
This Sunday (9th), those electrically charged Rockers UK/DC are setting Hartlepool alight in the Beer Garden of the Steelworks Club, Westbourne Rd, Hartlepool TS25 5RB. Stepping in to help out when a band cancelled, Rock n Roll Singer Patrick from UK/DC told Riffs: "
Enjoyed watching Giroscope play there last weekend and it attracts a really appreciate rock crowd". For this gig the band have Jimbo Jordan from The Beatles Unplugged joining them. Patrick continued: "We've got a "Starr" performer on drums for tonight. No rain forecast, cheap beer, looking forward to the gig!" Band on stage 5.30pm. It's a cover charge and first come first served so all we can say is - be soon!
[Oh, forgot yet again, I didn't take the above pic, it came in courtesy of The Seaham Silverback]


The Mallard mini fest for Sunday August 30 is NOW FULLY SOLD OUT

The Rose Inn (Wallsend) Mini Rock Festival Part - 2
Happening this weekend Saturday 8th Aug. Due to the enormous sell out for the first one on the first of this month, a second festival has now been planned.

Doors 2pm
4pm-5pm TBC
5.15pm- 6.15pm SKULLDUGGERY
6.30pm - 7.30pm WHITCHKRAFT
7.45pm - 8.45pm GIROSCOPE
9pm - 10pm LITTLE DEVIL

Tickets are available on the bar on a first-come first-served basis. Open every day from noon except Mondays.
Further info 07922 379475 or message the venue.
The venue explains: "We are interested in groups of six, as we cannot have just two people at a table. Track and trace will be in operation and temperatures will be taken upon arrival.
Government guidelines are being observed so please be aware of this as details will need to be taken when buying tickets."


Well, you were warned. All these pics - apart from including Riffs chief harlot - have one thing in common; Powerage. One of the best Bon Scott era AC/DC cover bands. Ever. Oh, and Brian Johnson makes an appearance too.


Well, we've had some brilliant news recently concerning live gigs - let's keep it up. Come on bands, tell us your excitement, your trepidations, your concerns about venturing back out in this new Covid world. If we have no news then it's gonna mean me uploading more pics of Candy Creampie with bands. This is a respectable site so let's keep it that way..............

It may be more than two full months away, but we desperately need light at the end of our musical tunnel.
We've had the Wallsend mini-fest, we've got The Force this month on the 9th, The Mallard 'Rock the Lockout' on the 30th (and there may be even more that Riffs has not been informed of ['surely not' I hear you say as one]), and now we have a gig for October featuring Queen tribute - QWEEN.

It's on Saturday 10th Oct at The Mayfair Centre, Tees Road, Hartlepool TS25 1DE,   01429 861230.
Tickets are £10 from venue or c/o Andy Husband Promotions - (Billy West’s Qween Live https://facebook.com/events/s/qween-live/612568952843761/?ti=icl ) doors open 7pm.
Rob from the band told Riffs: "We are so excited to be back on the scene. The show will be spectacular in every sense of the word and tickets are selling fast!"
Oops, forgot to say, pics supplied by Qween.


"It makes me scream, it makes me wanna get up and shout"

Hardly minutes passed since I posted the below pics of The Carnival et al, when in pops an email concerning
yesterday's mini-fest at Wallsend featuring TRILOGY, FM, THE WHODLUMS, FOSSIL, ASSASSIN and headliners UK/DC. (above pic from yesterday's gig courtesy UK/DC). And it was 'Bon' from UK/DC who reports that the day not only went well, but the crowd greedily lapped up every morsel of Rock on offer. So much so that poor ol' Bon was suffering this morning. "Great to be out and about playing to a "live" audience and they were certainly lively by the time we went on! Got a bit of a croaky voice this morning . . . nothing prepares you for the full-on onslaught."
Glutton for punishment the band must be as they are reprising their full-on rockin' set at the end of this month (Sunday 30th) at the Mallard in Seaham - another mini-fest, this time in support of Northumbria Blood Bikes. See poster.
UK/DC Bon also reports that The Schooner in Gateshead seems to be edging towards regular live music nights too. One to keep an eye out for....


The first three pics are of the magnificent 'Carnival', the guitarists of whom battled it out on top of the bar at the venue - to the utter surprise of the staff - when myself and the Terrible Twosome journied sarf. A brilliant night and a great down-to-earth bunch of lads. But looking at the pics it seems Gina G-string has changed her top . . .



The Rose Inn at Wallsend is putting on a mini-festival outdoors on Saturday 1st Aug. It's now completely sold-out.   

3pm - 4pm TRILOGY
4.15pm-5.15pm FM
5.30pm- 6.30pm WHODLUMS
6.45pm - 7.45pm FOSSIL
8pm - 9pm ASSASSIN
9.15pm - 10.15pm UK/DC
Soz for the late info but we were informed only very early this morning! (Friday)


Hope this Covid nightmare fades out soon - I'm running out of photos!!



We are cock-a-hoop to announce another live gig - TODAY - FRIDAY 31st at The Oddfellows Arms, 57 Church Street, Seaham, SR7 7HF. It's only a duo but, let's be honest, a live gig is a live gig and a refreshing change when considering the most exciting thing we can do at present is to sit in a different chair. It's The Missing Cats and they will be playing outdoors from 8pm. More info on the band at http://www.facebook.com/themissingcatsduo . There’s loads of live video, pictures and more information there including a ‘live’ video they did just recently which was streamed as part of The Rosiefest Festival on July 11th as the original event was cancelled due to the current situation. Dave from the band told Riffs exclusively: "They’ve asked us to play there next year too on 3rdJuly - well at least we’ve got something in the diary for 2021!"
And if you're thinking a duo may not quite do it for you, Dave lets on that they usually sneak in some Zep and Sabbath . . .


Witchkraft at the premier Gateshead music venue, The Three Tuns (pics taken over two gigs).


More pics from the two-day Washington mega gig, day two:

You can only go so long without a Boobarella fix - those milkshakes still bring the boys to the yard . . .


In my continuing and desperate attempt to give Riffs readers a reason to log on, I've resurrected some pics that were, for one reason or another, omitted from original reviews but, due to better Photoshop techniques, are now just good enough to upload. So here we go . . . all taken at Washington - day one:


Never need an excuse to show a truly talented rockin' band. RIOT at The Three Tuns.


Another assortment featuring Mandie Milf and North-East musicians, including Cue, Disregard and, last but not least, a pic taken at XXXX Bikers do - I only know this cos I can see the 'Titty-Stamper's' work on those bulging bosoms.


Regular emailer James (and arguably Penelope Passion's number one fan) mentions her tightly packed blouse and compliments her on her sartorial choices. She wouldn't deny she was a little overweight, but never seemed to have any issues with clothes - except finding them afterwards.
The first two pics feature a gentleman from Middlesbrough (Tom?) who, if I remember correctly (and please forgive me if I have the details wrong), ran Middlesbrough's premier live music venue, the Ladle, and sadly passed away from cancer (the Ladle is no more and is now blocks of flats). Two pics on the second row are Matrix (Pandora Peaks wouldn't have appreciated the cigarette though - it's not big and it's not clever), next from last is Blueshouse who, incidentally were big, and very clever.



An assortment of pics from Gateshead's Three Tuns Battle of the Bands.


Yet more pics, dug up, cropped, colour corrected and put through Photoshop and uploaded for your delectation. Second pic is one of Candy Cleavage's favourite peeps, Big Al. Second row is two of Dr Sunshine, next five is Disposable Heroes (last three backstage at their City Hall gig), culminating in the final one with 'unknowns'.


Some pics from Stormin' 07 and some from The Grand in Bishop Auckland.


Now this is the news that we wanted to hear. Get ready for it - A LIVE GIG!!!
Yep, that's right, a live gig by rockers THE FORCE, to be held at
ROUTE 72 CAFE, The Preserving Works, Shelley Rd, Newburn, Newcastle on Sunday, August 9th. It's outdoors, ticket only and social distancing rules will be enforced.  07808 660433     https://www.facebook.com/route72bar/
And on the off-chance you've forgotten what a rock band looks like here's some pics of Charlotte the harlot with the aforementioned boys and some pics (Riffs of course) from their gig at Newcastle City Hall. Still pics not enough and you crave to see them in action? check 'em out here then.


More of the same. Which, incidentally, is what Charlotte the harlot has been heard to reply when asked "What do you want to do tonight?"

The first row are unknowns - obviously. Well, I say obviously because if you were well known you'd more than likely think twice about being photographed with naughty Nina the nympho night nurse. Some, however, seem to relish the opportunity . . .


Last of the non-Riffs reviews -


We haven't featured trailer trash for a while and we have been absolutely flooded with an email requesting more pictures of her (no accounting for taste) so here's more than a handful - which, coincidentally . . .
That's a devilish grin from saucy minx on the pic with Loaded Ian. Unlike her to get up to anything untoward. Oh, look, out the window, that winged pig..........


And for those of you who have just joined us (that's the right parlance I am led to believe) more reviews done by non-Riffs. Not me, not Pussy Galore.


Well, according to the current news it looks like there is a good chance that live music in pubs could be allowed around October. Lots of ifs and coulds though. Needless to say we're always here for you to tell the world (well, ya gotta think big) what you are up to, whether you are planning to burst back on to the music scene with some blistering rock - or have you decided to call it a day. When the time comes, let your fan base know either way. And, as always, pics pics and more pics are mega helpful. You could supply one of yourself hanging up your guitar to show that the band is packing it in. Or a photo of your band all ready and waiting to gig (or in rehearsals) - anything to encourage others to do the same and for punters to pour back into pubs and relish those heady days of live rock in a buzzing atmosphere. Or you could just do fuck all and fester away in that comfy chair (always good to have a Plan B).




Gonna show some reviews now from way back - but not by Riffs. These are not written by me nor Patti Peaches but sent in to Riffs by people we trust to pen an objective and unbiased review. The pics are taken by my good self but all text is exactly as supplied.


The first two pics here feature our very own sweater stretcher with Matrix, the rest are her with The Amazing Spacefrogs Bugsy and Steve when she was invited down to sing (and I think they used that word very loosely) to a Teesside recording studio when the band were laying down tracks for their new album.


Many thanks to Dave F for sending in this interesting communication:


Next lot is from Stormin' when Plain Krazy were headlining. Val explained: "The singer made it very . . . er . .  plain, that there was only two things he was interested in on that night - and they were both attached to me! I went along with it but it was starting to get just a tad creepy."


Another selection of snaps with some 'unknowns'. But I'm fairly sure yellow t shirt guy on second row is from Blueshouse (patently not impressed with a cuddle from Fiona funbags), next pic  is at the Kings Head, Stanley. As always, if anyone can name names then we'll give you a big mensh.

Steve H to the rescue again and I will quote him exactly:  "1st pic might well be band called Too Tired. Guy on right is definitely Keith Johnson, Houghton le Spring's best ever drummer"

Any ideas anyone?



Just heard from 'new boy' Miguel from Uncle Gilbert (he's been with them a mere eight years!) and, along with band member Brian and Mike, are keen to "getting back rocking" as soon as they possibly can. I think I can say on behalf of every Riffs reader that they'll be more than welcome...


More 'unknowns' although I have a vague recollection the final two may be Summerlands.


Three more 'unknowns' pictured with Riffs resident eye candy. Although pic three looks a lot like Ronnie from The Duke........


Just heard from Steve H with an update on these two pics: Steve Ireland on the left and the band is The Croutons. Steve went on to join FM soon after these pics were taken.

Slightly embarrassed because yes, I should know who this band is, and I seem to recognise them . . . but . . . Have even showed them to Beelzebub's offspring and she can't remember either . . .


Time for a review methinks, and this one is of Uncle Gilbert who myself and Titiana caught at The Station in Redcar in March. Again, not sure of the year.


And yet another row of pics featuring Felicity funbags to take us back to the good ol' times . . . first is Sticky Fingers, and the other three are all 'unknowns'.


Just found this Tubesnake pic that had slipped between the cracks in the woodwork - poor guy just couldn't suppress the discomfort of a kiss from Riffs' resident MILF.


These pics feature 'known' and 'unknowns'. All except second row feature Riffs' yummy mummy and we start with Len from Tubesnake, next two are early incarnations of Tubesnake (the second one I think was at Durham Snooker Club), then next row Tubesnake again all at Stormin 05. Next row we have Big Al with fellow bandmember but not knowing the date, I can't guess at which band he was in at this time, next two are unknowns and first one on last row is also an 'unknown'. Next is Loaded 44 from the 1999 Redcar Battle of the Bands, and lastly we have sweet cheeks with Loaded Dave. As always, if anyone can help us out with the unknowns we'd not only be grateful - we'll even give you a mensh.


And what a warm welcome strawberry cream and I received at the Kings Head in Stanley in the late 90s to catch the ever-outrageous Hipthrusters. Pic second left shows main man Dinksy (aka 'Pavement Hound') belting out some rockin' blues - but it wasn't just those men with the thrusting hips that were outrageous that night as snow bunny was in her element and arguably not only took centre stage, but also moniker of bad kitty of the night.


Another band that gave a great performance and were loads of fun - LITTLE PINK POLLIWOG. Not sure where and not sure when but if any of them see this - then let us know! And the third one is Betty Boobs with 'unknown.'


This was another stupendous night at the Three Tuns in Gateshead. Landlord Paul knows a quality Rock band when he sees one. And Vendetta went down a storm. A magnificent performance.


No mystery here, well, perhaps just the one. On the left we have Warren with some arm candy and, because of the age of the pic, I think this may be when he was fronting Scream Dream. Next is busty Bertha with Thompa, and Ronnie who booked the bands. And of course the last one is Riffs' mischievous moll with Paul from the Three Tuns. And can I say how nice it is to have two of the North-East's most respected landlords in the same line-up
- I think the last time was in front of Newcastle Magistrates, but we've yet to get to the bottom of that . . .


Big shout out to 'Dave'; who thinks second left is Spectrum.

Four total unknowns here, although I think the first one may, just may, have been at the XXXX Crew do (come out of there before you suffocate). And the last one was at Redcar's 1999 Battle of the Bands - yeah, the poster does give it away some. But who is the guy? As always, any help would be most appreciated . . .



This was one double bill at The Three Tuns myself and Val will never forget. Both bands were on sparkling form and proudly played their musical hearts out. Both Remedy and Razor Sharp played brilliantly and each turned in a magnificent set. A superb evening's entertainment.


Ian (Fuzzy or The Fuzzy) Fulton, bass player in NWOBHM Avenger, who tragically died in a motorcyle accident on the 1st of June was buried Friday June 26.

In the midst of the unbearable deep pain that his family are suffering, they were truly heartened by the outpouring of support they have received. "The biker convoy following the hearse warmed our hearts" Ian's father Dave told me. Ian's family received 100s of cards "and each one is special" added Dave.
The following example shows just how much Ian was loved and respected, and I quote directly from Dave: "[we received a card from a] Dutch guy named Eddie van Vugt who had seen the band a few times and with whom Ian had struck up a friendship. Eddie tells us Ian always made a point of coming and speaking to him and remembering his name even though Eddie was only a teenager when they first met. This guy didn't know where we lived, but sent us a beautiful card via Avenger, having made the effort to get a postal address for the band who forwarded it to us. We'd never met the guy, but his condolences mean a lot to us."


So who's this little devil squeezing (or should I say 'strangling') the life out of poor lil ol' Val then?


As promised, here's some of Val and Nick and Heavy Load - the band went through many changes but Nick's dedication was always the driving force and kept the focus to enable Heavy Load to capture the nuances and feel that was Free and Bad Co. - and just so you don't get Val overload ('not possible' shouts Jim) I've included some of the band in action.


Soz everybody peeps, but I never actually explained why all these old pics have Val on them. Well, all our old pics were in paper folders marked with the band's name (where known), but during a couple of house moves, and sending some back to the bands in question, a lot were lost. Now, initially, Val asked me to remove from the set, the ones with her in them. These were kept together, all wrapped in an elastic band, and have survived. And it's these that I am sifting through now, to post the interesting ones. Regardless of whether Val is on them or not, they show interesting people and places. And as we have all moved on, then it's fun to look back. So there you have it. I've just found some of Nick and Heavy Load so I'll do them next . . .

Found some pics of The XXXX Crew with Val on a Harley.
I also realise now why there was such a queue for the 'titty stamper' job. I remember Val saying "Do I really need this many stamps?" Such a sweet, naive and innocent girl [well, one out of four isn't bad].

She thoroughly enjoyed the attention and I understand she went down very well. The year? Hmm, may need some help with that, but gotta be 98 or 99.


Newly scanned in: First one After Midnight, the brilliant Eric Clapton tribute but not sure where, second was Val being shown how to mix it at a recording studio somewhere on Teesside, third and fourth I recognise superb axe-man Ken but not sure of which band it is when these two pics were taken. Any help would be appreciated.



Someone's just asked why I'm so hazy about the pics I took and why Riffs photographs are not catalogued: 'Don't you have a photograph archive?'  It was just nights out for Val and myself, taking pics and reviewing bands. Oh yeah, all meticulously labelled by date, artist, place . . . but they're in another building on the seventh floor, right at the back and, due to the strict Covid regulations I now don't have access to them. Plus, because Val's on them, the floor has had to be re-strengthened. Photo archive!!! I love a good titter.
And talking of titters, I've scanned the first few of pics of Val with 'unknowns' so we'll see if anyone can help with info.

Just found these liitle gems. My memory is well shot (Val breathes a sigh of relief), but I seem to remember that the pics (right) of Black Dog were outside the Duke of Cumberland. No idea regarding the wherabouts of the Black Rose pic though but amongst the myriad of numbers on the reverse of the pic I can see 17AU, could be 17th August, and I suspect 1999.
I've just unearthed a big wadge of photographs wrapped in an elastic band that I took of Val chatting with bands, band members, and even venue owners and managers. Trouble is, no identification on any one of them. There will be some that I recognise, but the majority I'm gonna need help with. I'll post a few a day and hope that someone out there is able to shed some light on who she is pictured with . . .



Now for a bit of Punk, courtesy of The Demi in Consett, all in aid of 'Give Tilly A Hand' campaign. Featuring No Way Out, Stottin' Headaches, Ultracore and The Next Pistols.
Review and pics by my good self - Val had 'other commitments'. Not sure who he was though. [Probably neither did she]


Aha!! So there is a few peeps out there still reading Riffs - as is shown by sharp-eyed Jim (or should I say sharp-memoried) cos it was he who pointed out that there was a photo of busty Val with Last Minute that I took at the Turbinia in 2010, so why didn't we use it!? Jim admits he is a big fan of Val and hopes to see more of her in future (I'm biting my lip here). Actually I took two pics, and I suspect they may have been not only taken earlier but were not even of Last Minute, but more likely the brilliant Blueshouse, which Val and I caught at a gig at Durham Snooker Club in February 1999. So especially for you Jim, here they both are in all their glory (the two pics I mean, not Val's . . . er . . . yeah, ok, move along now, nothing to see here).


For the first four pics we are jumping back a mere 18 years to the Duke in Felling for the innovative Meanstreak.
And, directly below, two pics I took at The Rock Bar with local legend Russ Tippins joining Meanstreak on stage. And, after a bit of searching, I've found a couple of pics of Russ and Meanstreak Ken talking to Val while she was managing the Earl of Warwick in West Auckland (that's the pub - not the person).



These are, quite definitively, THE LAST MEN ON EARTH , October 2004, no idea where though. [yeah, I know I was there, and yes, I did take the pics . . . your point?]


Well, I can narrow down this review of LAST MINUTE to Saturday 3rd July. Unfortunately I can't be so accurate with the year. Photo info says 2010 so let's go with that.


The 16th of February 2008 saw a charity gig at Crook Town Football Club, all in aid of the Great North Air Ambulance. Doyle stole the show with a truly phenomenal performance - and I took pictures a-plenty, and that remind me, Val penned the review .
. .



Zooming back in Riffs time machine to Thompa's gaff, the Duke of Cumberland for an exhilarating night with SLF tribute Rigid Digits from, if my photos time stamps are correct, 2006. But I suspect they aren't so I am open to an alternative. Great night though, and pics of the audience going wild (mind you, they started off a bit wild too) I think captures some of the atmosphere that the band created. Oh, and at Val's insistence I include a photo of her and Thompa - esteemed purveyor of JD and Coke and all-round cracking landlord.


Hardly seems five minutes since THIS MACHINE received a top acolade from none other than Saxon, over their powerful rendition of Wheels of Steel, that the dreaded lockdown was enforced and the band were forced to confine any wheels they had, steel or otherwise, to the garage. But here are some pics to keep us talkin' . . . uh . . . yeah . . .
   The Byfords at home singing . . . you know what!


Lucky ol' Sheiks got a second review from top girl Val - and I tagged along to take some pics - as they had a major band shake-up(!) from just the year before, and many were interested to see just how this would affect the dynamics within the group.


Well, Ian may be up there jammin' with Kilmister, Scott, Dio, Gallagher, Harvey, Moon, Peart, Bowie, Joplin, Richard, Berry and many, many others.
The list goes on and on - and of course, those who never actually made it 'up there'. No matter how much time passes, or how many photos we show, how many reviews we host, it won't completely obscure our sadness.
That list is one helluva gig that I would love to be in the front for - perhaps not just yet though. And that leads me into another beast of a band. Our own Beast from the North East: -

I remember Val and myself collaborating on this review for absolutely ages - well in excess of ten minutes - but nothing we wrote could convey the awesome power and force this band delivers on stage. And in an act of desperation it was Val who said: "Well, you're always bleating on about 'a photo is worth a thousand words', so why not just use your photos?"


I am truly shocked and deeply saddened to report that Ian Fulton, bass player in NWOBHM Avenger, died in a motorcyle accident on the 1st of June. A local lad, whose parents are now trying to come to terms with their devastating loss.

I have also learnt that when things get back to normal, Avenger intend to do a special gig in honour of Ian.
I really cannot imagine what pain and anguish his parents are going through, and I am aware there is nothing I can say or do that will lessen their suffering. His family can be justifiably proud of a guy who, through his music, gave immeasurable pleasure to a multitude of people.
Myself and Val had the pleasure of catching Heavy Metal band Avenger at the Office in South Shields in 2005 and, in memory of Ian, we host our pictures of the band here. To see the band in action, his father has kindly forwarded to Riffs these links -






Further back now to the Moonshiners MCC Rally. Again, no idea what year. Now, I know we did a review, as one of the pics is marked 'head' and I do that for the main picture on the review. But back in those far-off heady rocky days I just didn't save them. I know, shame on me. But the superb 4 Kinnells did the business...


Steve Priest, bass player and founder of Glam Rockers Sweet has died. As part of the group which had hits including Hellraiser, Teenage Rampage and The Ballroom Blitz, Priest enjoyed a classic sex, drugs and rock n' roll lifestyle - something he was never shy discussing when talking about his time in the spotlight. 'If it breathed and was female, it was fair game,' he once told the Guardian.


JUMP THE GUN, at The Grand Hotel in Bishop Auckland, 2008 (I think). Val at the helm.



Ok, I know we say 'supporting live Rock music . . .' but Val did actually nip out to Gateshead to catch SkaBoom at The Three Tuns - and took her own photographs!! I did my best to clean them up. I mean, c'mon, even Photoshop has its limitations . . .


And on the subject of fine musicians, just read what Val had so say about the superb Mississippi Sheiks when we caught them at The Lord Nelson in Stockton in 2008...


A brilliant night in the company of some fine musicians - TT BLUE. 'Where?' you may ask, and 'when?' you may also ask. And you know what I'm going to say . . .


Now we jump forward three years from those Stormin' pics - 2008 for those who just can't be bothered - for these pics that Val took at the Grand Hotel in Bishop Auckland. Don't know if I was there and no idea who the bands are! (I'm now aware that there are guys out there thinking 'cheeky buggers come along to the gig, take pics, we don't get a review, and they don't even remember who we are. Muthafuckers'.)


Scrolling down these photos, it underlines how important it is for bands to have some pics taken - at gigs, at rehearsal, anywhere! A written review is fine, but it's over and done with. Whereas a picture...
And now I'm so glad I took as many and varied pics as I did, as we can all now look back at what was - dreading that it may never be the same again.

Dug out some pics I took at Stormin' the Castle which doesn't seem so long ago, but we're talking fifteen years for these. See how many local bands you recognise . . .




1953 - Lita Roza was at No.1 on the singles chart with '(How Much) Is That Doggie In Window.' The 27 year old singer was the NME readers' Top Female artist of 1953 and with this single became the first British female singer to top the singles Chart (and the first Liverpudlian to do so).

1966 - The Spencer Davis Group were at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Somebody Help Me', the group's second No.1.

1967 - David Bowie's novelty record 'The Laughing Gnome' was released. The track consisted of the singer meeting and conversing with the creature of the title whose sped-up voice (created by Bowie and studio engineer Gus Dudgeon) delivered several puns on the word 'gnome'. The song became a hit when reissued in 1973 despite it being radically different to his material at the time. The single reached No. 6.

1969 - The recording of 'The Ballad Of John and Yoko' took place with just two Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon. Paul played bass, drums and piano with John on guitars and lead vocals. The song was banned from many radio stations as being blasphemous. On some stations, the word 'Christ' was edited in backwards to avoid the ban.

1970 - Creedence Clearwater Revival made their live UK debut when they played the first of two nights at The Royal Albert Hall, London.

1971 - The Illinois Crime Commission issued a list of 'drug-oriented records' including 'White Rabbit' by Jefferson Airplane, ’A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ by Procol Harum and The Beatles 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.'

1972 - David Bowie released 'Starman' as a single which became his first hit since 1969's 'Space Oddity' three years before. The song was a late addition to the album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars included at the insistence of RCA’s Dennis Katz who heard a demo and loved the track believing it would make a great single. The lyrics describe Ziggy Stardust bringing a message of hope to Earth's youth through the radio, salvation by an alien 'Starman'.

1975 - After rumours that Jimmy Page, Steve Marriott, Jeff Beck or Chris Spedding variously would replace Mick Taylor as guitarist in The Rolling Stones, a press release confirmed that Ronnie Wood would be joining the band for their forthcoming American tour.

1978 - Joy Division played at the Stiff Test Chiswick Challenge, at Raffters in Manchester. Future managers Rob Gretton and then journalist Tony Wilson saw the band for the first time.

1980 - Gary Numan released 'The Touring Principle', the first long-form rock video to be made commercially available in the UK.

1983 - The Pretenders bass player Pete Farndon died from a drug overdose. He was sacked from the group on June 14th 1982 (just two days before Pretenders guitarist James Honeyman-Scott was found dead of heart failure). Farndon was in the midst of forming a new band with former Clash drummer Topper Headon when he died.

1999 - Singer, songwriter and actor Anthony Newley died of cancer. Scored 12 Top 40 singles from 1959-1962 including the No.1 single 'Why.' He won the 1963 Grammy Award for Song of the Year for "What Kind of Fool Am I?", he was married to the actress Joan Collins from 1963 to 1971.

2009 - Former Beatle George Harrison was honoured with a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles. Sir Paul McCartney attended the unveiling outside the landmark Capitol Records building, joining Harrison's widow Olivia and son Dhani. Eric Idle, Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and musician Tom Petty also attended the ceremony.

1962 - The Beatles made their third trip to Germany for a 48-night residency at The Star Club, Hamburg. During the seven week run The Beatles had only one day off.

1971 - The Rolling Stones released 'Brown Sugar' taken from their latest album Sticky Fingers, the first record on their own label, Rolling Stones Records, which introduced the infamous licking- tongue and lips logo.

1973 - David Bowie released his sixth studio album Aladdin Sane, the name of the album is a pun on 'A Lad Insane"' Two hit singles included on the album preceded its release, 'The Jean Genie' and 'Drive-In Saturday'.

1979 - Thin Lizzy released their ninth studio album Black Rose: A Rock Legend. The album, which featured guitarist Gary Moore, contained the hits 'Do Anything You Want To', 'Waiting For An Alibi' and 'Sarah', which was written with Moore about Lynott's newborn daughter.

1982 - David Crosby was arrested when police found him preparing cocaine backstage in his dressing room before a show in Dallas.

2002 - Thieves broke in to a house in Bexhill, Sussex and stole a hi-fi system and several CDs. They left albums by Madonna, Robbie Williams and Oasis but took the owners entire Showaddywaddy collection.

2008 - Producer and drummer Clifford Davies was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his home in Atlanta, aged 59. Davies had worked with Ted Nugent from 1979-1982. It was reported that Davies was "extremely distraught" over outstanding medical bills.

2009 - 68-year-old US music producer Phil Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson, after a five-month retrial. He had pleaded not guilty to the second degree murder of 40-year-old Ms Clarkson, who was shot in the mouth at Spector's home in Los Angeles. During the five-month retrial, five female acquaintances testified that Spector had threatened them at gunpoint in incidents dating back to the 1970s. An earlier trial was abandoned in 2007 after a jury failed to reach a unanimous decision. Spector was remanded in custody until sentencing on 29 May 09.

2009 - Procol Harum's 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' was the most played song in public places in the past 75 years, according to a chart compiled for BBC Radio 2. Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was at number two followed by 'All I Have To Do Is Dream' by the Everly Brothers. Wet Wet Wet's 1994 hit, 'Love Is All Around', was at number four followed by Bryan Adams 1991 hit '(Everything I Do) I Do It For You.'

2011 - A portrait of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett was returned to the London art gallery it had been stolen from the previous week. The late singer's former girlfriend, Libby Gausden, pleaded for its safe return and offered a reward of £2,000, and following an appeal the image was returned undamaged and intact to the gallery by post.

2012 - Five of Tom Petty's guitars were stolen from a soundstage in Culver City, California, where Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, were rehearsing for their upcoming worldwide tour.The stolen gear included a 1967 Blonde Rickenbacker, a 1967 Epiphone Sheridan, a 1965 Gibson SG TV Jr., a Fender Broadcaster and a Dusenberg Mike Campbell Model, which belonged to Campbell himself. Petty was offering a "no questions asked" reward bounty of $7,500 to anyone with information leading to the guitars' recovery.

2019 - English keyboardist and guitarist Paul Raymond died age 73. He joined Plastic Penny in the early 60s as their keyboardist, vocalist, and replaced Christine McVie in British blues band Chicken Shack. He first joined UFO in 1976 and played with the band during four different stints, he was a regular in the UFO lineup since 2003. Raymond had also worked with Michael Schenker in MSG.


1954 - Bill Haley recorded 'Rock Around the Clock' at Pythian Temple studios in New York City. Considered by many to be the song that put rock and roll on the map around the world. The song was used over the opening titles for the film 'Blackboard Jungle', and went on to be a world-wide No.1 and the biggest selling pop single with sales over 25 million. Written by Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers, 'Rock Around The Clock' was first recorded by Italian-American band Sonny Dae and His Knights.

1957 - The 'King of Skiffle' Lonnie Donegan was at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Cumberland Gap.' The Scottish musician was a former member of Chris Barber's Jazz Band.

1966 - Jan Berry (Jan and Dean) was almost killed when he crashed his car into a parked truck a short distance from Dead Man's Curve in Los Angeles. Berry was partially paralysed and suffered brain damage. Berry was able to walk again after extensive therapy.

1967 - Mick Jagger was punched in the face by an airport official during a row at Le Bourget Airport in France. Jagger lost his temper after The Rolling Stones were being searched for drugs resulting in them missing their flight.

1968 - Pink Floyd released their fourth single 'It Would Be So Nice', written by Richard Wright with Roger Waters' 'Julia Dream' on the B-side. Pink Floyd were on tour in Europe on this day, and played their second night at the Piper Club, in Rome, Italy.

1975 - During an interview with Playboy Magazine David Bowie announced his second career retirement, saying, 'I've rocked my roll. It's a boring dead end, there will be no more rock 'n' roll records from me. The last thing I want to be is some useless f—ing rock singer.'

1995 - Two weeks after her death, George W. Bush (then the governor of Texas), declared 'Selena Day' in Texas. The Mexican American singer Selena was murdered aged 23 by the president of her fan club Yolanda Sald'var on 31st March 1995.

2007 - The Beatles company, Apple Corps, settled a £30 million royalties dispute with the band's label, EMI. The suit alleged unpaid royalties on Beatles albums based on an audit of sales between 1994 and 1999, a period which included the release of three Anthology compilations. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

2016 - A US court ruled that Led Zeppelin founders Robert Plant and Jimmy Page must face trial in a copyright row over the song 'Stairway to Heaven'. The copyright infringement action had been brought by Michael Skidmore, a trustee for the late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe, who played on the same bill as Led Zeppelin in the 1960s, and claimed he should be given a writing credit on the track.

2019 - John Hutch drummer with the Liverpudlian group The Big Three died age 79. The Big Three rivalled The Beatles for popularity before the Mersey sound became a national and international phenomenon in the early Sixties. Hutch filled in on drums behind Lennon, McCartney and Harrison in both 1960 and 1962 and later claimed he was offered the opportunity to become Pete Best’s successor before Ringo Starr was given the job in The Beatles.

1961 - Bob Dylan played his first live gig in New York City at Gerde's Folk City, opening for John Lee Hooker.

1963 - Gerry and the Pacemakers were at No.1 on the singles chart with 'How Do You Do It'' The group's first of three UK No.1s.

1965 - Performing at the New Musical Express poll winners concert at London's Wembley Empire Pool: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Animals, The Kinks, Herman's Hermits, Moody Blues, Them, Cilla Black, The Seekers and Donovan.

1970 - Peter Green quit Fleetwood Mac while on tour in Germany, to avoid breach of contract he agreed to finish the current tour. While touring Europe in late March 1970, Green took LSD at a party at a commune in Munich.

1973 - The Beach Boys appeared at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta, Georgia. The Beach Boys were at a very low ebb in popularity in America and this show proved a financial disaster for the promoter, with less than 3,000 tickets sold for the 16,000 capacity venue. Opening act was Mothers Finest and middle of the bill was Bruce Springsteen who played a 60-minute set. Elvis Presley performed twice in the Omni and a plaque was placed on an interior wall to that effect after his death.

1977 - Alice Cooper played to an audience of 40,000 in Sydney, Australia, the largest crowd to attend a rock concert in the country's history. After the show Cooper was placed under house arrest at his hotel until he posted a bond for $59,632. That amount was the sum that a promoter claimed to have paid Cooper for a 1975 Australia tour he never made. The two settled when it was found that the promoter did not fulfill his part of the agreement either.

2014 - Nirvana were enlisted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside Kiss and Beatles manager Brian Epstein. REM's Michael Stipe inducted the group, saying: "Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard. Nirvana were kicking against the mainstream. They spoke truth and a lot of people listened."

1962 - The Beatles former bass player Stuart Sutcliffe died (original bassist for eighteen months - January 1960 - June 1961). Sutcliffe had stayed in Hamburg, Germany after leaving the group. He died aged 22 of a brain haemorrhage in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

1965 - British acts started a run of seven weeks at the top of the US charts when Freddie and the Dreamers went to No.1 with 'I'm Telling You Now', followed by Wayne Fontana's 'Game Of Love', Herman's Hermits 'Mr's Brown' and The Beatles 'Ticket To Ride.'

1965 - A British school in Wrexham, North Wales, asked parents to please keep children in school uniform and not to send them to school in 'corduroy trousers', like the ones worn by The Rolling Stones.

1970 - Jim Morrison was dragged off stage by keyboardist Ray Manzarek during a Doors concert in Boston, after Morrison asked the audience, 'Would you like to see my genitals?'. Theater management quickly switched off the power. Morrison had been arrested in Miami a year earlier for 'lewd and lascivious behavior' during a performance.

1970 - 27 year-old Paul McCartney issued a press statement, announcing that The Beatles had split (one week before the release of his solo album). McCartney said, 'I have no future plans to record or appear with The Beatles again, or to write any music with John'. John Lennon, who had kept his much-earlier decision to leave The Beatles quiet for the sake of the others, was furious. When a reporter called Lennon to comment upon McCartney's resignation, Lennon said, 'Paul hasn't left. I sacked him'.

1976 - Peter Frampton went to No.1 on the US album chart with 'Frampton Comes Alive', one of the biggest selling 'live' albums in rock history. It was the best-selling album of 1976, selling over 6 million copies in the US. Frampton Comes Alive! was voted Album of the year in the 1976 Rolling Stone readers poll. It stayed on the chart for 97 weeks.

1982 - Iron Maiden scored their first No.1 album with The Number Of The Beast. The band's third studio album saw the debut of vocalist Bruce Dickinson and the final appearance of the late drummer Clive Burr. This was their first album to reach No. 1 in the UK Albums Chart and be certified platinum in the US.

1984 - Nate Nelson, lead vocalist for The Flamingos on their 1959 hit 'I Only Have Eyes For You', died aged 52 of heart disease, a day after his wife had made a plea to his fans to find a heart for her ailing husband.

2001 - Bruce Springsteen won a court battle to keep the rights to his early songs. Ronald Winter of Masquerade Music had released the album 'Before The Fame' was found to be in breach of copyright. Springsteen was awarded more than £2m damages.

2007 - The former home of Johnny Cash burnt to the ground. Cash and his wife June Carter used the base in Tennessee to write many of their songs, and to entertain fans and US presidents. Part of Cash's famous late-period video 'Hurt' was shot inside the house, 20 miles north-east of country music capital Nashville. After the couple's deaths in 2003, the home in Henderson was bought by Bee Gee Barry Gibb who was preparing to refurbish the property when fire struck - within a few hours, only the stone chimneys remained of the building.

1967 - The Doors and The Jefferson Airplane appeared at Cheetah, Santa Monica Pier, Venice, California. This was the largest show The Doors had played to date with a crowd of over 3,000

1969 - Bob Dylan released his ninth studio album Nashville Skyline, which embraced country music. With liner notes by Johnny Cash (who also appeared on the record), at the time of release it was dismissed by some critics as lightweight, but included 'Lay, Lady, Lay', a major hit single for Dylan. The album also gave Dylan his fourth No.1 album.

1973 - Newly signed to EMI Records, Queen played a showcase gig for their new record label at the The Marquee, London. They released their debut single 'Keep Yourself Alive' three months later on 6 July 1973.

1974 - Terry Jacks was at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Seasons In The Sun.' Jacks became the first Canadian to score a No.1 since Paul Anka in 1957. The song (written in French by Belgian Jacques Brel), had English lyrics by poet Rod McKuen.

1976 - American folk singer songwriter Phil Ochs hung himself at his sister's home in Queen's, New York. He wrote 'There But A Fortune', a hit for Joan Baez.

1983 - David Bowie was at No.1 on the singles chart with the title track from his latest album 'Let's Dance', his fourth No.1 and featuring blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. The song introduced Bowie to a new, younger audience oblivious to his former career in the 1970s and was a US No.1 hit, Bowie’s first single to reach number one on both sides of the Atlantic.

1988 - Dave Prater of soul duo Sam & Dave was killed when his car left the road and hit a tree in Syracuse, Georgia, on his way to his mother's house in Ocilla. He was 50. Recorded for Stax Records from 1965 - 1968, hits included 'Soul Man' and 'Hold On, I'm Coming.'

1991 - Record producer Martin Hannett died. He worked with many Manchester acts including The Smiths, New Order, Joy Division, Happy Mondays, Magazine as well as U2 and The Psychedelic Furs.

2004 - Motley Crue singer Vince Neil pleaded no contest to battery charges after accusations that he assaulted a sex worker at the Moonlight BunnyRanch (a legal, licensed brothel in Mound House, Nevada), by grabbing the woman around the throat and throwing her against a wall. Neil was sentenced to a 30-day jail suspension, 60 days anger management, and was fined $1,000.

2009 - Disgraced Bay City Rollers manager Tam Paton died in the bath at his Edinburgh home of a suspected heart attack. The 70-year-old, who had suffered two previous heart attacks and a stroke in recent years, was found dead in his luxury mansion. Paton had made millions through the success of the band in the 1970s but was a far more controversial figure in recent years. He was convicted of sex offences against two boys aged 16 and 17 in 1982 and was convicted of drug dealing in 2004 after £26,000 worth of cannabis was found at his home, but was cleared on appeal.

2016 - Fleetwood Mac announced that Lindsey Buckingham had been fired from the band and would be replaced by Crowded House’s Neil Finn, and Mike Campbell, former lead guitarist of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers on their upcoming tour. Describing Lindsey’s departure as bittersweet, Stevie Nicks stated: “Our relationship has always been volatile."

1965 - Unit Four Plus Two were at No.1 on the singles chart with 'Concrete And Clay', the English group's only No.1 hit.

1967 - Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Eddie Floyd, Arthur Conley and Booker T And The MGs all appeared at London's Hammersmith Odeon.

1967 - John Lennon took his Rolls Royce to coachbuilders J.P. Fallon Ltd in Surrey to enquire if they could paint his car in psychedelic colours. This was based on an idea by Marijke Koger ("The Fool" who was a member of Dutch team of gypsy artists). J.P. Fallon commissioned Steve Weaver's pattern of scroll and flowers for the Phantom V. The cost for having the work done came in at £2,000. A custom interior/exterior sound system was also installed as well as a Sony television; telephone (Weybridge 46676) and a portable refrigerator.

1975 - Aerosmith released their third studio album Toys In The Attic. The album is their most commercially successful in the US, with eight million copies sold and features the hit 'Walk This Way' which peaked at No.10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1977 when re-released and was one of the songs that helped break Aerosmith into the mainstream in the seventies.

1977 - CBS released the self- titled first album by The Clash. The album is widely celebrated as one of the greatest punk albums of all time. CBS in the US refused to release it until 1979 and Americans bought over 100,000 imported copies of the record making it one of the biggest- selling import records of all time.

1977 - The Damned played at the home of the New York punk scene CBGBS; the first UK Punk group to play live dates in the USA.

1994 - The Recording Industry Association of America announced that Pink Floyd's 1973 album The Dark Side Of The Moon had become the fourth biggest-selling album in US history and had passed the 13 million mark in sales. The album has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

1994 - Electrician Gary Smith who was working at Kurt Cobain's house in Seattle discovered Cobain's body lying on the floor in the greenhouse. Local radio station KXRX broke the news at 9.40am that the Nirvana singer and guitarist was dead. A shotgun was found next to Cobain's body. A suicide note was found that said, 'I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now'. A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in Cobain's body.

1998 - Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was rescued, along with 11 other passengers, in the nick of time from a boat when an engine caught fire. The boat was exploring the islands near Angra Dos Reis, south of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, when one of the boat's engines caught fire. Passengers were rescued by nearby journalists, just before the boat exploded.

2006 - Following 2003s false starts, The Rolling Stones finally performed for the first time in mainland China, at Shanghai's Grand Stage Theatre. The Stones were banned from performing three songs ('Brown Sugar', 'Honky Tonk Woman', 'Rough Justice'). Chinese rock star Cui Jian joined the band on stage for a duet with Mick Jagger on 'Wild Horses'.

2010 - Malcolm McLaren former manager of the Sex Pistols, the New York Dolls and Bow Wow Wow died from cancer aged 64. As a solo artist he scored the 1983 No.3 single 'Double Dutch'. He set up the fashion store Let It Rock in the late 60s with Vivienne Westwood selling rubber and fetish gear.

2012 - It was reported that organizers for the 2012 London Olympics ceremony had recently asked the manager of The Who if legendary drummer Keith Moon would be able to perform at the forthcoming London Olympics Games. Who manager Bill Curbishley, told The Times how he responded to the request. 'I emailed back saying Keith now resides in Golders Green crematorium, having lived up to The Who's anthemic line 'I hope I die before I get old,' he said. 'If they have a round table, some glasses and candles, we might contact him.'

1962 - While at Ealing Jazz Club, in Ealing, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards met Brian Jones for the first time. Jones was calling himself Elmo Lewis and was playing guitar with singer Paul Jones, who was performing under his real name of P.P. Pond.

1978 - The Police released 'Roxanne' as the first single from their debut album Outlandos d'Amour. The song was written from the point of view of a man who falls in love with a prostitute. The title came from the name of the character in the play Cyrano de Bergerac, which Sting saw on an old poster which was hanging in a hotel foyer in Paris, France where the group had been staying. The song failed to chart but when re-released in 1979 peaked at No.12 on the Singles Chart.

1979 - Siouxsie And The Banshees played a charity gig for MENCAP, but after crowd trouble were latter faced with a £2,000 bill for seat damage.

1981 - Producer and manager Kit Lambert died of a cerebral hemorrhage after falling down a flight of stairs at his mother's home in London. Lambert managed The Who from 1964-1967 and produced the 'Tommy' album. Also produced Arthur Brown's 1968 hit 'Fire'.

1988 - During a European tour Alice Cooper accidentally hung himself in a rehearsal when a safety rope snapped; he dangled for several seconds before a roadie saved him.

1994 - Lee Brilleaux, singer, harmonica player and founding member of Dr Feelgood, died aged 41 of throat cancer. They had the 1979 No.9 single 'Milk And Alcohol' and the 1976 No.1 live album, Stupidity. In 1976 Brilleaux helped fund Stiff Records - one of the driving forces of the 'New Wave' of the mid- to late-1970s, with a loan of £400.

2000 - Heinz, bass player and singer with The Tornadoes died aged 57. The group had the Joe Meek produced 1962 UK & US No.1 single 'Telstar', making them the first UK group to score a US No.1 single. Heinz had the 1963 solo hit 'Just Like Eddie', a tribute to Eddie Cochran (which featured future Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore).

2015 - The original manuscript of Don McLean's 'American Pie' sold for $1.2m (£806,000) at a New York auction. The 16-page draft had been expected to fetch as much as $1.5m (£1m) at the Christie's sale. McLean said writing the song was 'a mystical trip into his past'. The repeatedly mentioned phrase 'the day the music died' refers to the plane crash in 1959 which killed early rock and roll performers Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

2016 - American singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jimmie Van Zant died in a hospice in Florida after several years of treatment for liver cancer. He began playing guitar and piano as a child, mentored by his cousin Ronnie Van Zant, but largely gave up music until the 1977 plane crash in which Ronnie, the founder and lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd, was killed. He then then took up a career playing Southern rock music.

2020 - US folk and country singer John Prine died aged 73 due to complications from Covid-19. He released his debut album in 1971 and put out 19 studio albums in all. While wider mainstream success eluded him for years, he earned a sizeable following including some of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters. Bob Dylan said in 2009: “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mind trips to the nth degree. And he writes beautiful songs.”

2020 - American guitarist, composer and lyricist Steve Farmer died aged 71. He is best known for his composition with Ted Nugent in 1968, 'Journey to the Center of the Mind', performed by their group The Amboy Dukes.

1967 - The first master tape of The Beatles new album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was made. The song order on side one is different from the final product at this point, the last five songs on that side being initially ordered as follows: ‘Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite’, ‘Fixing a Hole’, ‘Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds’, ‘Getting Better’, and ‘She's Leaving Home’. The Beatles had specified that there were to be no gaps between songs - a unique idea at the time.

1968 - Pink Floyd announced founder Syd Barrett had officially left the group. Barrett was suffering from psychiatric disorders compounded by drug use.

1971 - The Rolling Stones launched their own record label, 'Rolling Stones Records', with Atlantic Records (after their recording contract with Decca Records expired). The first album to be released was Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka in 1971 and is widely credited with being the first world music LP.

1973 - David Bowie released 'Drive-In Saturday' which became a Top 3 hit. The lyrics name-checked Mick Jagger 'When people stared in Jagger's eyes and scored', the model Twiggy 'She'd sigh like Twig the wonder kid', and Carl Jung 'Jung the foreman prayed at work'.

1974 - The California Jam 1 festival took place in Ontario, California, featuring the Eagles, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Earth, Wind & Fire, ELP, Black Oak Arkansas and Seals & Croft. Over 200,000 fans attended.

1985 - Singer and songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan won a lawsuit against his manager Gordon Mills for unpaid royalties and was awarded $2 million.

1987 - Roger Waters' lawyers issued a statement that Roger believed himself to be the creative driving force behind Pink Floyd and therefore he would contest the use of the name by anyone else and any former members of Pink Floyd.