For fans of Maiden, Helloween, and Angra, among others. Italian band Vanderlust will release their debut album next month. The album features fast and metallic rockers, as well as using some acoustics on the stand out cuts “The Last Ganymedian” and “Zima Blue”. Fave rockers being “High Hopes” and “Ten Years Black”, great sounding heavy guitar, and the latter should appeal to fellow Maiden fans.
*Check out the press release below
Cosmic metallers VANDERLUST (ft. members of S91, Dreal) will be rocketing their self-titled debut album on April 15th, 2022 via Rockshots Records
Birthed to travel the cosmos, Italy’s Vanderlust is a power-heavy metal band with prog-thrash influences that tells tales of space travels, astronomy, space engineering, and sci-fi adventures.
“We tried to mix a prog-thrashy riffing in the roots of Megadeth, Vektor and Tool with epic vocal parts like Iron Maiden, Helloween, Angra, and Lione’s Rhapsody. We also put sci-fi elements in our songs, so you can hear also something from Voivod.” adds the band.
This debut recording is like a stellar system with 12 different planets. The star at the center of the system represents the heavy-power metal around all the songs revolving. Despite all the tracks being irradiated by the same light, they are all different from each other. Vanderlust has fast thrash, slow and doom, shiny and brilliant to grunge, and darker songs. Like planets, which appear like simple small bright spots, but in reality, are all big worlds, Vanderlust‘s songs are more complex than they sound at first listen. In fact, you can easily sing along to some of the choruses even if there are complex riffs in the background. Vanderlust is particularly proud of the participation of opera singer Letizia Cappellini who does vocals on select tracks and helps the band further expand the vocal register of their compositions. The band also adds the presence of synths and electronic elements to the compositions to set the sci-fi mood of the lyrics.
“The main goal was to start a metal band that could be an inspiration for young people, a band that could tell them stories from the future when mankind will have overcome its limits and the solar system will be an entire human colony. This idea came to mind to founding members Francesco and Santo when they began their search for other members that could fit. Drummer Giacomo Mezzetti joined the space odyssey right before the covid-19 outbreak. Vocalist Riccardo Morello joined the band during the first lockdown in Italy, so the first song was entirely composed online, using videocalls and file sharing.” adds the band.For their live aspect, Vanderlust is currently working hard to create a thrilling spectacle, giving all their energy to the fans and letting them join them on the space journey.
Track Listing: 1. Intro (0:58) 2. High Hopes (3:34) 3. Orphan Planet (3:41) 4. Forgotten Breed (5:13) 5. The Last Ganymedian (3:45) 6. Scavengers Of Kuiper Belt (4:02) 7. Mass Effect Destruction (2:04) 8. Requiem For An Ancient World (4:59) 9. 3 Suns (4:44) 10. Dyson’s Swarm (4:00) 11. Ringworld (3:26) 12. Ten Years Back (3:38) 13. Zima Blue (4:39) Album Length: 48:49
British rock heavyweights Leader of Down, who are the final band of the late great Würzel (Ex Motörhead) recently announced that following the bands critically acclaimed debut album “Cascade into Chaos” in 2018, they are ready to unleash a second album entitled “The Screwtape Letters” on April 8th 2022. Mixed by long-time Motörhead producer and Grammy winner Cameron Webb and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, the album will be available worldwide through US label Cleopatra Records and will be released on all formats including a special limited edition red vinyl and CD with full color 20 page booklet, featuring 10 blockbusting tracks with titles such as “Cat’s Eye Night” and “Holloway Motel” that will take no prisoners with their own brand of heavy rock ‘n’ roll.
Leader of Down launch the first single and video from the album Hitman on 3rd March. Hitman features special guest and long-term friend, ex Iron Maiden guitarist and member of Lionheart Dennis Stratton. “It was a great pleasure to be asked to provide a solo for Hitman and having guested on stage with Leader of Down on a recent UK show it was great to be back with the boys and appear in the videoas well”
Leader of Down’s career so far has seen them headline shows across Europe as well as supporting the likes of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons and Nitrogods receiving rave reviews for their live shows from around the world. Leader of Down will be supporting Tank on their spring UK tour before headlining the Heavy Metal Mayhem Festival in England, many more shows will follow throughout 2022 and the band have now been added to the Hard Rock Hell Festival in January 2023. The new album will see the band take a new journey as we sail out of the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leader of Down are: Matt Baker – Vocals / Alex Ward – Guitar / Tim Atkinson – Bass / Daniel Akaoui – Drums
*Leader of Down’s 2018 would also feature a guest vocal appearance from the late Lemmy –
A while back I had written an overview of the CD releases from The Bolton Iron Maiden. The band was around in the first half of the ’70s as Iron Maiden, and by the time they’d ended another band that would become one of the biggest Heavy Metal bands of all-time had began, unknowingly, using the same name. So, the band’s drummer / singer / writer Paul O’Neill went on to release a few CDs under The Bolton Iron Maiden name, as well as a solo album. More recently he released a new album – Puppet Master : The Rise and Rise of Slick Dandy.
Iron Maiden, as they were known in the early ’70s were one of many British bands that played regularly live, and struggled for years to get to the next level – a recording contract, which would elude the band. But they did lay down a few originals in the studio at one point, and a number of their originals survived on taped live gigs, which were used for the 2005 release Maiden Flight. And aside from Steve Harris’ Iron Maiden, Paul O’Neill’s band would not be the only ones who used the name.
In this interview Paul talks about the band’s early days, recordings, the band name, the CD releases, and his latest album, among other things. It’s a fascinating look at a working band that was a part of the scene, but without making a huge impact. They are an interesting tale due to their name and timing, but would [in later years] put out some fine early ’70s hard rock, and O’Neill would go on to have a career in theater and create more music decades later. *For more info on the band and CD releases, check out the official website – http://theboltonironmaiden.com/
When you guys decided on the name ‘Iron Maiden’ did it have any sort of musical intentions [ie being a heavier or darker band, etc]. And were you aware at all of anyone else using the name prior to?
Oh yes – we wanted a STRONG heavy name from our previous name “BIRTH” Musically we wanted to be a heavy rock band similar to Cream, Free, The Who, Iron Butterfly, Mountain, Black Sabbath and the new band all the rage – Led Zeppelin. Derek (I believe) came up with the idea for “Iron Maiden” and we loved it!
We had no idea there was anyone else using that name. We appeared in the musical papers of the time, Melody Maker, New Musical Express, Sounds etc, and it was only ever our Iron Maiden. I only discovered this other lot (from Basildon) in 2005!
One interesting but sad thing is that my wife was badly attacked and nearly murdered in May 1976. I was walking back from visiting her in the hospital one Thursday and bought the Melody Maker on the way home. I opened it up to my fave pages – the gig guide at the back – and saw Iron Maiden playing at a pub in London? I knew it could not be us. Beak at the time was ill with cancer. I have often thought that Beak, who sadly died two months later, was the person who (according to Steve Harris) rang the pub and said “you can’t use that name – it’s already being used”. The only way I could ever find that out, would be to buy Steve a pint and ask him. Beak had a very distinctive voice, and I would be able to tell if it was him.
Another sad tale is – although (the new) Iron Maiden and Rod were VERY supportive of us, and helped me enormously, a London paper called “The Metro” came to see me for an interview, and I was telling him all about what was happening. I mentioned a famous national Paper – The Sunday Mail wanted me to “dish the dirt” on Iron Maiden, for a headline they wanted “They Stole My Name, They Stole My Fame”
I told them the name was never stolen – we were happy for the boys to use it – we had stopped playing when Beak died.
Next day – across the centre pages of the Metro was They Stole My Name, They Stole My Fame. Rod has not spoken to me since – although I did get them to print a retraction – the damage was done. So the famous phrase “any publicity is good publicity” in our case – this was a killer. They have not contacted me or allowed any contact from me since 2006. Copy of article attached.
I would still love to have the conversation with Steve!
At your site there is mention of a few of the band’s Iron Maiden opened for. Aside from The Thin Lizzy story, can you recall a few memorable gigs opening for any other ‘name bands? And would you recall the biggest show[S] you did in crowd size? [any festivals?]
We played and opened for quite a few bands in our time playing mainly colleges.
I suppose I have to mention Judas Priest. We played with them a lot, they were good, but we thought we were better and did not like “being second on the bill” to them.
The very first open air gig we did was in Queens Park in Bolton. They had an old bandstand in the park and they used it for the first time for pop and rock music. It was about 1968 or 69. The main band had a magnetic magical lead singer – his name was Freddie Mercury!! The name of the band was Ibex(there is an article on our Facebook page ) https://www.facebook.com/theboltonnews/photos/a.190634877684580/2352381964843183/
Procul Harum at Salford College was a great night – we got there as they were sound checking and they were playing a reggae version of “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. Mick Grabham was the guitarist that night. Years later – I met Mick who was playing with Don Airey (now Deep Purple) at a local pub where Don lives. We stood at the bar chatting and the subject of the reggae version came up and I (reluctantly) told him my band name – It was always awkward – because IM were SO famous – it always sounded like I was making a story up. No one knew we existed. However, Mick choked on his drink when I told him, and said – “Ahhh The Iron Maiden from Manchester!” I said “yes” had he went on to tell me – he and the others from the band, knowing that we played a support gig with them in the early ’70’s – went one night to see them (Iron Maiden) play. Went backstage after and said “Hi Guys it’s Procul Harum – we’ve come to see you” – They were met with blank stares!
Mick told me they couldn’t believe “we” (actually Steve’s band) didn’t remember them. Now he knew why – and phoned Gary and the guys from the pub we were in to let them know.
Supertramp. Another gig at Manchester uni. The band were a three piece when we first met them – at Manchester, they were a five piece and wow! what a band – no wonder they went on to super stardom.
The Groundhogs. We loved the Groundhogs and at the Octagon Theatre in Bolton we were very pleased to be playing support for the Groundhogs – only problem was one of our best numbers was “Cherry Red” by the Groundhogs. We had to take a chance and play it BEFORE they played it again!
A good thing too, because when it came to doing the covers album Boulton Flies Again I had to contact Tony McPhee, to allow us to use “Cherry Red” on the Album. He not only remembered us, but told me I was singing all the wrong words to the song! He corrected my lyrics, and let us use “Cherry Red” with no fee whilst it was generating charity money for Cancer. Then to top that – Tony and his missus actually SOLD copies of Boulton Flies Again at gigs they did in 2007/8. A proper gent and a REAL rock and roller! (if you listen to Cherry Red on BFA album, you can hear me trying to correct the incorrect vocal line. Tony wrote it about a hot blooded love affair – I thought I was singing about murdering your girlfriend.
UFO – a great heavy band – we played with them at the Drill Hall Bolton. (see notes on SAG)
Bloodwyn Pig at Manchester Uni. It was a real highlight to meet Mick Abrahams – he was a hero from Jethro Tull, who we all admired.
Solution (they were a Dutch band – friends of Focus) We played support for Solution at BIT (Bolton Institute of Technology) in Bolton, They were on tour at the time. They rolled up with no gear, and had to use ours. We stayed in touch for quite a long time. Wonderful band and brilliant musicians. Tommy Barlage the saxophonist wrote the tune “Divergence” which became “Tommy” on Moving Waves for Focus. I met them a few weeks later in a café in Manchester – where they were support band for my hero’s – Gentle Giant.
Caravan – at Mr Smiths in Manchester. Brilliant band – Loved the song “If I could do it again, I’d do it all over you”
David Bowie – we were not actually a warm up band – we played the famous Magic Village in Manchester and finished about 11. From then and through the night, artistes who were about would call in and just play. About 2am – a guy came in. We had no idea who it was – he sat crossed legged and played an acoustic and sang with no PA. We heard the song “The Man Who Sold The World” – but had no clue who this was until we heard the album!!!
Cozy Powell and Bedlam. We opened for Bedlam at BIT . Our claim to fame is that we were louder than them! That was important to us at the time! Cozy had a kit twice the size of mine, played it beyond my dreams – but I was louder!
Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come – at Bolton Technical College – a gig not to be missed, Arthur was using a Bentley drum machine – it shorted and gave him a bad electrical shock – ended up Derek and a few others taking him to Bolton Royal Infirmary.
We topped the bill at the Moss Bank Park Festival in Bolton in about 1973. It was Bolton’s first real outdoor festival. Around 5000 attended.
Blackfoot Sue – at Salford Technical college. Great band. Sacked a roadie for talking to us too much!
Mungo Jerry – strange gig – another that sacked their roadie – we ended up taking him home, feeding him and getting him on a train the next day!
Trapeze – One of our fave bands. We saw them a few times and loved the first album – before we only played originals – we always opened with “Black Cloud”. However we never played with them sadly.
I know there are more – but Derek has the memory – mine is not the best – so sorry if I have missed anyone.
Any favorite tales of any crazy gigs / onstage moments?
I really do need Derek here. There were many crazy nights, and some not so savory things that went on backstage. At one club, where the guy in charge was not very nice, and withheld our money, our then lead singer Tony Fearn, decided to relieve himself in the bingo machine just before he was about to use it!
Another crazy night was in Newcastle, where we doubled. We played a club 7-10, then went on to a nightclub in the centre of Newcastle between 12am and 2am. When we had finished setting up, they pulled down some mesh netting. We had no idea why, until we started playing. At the first chord a shower of Newcastle Brown Ale bottles rained down on the stage. Memorable night in that we didn’t die!
Another time when we were getting really popular and filling colleges by ourselves, I decided to alter my drum solo.
I always played a solo during the final song “Maiden Flight”, after rattling round on the kit for a few minutes, I used to turn round and play two glockenspiels and wood blocks. I decided it would be great if Dylan the roadie would load up the top of the wood blocks with beer bottles and a hammer. After playing the wood blocks I picked up the hammer and just smashed every bottle in sight. Needless to say – they audience and the band were sprayed in blood – great time!
Our local gig was the BIT. In 1975 we played it for the last time. A highlight of my life was our Roadie Dylan, bringing me out of the dressing room, and taking me to a window, where you could see hundreds of people queuing around the building. He said –“the gig is full – this lot are only hoping to get in” Magic!
What were you guys listening to during the early ’70s – any band’s you admired or hoped to be in the same sorta category as [musically]?
I loved Cream, Ginger was a bit of a hero of mine, Gentle Giant, The Nice, and of course The Beatles! Very into progressive rock I have the first Yes album bought in 1969 and loved them since, also ELP, Genesis King Crimson.. In fact – the BIM track “Cracked Path” title came from a King Crimson track “Confusion” the line went “Confusion will be my epitaph as I walk a cracked and broken path” (Pete Sinfield lyrics)
Beak loved John Mayall, Eric Clapton, esp. the Layla Album and really any true bluesmen.
Derek was into US Rock – Mountain, New Riders, Grateful Dead, Spirit.
We all really got into a new band called Wishbone Ash. They used two guitars in harmony. We all loved the sound – especially Beak who wanted to introduce a second guitarist to play harmonies with. The track “Crawl Crawl Nighttime” from Maiden Flight was where he was headed. Derek and I both thought two guitars was a bit old hat – oh dear – how wrong could we be!! The new IM have bloody THREE!
You had the one brush with Tony Iommi, regarding [hopefully] managing the band. Did you ever hear from him again or anyone else who might’ve taken on the band?
Sadly no. It was Tony and a guy called Norman Hood who were coming to watch us, but no, we didn’t hear from them again. We had one guy who tried to manage us, but kept booking pop music venues – he didn’t understand Rock music at all. He didn’t last!
Was Iron Maiden a full time gig? How often did you guys play? and did you have regular venues and/or travel much around the country [or UK]?
It was a full time gig for a while. Derek always refused to give up his job as a telephone engineer. When Derek left and was replaced by Noel Pemberton Billing it did become full time.
Just before Derek left, he had an idea we should have a “spin off” band, playing only 1950’s rock and roll. We were called Teenagers In Love, (Piccy attached) and actually began to be more popular than Iron Maiden. So we made it pay by working two bands at the same time. We took on a pianist called Alan Wickam, and a brilliant lead singer called Paul Neon.
We did have quite a lot of regular venues – mainly the college circuit in the UK – not much in Wales, and we always seemed to be playing in the lake district in England and southern Scotland. We often played down south – but never London itself. I remember meeting three young lads in the South, who heard we may be breaking up – by this time Beak was not well, and we were so busy with Teenagers – IM was taking a back seat. They asked if they could use the name Iron Maiden. We were OK with that. I often wonder who those three lads were?
Again I would love to speak to Steve over a pint about that
What were the circumstances of the band’s one [and only?] studio session to lay down the 4 songs? Was there any other studio attempts [even before the band changed the name from Birth?]
Sadly nothing of Birth exists on tape. But I do have a recording of us when we were called “Ways N’ Means” from about 1967. We were all still learning to play. Fun to listen to now.
With Iron Maiden, we were looking to get a recording contract – but having no manager we tried to do it ourselves. Our Agent at the time was William Leyland – a well known agent in the North of England, and he had a new studio in the town of Farnworth near to Bolton. So we asked to use that and went in for two days, and recorded the 4 tracks. The idea was one of us was going to make copies of the tapes and send them to record companies. I don’t even know if anyone sent them off? If it did happen, I think Derek would have done that, but as history shows – nothing came of it.
We also (after Derek left) went to the same studio and recorded two tracks with Teenagers In Love.
Quite nice recordings of 20 Flight Rock (Eddie Cochran) and the song “Teenager In Love” but we changed it to “Teenagers In Love” to fit the band.
The songs you did record – why did you pick those 4, particularly if “Maiden Flight” was not included? [or was it not written at the time?]
I recall I wrote “Maiden Flight” after the session so missed out. The four tracks were our favorites at the time.
What inspired the band’s sci-fi lycal ideas, like time travel? [any particular tv shows, books…?]
We all seemed to love Si-Fi. Our stage show had an 8mm projector showing old B/W horror and Si-Fi movies. I think we were all inspired by 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Day the Earth Stood Still and even Star Trek. I was mainly the lyricist, and so it was my love of Arthur C Clarke and his contemporaries that started the SiFi theme. A story by Clifford D Simak was the inspiration for ‘Maiden Flight”.
As for the live tracks and the CD of Covers — can you tell me about how you came about to get those so many years later? can you tell me a bit about the fan who would save the shows, and how you went about ‘recovering’ the recordings for release?
That’s a big question Kevin! From very early on being called Iron Maiden, David Southworth – known to us all as SAG, was our No.1 fan. He followed us everywhere. What we didn’t know, he filmed us on his super 8 camera and also recorded every gig he came to on his Alba Cassette recorder. By some miracle, this little recorder (which I now have in my Studio) had a “Limiter” on it, so although we were incredibly loud as a band, this little cassette captured about 8 whole gigs. Roadie Paul Hampson brought a reel to reel tape deck to an early gig where we did mostly covers, and we used a lot of those tracks for Boulton Flies Again.
“Aint you Commin Home Babe” (Bloodwyn Pig) and “Fresh Garbage” (Spirit) were favorite tracks, and I thought lost. But when I decided to try to create Maiden Flight – I invited Sag and Paul Hampson to my place to stay a few days and listen to the tapes. Sag rolled up with a VERY old tape which had on those two tracks. It was recorded at a gig we did with UFO at the Drill Hall in Bolton, and the place was large and rang like a bell.
When it came to Sag talking me into creating a “Covers” album, his request was “Cherry Red”, “Fresh Garbage” and “Aint you Commin Home Babe”
I thought it impossible with the state of the sound. A large echoing venue, Sag at the back of the hall with the tape recorder hanging round his neck.. and dancing! But a mastering studio SRT in St.Ives took the task on, and managed to reduce the ringing on the empty sounding tape, and I then eq’d it to try and bring some sound back.
I admit Boulton Flies Again is really only for the fans, but I still sell an amazing amount of them. Only yesterday I had an order from Birmingham, Alabama for all four of my albums!! Gobsmacked to say the least. “Thunderbuck Ram” from BFA is the highest earning track from streaming?
So Sag and Paul were the catalyst to allow an actual album rather than a 4 track EP.
I carefully transferred the cassettes and the one reel to reel tape onto a computer programme called Magix which allowed me to remove squeeks and blips, then transferred the magix files onto Logic pro7.
In some cases – It was like a little miracle, The vocals were always way in the background, so I was able to double track my vocals, add a bit of reverb and it worked! On Life span we only had two recording – two weeks apart and in two different gigs. The first – Beak had drank a few beers and played the riff wrong – the one two weeks later, I managed to cut the correct guitar riff and paste it on to the first take – different venue, different sound, but it worked. I was falling in love with computer recording.
I mixed all the tracks myself to save costs and then had the albums mastered at SRT Studio – the same one that rescued the two badly recorded tracks.
I would have loved to re-record all the material and the tracks we never actually played live (we had a song called “Running Free” – how weird is that?) but time and cost was prohibitive and would not have made much for the two charities.
I think the album paid for itself in the first couple of months and has since (because of Downloads and streaming) generated income for the charities for over 15 years.
Of the original material – what were crowd favorites in the band’s live set, and what were a few of your own to play [or that you felt had the most promise]?
The crowd always loved “Cracked Path” and “Crawl Crawl Nighttime”. My favorite tracks are “Life Span” – especially my daughters’ backing vocals – which they came up with. I wanted humming – they thought differently, and they were right. “A Place Of My Own” I loved too because it really just rocked along. Beaks guitar playing was wonderful – we were a three piece band – and the way Beak filled everything in – we didn’t need any one else.
Can you tell me a bit about Ian Boulton Smith as far as a guitar player [recall who he was a fan of?], a bandmate, and friend?
Beak became a friend first. We were total opposites he was 6’6”, I was 5’6” for a start. He looked great on stage with his long blond hair; he always looked like a rock star. He also was an amazing guitarist and a lovely person to write with.
His tastes were different too. He loved the Blues and in particular John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers. I was into the Beatles, but he really opened my eyes to rock and the blues. I totally changed my tastes after I met Beak and Derek – we were all influencing each other. Derek was really into American rock.
As a guitar player, Beak, at that time was second to none. His playing, especially his fills, were amazing. For a three piece we could fill any venue with a great rock sound, and it was Beak who was the basis of it all. He never left a space – it was always filled with either rock solid chord work or sensitive fills. As a writer, he came up with amazing chord sequences, riffs to die for and rocking solos.
As a friend you could wish for no more. Fair to a fault, he would always forgive my exuberant ways and frolics – he was a very gentle soul who thought I was rather an unkempt wild thing (he was probably right) but I learned a lot from him – tolerance, gentleness and humour.
What did you do in the years after Iron Maiden disbanding? Was there any other regular playing bands? any invitations or auditions to join any other established bands?
Sadly – things sort of went to ratshit when Ian died. Sue my wife was just recovering from an horrendous attack by a madman, who got a life sentence for his attack. When my mother died the same year – I wanted to get out of Bolton – so did Sue.
We received an invitation from a ’50s rock and roll band called Sun Session – an Elvis band obviously. The band was fronted by Paul Neon who was with me in Teenagers In Love.
They were playing the London RnR circuit, and needed a drummer. So – we left Bolton and moved to Cambridgeshire, where we still live.
I sort of became a “50s Rock and Roll” drummer and was recruited by various bands in the ’80s – nothing of note, but, for one band – “Red Hot” we had to audition a guitarist.
It was very difficult to find the right guy for ’50s music, and we were just about to give up when we got a call from the advert in the Melody Maker. A guy known only as “Len” wanted to audition. I said we had just about given up, but if he wanted to call round to my studio the next night we would give him a listen.
“Len” showed up and was remarkable. We took him on and he was with us about 4 years before we discovered he was Lenny Davidson from the Dave Clarke 5. We had no idea!
We worked together for many years and Len and his wife Linda live literally around the corner. We both began teaching music at the Huntingdon College. I taught Drums and Keyboard – Len taught electric and classical Guitar
Len features as guitarist on my album “Totally Swept Away”
Can you touch on the idea and process of putting together the first CD in 2005? As well as your connection to Rod Smallwood and Steve Harris Iron Maiden? [did you get to meet up or hear from Steve?]
As I mentioned earlier – I haven’t met Steve. I met Adrian and tour manager David, but never Steve.
Putting the CD together was Sue’s idea. In 2005 she came in the studio and said – “do you know it will be 30 years next year that Beak died. Why not do a CD of your Iron Maiden and let Beak’s family have a copy, and our kids will be able to hear what you were like”
I have a great friend – Rob Harris who is also a guitarist (Jamiroquai). He sold me the Apple Computer and programme I needed to make the album. He also spent over 3 days teaching me how to use it. Rob mentioned that, if I was going to put out a CD, I must get the new IMs OK to do it. I was very reluctant, because I thought they would just tell me to “sod off” – which would be very hurtful to Beak and his memory. Rob and I have a mutual friend – Don Airey who played on an Iron Maiden LP (7th son I think). Don advised me to contact Rod Smallwood. So I sent an e-mail to Sanctuary – and immediately got an email back from their legal Dept.
They were very nice, I was surprised and pleased. They said Rod was happy, and not only could I do the album, but when it was finished, he would advertise it on the IM website. This was great news.
I received an e-mail back from their lawyer, who gave me details and said we would like you to change the name to “1970 to 1976 The Bolton Iron Maiden” – on three lines so it would still read Iron Maiden, but would avoid confusion for their fans. I was more than happy – after all it was their songs and talent that got them where they are – not our name!
From that grew an album, and we also managed on the 30th anniversary of his death, to do a re-union gig in Bolton in memory of Beak and to launch Maiden Flight and to raise funds for our Cancer charities. Dan Collins was playing guitar for me that night.
I called the night “the Bimmie” (The Bolton Iron Maiden Major Imbibing Event). We have since had a few “mini Bimmies” at the Olde Man and Sythe pub in Bolton.
Where did the story for Puppet Master come from [inspiration, ideas…]? And can you tell me a bit about how it went from a story to a full blown album idea?
When I first moved to Cambridgeshire, I wrote a song called “Life Is A Circus”. This would be about 1979. I then had an idea I would like to write a story of a boy who lived in a circus and was about to become a performer. This idea has floated round my head for YEARS. I then worked with Rob Harris. He would come and play guitar for me on various tracks and musicals I composed. Eventually – the circus idea became about the manager we never found as Iron Maiden, and would we have sold our souls to get to the top? The song “Maiden Flight” should have been carried on – I always wanted to write more about the Time Traveller and his faithful mute friend (a dog) – from that I formulated another SiFi song (Time Traveller – which is based on the Maiden Flight riff) and a SiFi album!
Can you tell me a bit about the players or it and why former BIM bandmembers didn’t appear?
I really wanted Derek and Noel to play. Derek lives 200 miles to the north and is not in the best of health, has no idea how to use a computer or record parts – so although I wanted him on the album – we had no resources to be able to record him. Noel lives 200 miles to the south, and is not good on staying in touch. Again I wanted Noel to play guitar (he switched from bass), another problem is Derek does not get on with Noel (a problem from many years ago) , so really using the originals was not going to happen. I have two good friends who were willing to come to me once a week and work on the songs I’d written – Martin Low (Guitar) and Garry Cutress (bass). Both are nice players and fitted in with me well.
As much as I could (time and opportunity willing) I would get Rob Harris on the recordings. Many of the songs featured Rob, when he used to use my studio, so I tried to continue that as much as possible. If you have heard Rob on Jamiroquai recordings and the work he has done with Don, you will understand why I wanted him! Rob is the backbone of the whole album.
I used to teach Don Airey’s son drumkit. He always said – if you need anything – I’ll do it for you. So when I needed a red hot moog solo – I rolled up to his place one Thursday morning in between Deep Purple gigs, and he took 20 minutes to do it for me (“Slick Dandy”). Don is one of those lovely guys who everyone likes the minute you meet him.
I had to use Rachael and Victoria on backing – cause they are just really Good!!!
Two other friends – Brian Sage from my days with a ’50s Rock and Roll band played sax for me, and Nick Hill – a local jazz trumpet player who also works with Don on his jazz gigs played trumpet for me.
What is your connection to Don Airey and how you got him involved?
I met Don through Nick Hill the trumpet player. Once you meet Don, you don’t forget him. Nor does he forget you! As I said – through Nick – I started to teach Don’s youngest son drums, and he said he owed me a favor!
I’ve done a couple of local gigs with Don, he is lovely – but scary – because he is such an immaculate player – if you make a mistake – one look and you fry on the spot!
Were the characters in Puppet Master inspired by any real people you know? Is any of it autobiographical or inspired by your own circumstances?
Yes indeed – I based some of the characters on real people. Wally Lemland the Agent working for Matthew L Fox – is based on Agent William Leyland, Matthew L Fox is simply the fox from Pinnoccio! The Sad Old Clown is my Granddad – John Feeney – stage name Tom E Sloan. The Ukrainian trapeze artist is Giant Jannkho is an anagram for Jonathan King – who let me down on my first songwriting contract with Chapple Music. The song “Rock and Roll Star” and “Gone Are The Days” are autobiographical.
As an album, it really needs to be listened to in full, as opposed to individual tracks. But, what are some of your favorites pieces / tracks from it?
I love “Slick Dandy”, “Help Me Forgive Christina” and “Rock and Roll Star”.
You recorded Puppet Master at your own studio over a number of years!? And how did you manage to wind up having it mixed & mastered at Abbey Road?
Being a rock drummer for many years, my hearing is on the way out. I worked on an album with my friend Paul Neon, just before he passed away from cancer in 2017/8. I sent the album to be mastered, and my mastering engineer said – “I could have been quicker, bit the mix was not very good!” – I mixed it! Oops So I thought I ought to see if I could find a mixing engineer who would not cost the earth.
I googled Mixing engineers – and alphabetically – Abbey Road came up first. I laughingly said to Sue – Im going to call them – just to see what they say. I started by saying “Do you work with nobodies?”
The lady laughed and said “We are a business – of course we do” She said I would have to send a sample of my material in – and the engineers would decide if they wanted to do it. Fortunately Toby Hulbert said he would love to mix it.
So I asked the cost – she said its £600 a day. I jumped for joy. I had saved over £800 so I could afford it and said yes! I send in my tracks and a few days later Toby called to discuss it with me. Then I had the real shock – they mixed only ONE track a day – and I had 18 tracks. So what I thought was only £600 was 600 x 18 = quite a few shillings to say the least.
Toby was very kind and in the end squeezed a lot more than one track a day for me, so it didn’t quite break the bank, but just the fact of being a Abbey Road – as a performer / client was absolutely magic. They also allow guests – so most of my family accompanied me for the days I worked there. The mix was immaculate. And the Mastering Engineer loved doing it too!
You [Paul] also did a solo album in 2009. Can you touch on this, as well as any other recording projects you may have been involved in or in the works?
You mean Totally Swept Away. This came about because my Dad told me the story of the Loss of The Birkenhead – a steamship which sank with the loss of 600 soldiers lives. I had to write a song about it and in true O’Neill fashion started to write more and more about the sea. It ended up as 15 songs about various aspects of the sea. Because of the topic of the songs there is a lot of folk influence in the songs. I have often played in Folk Rock bands and appreciate the music.
I am a big fan of Gentle Giant, and their first producer Tony Visconti. My dream was to have him produce this album for me. So on a whim, I looked him up on the internet and found an e-mail address. I contacted him and told him the story, and sent some MP3s, and to my shock – he replied and was interested in doing it.
However, his manager then contacted me and in a voice that sounded like someone from the mafia, he said, “you come through me, and no one else – I’ll decide who does what” Scarred me to death – didn’t hear from Mr Visconti after that. I hope I didn’t get him into trouble. But…..What a producer!
I have also written four musicals, two on my own –
Days In Glass Cages – a children’s story about insects and living in harmony with one another, and The Art Of Living Apart – a musical about the re-introduction of the death penalty in England – and one man being framed for murder will be the first recipient.
And I’ve co-written another two musicals – “Toys” and “Cloud Cuckoos”, with local writer Jenny Brench
I’ve been Musical Director for various things in the local Priory Centre in town.
I’m currently writing and recording songs about my own childhood and family members. I doubt this will be more than something shared with my family.
What are the other former members of BIM up to? Did anyone else go on to future bands or recordings? And have you all kept in touch?
We are all in touch. Noel lives in the deep south of the UK, buys and sells guitars and plays locally in bands. His neighbor is Jerry Dorsey from Mungo Jerry.
Derek still lives in Bolton with his son Tom, not played since the Bimmie in 2006, but still has the gear. We are talking about getting the Bolton Iron Maiden out on the road to promote the new album.
Dylan the roadie lives in Bolton with his daughter and has written a few items for our website “Memories” page
Terry (Gearie) has moved back from Dubai where he was director of the Energy Council and is happily retired with his wife Hazel in Kent. I am godfather to his daughter Bethany
Roadie Paul Hampson still grows his own weed – oh no sorry, he runs a garden nursery and lives in Preston. He lives with his wife and two grown up daughters.
As pointed out in a previous article, long before Steve Harris formed Iron Maiden in England, there were other bands who had used the name, most notably a band from Bolton, in northern England, who existed from 1970 to ’76. The trio featured Ian Boulton-Smith [guitar], Derek George Austin [bass, backing vocals] and Paul T.J. O’Neill [drums, lead vocals, keyboards…]. Noel Pemberton Billing would later replace Boulton-Smith, who would return later as well. Although the band would go through a few other changes those were the 4 members who would be captured on cassette live and on tape in the band’s lone studio recording of 4 tracks. Ian Bouton-Smith [aka Beak] passed away June 23rd, 1976 of testicular cancer, and thus this Iron Maiden came to an end. Ironically, Steve Harris’ band was just getting off the ground, and I believe I read that it was Beak who informed Harris that another band was already using the name! Fast forward 30 years, and Paul T.J. O’Neill wanted to honor Beak’s passing and decides to compile a CD of the band’s recording – 4 taken from their only studio venture and a number of live tracks salvaged from a fans’ cassettes at the time. Proceeds of this 12 track CD are also donated to Macmillan Cancer Relief and Cancer Research UK in the guitarist’s name.
Maiden Flight was released in 2005 under the name The Bolton Iron Maiden, as Paul O’Neill had reached out to the world famous band’s manager Rod Smallwood, who not only suggested adding the Bolton to the name [for clarification and legalities], but also threw his support behind the release by having it mentioned on the band’s website and in their news. The Iron Maiden Bolton were a good band back in the day, and judging from the 4 proper studio tracks alone, it’s a shame they never got signed and had some of these songs put out in the day. Citing the likes of Zeppelin, Cream, and Free as influences back then, it is pretty spot on as far where to put this band — a solid blues-based hard rock band. The first of the studio 4 is “Cracked Path”, a song about addiction, and it is a definite Zeppelin early type of rocker, would’ve made a neat single! “Crawl Crawl Night-time” is a longer rocker, lyrically penned about O’Neill’s insomnia. You may recognize the riff, as it is pretty much “Hocus Pocus” by Focus; the Dutch band had recorded their hit classic not too long before this, and the similarity caused the band a bit of stress [an interesting story at their website]. But aside from the Hocus Pocus riff, this is really a stand out track here, love the lead guitar and fills. “Cell Debris” is a tale of man who’s wife has passed and he stands at her grave, reflects on his past and awaits his own end. A pretty interesting and chilling tune, musically reminds me of Cream in places. “Red Sky” is the last of the studio tracks, and it’s a rocker about a time traveler. An interesting theme [time travel], as many of the band’s songs would be based around sci-fi topics, and the time traveler would idea would be the basis for the 2020 album Puppet Master : the Rise and Rise of Slick Dandy. The rest of the originals are well worth hearing, though the sound is not great, and Paul O’Neill would overdub the vocals.
There is plenty of good original songs here performed live and one can only imagine that the likes of “A New Place Of My Own” and “The Naughtiest Girl Is Alive And Well” – which features a lengthy guitar solo [and a nod to Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust”] that this Iron Maiden could’ve delivered a pretty decent album in the early ’70s, perhaps one of those odd rarities we’d all be paying stupid prices for!? Last of the live tracks is the band’s signature song “Maiden Flight”, another based on time travel, and this containing a good bit of jamming, clocking in at over 12 minutes. *Gotta say also, great detail put in to the CD packaging, filled with stories and notes about the songs and times, and a few pics!
A 2nd CD of live tracks was issued in 2007 titled Boulton Flies Again : The Covers [the spelling of Boulton after the band’s guitarist Ian Boulton Smith]. It consists of 11 songs featured in the band’s set, and were [again] saved from a fan’s cassette recordings at the time. The sound is not great, but again – very good for an audience recording of the time, and you can get a good listen and feel for how the band was then. It’s an interesting blast back to the early 70s pub scene, with a band that was still trying to make it, playing plenty of others’ material. Funny thing is Bolton Iron Maiden didn’t play a predictable batch of hits, but some pretty cool gems from other bands who weren’t too far in to their careers, notably they played “Black Cloud” by Trapeze, Spirit’s “Fresh Garbage”, Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen”, Free’s “All Right Now”, The Groundhogs’ “Cherry Red”, and the early Mott The Hoople classic “Thunderbuck Ram”, in which Beak does a fine job covering brilliant Mick Ralph’s guitar work . Heck, I am glad to hear this CD being a fan of ’70s rock [and born too late to be there then], so I am finding a few gems I want to hear more of.
In 2018 Paul O’Neill decided to resurrect the Bolton Iron Maiden name again with a concept album about – time travel, as it was the basis for the band’s “Maiden Flight”. The album and story included within the CD titled Puppet Master: The Rise And Rise Of Slick Dandy tell the tale of a 50 year old musician named Norman Normal who’s wishes are answered when the Time Traveler takes him back 30 years, introducing him to an agent, who then introduces him to the ‘Sven Gali to the stars’ who has Norman change his name, becomes a huge star, but in time falls in love, loses the girl, and wants another chance to go back and not lose her. It is quite a unique and detailed stories, with a number of characters and great ending. But it is the story one will enjoy along with the music and the booklet [detailing the characters and tales]. As such, this album is quite varied in musical styles, and theatrical. There are 17 tracks, though some of them are short pieces relevant to telling the story. So you get some excellent rockin’ tracks [closer to the old Iron Maiden sound], and you get more theatrical pieces / ballads, as well as a bit of spoken word where required. Among favorite cuts are the upbeat rocker “Menamong Men”, “Rock n Roll Star” and “Gone Are The Days”. There’s also the excellent “Slick Dandy” [the main character], it’s a pop rock song that builds up heavier – it reminds me of The Fixx’s “One Thing Leads To Another”, and it features Don Airey [this guy is everywhere] on Moog synthesizer, There’s a few fine ballads in “Time Traveler” [the opener], “Old Sad Clown”, and “Who Pulls The Strings” – which has a very David Gilmour feel to it musically, and in Paul’s vocal.
The Rise And Rise Of Slick Dandy is a very detailed album, and once you sit down to ‘get’ the story, it is quite unique, and the music suits it so well. As mentioned there are some excellent individual pieces, but it’s more worth hearing the whole thing. O’Neill unfortunately could use a few former bandmates due to travel issues, but all are mentioned in some way in the detailed liner notes. He does use guitarists Rob Harris and Martin Low, as well as bass players Garry Cutress and Brian Ralph, his daughters on backing vox, and guests Nick Hill [trumpet] and Brian Sage [sax]. All mixed at the legendary Abbey Road Studios!
*Aside from this latest project Paul O’Neill also released a solo album in 2009 titled Totally Swept Away, which features 10 tracks – which are all stories based on Sea adventures / legends, with titles like “Pirates”, “The Mayflower – Hearts Of Oak”, “The Loss Of The Birkenhead”, and “The Captain Is Mad”. Musically more adult contemporary, progressive, pop, well produced… if I dare say this reminds me a bit of Phil Lanzon’s [Uriah Heep] solo albums and even Jethro Tull on occasion. Love the cover art!
*And just to be clear this Iron Maiden [from Bolton] existed before Steve Harris’ band, but there was no connection, though it would be interesting to hear the world famous metal band covering “Cracked Path” or “Maiden Flight”. Nor is this band to be confused with the Iron Maiden from Basildon, UK, who existed from the mid ’60s til mid 1970 and released a single that year. They too released a CD of recordings several years later titled Maiden Voyage.
*all images borrowed from CD cover and the band’s website. + CD promo poster courtesy of PO!
Icon Of Sin is based around the vocals of Brazilian metal singer Raphael Mendes, who has made a name for himself for his remarkable vocal similarities to Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickenson. In fact listening to this album, it may be easy to forget the title for a moment and think you’re listening to something new from Maiden. If you’re waiting patiently for a new Maiden album and need something to fill the time, this would be well worth checking out. Musically, it even sounds like Maiden in places, as well as influences of WASP [post ’90s], Sabbath [w/ Dio], Rainbow….. Check out tracks like tracks like “Road Rage”, “Shadow Dance”, and “Clouds Over Gotham” to see what I mean. But, really – great playing, a solid metal album – even if much of it sounds familiar, plenty of really good songs. Favorite tracks being “Arcade Generation” and “Night Breed”. Will be interesting to hear more from Raphael Mendes.
Frontiers Music Srl is excited to announce the signing of ICON OF SIN, a new project centered around the vocal talents of the popular Brazilian YouTube sensation Raphael Mendes. He is joined in the band by two other stellar Brazilian musicians, Sergio Mazul (SEMBLANT) and Marcelo Gelbcke (LANDFALL).
Raphael Mendes has become a very popular figure in the Youtube world due to his jaw dropping vocal covers. His recognition as one of the hottest new talents in metal started in 2016 when he was invited by guitarist Fabio Lima to record a YouTube video that wound up going viral. Encouraged by the reaction, Mendes launched his own YouTube channel to create more videos for fans to enjoy. As more and more fans around the world started to discover him, he was invited to join other musical projects, including Marius Danielsen’s “Legend Of Valley Doom Part 2”, which also featured Michael Kiske, Vinny Appice, Mark Boals, Michele Luppi, and Diego Valdez, among others.
One of the things that made Mendes’ reputation grow considerably happened earlier in 2020, when a video series called “What if Bruce Dickinson sang in other bands” was launched. With Mendes Dickinson-esque singing style being used to cover songs by Megadeth and more, these versions impressed fans worldwide and word quickly spread in the metal community. Collaborative versions are now being made with some emerging rock artists and also musicians from the global metal scene, such as drummer Aquiles Priester (ex-Angra, Primal Fear, W.A.S.P.).
Raphael’s videos ended up reaching the eyes and ears of Frontiers, a label known for signing and nurturing the most promising new names of the next generation of rock and metal. Frontiers has recently started to work more and more with South American based talent and had the thought to pair Raphael with two outstanding musicians of the Curitiba metal scene, both of whom have already unveiled their musical talents through the label: Sergio Mazul, singer of Semblant and Marcelo Gelbcke, guitarist of Landfall. While the music of their respective bands are quite dissimilar, both have a passion for traditional heavy metal and knew they could craft amazing music for Mendes to put his vocals to. They have already set to work with Raphael in the creation of a no-nonsense, straight ahead classic pure heavy metal album.
“Music is my passion, a way of life!” says Raphael Mendes. “It’s really been and continues to be a fantastic experience, working on the Icon Of Sin album. The songs are so powerful and it has awakened something in me that I haven’t felt for a long time from a heavy metal album!”
Tracklist: Icon Of Sin Road Rage Shadow Dancer Unholy Battleground Nightbreed Virtual Empire Pandemic Euphoria Clouds Over Gotham Arcade Generation Hagakure (Intro) The Last Samurai The Howling Survival Instinct
Through the use of Youtube and Discogs over the last few years I’ve stumbled upon different bands that existed before a much bigger band of the same name – best examples being the Asia from the US and the 2 other British bands that played under the name Iron Maiden in the ’60s and 1970. Back before the internet it was likely much more difficult for bands to realize that the band name they had chosen had already been used or was in use, and many bands probably didn’t think about the importance of registering a band name at the time. I think this sorta came to light more so in the late ’70s to early ’80s when bogus versions of Steppenwolf and Deep Purple existed, the latter being sued out of business – these bands though were related to a previous line up of the band, which in these cases was now being used by 1 former member who didn’t have the right to the name, until someone took legal action. In this series I want to point out successful bands [or in a few cases, had well known players and should’ve done better] that had names that had been previously [or still were] used by an unrelated band that also recorded.
I’ve put down 12 cases of names being re-used or taken. I’ve put the emphasis on the lesser known band, in most cases the first one(s). I’ve also provided a few links to check out. I had a list well over 20 to start, so there may be a Part 2 down the road. Check out some of these bands on youtube, and leave me some feedback in the comments.
The ‘supergroup’ named ‘Asia’ debuted in 1982, and there self-titled album was one [or the] biggest of that year. They would follow it up with another highly successful album in’83 before the band’s fortunes started to drop and non-stop personnel changes would occur with the band over the next few decades before the original band reunited for 3 albums in the 2000s. But, that Asia -featuring John Wetton [RIP], Carl Palmer, Steve Howe, and Geoff Downes had used a name that was already in use by an American band from South Dakota, another prog / hard rock 4-piece who had recorded 2 albums – 1979’s self titled, and 1980’s Armed To The Teeth, which featured a pretty cool cover drawn by the band’s guitar player . The band consisted of – Michael English – vocals, bass, percussion, Larry Galbraith – vocals, guitars, mandolin, Mike Coates – guitars, mandolin, piano, harpsichord, mellotron, background vocals, and Doug Johnson – drums, percussion [replaced John Haynes]. This Asia’s sound was based more around the twin guitar approach, great vocals and harmonies, mellotron, and lengthier prog pieces with fantasy and history based songs like “The Road Of The Kings”, “Xanadu”, “Kamikaze”, and “Genghis Khan”. Not much in the way of ‘commercial’ rock of the time here, aside from the ballad “Paladin” [issued as a single], on the 2nd album. Both worth checking out, but may as well get the CD [see link below], as original copies of the first LP are over $300 and the second – over $100, on Discogs. Anyway, also check out the link below for Mike Coates detailed account of how they were duped out of the name by the supergroup’s management, and which ultimately lead to the band’s demise.
One of the biggest bands in heavy metal history got their start in the mid ’70s, founded by bass player Steve Harris. The name was taken from the 16 century torture device [or 18th, depending on source] . However, the British metal legends were certainly not the first to the use the name for the their band. There were 3 previous bands that used the name, 2 of which, also from the UK recorded original material under, and another being a 5-piece all-female band from the mid-west USA, though I can’t say they recorded anything – but check out the link below on a brief history of the band with photos and show adverts.
The first Iron Maiden was from Basildon, Essex. This band started as a folk duo and eventually became more of a blues outfit. The band seemed to have a number of connections and brushes with opportunity. They eventually signed to the Gemini label and recorded demos in 1969 for a proposed debut album. A single was also released on Gemini in 1970. with the line-up – Steve Drewett [vocals, harmonica], Trevor Thoms [guitar, vocals], Barry Skeels [bass, vocals], and Steve Chapman [drums, who had replaced Paul Reynolds].
But when a tour of Australia was cancelled, things started to fall apart with Chapman leaving. Their recordings were eventually released under the Iron Maiden name, titled Maiden Voyage in 1998. Interesting stuff, kinda psychedelic, bluesy, a bit folky, even a bit doomy. The CD includes the band’s single, as well as 2 tracks recorded under their previous name ‘Bum’, one of which is titled “God Of Darkness”. Bass player Barry Skeels would go on to record with Zior.
Another Iron Maiden hailed from Bolton, a trio formed in 1967 and consisted of Ian Boulton Smith [aka Beak, lead & rhythm guitar], Paul T.J. O’Neill [drums, keyboards, lead vocals, producer], and Derek Austin [bass, vocals]. This band was a heavier rock band [ala Zeppelin, Free]. I recall reading in a Steve Harris interview [or book?] how he’d got a call regarding another band named Iron Maiden and asking [or demanding?] that he cease using it, to which Harris [I think] ignored it and went out to register the name. Maiden from Bolton disbanded in 1976 anyway. Guitarist Ian Boulton Smith left the band in ’75, and the band carried on with a replacement [Noel Pemberton-Billing], but after more changes they split. Smith passed away from cancer in ’76, and nearly 30 years later O’Neill put together the band’s recordings to release on CD,. He would contact Rod Smallwood [Iron Maiden manager], who would give the band’s OK [with an adjustment to the name], and would also advertise the album’s release on Maiden’s website. Under the name ‘The Bolton Iron Maiden’, they made 1000 copies of the CD Maiden Flight [1970-1976] . A 2nd CD was released years later, as well O’Neill would carry on and record a 3rd CD under the band name, released at the end of 2020. *All profits from Maiden Flight and Boulton Flies Again are given to two cancer charities in Beak’s honor. Cancer Research UK and Macmillian Cancer Care.
Although it’s interesting to note that Steve Harris’ band went on with a name that was in use [and was made aware of], the other 2 British bands that had used the name prior would benefit [or living members would] by having a starting point [name recognition] to release the music they made decades ago. Perhaps without the one Iron Maiden that’s known world wide, recordings from the other 2 bands might’ve never seen the light of day[!?] … Check out the links below for more info on the other Iron Maidens.
This one is one that puzzles me, as Canada’s FM had started as a progressive 3 piece in the mid ’70s, and were still active when the British aor band formed and took up the same name. Hmm, but oh well. Very different sounding bands. I don’t know how much activity or success Canada’s FM ever had in the UK, but I am pretty sure the British FM would be hard to find in any record shop or heard of here. Just a guess. I have most of the Canadian band’s albums, but nothing of the UK band. I’ve checked out plenty of FM [UK], but not too crazy to get anything anytime soon. Canada’s FM, from Toronto originally featured just Cameron Hawkins [bass, keyboards, vocals], and Jeff Plewman [aka -Nash The Slash electric violin, mandolin, vocals], and would soon add [drummer] Martin Deller. Nash left after recording of the legendary debut [rereleased after Nash left, as Black Noise] , as he also had a successful and pioneering solo career. Black Noise featured the band’s best known song “Phasors On Stun”. His replacement was Ben Minks for the next 3 albums [Minks also known for his work with KD Lang, as well as Rush’s Geddy Lee]. Nash would return to the band in the ’80s, as the band became a 4 piece and took on a slightly more commercial approach [I saw them open for Rush at one point]. The original trio reunited in the ’90s for a brief tour of Ontario to promote the CD release of Black Noise, and record a live album. I saw 2 of these shows. Plewman [Nash] passed away in 2014, and though he hadn’t been in the band for years, it continued with Hawkins and numerous changing line-ups. [Well, that was longer than I planned]. FM were never really a commercial band, being very ground breaking in their sound, and I would say the closest thing to them would’ve been John Wetton’s short lived UK .
FM [UK – as they would add to their name in the US] formed in 1984 Merv Goldsworthy [bass], Pete Jupp [drums], Steve Overland [guitar/vocals], Chris Overland [lead guitar] . and Philip Manchester [keyboards]. Chris Overland would be replaced by Andy Barnatt. The band created a strong following in the UK, releasing a number of albums before breaking up in ’95. FM [UK] plays hard-rock / AOR, and features a great singer in Steve Overland. They returned a decade later, and have released a number of albums consistently, including 2020’s Synchronized [Frontiers].
“We did find out, that’s when we had to change the name to FM UK in America, in the States we had to change the name, which was really crap.”, recalled Pete Jupp in a 2011 interview for Metal-Rules.com
Many may be familiar with the US AOR band Touch, who were formed in the late 70s in New York, and released 2 albums, as well as had a few hits – “Don’t You Know What Love Is” & “When The Spirit Moves You”. The band was /is lead by keyboard player / songwriter / producer Mark Mangold [who’d recorded with 60s band Valhalla]. This ‘Touch’ reformed in recent years and just released a new album – Tomorrow Never Comes.
However, in the late ’60s there was a band using the name Touch, from Portland, Oregon. The band featured the vocal talents of Jeff Hawks, and recorded one album in 1969, as well as a few singles. The album was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood, and was known for drawing the likes of Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix, who hung around at the time. The band split soon after it’s release, with a few of the members going on to form Stepson. The album would have an impact on a number of bands, including Uriah Heep.
Billion Dollar Babies is the name of a Swedish metal band, who’ve released 3 albums from 2010 to 2017. Not too bad actually, well worth checking out. But the name has been used so often, and it all comes back to the Top selling album by the original Alice Cooper, released in 1973. More so, ex members of Alice Cooper recorded the album Battle Axe under the name in 1977, and I’m sure there’s been a number of AC tribute bands that have used [or are using] the name as well.
The German heavy metal band founded by Rudolf Schenker released their first album in 1972, though Schenker likes to date the band to 1965 [when he was in High School, whatever]. So if that was the case, the German Scorpions were the 3rd rock/pop band to use the name.
The Scorpions, from South London started in 1959, It featured brothers John & Ted Barber, along with drummer Ivor Knight [having replaced Mick LeDieu]. The band released 2 instrumental singles in 1961, – “Rockin’ At The Phil” [a Chuck Berry cover, and “Ghost Riders In The Sky” [originally by Western artist Stanley Davis Jones, and later covered by Johnny Cash, as well as US band The Outlaws]. The band recorded more [and tho’ I’m not sure of dates]; at some point also went by the name The Ferridays. A 32 track “Anthology” of their recordings was released in 1996, which included some tracks done with legendary British producer Joe Meek [see next entry]. The band were still playing up until 2010, at least [on youtube].
There was also a 5 piece band going by The Scorpions from Manchester. Originally including Tony Postill [guitar], Rodney Posthill [guitar], Tony Brierley [bass], Mike Delaney [drums]. and Pete Lewis [vocals]. The band’s records would only get released in The Netherlands, where they would go play, and they had a hit with a cover of Fats Domino’s “Hey Josephine”. Within a few years though Lewis was the only original member left. The band continued to release singles, and even a few LPs in the mid ’60s – but only in The Netherlands. “Hey Josephine” became a hit again in ’77, and Lewis with a new version of the band recorded an album, consisting of new and re-recorded songs. The band played in The Netherlands up until 1979. Lewis passed away in ’85. Interestingly, Graham Lee and a few other non-original members released a CD in 2011 as The Scorpions.
The name The Outlaws has been used a few times, probably most notably by the Southern rock band from Florida, formed in the late ’60s by guitarist / vocalist Hughie Thomasson, and by teh time of the first album in ’75 consisted of Billy Jones [guitar], Frank O’Keefe [bass], Henry Paul [guitar, vocals], and Monte Yoho [drums] . The band would release numerous albums over the decades, and scored hits with “Green Grass And High Tides”, “There Goes Another Love Song”, and a cover of “Ghost Riders In The Sky”. The band was non active for some time when Thomasson joined Lynyrd Skynyrd, but returned a decade later. Thomasson passed away in 2007, and Henry Paul & Monte Yoho kept the band going, following legal issues over the name. They released a new studio album last year.
Now, the other Outlaws was a British band that was put together by producer Joe Meek, and existed from ’60-’65. An instrumental group, originally put together to back singer Mike Berry, who had a string of hit singles. They would also back other singers, as well as record their own material. The band was known for it being a starting point for such rock notables as Mick Underwood [Quatermass, Gillan], Chas Hodges [Chas & Dave], and largely – Ritchie Blackmore [Deep Purple, Rainbow]. A few CD compilations of the bands singles would be released as recent as last year.
Not that either rock band that used the name Angel were huge successes, but the US band formed in ’75 featuring Frank Dimino [vocals], Punky Meadows [guitar], Gregg Giuffria [keyboards], Mickey Jones [bass] and Barry Brandt [drums] are best known. The band was signed to Casablanca Records, the same label as Kiss – who they be forever linked to. The band released 5 studio albums and 1 live set from 1975 til 1980 before breaking up. The first 2 albums were the bands most popular amongst longtime fans, being more progressive and harder rocking, but then looking for singles the next 3 albums consisted of more pop oriented rock tunes. More recently Dimino and Meadows reformed a new version of the band and released the excellent Risen album in 2019.
In the UK though the name Angel existed briefly from 1974-’75 as a glam band. The band was managed & produced by Andy Scott and Mick Tucker of Sweet, who knew bandmembers from their previous band – Pebbles. As Angel, they released just 2 singles in their short existence, sounding very much like Sweet. The band consisted of Brian Johnson [vocals], Martin Kemp [bass], Steve Rickard [drums], Joe Ryan [lead guitar], who was replaced by Bob Banasiak for the 2nd single. Both A-sides -“Good Time Fanny” and “Little Boy Blue” were penned by Scott, while the B-sides were the band’s own. Hmm, sounds familiar. The first single [“Good Time Fanny”] became a hit in Germany, and the band would go tour there. Bravo Magazine [Germany] would also vote the band 2nd place in best newcomers [behind Queen]. After a change in line up, the 2nd single was recorded and released, but failed to chart. The band recorded more tracks in 1975, following a few line-up changes, but nothing came of these, due to record company & management issues, and they broke up. Singer Brian Johnson [not the guy from AC/DC] joined Belgian band Octopus, and had a pile of hit singles with the, In 2005 Angel did a reunion show, and subsequently released a 15 track CD of all their studio recordings from 74 & 75, plus live tracks from the 2005 concert. In 2010 a reformed version of the band released the CD The Butterfly Song.
Best known band using the name Magnum is British hard-rock / pomp band who were founded by guitarist / songwriter Tony Clarkin and singer Bob Catley in the early ’70s. By 1978 they signed to Jet Records and released their first album. The band scored hits in the UK, and released a pile of great albums before splitting in 1995. The band had 0 success in North America and rarely played over here. The band reformed in 2001 and have continued to release excellent albums every few years, despite a number of personnel changes. Clarkin and Catley remain the face of the band.
The name Magnum though would be used by a few other bands in the US. There was the California based funk/latin/jazz band that released their lone LP Fully Loaded in 1974, as well as a few singles. There was also a band from Pennsylvania who would release a trio of singles from 1980 to 84, and a full album in 1989. Again, not sure why these guys wouldn’t have know the name was already in use by the time they recorded, but oh well. The band was largely a covers bands, performing hard-rock / AOR hits, and were founded by keyboard player Lonnie Warner and guitarist Steve Weiss in ’78, and included drummer Dave Werkhiser, lead vocalist [and keyboardist] Tommy Zito, and bass player Butch Samolewicz. In ’83 the band released a 10 song cassette of originals titled Hot Nights. And by the time the band released their only CD, of 8 songs titled No Secrets in 1989, the band had gone through more changes, and then featured singer Robert Mason [later of Lynch Mob, Cry Of Love, and Warrant] and were produced by Benjy King [who’s various credits up until that point included Rick Derringer, Scandal, and (the late) Alan Merrill]. Original singer/keyboardist Tommy Zito joined AOR rockers Aviator for a few years. The band split in the mid ’90s, but apparently do the occasional local reunion show, and has added ‘USA’ to their name [online]
UK band Thunder formed in the late ’80s, and were hailed as the next huge classic rock band to follow the likes of Zeppelin, Bad Company,… with their 1990 debut Back Street Symphony. The band remained highly successful in the UK and elsewhere, but had no such fortune in North America [see Magnum]. Lead by the talents of singer Danny Bowes – Lead Vocals and guitarist Luke Morley, and originally including keyboardist Ben Matthews, bass player Mark Luckhurst, and drummer Gary [Harry] James [who would later join Magnum for a number of albums]. The band split a few times over the years, but are back making great music in recent years, including the recently released All The Right Moves, with 4 of the original members.
The name Thunder had been used before, notably by 2 separate bands in the US. The first being the short-lived band featuring guitarist / songwriter John Nitzinger [Nitzinger, Bloodrock] and bassist David Hungate [Toto], as well as singer David Alley, drummer Randy Reeder [Bloodrock], keyboardist Whitey Thomas [Nitzinger],… Not really sure who Was the band, as there’s only 2 guys featured on the back cover, tho Nitzinger, Hungate, and Alley all contribute to the songwriting, and Thomas serves as co-producer, and there’s also a number of guitar players credits, and a pile of female backing singers. Hmm.. Anyway, not a bad album. I have the Nitzinger albums, and this is comparable with songs like “King’s X”, and the fast rocker “Power Glide”. Not consistently heavy tho, plenty of slower funky tunes and a few ballads. Nitzinger would go on to record a number of his own albums, as well as recording with PM [w/ Carl Palmer], Alice Cooper, and Dave Evans [original AC/DC frontman]. Hungate would join Toto til 1982 and do tons of session recordings in Nashville, and Randy Reeder would go on to record on the lone LP by hard-rock / prog band Alexis - which was produced by Ron Nevison [great sounding album, cool cover!]
A Southern rock band, from Tennessee used the Thunder name, consisting of bassist Chopper Anderson, drummer Tris Imboden [Honk, Kenny Loggins], and guitarist / vocalist John Porter McMeans, and guitarist / keyboard player Mo West. The band released 2 albums – 1980’s self-titled, and 1982’s Headphones For Cows [great title and album cover!], adding keyboardist Denny Henson [Fools Gold] for the 2nd album. The albums, usually listed as Southern rock, are kinda that late 70s AOR rock, but occasionally touch on funk, blues and country. Good tunes include “Easy Street”, “Service With A Smile”, “Can’t Let Go / Can’t Hold On” and “Midnight Heartache”. I prefer the 2nd album, being a bit more upbeat.
Chopper Anderson would join the reunited line up of Whitford- St Holmes [on their 2015 album], McMeans would go on to write and record with Dan Seals, as well as release a solo CD in 1991 with West as producer. West passed away in 2010.
American heavy metal band Skid Row arrived in 1989 with their excellent debut album, featuring the hits “18 And Life” and “Youth Gone Wild”. The band was originally fronted by Canadian singer Sebastien Bach, who later went on to acting and a solo career. The band split after 3 albums, but reformed with a different singer 6 years later. Although a cool name for a metal band, the New Jersey based band was not the first to use it – that would be the legendary Irish blues rock band originally consisting of bassist Brendan ‘Brush’ Shiels , drummer Noel ‘Nollaig’ Bridgeman, guitarist Bernard “Ben” Cheevers on guitar, and singer Phil Lynott! Gary Moore would soon join, and Cheevers would leave, and Lynott was fired by Shiels, having appeared on just 1 single, making this Skid Row a trio. In return for letting him go Shiels would give Lynott a bass guitar and taught him how to play it. The band’s debut album in early ’70 was pulled quickly so that the band could re-record some tracks and add newer ones. It was re-released in the fall of ’70, titled Skid. It was followed by 34 Hours [titled after the amount of time taken to record it] A 3rd album was recorded but not released until 1990 under the title Gary Moore/Brush Shiels/Noel Bridgeman. The band under Shiels’ went through numerous changes and would feature guitarists Eric Bell [for a few shows], then Paul Chapman. Shiels would return with a new 4 piece line-up in the mid-70s, and release the double live set [mainly covers] Alive And Kickin’. Noel Bridgeman would go on to record a number of albums with Irish folk singer Mary Black, among others, and passed away March 23 of this year. Chapman went on to record and tour with Lone Star and UFO, before passing in 2020. Moore had a lengthy solo career, as well as a period in Thin Lizzy, he passed in 2011. Shiels latest solo album was in 2012. In later years he also challenged and protested the use of the band name by the American band [see link below].
Well, long before the massively successful US band had their top hit “To Be With You” in 1991, the name Mr Big had been used for years by a British band. The US band formed in the late ’80s, featured the vocals of Eric Martin, and bass player Billy Sheehan, guitarist Paul Gilbert, and drummer Pat Torpey [RIP, 2018]. The band released 9 studio albums, as well as had a number of smaller hits, and live albums – particularly in Japan where they were huge.
The band name had previously been used by a British band formed in 1967 under the name Burnt Oak, before changing it to Mr Big in 1972. Original members were – Jeff (Dicken) Pain [guitar, vocals], Pete Crowther [bass], John Burnip and Vince Chaulk [drums]. The band was managed by Bob Hirschman, who also managed Mott The Hoople. They signed to Epic in ’74 and released their first album Sweet Silence in ’75, and would land the opening slot for Queen’s Night At The Opera UK tour. The 2nd album Photographic Smile was recorded in Los Angeles and featured the pop song “Romeo”, which would become a top 10 UK hit. And this is where things get confusing – Photographic Smile came out in late ’76 in North America , where the band was signed to Arista [EMI also issued it then in Japan], EMI would release the self-titled album [w/ a different cover] as the band’s 2nd album in the UK, and everywhere else. The Arista version would feature a mix of songs from both albums [EMI], so there was only 2 albums. Later they’d be openers for Sweet in Europe, but by ’76 they were big enough to headline their own UK. They also toured the US in ’77 with shows alongside Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Journey, and Kansas. Mr Big had also seen a few personnel changes. The band’s 3rd album – Seppuku would be produced by Ian Hunter in 1978, but due to record company & management issues would not be released until 2001 when Angel Air Records put it out. A single “Senora” [co-written by Hunter] was issued and the band promoted it on UK’s Top Of The Pops, but the band split up soon after.
A few members [Dicken and Crowther] went on to form Broken Home, who released 2 albums, and scored a few minor hits in Norway. Dicken would later revamp the band with former member Edward Carter, releasing albums in 1996 and 2011. Drummer Vince Chaulk would go on to record with Streetband [which featured Paul Young]. replacement drummer John Martyr went on to record with Voyager and Alaska.
A shame this Mr Big didn’t last longer, their first few albums are full of pop and hard-rock, as well as unique instrumentations and arrangements, and great harmonies,. Not unlike Queen in some ways, but a bit more experimental at times, Favorite tracks – “Time Base”, “Sweet Silence”, “Enjoy It”, “Easy” and “Can We Live (Angel Of My Life)”, In one of the links below, the name dispute is also discussed, as the band felt they’d registered the name in 1973.