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|Genres||Progressive rock, blues rock, hard rock, blue-eyed soul|
|Years active||1969–1975, 1980–1983, 2016–present|
|Labels||B&C, Dawn, Decca, EMI, Polydor, Towerbell, Pegasus|
|Associated acts||The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Andromeda, Leaf Hound, Hard Stuff, Cactus (American band), Emerson, Lake & Palmer|
|Past members||Vincent Crane
John Du Cann
Atomic Rooster are a British rock band, originally formed by members of the Crazy World of Arthur Brown, organist Vincent Crane and drummer Carl Palmer. Throughout their history, keyboardist Vincent Crane was the only constant member and wrote the majority of their material. Their history is defined by two periods: the early-mid-1970s and the early 1980s. The band went through radical style changes, but they are best known for the hard, progressive rock sound of their hit singles, "Tomorrow Night" (UK No. 11) and "Devil's Answer" (UK No. 4), both in 1971.
In 2016, Atomic Rooster reformed with permission from Crane's widow, with the new line-up featuring two members from the various 1970s incarnations of the band.
Original period (1969–1975)
In summer 1969, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown had to cease touring in the middle of their second U.S. tour because of keyboardist Vincent Crane's mental illness. When he recovered, he and drummer Carl Palmer took the step to leave Arthur Brown and return to England — their date of travel being Friday 13 June 1969, which was the year of the rooster in the Chinese calendar — and arranged a meeting with Brian Jones to discuss a collaboration. After Jones's death, they adopted the name Atomic Rooster (with influence from the US band Rhinoceros), and soon recruited Nick Graham on bass and vocals. They followed with what had been the Crazy World of Arthur Brown arrangement of vocals, organ, bass, and drums.
They soon undertook live dates around London; at their first headlining gig at the London Lyceum on 29 August 1969, the opening act was Deep Purple. They eventually struck a deal with B & C Records and began recording their debut album in December 1969. Their first LP, Atomic Roooster, was released in February 1970, along with a single, "Friday the 13th". By March, Crane felt it was best that they add a guitarist, and recruited John Cann from acid/progressive rock band Andromeda. However, just as Cann joined, bassist-vocalist Graham left. Cann (who played guitar and sang for Andromeda) took over vocal duties, while the bass lines were overdubbed on Crane's Hammond organ with a combination of left hand and pedals, and the vocals were replaced with Cann's vocals and some guitar on four tracks. This new album was released in August 1970. Atomic Rooster resumed gigging until the end of June 1970, when Carl Palmer announced his departure to join Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Ric Parnell filled the drum spot until August, when the young Paul Hammond was recruited from Farm to the drum spot. They then recorded their second album, Death Walks Behind You, released in September 1970. Originally. it was not commercially successful, as with the first album, but by February 1971, the single "Tomorrow Night" reached No. 11 in the UK Singles Chart, with the album reaching No. 12 in the UK Albums Chart. Atomic Rooster made an appearance on the Top of the Pops, and toured to support the album.
In June 1971, just before they began configuring their line-up once again, the single "Devil's Answer" hit No. 4 in the UK. Atomic Rooster began recording In Hearing of Atomic Rooster (UK No. 18). Crane felt the band needed a singer who could "project" to an audience, and asked Leaf Hound vocalist Pete French to audition for the band. Not long after French came into the studio, Cann began to feel increasingly marginalised, having being relieved of vocal duties and especially after hearing how much Crane had mixed out most of his guitar work on the album, and promptly left the band. Paul Hammond followed him to form Bullet, later renamed Hard Stuff. French recorded all the vocals on the album (save for "Black Snake", sung by Crane), and the album was released in August 1971.
The Atomic Rooster lineup featuring Pete French on vocals, Steve Bolton on guitar, Ric Parnell on drums, and Crane on keyboards toured Italy, then across America and Canada. This lineup ended their international tour to appear at a benefit gig in September 1971 at the Oval cricket ground, appearing in front of some 65,000 people, supporting The Faces and The Who. After this concert, French moved on to sign with Atlantic Records and joined the American rock band Cactus. In February 1972, Crane recruited vocalist Chris Farlowe, at that time with Colosseum, to take the place of French. They went on tour and recorded their first album together in spring 1972. They released the album Made in England along with the single "Stand by Me", on Dawn Records. They were more into soul at this point, and the progressive and heavy rock leanings from the other releases had receded. The single did not chart and the album just barely caught any attention, but touring followed through.
Guitarist Steve Bolton left at the end of 1972, and was replaced by John Goodsall, appearing under the name Johnny Mandala. They released the album Nice 'n' Greasy in 1973, along with the single "Save Me", a re-working of "Friday the 13th". This time, it was in a complete funk style. After nearly two years without any hits, Dawn Records dropped the group and Atomic Rooster began to split. After a tour, Farlowe, Mandala and Parnell left. The single "Tell Your Story, Sing Your Song" was released in March 1974 by "Vincent Crane's Atomic Rooster" on Decca. All subsequent gigs were played by Crane along with members of the blues band Sam Apple Pie. A final concert was played in February 1975, a benefit gig for the RSPCA; Crane afterward disbanded Atomic Rooster.
During hiatus (1975–1979)
Vincent Crane put together the music for a number of plays and musicals in England between 1976 and 1977, including two of Peter Green's radio broadcasts. Crane teamed up with Arthur Brown again to play on his album Chisholm In My Bosom, and in 1979 they released the album Faster Than the Speed of Light. Crane and Brown would also perform a rendition of "Green Door", dressed in top hat and tails.
Cann, Hammond and John Gustafson released two albums as Hard Stuff between 1972 and 1973. Hard Stuff ended when Cann and Hammond suffered injuries in a car accident. Afterward, Cann filled in the guitar spot in Thin Lizzy for a tour in Germany during 1974, before going off the road to write music for ads and jingles in England. In 1977, he recorded a solo album (The World's Not Big Enough) with members of Status Quo and Gillan, before learning his record company was not going to release it. In 1979, having changed his name to John Du Cann, he had a minor hit with his rendition of "Don't Be a Dummy", used in a Lee Cooper jeans ad. Also in 1977, Paul Hammond played drums with T.H.E., a three piece featuring Pete Newnham (Cockney Rebel/Window) on guitar and vocals, and Mike Marchant (Third Ear Band) on bass and vocals. A single called "Rudi" was released that year on B&C Records under the name Pete Newnham, which has become a collector's item. That song and two unreleased tracks, "Johnny the Snark" and "Play with Fire", now appear on Bored Teenagers No. 5 from Detour Records.
Reformation period (1980–1983)
During 1980, Crane contacted Du Cann and after some discussion, got an Atomic Rooster reformation under way. They recruited session drummer Preston Heyman and recorded an album, along with one 7/12" single, on EMI Records. The album, Atomic Rooster (1980), was followed by a tour, but Heyman left in October and Paul Hammond returned to play drums after Ginger Baker filled in for two weeks. They continued touring and released two singles in 1981 and 1982. However, Du Cann was unable to make their last-minute booking at the Reading Festival, so Crane and Hammond used Mick Hawksworth (ex-Andromeda) as a stand-in. John McCoy later stepped in on bass at the insistence of Polydor Records, for whom they would release two further singles, "Play It Again" and "End of the Day", which saw some attention on the heavy metal chart, but did little elsewhere, and Polydor shortly afterwards dropped the band.
With Du Cann gone, Crane set about a new form of Atomic Rooster. Paul Hammond stayed on and played drums for the following album Headline News (1983), recorded in late 1982. Several guitarists played on the album, including David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Bernie Torme of Gillan, and John Mizarolli. Crane added vocals to the album along with his wife on backing vocals. A tour of Germany and Italy included Bernie Torme on guitar. Mizarolli played guitar for several U.K. dates. Headline News was released in June 1983, and featured a completely different sound from anything they had ever done, including electronics and synthesizers. The album was completely written by Vincent Crane, leading some to perceive it as a Crane solo album.
Crane disbanded Atomic Rooster once again at the end of 1983. In 1984, he went on to the project Katmandu with Peter Green, Ray Dorset and Jeff Whittaker, and they recorded the album A Case for the Blues. In 1985, Crane joined Dexy's Midnight Runners, playing piano for their album Don't Stand Me Down and two singles, one becoming the theme song for the television series Brush Strokes.
Dexy's Midnight Runners disbanded in 1987 and Crane intended to reform Atomic Rooster with Du Cann once again. A German tour was planned for 1989. However, Crane's mental illness intervened, and he died when he overdosed on painkillers on 14 February 1989. Du Cann struck a deal with Angel Air Records and oversaw the release and re-release of much of his and Atomic Rooster's material, including live recordings, compilations, compilations of unreleased material and album reissues with extra material. Paul Hammond died in 1992 and Du Cann in 2011.
2016: new line-up
In 2016, a new line-up of Atomic Rooster played together with permission from Crane's widow. The first gig was a low-key warm up in Clitheroe, Lancashire on 14 July 2016. The line-up was Pete French and Steve Bolton, plus keyboardist Christian Madden, bass guitarist Shug Millidge, and drummer Bo Walsh. In 2017, Madden was replaced by Adrian Gautrey. In September 2019, Atomic Rooster's Facebook Page announced French's departure from the band, due to musical differences, but he has since announced he will continue with the band.
- Pete French – vocals (1971, 2016–present)
- Steve Bolton – guitar (1971–1972, 2016–present)
- Adrian Gautrey – keyboards (2017–present)
- Shug Millidge – bass guitar (2016–present)
- Bo Walsh – drums (2016–present)
Discography (with UK release dates)
|Date of release||Title||Peak US Billboard 200 position||Peak AUS||Peak UK Albums Chart position|
- BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert 1972 (1993)
- Devil's Answer 1970-81 BBC Radio sessions (1998)
- Live and Raw 70/71 (2000)
- Live in Germany 1983 (2000)
- Live at the Marquee 1980 (2002)
- Assortment (1973)
- Home to Roost (1977)
- The Devil Hits Back (1989)
- Space Cowboy (1991)
- The Best of Atomic Rooster Volumes 1 & 2 (1992)
- In Satan's Name: The Definitive Collection (1997)
- The First 10 Explosive Years (1999)
- Rarities (2000)
- The First 10 Explosive Years Volume 2 (2001)
- Heavy Soul (2001)
- Homework (2008)
- Close Your Eyes: A Collection 1965-1986 (2008; released under the name Vincent Crane)
- Anthology 1969-81 (2009)
- Resurrection (2001) - Akarma unlicensed CD reissues of first three albums, with 24-page illustrated booklet
- Devil's Answer: The Singles Collection (2006) - reissue of first six UK singles on 7" or individual CDs
- "Friday the 13th" / "Banstead" - B&C CB121 (February 1970)
- "Tomorrow Night" / "Play the Game" - B&C CB131 (January 1971) - UK No. 11
- "Devil's Answer" / "The Rock" - B&C CB157 (June 1971) - UK No. 4
- "Stand by Me" / "Never to Lose" - Dawn DNS1027 (1972)
- "Save Me" / "Close Your Eyes" - Dawn DNS1029 (November 1972) - A-side is a re-recorded version of "Friday the 13th"
- "Can't Find a Reason" / "Moods" (credited to 'Farlow [sic.]/Crane') Dawn DNS1034 (1973)
- "Tell Your Story (Sing Your Song)" / "O.D." (credited to 'Vincent Crane's Atomic Rooster') - Decca FR13503 (March 1974)
- "Do You Know Who's Looking for You?" / "Throw Your Life Away" (plus 12" with extended A-side) - EMI EMI5084 / 12EMI5084 (June 1980)
- "Play It Again" / "Start to Live" aka "Rebel with a Clause" (plus 12" with "Devil's Answer" live in Milan 1981) - Polydor POSP334 / POSPX334 (September 1981)
- "End of the Day" / "Living Underground" aka "Night Living" (plus 12" with "Tomorrow Night" live studio rerecording 1981) - Polydor POSP408 / POSPX408 (February 1982)
- "Land of Freedom" / "Carnival" (plus 12" with extended A-side) - Towerbell Records TOW37 / 12TOW37 (May 1983)
- Masters from the Vaults (2003)
- Progressive rock
- Roger Dean - features two album cover images, ''In Hearing of Atomic Rooster & Resurrection.
- Richard Wahnfried - Crane recorded one album with this project initiated by Klaus Schulze, Time Actor in 1979.
- "Atomic Rooster". AllMusic.
- Talevski 2006, p. 242.
- Talevski 2006, p. 105.
- Larkin, Colin, ed. (2011). "Atomic Rooster". Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-0-85-712595-8.
A dramatic musical shift towards blue-eyed soul won few new fans, however, and [Vincent] Crane finally dissolved the band in 1974.
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 64. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 33. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Deep Purple Tour Page : concert dates : tour diary". Purple.de.
- "New Page 2". Boredteenagers.co.uk.
- "Atomic Rooster". Facebook.com. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 21. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- Talevski, Nick (2006). Rock Obituaries – Knocking On Heaven's Door. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-8460-9091-2.
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