Atomic Rooster

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Atomic Rooster
Atomic Rooster 1970.jpg
Atomic Rooster in 1970 (left to right: John Du Cann, Vincent Crane, Paul Hammond)
Background information
OriginUnited Kingdom
Years active19691975, 19801983, 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
Members Steve Bolton
Pete French
Adrian Gautrey
Shug Millidge
Bo Walsh
Past members Vincent Crane
Carl Palmer
Nick Graham
John Du Cann
Paul Hammond
Ric Parnell
Chris Farlowe
John Goodsall
Preston Heyman
Ginger Baker
John Mizarolli
Eamonn Carr
Bernie Tormé
Christian Madden

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. [5] 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. [6]


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 the summer of 1969, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown split in the middle of a second US tour. Keyboardist Vincent Crane and drummer Carl Palmer decided 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, who had just been let go from the Rolling Stones, to discuss a collaboration. After Jones's death on 3 July 1969, they adopted the name Atomic Rooster (with influence from the US band Rhinoceros) and soon recruited Nick Graham on bass and vocals. [5] 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. [7] 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, [5] 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. [5] 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. [5]

Atomic Rooster resumed gigging until the end of June 1970, when Carl Palmer announced his departure to join Emerson, Lake & Palmer. [5] Ric Parnell filled the drum spot until August, when Paul Hammond was recruited from Farm. 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. [6] 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. [6] Atomic Rooster began recording In Hearing of Atomic Rooster (UK No. 18). [6] 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 been relieved of vocal duties and especially after hearing how much Crane had mixed out most of his guitar work on the album. He promptly left the band. [5] Paul Hammond followed him to form Bullet, later renamed Hard Stuff. [5] 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 line-up featuring Pete French on vocals, Steve Bolton on guitar, a returning Ric Parnell on drums and Crane on keyboards toured Italy, then across America and Canada. This line-up played 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. They continued touring into at least December of 1971, [8] but French then moved on to sign with Atlantic Records and joined the American rock band Cactus and appeared on their 1972 album, 'Ot 'n' Sweaty .

In February 1972 Crane recruited vocalist Chris Farlowe, at that time with Colosseum, to take the place of French. [5] They went on tour and recorded their first album together in the spring of 1972. They then released the album Made in England along with the single "Stand by Me", on Dawn Records. [5] They were more into soul at this point, and the progressive and heavy rock leanings from the other releases had receded. [5] The single did not chart and the album just barely caught any attention, even though 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 unravel. [5] 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 went on to 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. [9]

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 UK 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, but Crane died from an overdose on painkillers on 14 February. [5] 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.

Revival and new line-up (2016–present)

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 and in September 2019, Atomic Rooster's Facebook Page announced French's departure due to musical differences, but he has since announced he will continue with the band. [10]


Current members

Discography (with UK release dates)


Date of releaseTitle US AUS
Atomic Roooster
Death Walks Behind You
In Hearing of Atomic Rooster
Made in England
Nice 'n' Greasy
Atomic Rooster
Headline News

Live albums

Compilation albums

Box sets


YearSingle UK
1970Friday the 13th
Tomorrow Night 11
1971Devil's Answer4
1972Stand by Me
Save Me [upper-alpha 1]
1973Can't Find a Reason [upper-alpha 2]
1974Tell Your Story (Sing Your Song) [upper-alpha 3]
1980Do You Know Who's Looking for You?
1981Play It Again
1982End of the Day
1983Land of Freedom


  1. re-recorded, retitled version of "Friday the 13th"
  2. as "Crane/Farlow" [sic.]
  3. as "Vincent Crane's Atomic Rooster"


See also

Related Research Articles

John William Cann, later known by his stage name John Du Cann, was an English guitarist primarily known through his work in the 1970s band Atomic Rooster. His early bands included the Wiltshire-based The Sonics and London-based The Attack, which released "Hi Ho Silver Lining" a few days prior to Jeff Beck. He went on to lead a psychedelic, progressive, hard rock band called Andromeda, before being asked to join Atomic Rooster when bass player and vocalist Nick Graham left the band. Cann immediately recorded all the guitar parts and replaced most of Graham's vocals for their 1970 self-titled debut album, and the new version with Cann was released to replace the original version. Cann co-wrote the album Death Walks Behind You (1970) and also two songs for In Hearing of Atomic Rooster (1971). Cann also wrote "Devil's Answer", Atomic Rooster's biggest hit, which reached No.4 in the UK singles charts in July 1971.

Hard Stuff were an English hard rock group which included John Du Cann and Paul Hammond, formerly of Atomic Rooster. Also in the line-up were vocalist Harry 'Al' Shaw, formerly of Curiosity Shoppe and latterly Export, and John Gustafson, formerly of Quatermass.

<i>Atomic Roooster</i> 1970 studio album by Atomic Rooster

Atomic Roooster [sic], also spelled Atomic Ro-o-oster on some later CD reissues, is the first album by British rock band Atomic Rooster, with keyboardist Vincent Crane, bassist and vocalist Nick Graham and drummer Carl Palmer.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown English rock band

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown are an English psychedelic rock band formed by singer Arthur Brown in 1967. The original band included Vincent Crane, Drachen Theaker (drums), and Nick Greenwood (bass). This early incarnation were noted for Crane's organ and brass arrangements and Brown's operatic voice and the burning helmet he wore during live shows.

<i>Atomic Rooster</i> (1980 album) 1980 studio album by Atomic Rooster

Atomic Rooster is the sixth studio album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. It was recorded when the band regrouped after breaking up for five years, and they embarked on a raw style, which was in marked contrast to that of their past few albums. In addition, its heavier sound fit in better with the new wave of British heavy metal scene.

<i>Death Walks Behind You</i> 1970 studio album by Atomic Rooster

Death Walks Behind You is the second studio album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. It was their first album to receive US release, albeit in a different sleeve. It is commonly thought of as the archetypal Atomic Rooster album, recorded by the 'classic' line-up of Vincent Crane, John Du Cann and Paul Hammond. It is certainly, critically and commercially, their most successful album and often hailed as a classic of the progressive rock genre. It also produced the hit single "Tomorrow Night", which became one of the band's best-known songs. The album's cover features the William Blake monotype Nebuchadnezzar. Band photos were taken at Churchfield Road Cemetery, Acton W3, by former actor-turned photographer, Richard Lyon.

<i>In Hearing of Atomic Rooster</i> 1971 studio album by Atomic Rooster

In Hearing of is the third album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. Although not included on the album, the "Devil's Answer" single was released just prior to it, becoming the band's highest chart success at number 4 in the UK. This helped push the album to a number 18 UK chart placing, despite the fact that the four musicians pictured on the inside cover never played together. Half of the songs were written by Crane along with his first wife, Pat Darnell, who assisted with the lyrics. The backing tracks were recorded by Vincent Crane, John Cann and Paul Hammond, but Cann and Hammond were let go from the group soon after vocalist Pete French was drafted in. The finished album's sound was dominated by Crane and Hammond, with many of Cann's guitar parts either not used or placed lower in the mix. However, Cann's guitar does still come through loud and clear on his compositions and the instrumentals.

<i>Made in England</i> (Atomic Rooster album) 1972 studio album by Atomic Rooster

Made in England is the fourth album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. Although previously known for generally having a progressive rock style, this album saw the band moving in more of a funk/soul direction, largely influenced by new singer Chris Farlowe. Apart from founder member Vincent Crane, the album was recorded by an entirely different lineup to that of the band's prior effort, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster. Previous members John Du Cann and Paul Hammond had departed in protest at Crane's intended new musical direction.

<i>Nice n Greasy</i> 1973 studio album by Atomic Rooster

Nice 'n' Greasy is the fifth studio album by British rock band Atomic Rooster.

<i>Assortment</i> (album) 1973 compilation album by Atomic Rooster

Assortment is Atomic Rooster’s first compilation album, issued by Charisma Records in 1973. It is composed of tracks from its first three studio albums.

<i>BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert</i> (Atomic Rooster album) 1993 live album by Atomic Rooster

BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert is a live album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. It consists of a specially-recorded, short concert staged at the BBC's Paris Theatre on 27 July 1972.

<i>Live and Raw 70/71</i> 2000 live album by Atomic Rooster

Live and Raw 70/71 is a live album by British rock band Atomic Rooster. It consists of two short concerts, specially-staged at the BBC's Paris Theatre in 1970 and 1971.

<i>Live at the Marquee 1980</i> 2002 live album by Atomic Rooster

Live at the Marquee 1980 is a live album by British rock band Atomic Rooster, recorded at London's Marquee Club. No known live soundboard recordings exist of the 1980 lineup of Atomic Rooster and the source cassette tape, belonging to Du Cann, was recorded via a single onstage microphone.

<i>Live in Germany 1983</i> live album

Live in Germany 1983 is a live album. It is a recording of British rock band Atomic Rooster on 1 February 1983, at the Zeche Club in Bochum, Germany.

<i>Devils Answer</i> 1998 live album (compilation) by Atomic Rooster

Devil's Answer is a song by British rock band Atomic Rooster from their album, In Hearing of Atomic Rooster (1971). It is also a compilation of their live recordings, released in 1998 by Hux Records.

<i>Homework</i> (Atomic Rooster album) 2008 compilation album by Atomic Rooster

Homework is an album of previously unreleased demos by John Du Cann, with drum programming by Paul Hammond.

Masters from the Vaults is a 2002 DVD and Enhanced CD by the British rock band Atomic Rooster. It features a 28-minute, 1972 live studio performance for Belgian TV. The Enhanced CD features audio of the performance, with its corresponding video playable via a PC.

Paul Hammond (musician) Musical artist

Paul Hammond (1952–1992) was an English rock drummer who was a member of the progressive rock band Atomic Rooster and the hard rock band Hard Stuff during the 1970s.

<i>The Worlds Not Big Enough</i> Album by John Du Cann

The World's Not Big Enough is the only solo album by John Du Cann, who was best known as guitarist and vocalist with Atomic Rooster and Hard Stuff in the 1970s. The album was recorded in 1977, but remained unreleased until 1992, and was remastered in 1999.


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  2. Talevski 2006, p. 242.
  3. 1 2 Talevski 2006, p. 105.
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