|Genres||Progressive rock, hard rock, psychedelic rock, jazz rock|
|Years active||1966–1973, 2013-present|
|Labels||Liberty, Reprise, Raft, United Artists|
|Associated acts||Streetwalkers, The Roaring Sixties|
|Members|| Roger Chapman |
John "Poli" Palmer
|Past members|| John "Charlie" Whitney |
Family are an English rock band, active from late 1966 to October 1973, and again since 2013 for a series of live shows. Their style has been characterised as progressive rock, as their sound often explored other genres, incorporating elements of styles such as folk, psychedelia, acid rock, jazz fusion, and rock and roll. The band achieved recognition in the United Kingdom through their albums, club and concert tours, and appearances at festivals.
The band's rotating membership throughout its relatively short existence led to a diversity in sound throughout their different albums. Family are also often seen as an unjustly forgotten act,when compared with other bands from the same period and have been described as an "odd band loved by a small but rabid group of fans".
Family formed in late 1966 in Leicester, England, from the remaining members of a group that was previously known as The Farinasand later briefly The Roaring Sixties, whose sound was grounded in rhythm and blues though they did not record under that name. The Farinas originally consisted of John "Charlie" Whitney, Tim Kirchin (born around 1944, Birstall, Leicestershire died circa 2000), Harry Ovenall (born Richard Harry Ovenall, 12 September 1943, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire), and Jim King, forming at Leicester Art College in 1962. Ric Grech replaced Kirchin on bass in 1965 and Roger Chapman joined the following year on vocals. The American record producer Kim Fowley suggested they call themselves "The Family" as they regularly wore double-breasted suits in performances, giving themselves a mafia appearance, a look they soon abandoned in favour of a more casual dress code.
The group played the music club The Marquee regularly and other London clubs including The 100 Club and Sybilla's in Swallow Street. Through their friend, Mim Scala, they arranged Jimmy Miller to produce their first single, and met manager John Gilbert. Because of their association with Miller, Steve Winwood helped with the recording. Shortly afterwards, Ovenall became disillusioned with the group's move away from soul music towards psychedelia and was concerned about the management. He subsequently decided to leave the band. Family's debut single "Scene Through The Eye of a Lens/Gypsy Woman" was released by Liberty Records in October 1967, but was not a success. Ovenall was replaced by Rob Townsend.
The band signed with the Reprise Records label (the first UK band signed directly to UK and US Reprise) and their debut album Music in a Doll's House , was recorded during early 1968.Miller was originally slated to produce it, but he was tied up with production of The Rolling Stones' album Beggar's Banquet and he is credited as co-producer on only two tracks, "The Breeze" and "Peace of Mind". The bulk of the album was produced by former Traffic member Dave Mason, and recorded at London's Olympic Studios with engineers Eddie Kramer and George Chkiantz. 18 year old Mike Batt arranged string and brass overdubs, notably on "The Chase", "Mellowing Grey" and "Old Songs, New Songs" but was uncredited. "Old Songs, New Songs" also included an uncredited tenor sax solo from Tubby Hayes. Mason also contributed one composition to the album, "Never Like This", the only song recorded by Family not written by a band member, and the group also backed Mason on “Little Woman”, the B side of his February 1968 single "Just For You". Alongside Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move, and The Nice, Family quickly became one of the premier attractions on the burgeoning UK psychedelic/progressive "underground" scene. Their lifestyle and exploits during this period provided some of the inspiration for the 1969 novel Groupie by Jenny Fabian (who lived in the group's Chelsea house for some time) and to Johnny Byrne. Family featured in the book under the pseudonym, 'Relation'.
Music in a Doll's House was released in July 1968 and charted at number 35 in the UK to critical acclaim,thanks to strong support from BBC Radio 1's John Peel. Now widely acknowledged as a classic of British psychedelic rock, it showcased many of the stylistic and production features that are archetypal of the genre. The album's highly original sound was characterised by Chapman's vocals, rooted in the blues and R&B, combined with several unusual instruments for a rock band, courtesy of the presence of multi-instrumentalists Grech and King, including saxophones, violin, cello, and harmonica.
Family's 1969 follow-up, Family Entertainment , toned down the psychedelic experimentation of their previous offering to some extent,reaching number six in the UK Albums Chart, and featured the single "The Weaver's Answer", although the group reportedly had no control over the mixing and choice of tracks, or the running order of the songs.
With the UK success of Family's first two albums, the band undertook a tour of the United States in April 1969, but it was beset by problems. Halfway through the tour, Grech unexpectedly left the band to join the new supergroup Blind Faith;on the recommendation of tour manager Peter Grant, Grech was replaced by John Weider, previously of Eric Burdon and The Animals. A further setback occurred during their first concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, whilst sharing the bill with Ten Years After and The Nice – during his stage routine, Chapman lost control of his microphone stand, which flew in Graham's direction, an act Graham took to be deliberate; Chapman performed the following shows with his hands by his sides, and by the end of the tour, he had lost his voice; Family's reputation in the US never recovered and they ultimately never achieved great recognition there. Returning to the UK, the band performed at The Rolling Stones' Hyde Park gig and the Isle of Wight Festival that summer. In late 1969, Jim King was asked to leave Family due to "erratic behaviour" and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist John "Poli" Palmer.
In 1970, Family played a few more gigs in the United States, appearing in San Francisco and Boston. In early 1970, they released their third studio album, A Song for Me ; produced by the band, it became the highest-charting album the band had released, reaching No. 4 on the UK Albums Chart. The album itself was a blend of hard rock and folk rock. Family's new line-up played at major rock festivals that summer, including the Kralingen Music Festival in the Netherlands and the Isle of Wight Festival for the second year in a row. The band appeared in the documentary film Message to Love about the latter festival.
Family's follow-up album Anyway , released in late 1970, had its first half consist of new material recorded live at Fairfield Hall in Croydon, England, with the second half a set of new songs recorded in the studio, and reached number seven on the UK chart.In March 1971 the compilation album, Old Songs New Songs , (which contained remixes and rare tracks) was released, but in June Weider left Family to join Stud. He was replaced by former Mogul Thrash bassist John Wetton, who had just declined an invitation from Robert Fripp to join King Crimson. The band performed at the Glastonbury Free Festival 1971, filmed by Nicolas Roeg for the 1972 documentary Glastonbury Fayre .
As with Grech in Family's original line-up, Wetton also shared vocal duties with Chapman, and this line-up soon released Family's highest-charting single "In My Own Time/Seasons" which reached number four, and the album Fearless in October 1971, which charted in both the UK and the US.In 1972, another album, Bandstand was released, which leaned more towards hard rock than art rock, featuring the singles "Burlesque" in late 1972, and "My Friend the Sun", which was released in early 1973.
In mid-1972, John Wetton left Family to join a new line-up of King Crimson and was replaced by bassist Jim Cregan, and at the end of that year, John "Poli" Palmer also left the band and was replaced by keyboardist Tony Ashton, previously of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke.After Wetton's departure (but before Palmer's exit), Family toured the United States and Canada as the support act for Elton John, but their performances were often greeted with silence and Poli Palmer later recalled that "the only clapping in this huge stadium would be the guys doing the PA".
In 1973, Family released the largely ignored It's Only a Movie (and on their own label, Raft, distributed by Warner/Reprise), which would be their last studio album, followed by another tour.
Family gave their final concert at the Hawthorn Building of Leicester Polytechnic on 13 October 1973.Many of its members went on to different musical projects; Roger Chapman and John "Charlie" Whitney formed the band Streetwalkers; John Wetton played with King Crimson and eventually became the lead singer of the band Asia. Rob Townsend was a member of Medicine Head between 1973 and 1975. He has been a member of The Blues Band since 1979 and of The Manfreds since 1991. Ric Grech died of kidney and liver failure in 1990 at the age of 43, as a result of alcoholism. Tony Ashton died in 2001 at the age of 55 of cancer. Jim King died on 6 February 2012 in Middlewich, Cheshire, at the age of 69. Wetton died on 31 January 2017, at the age of 67.
In September 2012 the band announced a one-off reunion gig on 2 February 2013 at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London featuring Roger Chapman, Poli Palmer, Rob Townsend and Jim Cregan [ citation needed ] During these performances Chapman paid warm tributes to absent band members Rick Grech, Tony Ashton, Jim King, John Weider, John Wetton and Charlie Whitney during the band's performance. The band went on to appear at the Rockin' the Park Festival at Clumber Park in Notts on 16 August 2013.[ citation needed ]Demand for tickets was so great that an extra show was scheduled for the previous night as well and an expanded line-up of the band (also featuring Chapman's regular back-up musicians Paul Hirsh, John Lingwood, Nick Payn, Gary Twigg and Geoff Whitehorn, billed as "The In Laws") played to sell-out audiences. The setlist on both nights included: Top of the Hill, Drowned in Wine, Holding the Compass, Part of the Load, Ready to Go, Crinkly Grin, Burning Bridges, No Mule's Fool, Sat'dy Barfly, Between Blue and Me, Hung Up Down, Burlesque, In My Own Time. Encore 1: Weaver's Answer; Encore 2: My Friend the Sun, Sweet Desiree.
The limited edition Family box set Once Upon a Time, won the Storm Thorgerson Grand Design award at the 2013 Progressive Music Awards.
Family again played gigs in the UK in 2014 and 2015. In 2016 they appeared at festivals in England and Italy, as well as two gigs in London on 17 and 18 December and one in Leicester on 22 December, which were billed as the band's last shows. For these gigs, Chapman, Palmer and Cregan were joined by five other musicians.[ citation needed ]
Family's sound was distinguished by several factors. The vocals of Roger Chapman, described as a "bleating vibrato"and an "electric goat", were considered unique, although Chapman was trying to emulate the voices of R&B and soul singers Little Richard and Ray Charles, with some reviewers noting however that Chapman's voice could be grating and irritating occasionally. John "Charlie" Whitney was an accomplished and innovative guitarist, and Family's often complex song arrangements were made possible through having multi-instrumentalists like Ric Grech, Jim King and Poli Palmer in the band and access to keyboards such as the Hammond organ, the new Mellotron, violin, flute and vibraphone. The band's sound has been variously described as progressive rock, psychedelic rock, acid rock, folk rock, jazz fusion, not to mention "British art rock," and hard rock.
Family were particularly known for their live performances; one reviewer describing the band as "one of the wildest, most innovative groups of the underground rock scene", noting that they produced "some of the rawest, most intense performances on stage in rock history" and "that the Jimi Hendrix Experience were afraid to follow them at festivals".
Family was an influence on Jethro Tull, with Ian Anderson noting that the band were particularly under-rated.Both in his vocal sound and style and his dramatic stage presentation, Chapman was also a strong early influence on Peter Gabriel.
|Late 1966 - October 1967||October 1967 – April 1969||April 1969 – Late 1969||Late 1969 – June 1971||June 1971 - Mid-1972|
|Mid-1972 – End 1972||End 1972 – Late October 1973||Late October 1973 - September 2012||September 2012 - 2014|
Asia are an English rock supergroup formed in London in 1981. The most commercially successful line-up was its original, which consisted of four members of different progressive rock bands that had enjoyed great success in the 1970s: lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton of King Crimson and U.K., guitarist Steve Howe of Yes, keyboardist Geoff Downes of Yes and The Buggles, and drummer Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Their debut album, Asia, released in 1982, remains their best selling album and went to number one in several countries. The lead single from the album, "Heat of the Moment", remains their top charting and best-known song, reaching the top 40 in over a dozen markets and peaking in the U.S. at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
Richard William Palmer-James is an English musician with more than 500 credits on discogs.com. He may be best known as one of the founder members of Supertramp, writing lyrics for several songs by the progressive rock group King Crimson in the early 1970s, and for writing lyrics for the 1985 hit "(I'll Never Be) Maria Magdalena" by Sandra.
Roger Maxwell Chapman, also known as Chappo, is an English rock vocalist. He is best known as a member of the progressive rock band Family, which he joined along with Charlie Whitney, in 1966 and also the rock, R&B band Streetwalkers formed in 1974. His idiosyncratic brand of showmanship when performing and vocal vibrato led him to become a cult figure on the British rock scene. Chapman is claimed to have said that he was trying to sing like both Little Richard and his idol Ray Charles. Since the early 1980s he has spent much of his time in Germany and has made occasional appearances there and elsewhere.
Richard John Whitney, also known as John "Charlie" Whitney, John Whitney and Charlie Whitney, is an English rock guitarist and a founder member of the rock bands Family, Streetwalkers and Axis Point.
"The Weaver's Answer" is a song by the British progressive rock band Family. It is the first track on their 1969 album Family Entertainment and became the band's signature song in concert.
Streetwalkers were an English rock band formed in late 1973 by two former members of Family, vocalist Roger Chapman and guitarist John "Charlie" Whitney. They were a five piece band which evolved from the Chapman Whitney Band.
Fearless is the fifth album by the British progressive rock band Family, which was released on 29 October 1971, on Reprise Records – K54003. It was known for its innovative layered-page album headshots of the band's members melding into a single blur.
John Weider is an English rock musician who plays guitar, bass, and violin. He is best known as the guitarist for Eric Burdon & the Animals from 1966 to 1968. He was also the bass player for Family from 1969 to 1971.
James Cregan is an English rock guitarist and bassist, best known for his associations with Family, Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart. Cregan is a former husband of the singer Linda Lewis and worked with her as a record producer. He has also worked with London Quireboys, Glass Tiger, Katie Melua and formed Farm Dogs with Bernie Taupin.
Family Entertainment is the second album by the British progressive rock band Family, released in March 1969. The cover of the album was a takeoff from the sleeve of the Doors' second album, Strange Days, as Family admitted.
John Michael "Poli" Palmer is an English rock musician who was a key member in the progressive rock band Family. Though he was not an original member, he was regarded as being integral to the group's sound. He played the vibraphone, flute, piano, synthesizers and occasional drums, and he was with the band from late 1969 until late 1972.
Music in a Doll's House is the debut album by English progressive rock group Family, released on 19 July 1968. The album, co-produced by Dave Mason of Traffic, features a number of complex musical arrangements contributing to its ambitious psychedelic sound.
Old Songs New Songs is a budget-priced compilation album by the British progressive rock band Family, released in March 1971. The title is taken from the title of a song that appeared on the band's 1968 debut album Music in a Doll's House, although that song does not appear on this record.
Anyway is the fourth album by the British progressive rock band Family. Side one was recorded at a concert at Fairfield Halls in Croydon, south London; side two is a collection of new studio recordings.
Bandstand is the sixth studio album by the British progressive rock band Family. Released in 1972, it was the second and last album to chart in the United States. The original album cover was die-cut in the shape of a Bush TV22 television set, with a black-and-white image of the band onscreen.
John Young is an English rock musician hailing from Liverpool. He is currently the keyboardist and singer for the progressive rock band Lifesigns.
A Song for Me is the third album by the British progressive rock band Family, released on 23 January 1970 on Reprise Records.
Richard Roman Grechko, better known as Ric Grech, was a British rock musician and multi-instrumentalist. He is best known for playing bass guitar and violin with Family as well as in the supergroups Blind Faith and Traffic. He also played with ex-Cream drummer Ginger Baker's Air Force.
Chapman Whitney Streetwalkers was the first post-Family album by Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney, following the late 1973 dissolution of that band. The musicians used here included other former member of Family, and the band soon evolved into the Streetwalkers.
"My Friend the Sun" is a song by the British rock band Family. It was written by Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney for the band's 1972 album Bandstand. It never charted, but has been covered by Linda Lewis for her 1977 album Woman Overboard and by Jimmy Nail for his 1999 album Tadpoles in a Jar. "My Friend the Sun" was also covered by Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey of the North Carolina band the dB's on their 2009 duo album Here and Now. It was later released on the Strange Band: The Best of Family album and A's & B's album. In 1976 Record World called the song a "Family favourite" alongside "Burlesque." Both songs were later released together by Rebecca Records on 22 January 1982, with "Burlesque" as the A-side and My Friend the Sun as the B-side.