Viv Prince

Last updated
Viv Prince
Born (1941-08-09) 9 August 1941 (age 79)
Loughborough, England
Genres Rhythm and blues, rock, jazz
Occupation(s)Drummer, percussionist
Years active1961–present
Associated acts Carter-Lewis and the Southerners, Pretty Things, the Jeff Beck Group, the Denny Laine String Band, Lennie Baldwin's Dauphin Six, Twink, McGough & McGear, the Who, the Honeycombs, the Jazz Cardinals, the Bunch of Fives, Chicago Line, VAMP, Kate, Hawkwind, Polly Perkins, Lesley Duncan, the Bulldogs, Vandyke & the Bambis, Chris Barber
The Pretty Things in 1965 (left to right): Brian Pendleton, John Stax, Dick Taylor, Phil May, Viv Prince PrettyThings1965.jpg
The Pretty Things in 1965 (left to right): Brian Pendleton, John Stax, Dick Taylor, Phil May, Viv Prince

Vivian Martin Prince (born 9 August 1941) is an English drummer. He played in a variety of bands during the 1960s, including Pretty Things. He was noted for his wild and eccentric behaviour, which garnered a lot of publicity for the group and influenced Keith Moon.



Viv Prince was born in Loughborough. His father, Harry Prince, played in a local jazz band. [1] Viv's first instrument was guitar, but then he switched to drums. After leaving school, he worked briefly as a tax officer, playing with local jazz bands, including his father's, as a hobby.

Viv Pince's first professional work as a musician was with the traditional jazz band Lennie Baldwin's Dauphin Street Six in 1961, with whom he toured in Denmark and made his first recordings in 1962. He left them during a tour in Germany to join the Jazz Cardinals. Without a work permit, he soon had to return to London, to make a name for himself as a session musician, [1] contributing to many pop records of the era. He joined Carter-Lewis and the Southerners in June 1963, with whom he recorded three singles, including the hit "Your Momma's Out of Town", alongside Jimmy Page. Around this time he became the first British rock musician against whom a drug-related charge was brought up in the court. As a skilled professional with an extrovert, unorthodox drumming style and considerable entertainment value, Viv Prince was repeatedly approached by the young British rock bands - such as the Kinks - to become their drummer. In 1964 he was persuaded by Pretty Things management to join the band, thus completing its first most iconic and legendary lineup, and played the drums on their first two albums, The Pretty Things and Get the Picture? , both released in 1965.

The Pretty Things often made the headlines for their wild antics, which were due in no small part to Prince. Often inebriated or high on amphetamines, he would leave his drum stool to roam around the stage, and generally cause havoc wherever he went. A young Keith Moon attended several Pretty Things concerts to study Prince's style [2] (according to Jimmy Page, Prince was also the one to coin the nickname "Moon the Loon" for Keith - with whom, as well as with Brian Jones, Dave Davies, John Entwistle, P.J. Proby and the Beatles he was on friendly terms). The mayhem culminated in a tour of New Zealand in August 1965, during which he paraded around in a leopard-skin pillbox hat, carrying around a dead crayfish on a string, [3] plotting pranks and setting fires onstage, which resulted in big amount of bad publicity. Following an altercation with the crew, he was thrown off the plane that was taking the band home after the tour and had to make his own way back to England. Over time, he would miss recording sessions more and more often, and the band had to call upon other drummers to replace him, including Bobby Graham, Mitch Mitchell and Twink. His tenure with the Pretty Things ended in mid-November 1965, when the band sacked him due to his growing unreliability. He was replaced by Skip Alan. [4]

After leaving the Pretty Things, Prince played with the Bunch of Fives and the Denny Laine String Band. He also deputised on drums during concerts for the Honeycombs, the Who, and Hawkwind, and was considered to become a drummer for the Jeff Beck Group. For some time he ran the Knuckles club in Soho, London, that, as he claimed, served as the first rehearsal base for Jimi Hendrix in England; Prince also claimed to suggest the musicians to complete the lineup of the Jimi Hendrix Experience. During the second half of the 1960s, he contributed to LPs by Chris Barber (at the session led by Paul McCartney), Twink and McGough & McGear (also joined by Jimi Hendrix), as well as released a few singles as a member of the bands such as VAMP (with Pete Sears and members of Hutchinson Clark), Kate, and a solo single, Light of the Charge Brigade.

Viv Prince was also reported to be involved in the election campaign activity for Screaming Lord Sutch's Monster Raving Looney Party, as well as to be expelled from the members of Hell's Angels for bad behaviour. He also underwent a few trial cases and a survived a fire in his house.

During the 1980s, Prince returned to Loughborough for a while, playing with local soul band Sugar Shack. [1] As of 2005, he was living near Faro, Portugal. [5] The Pretty Things wrote and recorded "Vivian Prince," a song in homage to him, on their album ... Rage Before Beauty , released in 1999.



  1. 1 2 3 Rush, Andy (4 August 2015). "Viv Prince - legendary Pretty Things drummer". Loughborough Echo. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
    • Neill, Andrew; Kent, Matthew (2009). Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere: The Complete Chronicle of The Who 1958–78. Sterling Publishing. p. 100. ISBN   978-1-4027-6691-6.
  2. Stax, Neil & Baker, pp. 39–40
  3. Stax, Neill & Baker, pp. 94–97
  4. Stax, Neill & Baker, pp. 110–112


Related Research Articles

Noel Redding English musician

David Noel Redding was an English rock musician, best known as the bass player for the Jimi Hendrix Experience and guitarist/singer for Fat Mattress.

Mitch Mitchell

John Graham "Mitch" Mitchell was an English drummer and child actor, who was best known for his work in the Jimi Hendrix Experience. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2009.

Pretty Things English rock band

The Pretty Things were an English rock band, formed in September 1963 in Sidcup, Kent. They took their name from Willie Dixon's 1955 song "Pretty Thing". A pure rhythm and blues band in their early years, with several singles charting in the United Kingdom, they later embraced other genres such as psychedelic rock in the late 1960s, hard rock in the early 1970s and new wave in the early 1980s. Despite this, they never managed to recapture the same level of commercial success of their early releases.

Elvin Jones American jazz drummer

Elvin Ray Jones was an American jazz drummer of the post-bop era. He showed an interest in drums at a young age, watching the circus bands march by his family's home in Pontiac, Michigan. He served in the United States Army from 1946 to 1949 and subsequently played in a Detroit house band led by Billy Mitchell. He moved to New York City in 1955 and worked as a sideman for Charles Mingus, Teddy Charles, Bud Powell and Miles Davis.

John Charles Edward Alder, also known as Twink, is an English drummer, actor, singer, and songwriter who was a central figure in the English psychedelic movement.

Roland Robinson was a longtime Memphis studio session bass player and songwriter. Robinson was a cousin and close friend of Teenie Hodges, Al Green's lead guitarist in the 1970s when Green recorded with the famed Hi Records staff band, the Hi Rhythm Section.

Tomorrow were a 1960s psychedelic rock, pop and freakbeat band. Despite critical acclaim and support from DJ John Peel who featured them on his "Perfumed Garden" radio show, the band was not a great success in commercial terms. They were among the first psychedelic bands in England along with Pink Floyd and Soft Machine. Tomorrow recorded the first ever John Peel show session on BBC Radio 1 on 21 September 1967. The band included Steve Howe on guitars, who would later join the British prog band Yes.

<i>Band of Gypsys</i> 1970 live album by Jimi Hendrix

Band of Gypsys is a live album by Jimi Hendrix and the first without his original group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was recorded on January 1, 1970, at the Fillmore East in New York City with Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums, frequently referred to as the Band of Gypsys. The album mixes funk and rhythm and blues elements with hard rock and jamming, an approach which later became the basis of funk rock. It contains previously unreleased songs and was the last full-length Hendrix album released before his death.

Buddy Miles

George Allen "Buddy" Miles Jr., was an American rock drummer, vocalist, composer, and producer. He was a founding member of the Electric Flag (1967), a member of Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys (1969–1970), founder and leader of the Buddy Miles Express and later, the Buddy Miles Band. Miles also played and recorded with Carlos Santana and others. Additionally, he sang lead vocals on the critically and commercially acclaimed "California Raisins" claymation TV commercials and recorded two California Raisins R&B albums.

Denny Laine British rock musician

Denny Laine is an English musician, singer, and songwriter, known as a founder of two major British rock bands: the Moody Blues, with whom he played from 1964 to 1966, and Paul McCartney and Wings, with whom he played from 1971 to 1981. Laine has worked with a variety of artists and groups over a six decade career, and continues to record and perform as a solo artist. In 2018, Laine was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Moody Blues.

Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club

Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club is a jazz club that has operated in Soho, London, since 1959.

<i>Live at Berkeley</i> 2003 live album by Jimi Hendrix

Live at Berkeley is a live album by American rock musician Jimi Hendrix. It documents his second performance at the Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970, and was released by MCA Records on September 16, 2003.

Eire Apparent were a band from Northern Ireland, noted for launching the careers of Henry McCullough and Ernie Graham, and for having Jimi Hendrix play on, and produce, their only album.

Sam Gopal were an underground British psychedelic rock band. The band was named after its founder, Sam Gopal, born in Malaysia. From the age of seven, he played tabla, a northern Indian percussion instrument, which replaced drums in the band.

Alan Douglas Rubenstein was an American record producer from Boston, who worked with Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Lenny Bruce and the Last Poets. He ran his own record label, Douglas Records.

<i>Get the Picture?</i> (The Pretty Things album) 1965 studio album by Pretty Things

Get the Picture? is the second album by the English rock group Pretty Things, released in 1965.

<i>The Pretty Things</i> (album) 1965 studio album by Pretty Things

The Pretty Things is the self-titled 1965 release by the English rock band Pretty Things, which features mostly R&B and rock and roll cover versions. A re-issue released in 2000 on CD featured every track from both the American and British versions of the album.

Junior's Eyes was a British group led by guitarist Mick Wayne, which recorded one album and is notable for acting as David Bowie's backing band during 1969.

The Fairies were a British rhythm and blues band led by drummer John 'Twink' Alder, who recorded three singles between 1964 and 1965.

Honey I Need 1965 single by Pretty Things

"Honey I Need" is a song written by Dick Taylor and first performed by the rock band Pretty Things in 1965. It was first published in 1966 and registered at number 13 in the UK Pretty Things guitarist Dick Taylor wrote the tune, along with a couple of friends who weren't in the band.