Atomic Rooster Biography

Formed in 1969 at the height of the UK progressive rock boom, the original Atomic Rooster line-up comprised Vincent Crane (21 May 1943, Reading, Berkshire, England, d. 14 February 1989; organ), Nick Graham (bass) and Carl Palmer (b. Carl Frederick Kendall Palmer, 20 March 1950, Handsworth, Birmingham, West Midlands, England; drums). Crane and Palmer had just departed from the chart-topping Crazy World Of Arthur Brown and it was assumed that their new band would achieve sustained success. After only one album, however, the unit fragmented, with Graham joining Skin Alley and Palmer founding Emerson, Lake And Palmer. Crane soldiered on with new members John Cann (guitar, vocals; ex-Andromeda) and Paul Hammond (drums), featured on the albumDeath Walks Behind You. Their excursions into hard rock produced two riff-laden yet catchy UK hit singles - ‘Tomorrow Night’ (number 11, February 1971) and ‘The Devil’s Answer’ (number 4, July 1971), as Crane adopted the Ray Manzarek (Doors) style of using keyboards to record bass parts. With assistance from Pete French of Cactus, the trio recorded their third album, In Hearing Of, but just when they seemed settled, they split. DuCann and Hammond joined Bullet, then Hardstuff, and French formed Leafhound.

The irrepressible Crane refused to concede defeat and recruited new members, guitarist Steve Bolton, bass player Bill Smith and drummer Rick Parnell (son of the orchestra leader, Jack Parnell). The new line-up was completed by the famed singer Chris Farlowe (b. John Henry Deighton, 13 October 1940, Islington, London, England). A dramatic musical shift towards blue-eyed soul won few new fans, however, and Crane finally dissolved the band in 1974. Thereafter, he collaborated with former colleague Arthur Brown, but could not resist reviving the fossilized Rooster in 1979 (the same year he teamed up with Cann once more for the ‘Don’t Be A Dummy’ Lee Cooper jeans advertisement, backed by members of Gillan and Status Quo). After two anti-climactic albums with new drummer Preston Hayman, and then a returning Hammond, Crane finally killed off his creation. The final Atomic Rooster studio album included guest stints from David Gilmour, Bernie Torme and John Mazarolli on guitars in place of Cann. In 1983, Crane accepted an invitation to record and tour with Dexys Midnight Runners and appeared on their acclaimed 1985 album Don’t Stand Me Down. He had been suffering from depression for some time when he took his own life in 1989.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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