Asterix

Asterix was a German hard-rock/soul band that released a self-titled album on Decca in 1970. They evolved from the German Bonds, a popular mid-’60s beat group. After the departure of co-vocalist Toni Cavanaugh, the remaining band continued as Lucifer’s Friend.

Members: Peter Hecht (keyboards), Peter Hesslein (guitar), Dieter Horns (bass), George Monro (vocals), Joachim Rietenbach (drums), John Lawton (vocals), Toni Cavanaugh (vocals)


Background

Asterix evolved from beatsters the German Bonds, formed in 1962 by bassist Dieter Horns and keyboardist Peter Hecht. Mid-decade, guitarist Peter Hesslein and Greek-born singer George Monro joined the fold. In 1966, they issued four singles on four labels (Star-Club, Coca Cola, Fontana, Polydor). They also played on the 1968 Europa release Supreme Psychedelic Underground, credited to Hell Preachers Inc.

In late 1969, the lineup of Hecht, Hesslein, Horns, Monro, and drummer Joachim “Addy” Rietenbach recorded an album of psychedelic hard-rock covers as Electric Food, released in 1970 on Europa. A second Electric Food album, Flash, followed in mid-1970 with covers of Free and Ten Years After. Shortly after that recording, they signed to Decca as Asterix and issued the single “Everybody” (b/w “If I Could Fly”). The a-side was written and first recorded by US popster Tommy Roe; the b-side is a group-written original.

Shortly after that single, Asterix added a second vocalist, Englishman John Lawton, who’d recently settled in Germany after touring the country with his short-lived band Stonewall. They conceived a hard-rock soul sound with two caterwauling frontmen. However, Monro dropped from the new iteration. His replacement was American soulster Toni Cavanaugh (b. 1939, Indianapolis), who landed in Germany 10 years prior as a US paratrooper and gigged throughout the beat era with singer Tony Sheridan, a pre-fame Beatles collaborator.


The Album

Asterix released their self-titled album in 1970 on Decca. Seven of the nine songs were co-written between Lawton, Hesslein, and Cavanaugh (credited as Cavanna), including “Time Again,” “Open Up Your Mind,” “Broken Home,” and the epic “Morning at My Dawn.” The opening track, “Look Out,” was written by ex-Rattles bassist Herbert Hildebrandt-Winhauer, one of the chief writers on Supreme Psychedelic Underground.

On its cover, Asterix sports a pointillist depiction of a cut apple with a duplicate image at the core. “Look Out” was lifted as a single, backed with “Open Up Your Mind.”

The non-album “Everyday” appears on the 1971 Spanish Decca compilation Super – Grupos along with cuts by The Moody Blues, Web, The End, The Move, Savoy Brown, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, and the Keef Hartley Band.


Subsequent Activity

Soon after the release of Asterix, Cavanaugh resumed his solo career. Under the name Lee Patterson, he released the 1972 soul-funk album Banks of the Ohio in Germany and Sweden on Mercury.

The remaining members of Asterix — Lawton, Hecht, Hesslein, Horns, and Rietenbach — signed to Philips under a new name, Lucifer’s Friend. At the end of 1970, they released Lucifer’s Friend, their first of eight studio albums over the ensuing 11-year period.

Asterix was first issued on CD in 1998 on Telefunken/EastWest with both sides of the pre-Lawton single added as bonus tracks. It has since been reissued multiple times on CD and vinyl on Long Hair, Arcàngelo, ICON, and Germanofon. As of July 2021, copies of the 1970 Decca original sell on Discogs at a median price of $223.21.


Discography:

  • “Everybody” / “If I Could Fly” (1970)
  • Asterix (1970)

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