Little Free Rock

Little Free Rock was an English hard-rock/psych trio that released a self-titled album on Transatlantic in 1969.

Members: Peter Illingworth (guitar, vocals, 1966-74), Frank Newbold (bass, vocals, percussion, 1966-70), Paul Varley (drums, 1966-72), ‘Lord’ Eric Carboo (percussion), Terry Poole (bass, 1970-71), Jon Taylor (bass, 1971-74), Nick Payne (saxophone, flute, harmonica, 1971-74), Kevin Flanagan (drums, 1972-74)


Little Free Rock formed in 1966 as Purple Haze, a Preston, Lancashire, freakbeat trio comprised of guitarist/singer Peter Illingworth, bassist Frank Newbold, and drummer Paul Varley. Illingworth hailed from beatsters David John & The Mood, which issued three 1964/65 singles produced by Joe Meek.

They first covered songs by The Creation, The Move, and Tomorrow but soon amassed their own repertoire. Early residencies at London’s Roundhouse and Marquee clubs preceded a continental trek that included the Star Club in Hamburg. Their earliest recorded numbers include “Roman Summer Nights,” “Wait a While,” “Blud,” “Dream,” and “Evil Woman.”

To avoid confusion with the song “Purple Haze” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, they changed their name. Their new name derived from a book on the meaning of forenames as applied to the three members:  Paul (“Little”), Frank (“Free”), and Peter (“Rock”). Transatlantic Records, an established folk-trad label, signed Little Free Rock as part of an expansion into the post-psych underground (Stray, Jody Grind, Marsupilami, Jan Dukes De Grey).

The Album

Little Free Rock released their self-titled album in November 1969 on Transatlantic. It features four songs by Illingworth (“Lost Lonely,” “Blud,” “Tingle,” “Age of Chivalry”), two by Newbold (“Roman Summer Nights,” “Dream”), and two co-writes (“Castles In the Sky,” “Evil Woman”). The album concludes with a cover of “Making Time,” a 1966 hit by The Creation.

Little Free Rock was recorded at Morgan Studio with producer Eddie Sandham and engineer Mike Bobak, then of the studio concoction Motherlight with upcoming techs Andy Johns and (ex-Orange Bicycle) Wil Malone. The production coordinator was John Whitehead, who also directed the 1969 self-titled album by Circus. Photographer Peter Smith (Juicy Lucy, Czar, Colosseum, Uriah Heep) took the cover shots, which show the trio about at night (front) and perched on a drum opposite King’s Cross (back).

Later Activity

Little Free Rock continued for five years, despite the 1970 departure of Newbold and a fluctuating lineup that issued no further recordings. A brief liaison with guitarist Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac went undocumented.

Newbold played on the Thundermother side of the 1971 Holyground release Astral Navigations.

Varley joined the glam-rock combo Streak, which issued two 1972/73 singles on A&M and Decca. They morphed into Arrows and issued multiple 1974–76 singles on RAK, including “Broken Down Heart,” best known for its b-side “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” later a US #1 for Joan Jett. In 1979, he surfaced in Darling, fronted by veteran singer Alice Spring, the namesake of Slack Alice.

In 1991, German archivists World Wide Records issued Time Is of No Consequence, comprised of Purple Haze recordings and nine tracks credited to the post-Newbold Little Free Rock with (ex-Jodo) bassist Jon Taylor and percussionist “Lord” Eric Carboo of Ginger Johnson’s African Drummers.


  • Little Free Rock (1969)
  • Time Is of No Consequence (1991, recorded 1969–71)


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