Lucifer’s Friend was a German hard-rock band that evolved from Asterix with a self-titled album on Philips in 1970. The band released four albums on Vertigo between 1972 and 1976, followed by three titles on Elektra between 1978 and 1981.
Members: Peter Hesslein (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Peter Hecht (organ, keyboards, 1970-82), Dieter Horns (bass, vocals, 1970-81, 2014-present), John Lawton (lead vocals, 1970-76, 1981-82, 1993-94, 2014-present), Joachim Rietenbach (drums, 1970-74), Herbert Bornhold (drums, percussion, vocals, 1974-75, 1977-82), Curt Cress (drums, 1976, 1993-94), Mike Starrs (lead vocals, 1977, 1978-81), Ian Cussick (lead vocals, 1978), Adrian Askew (keyboards, vocals, 1980-82), Andreas Dicke (bass, 1981-82, 1993-94)
Lucifer’s Friend formed through a merger of two parties: Hamburg beat group The German Bonds and English rock singer John Lawton.
Lawton (b. 1946) hailed from North Shields, where he first fronted beatsters The Deans, formed with schoolmates who picked him at random to be the singer. Later in the decade, he interacted with Tynside hopefuls The Influence, which featured singer/guitarist John Miles, guitarist Vic Malcolm (later of Geordie), and drummer Paul Thompson (later of Roxy Music).
In 1969, Lawton toured Germany with another unsigned act, Stonewall. After their stint at Hamburg’s Top Ten Club, the other members returned home. Lawton decided to stay behind in Hamburg, where he teamed with The German Bonds, a local group that released four singles on four different labels in 1966. More recently, they played on the 1968 Europa release Supreme Psychedelic Underground, credited to Hell Preachers Inc. Lawton and three Bonds — guitarist Peter Hesslein, bassist Dieter Horns, and keyboardist Peter Hecht — formed Asterix with Joachim Rietenbach, drummer on the Hells Preachers project.
As Asterix, they signed to Decca and released a self-titled album in 1970. The album features a second vocalist, Toni Cavanaugh, who co-wrote seven of the nine songs (credited as Cavanna) with Lawton and Hesslein, including “Morning at My Dawn” and “Broken Home.” 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.
Decca issued two singles by Asterix: the album tracks “Look Out” (b/w “Open Up Your Mind”) and the non-album “Everybody” (b/w “If I Could Fly”). Key musical traits on the Asterix recordings include refined yet crunchy riffs, sensitive guitar/bass interplay — ex. the slide/scale double-tracking over the middle ostinato on “If I Could Fly” — and counter-acting harmonies, dominated by Lawson’s distinct voice. The epic “Morning at My Dawn” begins with an organ-laden passage overlaid with hazy vocals, misty cymbals, drizzling piano, waving bass, and spacious tom fills, all consumed by a tighter, riff-bound sequence that yields to stormier passages over the course of seven minutes.
The band soon parted with Cavanaugh and signed to Philips as Lucifer’s Friend.
- Lucifer’s Friend (1970)
- Where the Groupies Killed the Blues (1972)
- I’m Just a Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer (1973)
- Banquet (1974)
- Mind Exploding (1976)
- Good Time Warrior (1978)
- Sneak Me In (1980)
- Mean Machine (1981)
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