Patto was an English rock band that released two albums on Vertigo and a third on Island between 1970 and 1972. They evolved from the final lineup of Timebox, becoming the second of three nameplates for the musical team of singer Mike Patto and guitarist Ollie Halsall, who would later re-team in Boxer.

Members: Mike Patto (vocals), Ollie Halsall (guitar, piano, vibraphone, vocals), “Admiral” John Halsey [Barry Wom] (drums, vocals), Clive Griffiths (bass)

Patto was the end-product of Timebox, which issued two singles on Piccadilly and six on Deram between 1967 and 1969. After the departure of (future Babe Ruth) keyboardist Chris Holmes, the now four-piece band took the surname of their frontman.

The band released their first album, Patto, in November 1970 on the Vertigo “swirl” label. It contains four songs per side, including “Government Man,” “Time to Die,” “San Antone,” “Hold Me Back,” and “Sittin’ Back Easy.” The album was produced by ex-Spencer Davis Group bassist Muff Winwood (brother of Steve Winwood) and engineered by Brian Humphries (Traffic, Spooky Tooth, Bronco, Man). The cover was illustrated by cartoonist Tony Benyon, who also drew the covers for the two May Blitz albums. Musically, Patto feeds blues-rock riffs and rustic licks through open-ended structures, overlaid with Halsall’s legato guitar runs and occasional touches of vibraphone.

Patto’s second Vertigo release, Hold Your Fire, appeared in 1971. It too features eight originals, including “Tell Me Where You’ve Been,” “Magic Door,” “See You at the Dance Tonight,” and “Air Raid Shelter.” The recording was once again handled by Winwood and Humphries with engineering assistance by Richard Digby Smith (McDonald and Giles, Gordon Haskell, Dr. Z, Sutherland Brothers). The cover was illustrated by Roger Dean in a style totally unlike his signature work for Yes, Uriah Heep, Osibisa, and Greenslade.

Patto moved to Island for their third album, Roll ’em Smoke ’em Put Another Line Out, released in 1972. The eight-song set includes “Turn Turtle,” “Loud Green Song,” “Singing the Blues on Reds,” and “I Got Rhythm.” The recording was co-produced between Muff and the band with engineering by Smith and Tony Platt (Habibiyya, Quintessence, Mott the Hoople, Sharks). The cover features a live photo surrounded by red fonts, courtesy of design firm Visualeyes (Amazing Blondel, John Martyn, Frankie Miller, Claire Hamill, Vinegar Joe, Wild Turkey, Tír na nÓg, Heads Hands & Feet).

In 1973, Patto recorded 10 songs for a new album that was ultimately shelved. The tracks were finally released 22 years later on the CD Monkey’s Bum. The decidedly tighter set includes “Sugar Cube 1967,” “Get Up and Do It,” “Hedyob,” “Good Friend,” and “My Days are Numbered.” The original pressing on Audio Archives features a screen-enboxed band photo in green and black versions. Later pressings on Arkama (Italy) and Dogtoire (Russia) use an engraved leather image.

By 1974, the members had drifted into other projects. Mike Patto replaced singer Mike Harrison in Spooky Tooth for the 1974 release The Mirror. Halsall replaced Allan Holdsworth in Tempest, playing on the album Living in Fear. Patto and Halsall regrouped the following year in Boxer, which recorded two albums for Virgin in 1975/76 and a third with a revised, Ollie-less lineup.

Over the years, Patto drummer John Halsey notched credits on albums by Lou Reed (Transformer), Joan Armatrading, Annette Peacock, and Roger Chapman. During the mid-70s, he cut two albums with folk-rockers Decameron. In 1977, he joined Roy Harper‘s backing band Chips.

Patto died of lymphatic leukemia on March 4, 1979, aged 36. Halsall passed from a drug-induced heart attack on May 29, 1992, aged 43.


  • Patto (1970)
  • Hold Your Fire (1971)
  • Roll ’em Smoke ’em Put Another Line Out (1972)
  • Monkey’s Bum (1995, recorded 1973)


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