Spooky Tooth was an English rock band that was active for two separate periods during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The band released four albums on Island between 1968 and 1970 before their initial breakup. A reformed lineup of the band released three further albums during 1973 and 1974.
Due to numerous changes in personnel, two albums in the Spooky Tooth catalogue — The Last Puff (1970) and The Mirror (1974) — feature none of the same members. Musically, the band evolved from pop-psych beginnings to forge an influential mix of organ-dominated hard rock and Cocker-esque soul.
Members: Mike Harrison (vocals, piano, harpsichord, 1967-74, 1997-present), Mike Kellie (drums, 1967-71, 1973-74, 1997-98, 2004-17), Luther Grosvenor (guitar, backing vocals, 1967-71, 1997-98), Greg Ridley (bass, backing vocals, 1967-69, 1997-98), Gary Wright (vocals, organ, 1967-70, 1972-74, 2004-present), Andrew Leigh (bass, 1969-70), Henry McCullough (guitar, 1970-71), Alan Spenner (bass, 1970-71), Chris Stainton (organ, 1970-71), Bryson Graham (drums, percussion, 1972-73, 1974), Ian Herbert (bass, 1972-73), Chris Stewart (bass, piano, 1973-74), Mick Jones (guitar, percussion, backing vocals, 1972-74), Mike Patto (vocals, electric piano, drums, percussion, clavinet, organ, 1974), Val Burke (bass, vocals, 1974)
Background: The VIP’s
Spooky Tooth was the final outgrowth of Carlisle R&B/beat combo The VIP’s, which issued five singles on assorted labels between 1964 and early 1967.
The first-recorded VIP’s lineup featured singer Mike Harrison, guitarist Frank Kenyon, guitarist–keyboardist Jimmy Henshaw, bassist Greg Ridley, and drummer Walter Johnstone. The members stemmed from northern beatsters The Ramrods (Harrison, Henshaw, Kenyon) and The Dakotas (Harrison, Ridley). In October 1964, The VIP’s cut the Henshaw-penned single “Don’t Keep Shouting at Me” (b/w “She’s So Good”) on RCA Victor.
As The Vipps, they issued the January 1966 CBS single “Wintertime,” backed with Henshaw’s “Anyone.” In France, Fontana issued a VIP’s maxi-single with three blues covers: “I Wanna Be Free” (a French No. 1), “Don’t Let It Go,” and “Smokestack Lightning.” The first two songs were paired on a UK 7″, which marked their debut on Island Records. Johnstone cleared out for drummer Mike Kellie in late 1966.
In May 1967, The VIP’s issued their final UK single, “Straight Down to the Bottom,” written and produced by Island’s Jimmy Miller and backed with the Jackie Edwards cover “In a Dream.” Both songs appear with two additional Miller-produced cuts (“Back Into My Life Again,” “Every Girl I See”) on a 1967 French Fontana EP. Another ’67 French maxi-single with three covers (“Stagger Lee,” “Rosemarie,” “Late Night Blues”) is housed in a picture sleeve with one of the few photos of the VIP’s final lineup, featuring Harrison, Kellie, Ridley, guitarist Luther Grosvenor, and keyboardist Keith Emerson.
Emerson, a former member of Gary Farr & The T-Bones, was only with The VIP’s for a few months before he reteamed with bassist and fellow ex-T-Bone Lee Jackson in The Nice. Grosvenor, another Ramrods alumni, recently played in Deep Feeling, a short-lived group with Jim Capaldi, who eventually formed Traffic with ex-Spencer Davis Group frontman Steve Winwood.
The lineup of Harrison, Kellie, Ridley, and Grosvenor became Art. Along with the other recent Island signings Nirvana and Traffic, Art marked the soul-ska label’s embrace of the psychedelic underground.
1967: Art – Supernatural Fairy Tales
Art released the album Supernatural Fairy Tales in November 1967 on Island. The 12-song set features 10 group-composed originals, including “I Think I’m Going Weird,” “Rome Take Away Three,” “Alive Not Dead,” “African Thing,” and the title-track. Musically, the songs echo the heavier end of psych-rock spectrum ala The Attack and the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
Supernatural Fairy Tales was produced by Guy Stevens, who later worked with Free, Traffic, Mighty Baby, Mott the Hoople, and The Clash. The cover art is credited to the psychedelic design firm and musical collective Hapshash and the Coloured Coat. The album’s title was later appropriated for a five-disc compilation of progressive rock on Rhino Records, though no Art tracks are included in the set.
Island issued one single from Supernatural Fairy Tales: a Buffalo Springfield cover titled “What’s That Sound,” the colloquial name of the Stephen Stills composition “For What It’s Worth,” a Billboard No. 7 hit for the Canadian–American folk-rockers earlier that year. The song was issued on French Fontana with three other album tracks (“Come On Up,” “Think I’m Going Weird,” “Rome Take Away Three”) for another maxi-single, erroneously credited to The VIP’s with a b&w group pic and floral, hot pink framework.
Gary Wright Joins; Name-change to Spooky Tooth
Immediately after the album’s release, Island head Chris Blackwell introduced Art to American singer–keyboardist Gary Wright, who became their co-frontman. Wright — a former child actor and doctoral major — was touring Europe with his band the New York Times, which opened for Traffic in Oslo, where he met Blackwell through their mutual friend (and fellow American) Jimmy Miller. Wright’s arrival heralded another name change, this time to Spooky Tooth.
Spooky Tooth debuted with the January 1968 Island single “Sunshine Help Me,” a lurching, melodramatic soul-rocker penned by Wright. The b-side is “Weird,” a Wright-sung re-recording of “I Think I’m Going Weird,” this time with icy organ and an echo-delayed chorus. Miller produced both sides of the single and Tooth’s ensuing album at London’s Olympic Studios.
Spooky Tooth played London’s Marquee Club as the opening act for Traffic (1/30/68) and Procol Harum (3/12/68), then returned to the club for May–June headline slots.
1968: It’s All About
Spooky Tooth’s debut studio album, It’s All About, appeared in June 1968 on Island (UK, Canada, Japan), Fontana (Germany, ZA), and Festival (Oceania). It features the pre-released a-side and six further originals, including three Wright–Miller co-writes: “It’s All About a Roundabout,” “It Hurts You So,” and “Forget It, I Got It.”
Grosvenor helped the pair on “Love Really Changed Me” and collaborated with Wright on the closing track, “Bubbles.” The side one centerpiece, “Here I Lived So Well,” is a group-written number. The album also includes covers of Janis Ian (“Society’s Child”), Bob Dylan (“Too Much of Nothing”), and the J.D. Loudermilk R&B standard “Tobacco Road.”
Miller slotted It’s All About between his involvement in the debut albums by Traffic (Mr. Fantasy) and Family (Music in a Doll’s House). The engineer, Glyn Johns, also worked on 1968 albums by Small Faces (Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake) and the Steve Miller Band (Children of the Future). Harrison and Wright trade vocals and keyboard duties, blending harpsichord (Harrison) and organ (Wright).
It’s All About sports alfresco front- and back-cover group photos by Gered Mankowitz, who also employed the blurred effect on 1967/68 covers for The Rolling Stones (Between the Buttons), The Nice (Ars Longa Vita Brevis), and PP Arnold (Kafunta). Mankowitz also notched visual credits on 1968 albums by Duncan Brown (Give Me Take You), Giles Giles & Fripp, Nirvana (All of Us), and the eponymous second album by Traffic.
Original issues of It’s All About feature titles and credits on the front (crouching) and back (standing), making both sides resemble a typical back cover. In the US, the album appeared on Bell Records as Spooky Tooth with the back-cover image (sans credits) placed on front and a standard b&w back cover, complete with band bio. This version flips sides one and two of the UK LP, opening with “It’s All About a Roundabout” and closing with “Sunshine Help Me.”
Island lifted “Love Really Changed Me,” backed with the non-album “Luger’s Groove,” credited to one Peter Luger.
Live Events, “The Weight”
On June 21, 1968, Spooky Tooth played Burton Constable Hall, Skirlaugh, as part of the Midsummer Night Dream event, which also featured sets by The Move, Family, Fairport Convention, Tramline, Savoy Brown, Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera, and Angel Pavement.
Notable summer gigs included dates at the Marquee (7/3/68, with The Glass Menagerie and Nite People) and the South Parade Pier, Southsea (7/17/68), where Spooky Tooth and Family opened for Traffic. On August 2, Tooth played the Metropole, Brighton, as part of the Summer Sounds event, which also featured Marmalade, The Nice, Mike Stuart Span, and Simon Dupree & the Big Sound.
On September 5, Spooky Tooth issued the standalone single “The Weight,” a cover of the Robbie Robertson composition released earlier that year by Canadian roots-rockers The Band on their debut album, Music from Big Pink. On UK and US copies (Mala Records), the song is backed with Wright’s “Do Right People.” European copies use “Bubbles” as the b-side. Tooth performed “The Weight” on episode No. 37 of the German music program Beat-Club, transmitted on November 16, 1968. (The song appears in lieu of “Too Much of Nothing” on a 1971 US A&M repress of It’s All About titled Tobacco Road.)
Meanwhile, Spooky Tooth played London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of an October 15 event that featured sets by Blonde On Blonde, Alan Price, Family, Joe Cocker, Jethro Tull, July, Roy Harper, and Taste. On November 8, Tooth returned to the Metropole for a multi-act engagement with The Move, Honeybus, Chicken Shack, and label-mates Wynder K. Frog.
As sessions commenced with Miller on Spooky Tooth’s second album, they closed 1968 with a New Year’s Eve celebration show at London’s Alexandra Palace along with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The Iveys, Gun, Small Faces, Free, Amen Corner, The Flirtations, The Gods, and the Bonzo Dog Band.
1969: Spooky Two
Spooky Tooth released their second album, Spooky Two, in March 1969 on Island (UK, Europe, Japan), A&M (US), Polydor (Canada), Festival (Oceania), and Fontana (South Africa). Wright wrote the four songs on side two: “Lost in My Dream,” “That Was Only Yesterday,” “Better by You, Better than Me,” and “Hangman Hang My Shell on a Tree.” Side one contains Wright co-writes with Kellie (“Feelin’ Bad,” “I’ve Got Enough Heartaches”) and a three-way cedit with Grosvenor and Harris on the opening number “Waitin’ for the Wind.”
The album’s nine-minute centerpiece, “Evil Woman,” was written by American songwriter Larry Weiss and recorded earlier by Lou Rawls and The Troggs. Another Weiss song, “Hi Ho Silver Lining,” was recorded by Tooth-contemporaries The Attack and Amen Corner. He also wrote hits for the American Breed (“Bend Me, Shape Me”) and Glen Campbell (“Rhinestone Cowboy”). (This “Evil Woman” is not the same song as the 1969 number by Crow that Black Sabbath covered on their debut album.)
Miller produced Spooky Two just after finishing work with The Move (“Blackberry Way”) and the Rolling Stones (Beggar’s Banquet). The engineer, Andy Johns, was an up-and-comer with 1969 tech credits on recordings by Circus, The Deviants, Free (Tons of Sobs), Humble Pie, Jethro Tull (Stand Up), Led Zeppelin (II), Renaissance (self titled), and Ten Years After. He made his production debut that year on Ahead Rings Out, the debut album by Blodwyn Pig.
Original UK copies of Spooky Two are housed in a gatefold sleeve (grey, olive, and purple-tinted pressings) with a medium group shot by photographer Ethan Russell. It first appears that Spooky Tooth are now a trio of Kellie, Harrison, and Grosvenor; until the outer gate is spread to reveal Wright and Ridley. In the US, the album appeared in a single sleeve with Russell’s photo cropped and columned to fit all five members on the front. Russell later photographed covers for The Beatles (Let It Be), Boz Scaggs (Slow Dancer), Jonathan Kelly, McGuinness Flint, and The Who (Who’s Next, Quadrophenia).
Judas Priest covered “Better by You, Better than Me” on their 1978 fourth album Stained Class. Their version became the subject of a civil action lawsuit when two Nevada teenagers died in a 1985 suicide pact, allegedly prompted by back-masked messages on Priest’s recording. The suit was tossed out of court in 1990.
Ridley Quits; Live Activity; “Son of Your Father”
Soon after Spooky Two‘s completion, Ridley accepted an invitation by ex-Small Faces singer–guitarist Steve Marriott to join Humble Pie, a new rock band he was forming with ex-Herd singer–guitarist Peter Frampton. Spooky Tooth hired bassist Andy Leigh, a onetime member of beatsters The Prestons who played on the 1969 Marmalade Records release Take Something With You, the debut solo album by Gary Farr.
Spooky Tooth spent the first half of 1969 doing live shows with Woody Kern (1/9/69: Marquee), the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (2/27/69: Royal Albert Hall), Deep Purple (3/13/69: Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle), Alan Brown Set (5/2/69: The Lyceum, London), and the Groundhogs (6/14/69: Roundhouse, London).
Island lifted no a-sides from Spooky Two in the UK. Instead, Spooky Tooth issued a June 1969 standalone single: the Wright-sung “Son of Your Father,” a composition by Elton John and Bernie Taupin that John himself recorded for his late-1970 release Tumbleweed Connection. Tooth co-produced their version with Muff Winwood (Steve’s brother), who subsequently worked with Patto. “I’ve Got Enough Heartache” appears on the b-side. Tooth would rerecord “Son of Your Father” with Harrison on vocals for their fourth album.
In October, Spooky Tooth played dates with High Tide (10/16/69: Lincoln Drill Hall) and Uriah Heep forebears Spice (10/19/69: Country Club, London). For their next project, Tooth agreed to a joint-album with experimental French composer Pierre Henry, a pioneer of musique concrète.
Spooky Tooth’s collaboration with Henry, Ceremony, appeared in December 1969 on Island. It features three songs per side co-credited to Wright and Henry: four in the 6–8-minute range (“Have Mercy,” “Jubilation,” “Confession,” “Hosanna”), plus the short “Offering” and the lengthy “Prayer” (10:50). The songs are gospelly Tooth-style hard-rockers overlaid with Henry’s electronic effects.
Spooky Tooth and Henry co-produced Ceremony, subtitled An Electronic Mass. Henry functioned as musical director (realisation sonore) on the project, which Andy John engineered concurrently with albums by Dada, Free (Highway), Led Zeppelin (III), and Traffic (John Barleycorn Must Die).
English artist John Holmes painted the Ceremony gatefold cover, which shows a hammer-wielding right hand (back) and a left hand nailed to the back of a distressed man’s head (front). The inner-gates shows distorted, elongated body parts and credits. Holmes later illustrated covers for Be-Bop Deluxe (Axe Victim) and Uriah Heep (Innocent Victim).
Philips issued the album as Ceremony (Messe Environnement) in France, where a single appeared with “Offering” (b/w “Have Mercy”). The edit of “Have Mercy” also appears on a split-promo 7″ with “It’s Five O’clock” by Aphrodite’s Child. Most international versions of the album appeared in 1970 on Island (Italy), Festival (Australia), Polydor (Canada), and A&M (US).
1970: Lineup Change
Wright, who took issue with Ceremony, left Spooky Tooth after the album’s release. He cut his first solo album, Extraction (a title play on his status as an ex-Tooth member), in 1970 with backing by Kellie, Alan White, Move bassist Trevor Burton, Blodwyn Pig guitarist Mick Abrahams, and American musician–songwriter Hugh McCracken. Along with White, Wright played on All Things Must Pass, the 1970 triple album by George Harrison. This led to appearances on Ringo Starr’s early solo singles. In 1971, Wright formed Wonderwheel for the A&M release Footprint.
Wright and Kellie also appear on the 1970 Polydor release Magician, the singular solo album by Andrew Leigh, who ended his brief Spooky Tooth tenure after Ceremony‘s completion.
Spooky Tooth — now down to Harrison, Grosvenor, and Kellie from the original lineup — employed three-fifths of Joe Cocker’s backing Grease Band: guitarist Henry McCullough, bassist Alan Spenner, and keyboardist Chris Stainton.
The Last Puff
Spooky Tooth released their fourth album, The Last Puff, in July 1970 on Island. Side one contains their version of “The Wrong Time,” a Wright–McCracken number that also appeared six months later on Extraction. Tooth also cut an early version of Cocker’s “Something to Say,” which later appeared on the singer’s 1972 third studio album titled Joe Cocker. The opening track, “I Am the Walrus,” is a slow, sludgy cover of the Beatles classic.
Side two contains recordings of songs by American composer Mike Post (“Nobody There at All”), singer–songwriter David Ackles (“Down River”), and a re-recording of Elton John’s “Son of Your Father,” once again beating John’s own version to the market. Stainton, who co-produced The Last Puff with Island founder Chris Blackwell, wrote the title song that closes the album.
Sessions took place at Island Studios with engineers Brian Humphries and Roger Beale. Humphries worked on 1969/70 albums by The Kinks (Arthur or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire), Man (2 Ozs. of Plastic With a Hole In the Middle), Black Sabbath (Paranoid), Patto (Patto), and McDonald and Giles. Beale‘s other tech credits include 1970 albums by Amazing Blondel, Clear Blue Sky, and Hannibal. Stainton is credited with supplemental guitar and bass in addition to organ and piano.
The Last Puff sports cover art by one Richard V. Greeves. The group are billed on this release as “Spooky Tooth Featuring Mike Harrison.” In Europe, Island lifted “I Am the Walrus” as a single, backed with the Spooky Two cut “Hangman Hang My Shell On a Tree.”
Harrison, Grosvenor, and Kellie toured the album into the fall of 1970 with keyboardist John Hawken (Renaissance) and bassist Steve Thompson (Bluesbreakers). Spooky Tooth ground to a halt late that year.
1971–72: Separate work; Mike Harrison solo
With Spooky Tooth disbanded, the Grease Band faction cut a self-titled album as an autonomous unit (independent of Cocker) in 1971 on Harvest. Thompson joined Stone the Crows for their 1971 third album Teenage Licks.
Grosvenor cut a solo album, the 1971 Island release Under Open Skies, which features seven originals, including “Rocket,” “Here Comes the Queen,” and the title track (co-written by Githa Grosvenor). The opening number, “Ride On,” features backing vocals by Jim Capaldi (who wrote the liner notes) and Mott the Hoople guitarist Mick Ralphs. Kellie plays on every track except “Queen,” which features original King Crimson drummer Michael Giles.
Kellie joined Parrish & Gurvitz, a rock duo comprised of bassist Paul Gurvitz (Gun) and guitarist Brian Parrish, who once played together in beatsters The Knack. They made a self-titled 1971 album on Regal Zonophone and recorded a second that got shelved when Paul reteamed with his younger brother, guitarist Adrian Gurvitz, in Three Man Army. Kellie played on their debut album, the 1971 Pegasus release A Third of a Lifetime (credited as Mike Kelly).
Harrison made his solo debut with the 1971 Island release Mike Harrison. The album features his version of “Here Comes the Queen” and a Cat Stevens cover (“Hard Headed Woman”). Harrison co-wrote three numbers (“Call It a Day,” “Damian,” “Wait Until the Morning”) with members of his backing band, which include VIPs guitarist Frank Kenyon. Harrison self-produced the album at Island Studios with engineer Richard Digby Smith (Bronco, Gordon Haskell, Heads Hands & Feat, Sutherland Brothers).
In 1972, Harrison recorded his second solo album, Smokestack Lightning, at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama. It features acoustic guitar by Grosvenor, who co-wrote the album’s only original, “Turning Over.” (Grosvenor subsequently toured with Stealers Wheel and replaced Ralphs in Mott the Hoople, where he adopted the stagename Ariel Bender, coined by Mott tour-mate Lynsey De Paul.)
Smokestack Lightning contains six songs, including two by Liverpudlian singer–songwriter Jimmy Stevens (“Tears,” “Paid My Dues”), plus covers of Fats Domino (“What a Price”), Joe Tex (“Wanna Be Free”), and a 12:29 take on the Howlin’ Wolf-penned title track, a blues standard re-popularized by the Yardbirds. Backing players include guitarist Pete Carr (Buzzy Linhart, Candi Staton, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Millie Jackson) and keyboardist Barry Beckett (Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Tamiko Jones, Wilson Pickett).
Spooky Tooth Reforms
In late 1972, Harrison reteamed with Wright, who just recorded the soundtrack to the 1972 German skiing film Benjamin. They reformed Spooky Tooth with two members of Wonderwheel, guitarist Mick Jones and drummer Bryson Graham.
Jones — a onetime member of instrumental rockers Nero and the Gladiators — backed the French singers Johnny Hallyday and Françoise Hardy on a string of 1969–72 recordings. Most recently, he played on albums by American singer–songwriter Tim Rose (self titled, Playboy Records) and the solo debut by Peter Frampton (Wind of Change, A&M). Graham also played on the Rose release after a brief stint in symphonic-psych rockers Mainhorse with Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz.
The new Spooky Tooth hired bassist Chris Stewart, formerly of Irish psychsters Eire Apparent, who released the 1969 album Sunrise, produced by Jimi Hendrix. Stewart recently played on albums by American singer–songwriter Tim Hardin (Painted Head, Columbia) and Indo-Brit bluesman Gerry Lockran (Wun, Polydor).
1973: You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw
Spooky Tooth released You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw in May 1973 on Island. It was the first album by the reformed band and the fifth studio release under the Tooth nameplate. By now, only Harrison remained from the VIPs/Art days. The album features six Wright originals, including “Cotton Growing Man,” “Old as I Was Born,” “Moriah,” and “Self Seeking Man,” plus the Jones co-write “Times Have Changed.” Graham contributed “This Time Around.”
Sessions took place at Olympic, Island, and Apple Studios with engineer Chris Kimsey, who also worked on 1973 albums by Emerson Lake & Palmer (Brain Salad Surgery) and Stray Dog. The assistant tape op, Rod Thear, also worked on the UA release It’s Only a Movie, the 1973 swan song by Family. YBMHSIBYJ was mastered by Trident’s Ray Staff, who worked concurrently on titles by Gentle Giant (In a Glass House), Hawkwind, John Cale, and Todd Rundgren (A Wizard, a True Star).
YBMHSIBYJ sports a gatefold cover design credited to “Noot.” The inner-gates feature lyrics with an illustration by Beatles insider Klaus Voormann (ex-Manfred Mann) that shows an irate female samurai holding a rolling iron and flipping a luckless man face-down on the ground. UK copies display the words “You broke my heart” in blackletter font on Victorian card stock with the word “SO…” in the margin; the rest of the title appears under Voormann’s illustration. On US A&M copies, the card is angled with the words “I BUSTED YOUR JAW” underneath in orange bold type.
Spooky Tooth quickly returned to the studio, this time with Kellie, who recently drummed on albums by Andy Roberts, Chris Jagger (brother of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger), Grimms, Kenny Young (Fox), and Neil Innes.
In November 1973, Spooky Tooth released Witness, their second album in six months and their sixth studio album overall. This too features six Wright compositions, including “Sunlight of My Mind,” “Things Change,” and “Ocean of Power,” plus co-writes with Stewart (“Don’t Ever Stray Away”), Jones (“All Sewn Up”), and Kellie (“Pyramids”).
Spooky Tooth self-produced Witness during summer–fall 1973 at Olympic and Island Studios. This reunited Harrison with Last Puff engineer Brian Humphries, who worked around this time with Barclay James Harvest, John Entwistle, JSD Band, Jonathan Kelly’s Outside, Rare Bird, and Traffic.
American designer and photographer Tom Wilkes designed the Witness gatefold. On front, it shows The Eye of Providence: an element of the Great Seal on the US one-dollar bill that depicts an eye at the tip of a pyramid surrounded by light rays. On Witness, the over-arching words “ANNUIT CŒPTIS” (meaning: “he (God) has approved our undertakings”) are changed to “SPOOKY TOOTH”; the under-arching ribbon words “NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM” (meaning: “a new order of the ages”) are replaced with “WITNESS”; and the Roman numerals MDCCLXXVI (1776) are replaced with MDCDLXXIII to reflect the album’s release date. However, 1973 in Roman numerals is actually MCMLXXIII.
The inner-spread shows a group pic of Spooky Tooth sprawled about in a national park setting. On back, group and member pics from the outdoor shoot are tacked to the Providence pyramid. The upmost pic — a group upshot with T-poles rising overhead — is used in a tinted variation (pink sky, red dirt) on A&M copies of Witness in the US, where the Great Seal imagery was replaced because of its association with domestic currency. Wilkes also designed the gatefolds for the Beatles compilations 1962–1966 (red) and 1967–1970 (blue).
Island issued “All Sewn Up” as a single, backed with “As Long As the World Keeps Turning.”
Shortly after the release of Witness, Mike Harrison left to resume his solo career and Kellie cleared for a returning Bryson Graham. Stewart, who played on 1973 albums by John Martyn and Laurie Styvers, left to focus on session work, including 1974 albums by Capaldi, Cocker, and Andy Fairweather Low. In 1975, he played on the Capitol release Funkist by singer Bobby Harrison (Snafu) and joined Frankie Miller‘s backing band.
The departures of Harrison and Kellie left Spooky Tooth with no ties to the VIP’s/Art era and no overlapping members from the Last Puff lineup. Only Wright remained from the 1968–69 period. Spooky Tooth hired singer Mike Patto, fresh off a three-album (four recorded) run with Patto, his namesake rock act with longtime partner, guitarist Ollie Halsall.
Patto (real name Michael McCarthy) was a fellow traveler of the Tooth odyssey. When the VIP’s were active, Patto sang similar mod-soul in the Bo Street Runners, a group that included drummer Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac) and keyboardist Tim Hinkley (Jody Grind). During the time-line of Supernatural Fairy Tales and It’s All About, Patto did pop-psych in Timebox, his first of three bands with Halsall. That band eventually morphed into Patto, which made the 1970/71 Vertigo albums Patto and Hold Your Fire, then moved to Island for their 1972 release Roll ’em Smoke ’em Put Another Line Out. A fourth album, Monkey’s Bum, was shelved at the time.
Like Harrison, Patto sang in a gruff, gritty tone and drew from similar soul-rock influences. His stint with Spooky Tooth marked his only time since Timebox away from Halsall, who spent the duration in Tempest, a hard-rock band led by ex-Colosseum drummer Jon Hiseman. They cut the 1974 Bronze release Living in Fear while the Patto-led Tooth entered the studio with American bassist–singer Val Burke, formerly of soulsters Willie & The Mighty Magnificents and funksters Mother Night.
1974: The Mirror
Spooky Tooth released their seventh studio album, The Mirror, in October 1974. Of the nine songs, Wright submitted three (“Women and Gold,” “Higher Circles,” “I’m Alive”) and co-wrote one with Jones (“Fantasy Satisfier”) and two with Patto (“Hell or High Water,” “The Hoofer”). The title track and “Two Time Love” were joint-written between the three. Wright co-wrote the ballad “Kyle” with Bob Purvis and Bill Elliott, the duo known as Dark Horse recording artists Splinter.
The Mirror is the third of three Spooky Tooth albums with Jones, who co-produced it with Wright and ZA-UK engineer Eddie Kramer, who also worked on 1973/74 albums by Stories (About Us) and Jobriath (self titled, Creatures of the Street). Wright, who plays Moog synthesizer, splits passages of clavinet and organ with co-vocalist Patto, who also plays electric piano. The assistant engineer and Moog programmer, Dave Whitman, also worked on contemporary jazz-funk titles by Ronnie Foster, Stanley Clarke, and Alphonze Mouzon (Funky Snakefoot).
The Mirror is housed in a black cover, die-cut around the silhouette of a hatted man (possibly René Magritte’s The Son of Man). The cutaway reveals a portion of the inner-sleeve painting: a woman submerged to the neck in flaming shrubbery amid hellish apparitions with a bat, a butterfly, and a giant bee hybrid hovering under cloudy blue sky. The back cover has a saturated, b&w picture of Spooky Tooth clad in black against a glowing backdrop. American artist Ruby Mazur designed the album’s visuals. His work also appears on 1974/75 covers by The Counts, Fruupp, Loleatta Holloway, and Law.
The Mirror was Spooky Tooth’s first album not issued on Island in the UK, where it instead appeared on the short-lived Goodear Records label, which also counted Carole Grimes (ex-Delivery) and Viola Wills among its roster. Goodyear, with its distinct ear logo on the LP labels, also pressed the album in Europe and Australia. Contrarily, The Mirror was Tooth’s first album to appear on Island in the US.
Goodyear lifted “Two Time Love” as an a-side, followed months later with “Fantasy Satisfier.” Both singles are backed by “The Hoofer.”
After Spooky Tooth
Spooky Tooth disbanded in November 1974, one month after The Mirror reached the stores.
Gary Wright commenced work on his third solo album, The Dream Weaver, released in July 1975 on Warner Bros. The largely keyboard–synthesizer-based album features backing by Bobby Lyle, producer–musician David Foster (Skylark, Airplay), and guitarist Ronnie Montrose. It spawned two Billboard No. 2 hits: the soul-funk “Love Is Alive” and the lucid “Dream Weaver.”
Wright advanced the latter’s pearly gates vibe on “Made to Love You” and explored the style full-length on The Light of Smiles, his first of two albums from 1977. The second, Touch and Gone, mines the soul-funk style. In 1981, he scored two early MTV hits (“Heartbeat,” “Really Wanna Know You”) from his synthpop-styled seventh album The Right Place, made with input by Scottish Supertramp sibling Ali Thomson.
Mick Jones played on 1974/75 albums by Hallyday and George Harrison and joined the backing band of ex-Mountain guitarist Lesley West for an album on Phantom Records. In 1976, he played on the eponymous debut solo album by ex-Stories frontman Ian Lloyd. On that project (recorded in New York) he met keyboardist, reedist, and fellow Englishman Ian McDonald, a founding member of King Crimson. They assembled a transatlantic six-piece, fronted by ex-Black Sheep singer Lou Graham. The band, Foreigner, rocketed to fame with their 1977 debut album and the hits “Feels Like the First Time” and “Cold as Ice.”
Mike Kellie played on 1976 albums by Pat Travers and Roderick Falconer (New Nation). In 1977, he surfaced in new wave rockers The Only Ones, which issued three 1978–80 albums on CBS and had a hit with “Another Girl, Another Planet.” He also played on albums by ex-New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders and ex-Ducks Deluxe frontman Sean Tyla.
Mike Harrison cut a third solo album, the 1975 Island/Goodyear release Rainbow Rider, recorded with Mick Jones, Morgan Fisher (Morgan, Mott the Hoople), and the Memphis Horns. It includes covers of Dylan, Don Nix, The Beatles (“We Can Work It Out”), and three originals, including the Grosvenor co-write “Okay Lay Lady Lay.” He then dropped from the music scene for 22 years.
Mike Patto reteamed with Ollie Halsall in Boxer, formed with bassist Keith Ellis (Koobas, Van Der Graaf Generator, Juicy Lucy) and drummer Tony Newman (Jeff Beck Group, May Blitz, Three Man Army). They made the 1975 Virgin album Below the Belt and recorded a second, then splintered. In 1977, a second Boxer lineup released Absolutely, then folded. The vaulted second album, Bloodletting, appeared in 1979 after Patto’s death at age 36 from leukemia.
Bryson Graham played in a sequence of bands, including glam rockers Bearded Lady (with Johnny Warman), punk rockers Front, and new wavers Neo. In 1983, he teamed with ex-Traffic bassist Rosko Gee on the projects Zahara and Zen Attack.
Luther Grosvenor (as Ariel Bender) was part of Mott the Hoople for their 1974 live album and studio release Mott. After they hired Mick Ronson, Grosvenor teamed with guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton (Hawkwind) and singer Steve Ellis (Love Affair) in Widowmaker, which released two albums on ELO‘s Jet Records label in 1976/77.
Val Burke played on the 1976 Muse Records jazz-funk release Living On the Avenue by saxophonist Stan Bronstein and co-wrote “White Witch,” the title track to the second album by Andrea True Connection.
Spooky Tooth Reunions
Harrison, Kellie, Grosvenor, and Ridley reunited for the 1999 CD Cross Purpose. It features new material and covers, plus remakes of “That Was Only Yesterday” and the Art track “Love Is Real.” Between 2004 and 2009, Harrison, Wright, and Kellie toured as Spooky Tooth.
Ridley died on November 19, 2003 at age 62 of pneumonia.
Kellie died on January 18, 2017 at age 69.
Harrison died on March 25, 2018 at age 72.
- It’s All About (1968)
- Spooky Two (1969)
- Ceremony (1970)
- The Last Puff (1970)
- You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw (1973)
- Witness (1973)
- The Mirror (1974)
- Discogs: Spooky Tooth
- 45cat: The VIPs
- 45cat: Spooky Tooth
- 45worlds: Spooky Tooth
- English Albums: S (page 6)
- 45worlds: Spooky Tooth (live events)
- Marquee Club: 1968
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