UFO are an English hard-rock band from Enfield, Middlesex, that released two albums on Beacon in 1970 and 1971, followed by a live album on Decca. Between 1974 and 1985, the band released 10 studio albums and a live double-LP on Chrysalis.
Members: Phil Mogg (vocals), Pete Way (bass, 1969-82, 1988-2010), Mick Bolton (guitar, 1969-72), Colin Turner (drums, 1969), Andy Parker (drums, 1969-83, 1993-95, 2005-present), Larry Wallis (guitar, 1972), Bernie Marsden (guitar, 1972-73), Michael Schenker (guitar, 1973-78, 1993-2002), Paul Chapman (guitar, bass, 1974-75, 1978-83), Danny Peyronel (keyboards, vocals, 1975-76), Paul Raymond (keyboards, guitar, 1976-80, 1984-86, 1993-98, 2003-present), John Sloman (keyboards, 1980), Neil Carter (keyboards, guitar, 1980-83), Billy Sheehan (bass, 1983), Paul Gray (bass, 1983-88), Atomic Tommy M. McClendon (guitar, 1984-87), Robbie France (drums, 1984-85), Jim Simpson (drums, 1985-88), David Jacobsen (guitar, keyboards, 1986), Myke Gray (guitar, 1987-88), Fabio Del Rio (drums, 1988), Rik Sanford (guitar, 1988), Tony Glidewell (guitar, 1988), Laurence Archer (guitar, 1990-93), Clive Edwards (drums, 1990-93), Jem Davis (keyboards, 1992-93), Simon Wright (drums, 1995-98), Aynsley Dunbar (drums, 2000-02), Vinnie Moore (guitar, 2003-present), Jason Bonham (drums, 2003-05)
UFO evolved from Hocus Pocus, formed in 1968 by singer Phil Mogg (b. 1948, Wood Green, London), bassist Pete Way (1951–2020), drummer Andy Parker (b. 1952, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire), and guitarist Mick Bolton. Mogg was a junior boxing champ before he met Way, who started as a studio musician, and Parker, who took up drums at age seven.
In October 1969, Hocus Pocus became UFO, named after the famed London club where they were spotted by a talent scout who linked them with upstart soul-pop-psych label Beacon Records.
1970: UFO 1
UFO released their debut album in October 1970 on Beacon (UK, France), Decca (Germany), and Stateside (Italy). It features two songs by Way (“Follow You Home,” “Evil”), one by Bolton (“Treacle People”), and four group-written numbers: “Unidentified Flying Object,” “Boogie for George,” “Shake It About,” and “Timothy.”
The album also contains covers of Eddie Cochran (“C’mon Everybody”), Bo Diddley (“Who Do You Love?”), and The Weavers’ anti-war anthem “(Come Away) Melinda,” also covered that year by Uriah Heep on their debut album, …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble, released four months before UFO 1.
UFO 1 was co-produced by Guy Fletcher and Doug Flett, a songwriting team behind several pop and psych acts (The Factotums, The Onyx, Brass Monkey). The album’s cover depicts the four members as egg-shaped objects in orbit with carved smiles. On back, their actual faces are shown illuminated in the dark. The original band logo, used on the first two albums, contains four stars (one for each band member) inside the letter O.
UFO’s early benefactor, Derek Abrahams, wrote the album’s liner notes, stating that “the tracks are written between them and are a musical expression of their innocence and thoughts of the world we live in.”
Beacon issued three singles from UFO 1: “Shake It About” (b/w “Evil”), “(Come Away) Melinda” (b/w “Unidentified Flying Object”), and “Boogie for George” (b/w “Treacle People”). Decca lifted “C’mon Everybody” as a single in Germany, where copies of the album included a label promo poster stating “Rock is back, blues is everywhere” and the worlds “BLUES POWER” at the bottom.
“C’mon Everybody” and “Boogie” appear on The World of Rock, a 1970 German Decca comp with cuts by Clark-Hutchinson, Crow, East of Eden, Frijid Pink, Human Beast, Keef Hartley Band, The Moody Blues, and Savoy Brown.
In the US and Canada, UFO 1 appeared in 1971 on the Motown sub-label Rare Earth with a purple-tinted cover. The album caught on in Germany, where UFO performed “Boogie” on the December 31, 1970, episode of the music program Beat-Club.
1971: UFO 2: Flying
UFO’s second album, UFO II: Flying (alternately known as UFO II or Flying), appeared in October 1971 on Beacon. It opens with “Silver Bird” (6:54), a slow-building boogie (in B♭) with panned, searing leads over a bobbing ostinato. “Star Storm” (18:54), their first of two long-form epics, builds slowly: first as a lead-laden boogie with a recurrent refrain (“But I gotta little time to let fly”), then as a free-form guitar jam in the vein of Guru Guru. “Prince Kajuku” is a tight, driving blues-rocker with wailing leads and terse phrasing.
Side two opens with “The Coming of Prince Kajuku,” a Wishbone Ash-style instrumental with plucked, echoey leads over a 1-5 bassline (in D). The title track, “Flying,” is one of the longest pieces of continuous music on an LP side up to that time (26:30). Musically, it passes through endless stanzas, volume adjustments and instrumental breaks (all in B) with occasional drumming variations (tom rolls here, rattling metal there) and wailing acid solos throughout. It ends with a back-masked reading of the final three lines from Rudyard Kipling’s 1890 poem Gunga Din.
Flying was produced by Beacon founder Milton Samuel, an Antiguan businessman (and later politician) who also produced 1970/71 label titles by Black Velvet, Monument (a Zior alias), and Guyanese bluesman Ram John Holder. Sessions took place at Nova Studios, London. All five songs were group-written between the four members.
German illustrator Günter Blum did the Flying cover art. It shows a flying purple-skinned alien amid celestial clouds and blue flying saucers. Below the band logo, the words SPACE ROCK appear; some fans interpret this as the album’s subtitle, though the LP labels simply state Flying. On back, a flying saucer (with a face) hovers over a checkered glass grid. Blum also did artwork for 1971/72 albums by Grobschnitt, Parzival, and Udo Lindenberg.
Decca issued the album in Germany as UFO 2 – Flying – One Hour Space Rock in a gatefold cover. The vertical inner-gates have song lyrics and a line-art view of the alien as it hovers over stunned humans, flanked with the word POW in comic pop art font.
Beacon and Decca paired both “Prince Kajuku” songs as a single. It reached No. 26 on the German charts.
In December 1971, UFO released their first live album, U.F.O. Landed Japan, on the Japanese Stateside label. It draws largely from the first album, including two of the covers (“C’mon Everybody,” “Who Do You Love?”) and elongated jams of “Boogie for George” (11:30) and “Follow You Home” (6:00). The two “Prince Kajuku” numbers are combined as one 8:20 medley. The set also includes their cover of Paul Butterfield’s “Loving Cup.”
Landed Japan was taped at Hibiya Park in Tokyo on September 25, 1971. Months after its release in that market, the album appeared on German Decca as Live in a gatefold sleeve. It shows leafy, human-shaped flora/fauna hybrids hovering aflame over wind-swept shrubbery. Live sports a sans-serif, three-dimensional UFO logo (lower-case f) that would also appear on their third studio album.
Michael Schenker Joins
In January 1972, Mick Bolton left the band and quit the music scene. UFO first tried guitarist Bernie Marsden, a newcomer from Buckingham. This lineup demoed the songs “Oh My” and “Sixteen.” (Marsden later surfaced in Babe Ruth, Paice Ashton Lord, and Whitesnake.) The following month, UFO hired guitarist Larry Wallis, recently of Lancaster’s Bombers, a spinoff of Blodwyn Pig.
With Wallis, UFO toured Europe and cut the non-album a-side “Galactic Love,” released in September 1972 on German Decca (b/w “Loving Cup”). That October, Wallis jumped ship to the Pink Fairies.
In June 1973, UFO welcomed 18-year-old guitarist Michael Schenker, a non-English speaker who stepped over from German hard-rockers Scorpions. Schenker, a recognized guitar prodigy, played on Scorpions’ 1972 debut album Lonesome Crow.
The UFO lineup of Mogg, Way, Parker, and Schenker signed with Chrysalis and debuted with the 1973 non-album single “Give Her the Gun,” a Schenker–Mogg number backed with the Mogg–Way “Sweet Little Thing.” The single was produced by Derek Lawrence, the long-time producer of Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash who also worked on 1972/73 albums by Alquin, Flash, Public Foot the Roman, and Warm Dust. In late 1973, UFO commenced work on their third studio album at Morgan Studios.
“Give Her the Gun”
Released: 1973 (Ger.)
Released: 22 March 1974
Released: 1975 (Europe)
No Heavy Petting
“Can You Roll Her”
Released: 1 July 1976 (Japan only)
Released: 1976 (Japan only)
“Alone Again Or”
Released: 6 May 1977 (UK)
“Too Hot to Handle”
Released: June 1977 (US)
Released: 1977 (US)
Released: June 1978 (US)
“Only You Can Rock Me”
Released: July 1978 (UK)
“Born to Lose”
Released: 1978 (NL)
Strangers in the Night
Released: January 1979 (UK)
Released: March 1979 (UK)
No Place to Run
Released: January 1980 (UK)
The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent
“Couldn’t Get It Right”
Released: October 1980
Released: January 1981
“Let It Rain”
Released: January 1982 (UK)
“Back into My Life”
Released: April 1982
“When It’s Time to Rock”
Released: 4 March 1983
Released: October 1985 (UK)
“Night Run (US remix)”
Released: February 1986
- UFO 1 (1970)
- UFO II: Flying (1971)
- Live (1972)
- Phenomenon (1974)
- Force It (1975)
- No Heavy Petting (1976)
- Lights Out (1977)
- Obsession (1978)
- Strangers in the Night (2LP live, 1979)
- No Place to Run (1980)
- The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent (1981)
- Mechanix (1982)
- Making Contact (1983)
- Misdemeanor (1985)
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