UFO are an English hard rock band formed in 1969. UFO became a transitional band between early hard rock and heavy metal and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. UFO's influence was strongly felt in the 1980s heavy metal scene and they have been cited as a primary influence of Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Frank Hannon of Tesla, and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, among others.
UFO were ranked #84 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock
Vocalist Phil Mogg
Mick Bolton (born Michael Bolton, May 1950, in London), bassist Pete Way
and drummer Andy Parker
(born Andrew Maynard Parker, 21 March 1952
, in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire
) formed the band in August, 1969. Originally taking the name 'Hocus Pocus', the group changed their name in October 1969 to UFO in honour of the London
club where they were spotted by Noel Moore, who signed them to his Beacon Records label. Their eponymously
titled first album debuted in 1970 and was a typical example of blues
based hard rock
. The album included a heavy version of Eddie Cochran
's classic, "C'mon Everybody". Both UFO 1
and its follow-up, Flying
, were very successful in Japan
(especially the single "C'mon Everybody" which became a huge hit there) and Germany
(the song "Boogie For George", also from the first album, reached #30 in German singles charts and "Prince Kajuku" from UFO 2 - Flying
reached #26 there), but generated poor interest in Britain
. Consequently, their third effort, Live
(later re-issued as UFO Lands In Tokyo
), was originally only released in Japan in 1972.
Part of UFO's early heavy metal work was strongly influenced by space rock (their second album, including a 26-minute long title track and a 19-minute long opus "Star Storm", even was subtitled "One Hour Space Rock") that was modestly popular at the time, but the band soon realised the style was somewhat limited. In January, 1972 Mick Bolton left the group, and UFO set out to find a guitarist capable of providing the band with a more standard rock sound.
After brief trial runs with ex-Steve Took's Shagrat
guitarist, Larry Wallis
(February - October, 1972; in 1975 he became a founding member of Motörhead
) and future Cozy Powell
's Hammer and Whitesnake
member, Bernie Marsden
- he toured with UFO in Europe and recorded demo, "Give Her The Gun") - the band recruited Michael Schenker
in June, 1973. On a new label, Chrysalis Records
, and with new producer, Leo Lyons
, UFO recorded Phenomenon
in 1974, which debuted the band's harder-edged guitar sound. Schenker was only 18 at the time, but was already a well-respected guitarist. Phenomenon
was not an instant classic, but contained many fan favorites such as "Doctor Doctor" (later a minor hit single as a live track) and "Rock Bottom" (which was extended live to provide a showcase for Schenker). By the time of the Phenomenon
tour, ex-Skid Row
guitarist Paul Chapman
(born Paul William Chapman, 9 May 1954
, in Cardiff
, South Wales
) joined the group, but he left in January, 1975 to form Lone Star
The band later released Force It (July, 1975) and No Heavy Petting (May, 1976) and toured extensively, which brought UFO increased visibility with American audiences and made them huge stars in England.
After the band experimented with keyboards during the recording sessions of Force It (Chick Churchill from Ten Years After played them), a keysman Danny Peyronel (previously in Heavy Metal Kids) joined the line-up in August, 1975, but the next summer he left to form The Blue Max. In July, 1976 the band recruited keyboardist and second guitarist Paul Raymond (born Paul Martin Raymond, 16 November 1945, in St Albans, Hertfordshire) (ex-Plastic Penny) from Savoy Brown to make 1977's Lights Out. Lights Out was the pinnacle of UFO's studio career and is considered a genuine 1970s rock classic, containing songs such as "Too Hot To Handle", "Lights Out", "Alone Again Or" and the 7-minute opus "Love To Love". With Lights Out, the band received substantial critical acclaim.
With their new-found success, the band went back into the studio to record Obsession in 1978. Whilst not as successful as its predecessor, Obsession still contained several popular tracks, such as; "Cherry" and "Only You Can Rock Me".
Later that year, the band went on tour and recorded the live album, Strangers In The Night. Strangers was a critical and commercial success reaching Number 8 in the UK album charts in February 1979.
Tensions had begun to grow between Mogg and Schenker in the late 1970s and before the release of Strangers In The Night
(January, 1979), Schenker left the band. He made a brief return to the Scorpions
before going on to form the Michael Schenker Group
After Schenker's exit, UFO rehired Paul "Tonka" Chapman on guitar who brought over unused track ideas from Lone Star's Dixie Lee. Shortly after they released their next LP, No Place To Run
in January, 1980, produced by the former Beatles
producer, George Martin
. No Place to Run
failed to match up to the success of its predecessors. Paul Raymond left the band at the end of the No Place To Run
tour and was replaced by John Sloman from Uriah Heep
for a couple of months and then by former Wild Horses
guitarist and keyboardist Neil Carter
, who helped fill the void in the songwriting left by Schenker's departure. Carter debuted in UFO on stage at Reading Festival August 23, 1980 when the band played as headline act. At the beginning of following year UFO released self-produced The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent
, which had a lighter pop rock
sound, which was popular at the time. The album achieved mild success in the UK
, sparked by the Top 20 single "Lonely Heart".
In February, 1982 the band released Mechanix. It contained the popular song, "Back Into My Life", which was a minor hit in the USA. Later that year, founding member, Pete Way left the band to form Fastway with Mötorhead guitarist Eddie Clarke and then his own Waysted. He was replaced by Talas bassist, Billy Sheehan. UFO released Making Contact in 1983, but the album was a critical and commercial failure. Thus, that May, UFO decided to disband.
This proved to be a short hiatus as, two years later, Mogg assembled a new UFO line-up and released Misdemeanor. This was followed by the 1988 EP Ain't Misbehavin'. Despite the renewed activity of the band, neither release was financially successful and they disbanded again.
In 1992, Mogg and Way decided to put a new UFO line-up together with Clive Edwards
and Laurence Archer
in the band and released High Stakes & Dangerous Men
. Whilst only released on a small independent label, High Stakes
was enough to generate serious interest in a full-blown reunion. The following year, the late 1970s UFO line-up – Mogg, Schenker, Way, Raymond and Parker – reunited, and the resultant album Walk on Water
, was released in 1995. This line-up went on a world tour (barring Parker's replacement by AC/DC
's Simon Wright
on drums). However, tensions arose again, and Schenker left the band in the middle of the tour. Therefore, the other members went their separate ways again.
Phil Mogg and Pete Way continued working together, however, and released two albums under the Mogg/Way name in the late 1990s, - Edge of the World and Chocolate Box. In 2003 they released The Plot with drummer Jeff Martin.
In 2000, Schenker rejoined UFO again and the band released the double CD, Covenant
which contained a disc of new material and a disc of live classics. This album saw Aynsley Dunbar
join on drums. Despite constant rumours regarding Schenker's status in the band, he returned once again in 2002 to record, Sharks
. Shortly after Sharks
was released, Schenker left the band yet again. Mogg, Raymond and Way decided to replace Schenker with Vinnie Moore
During this period, bassist Pete Way would release his solo debut "Amphetamine" and the live release Pete Way (Alive In Cleveland).
In 2004 UFO released You Are Here with Jason Bonham on drums and guitar maestro Vinnie Moore.
As a follow up for the tour, UFO record their live set and release a double-DVD recording titled Showtime (2005) along with a double live CD on SPV in November 2005, mixing a number of re-recoded studio songs, some of which can be viewed on YouTube.
In November 2005, Andy Parker returned to the band to play in the Piorno Rock Festival in Granada, Spain.
UFO's nineteenth studio album, titled The Monkey Puzzle, was released in Europe on September 25, 2006 and on the following day in the United States
Andy Parker recently returned in early 2007 after recovering from proper medical surgery on his leg. He and the rest of the band gave thanks to all who helped; most importantly, Jason Bonham (Andy's replacement).
In January 2008 they re-released three albums (Phenomenon, No Heavy Petting and Force it) which include bonus tracks and live versions of select songs. Reissues of Lights Out and Obsession followed in July.
Bassist Pete Way was unable to get a work visa to enter the United States for the band's 2008 tour. For these shows, Rob De Luca (Sebastian Bach Band) is filling in the bass player slot.
As of July 2008, according to Metalunderground.com, UFO have begun writing new material for their next album due for release sometime in 2009. While no further more information is currently available, they plan to return to the studio in late 2008/early 2009 to begin recording it.
- Too Hot to Handle (1994)
- Showtime (2005)