Atomic Rooster

Atomic Rooster was an English rock band, originally formed by former members of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Throughout their history, keyboardist Vincent Crane was the only constant member, and wrote the majority of their material.


Their history is defined by two periods: the early-mid-1970s and the early 1980s. When he recovered, he and drummer Carl Palmer took the step to leave Arthur Brown and return to England, the return date being Friday, the 13th of June 1969, which was the year of the rooster in the Chinese calendar, and arranged a meeting with Brian Jones to discuss a collaboration.


After Jones’s death, they adopted the name Atomic Rooster and soon recruited Nick Graham on bass and vocals. In June 1971, just before they began configuring their line-up once again, the single “Devils Answer” hit No. 4 in the UK.


Atomic Rooster saw considerable popularity, and they began recording In Hearing of Atomic Rooster (UK No. 18). Crane felt the band needed a singer who could “project” to an audience, and asked Leaf Hound vocalist Pete French to audition for the band.


Not long after French came into the studio, Crane promptly sacked Du Cann, and Paul Hammond followed him to form Bullet, later renamed Hard Stuff. French recorded all the vocals on the album (save for “Black Snake”, sung by Crane), and the album was released in August 1971.


Guitarist Steve Bolton left at the end of 1972, and was replaced by John Goodsall, appearing under the name Johnny Mandala. They released the album Nice ‘n’ Greasy in 1973 along with the single “Save Me”, a re-working of “Friday the 13th”.


This time, it was in a complete funk style. After nearly two years without any hits, Dawn Records dropped the group and Atomic Rooster began to split. After a tour, Farlowe, Mandala and Parnell left. The single “Tell Your Story, Sing Your Song” was released in March 1974 as “Vincent Crane’s Atomic Rooster” on Decca.


All subsequent gigs were played by Crane along with members of the blues band Sam Apple Pie. A final concert was played in February 1975, a benefit gig for the RSPCA. Afterwards, Crane disbanded Atomic Rooster.


In 1979, post punk, and the arrival of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, with members of these new bands citing, as an influence, Atomic Rooster. Vincent and John (by now using his full name – John Du Cann) got together, talked about it, did some research and Rooster were back.


1980 saw the recording of an LP, on EMI, on the drums being the highly rated session drummer, Preston Heyman. A couple of “test the water” gigs were undertaken, to great acclaim, and dates were set for a tour. Preston was invited and undertook the drum duties, whilst the LP was released in September 80, following the single, Do You Know Who’s Looking for You? (June 80).


However Preston’s prior session and touring commitments caught up with him and by the time of the gig at the Marquee, 23rd October 1980 Paul Hammond was once again behind the drum kit. Touring continued but EMI pulled the plug on the band, fortunately Polydor picked up the band for two singles, during 81, Play It Again (25th September 81) and End Of The Day (Feb 82).


During the recording of these two singles reworked versions of Tomorrow Night and Devil’s Answer were also recorded (Big John McCoy adding bass) Record label problems(again) led to the departure of John Du Cann prior to the recording of the sixth LP, Headline News, in late 82, the guitar parts were recorded by Dave (Pink Floyd) Gilmour, John Mizarolli and Bernie Torme.


Tour dates in Italy and Germany were undertaken with Bernie on guitar and the odd UK dates were with John Mizarolli. Vincent had also taken on the vocals not only for the LP, Headline News, but also for live work. Headline News was released in June 1983, following the single, Land Of Freedom, in May 1983.