Family (band)

Family (band)

:"This article is about the British rock band. For other uses, see Family (disambiguation)". Not to be confused with the American R&B band The Family.Infobox musical artist
Name = Family

Img_capt = Left to right: John "Charlie" Whitney, Jim King, Rob Townsend, Ric Grech, Roger Chapman
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Leicester, England
Genre = Rock, Progressive rock
Years_active = 1967–1973
Label = Liberty, Reprise, Raft
Associated_acts = Kevin Ayers, Streetwalkers, Traffic, Blind Faith, King Crimson, Stud, Mogul Thrash, The Animals, The Farinas, The Rocking R's, The Roaring Sixties, Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, Dave Mason, Nicky Hopkins
Current_members = Roger Chapman John "Charlie" Whitney Jim King Ric Grech (deceased) Rob Townsend
Past_members = Harry Ovenall John Weider John "Poli" Palmer John Wetton Jim Cregan Tony Ashton (deceased)

Family were an English rock band that formed in 1967 and disbanded in 1973. Their style has been characterised as progressive rock, although their sound often explores other genres, incorporating elements of such styles as folk, psychedelia, acid, jazz fusion and basic rock 'n' roll. The band was never particularly successful in the United States, although Family did achieve recognition in the United Kingdom, appearing at several festivals. [ Only Solitaire: George Starostin's Music Reviews] ] [ All Music Guide - Family biography] ] [ Strange Band - a Family introduction] ] [ Rate Your Music - Family biography] ]

The band's rotating membership throughout its relatively short existence led to a diversity in sound throughout their different albums. Family are also often seen as an unjustly forgotten act, relative to some other bands in existence during the same era, and have been described as "odd band loved by a small but rabid group of fans".


Early years (1967–1969)

Family formed in 1967 in Leicester, England from the remaining members of a group that was previously known as The Farinas [ 45 RPM - Family biography] ] and later The Roaring Sixties, whose sound was grounded in R&B. [ Strange Band - Family history] ] The Farinas originally consisted of John "Charlie" Whitney, Tim Kirchin, Harry Ovenall and Jim King, forming at Leicester Art College in 1962. Ric Grech replaced Kirchin on bass in 1965 and Roger Chapman joined the following year on vocals. The American record producer Kim Fowley suggested they call themselves "The Family", as they regularly wore double-breasted suits in performances, giving themselves a mafia appearance, a look they soon abandoned in favour a more casual dress code. Family's debut single, "Scene Through The Eye Of A Lens/Gypsy Woman", produced by Jimmy Miller and released by Liberty Records in October 1967, was not a particular success. Around this time, drummer Harry Ovenall was asked to leave the band and was replaced by Rob Townsend.

The band signed with the Reprise Records label and their debut album "Music in a Doll's House", was recorded during early 1968 . Jimmy Miller was originally slated to produce it but he was tied up with production of The Rolling Stones' album "Beggar's Banquet" and he is credited as co-producer on only two tracks, "The Breeze" and "Peace Of Mind". The bulk of the album was produced by former Traffic member Dave Mason. and recorded at London's Olympic Studios with engineers Eddie Kramer and George Chkiantz. Mason also contributed one composition to the album, "Never Like This", the only song recorded by Family not written by a band member [ Strange Band: Music from a Doll's House] ] and the group also backed Mason on his February 1968 single "Just For You/Little Woman".

Family made their London debut at the Royal Albert Hall in July 1968, supporting Tim Hardin. Alongside Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Nice, Family quickly became one of the premier attractions on the burgeoning UK psychedelic/progressive "underground" scene. Their lifestyle and exploits during this period provided some of the inspiration for the 1969 novel "Groupie" by Jenny Fabian (who lived in the group's Chelsea house for some time) and Johnny Byrne Nik Logan & Bob Woffinden, "The Illustrated New Music Express Encyclopedia of Rock", 1978 Edition (Salamander Books, 1977), pp. 79-80] . Family featured in the book under the pseudonym "Relation" [ The Groupie Website: The Bands In Groupie] ] .

"Music in a Doll's House" was released in July 1968 and charted at #35 in the UK to critical acclaim, thanks to strong support from radio broadcaster John Peel . Now widely acknowledged as a classic of British psychedelic rock, it showcased many of the stylistic and production features that are archetypal of the genre. The album's highly original [ All Music Guide: Music from a Doll's House] ] sound was characterised by Chapman's vocals, rooted in the blues and R&B, combined with several unusual instruments for a rock band, courtesy of the presence of multi-instrumentalists Grech and King, including saxophones, violin, cello and harmonica.

Family's 1969 follow-up "Family Entertainment" toned down the psychedelic experimentation of their previous offering to some extent, [ All Music Guide: Family Entertainment] ] reaching #6 on the UK album charts and featured the single "The Weaver's Answer", although the group reportedly had no control over the mixing and choice of tracks.

With the UK success of Family's first two albums, the band undertook a tour of the United States in April 1969, but it was beset by problems. Halfway through the tour, Ric Grech unexpectedly left the band to join the new supergroup Blind Faith; on the recommendation of tour manager Peter Grant, Grech was replaced by John Weider, previously of Eric Burdon and The Animals. [ Strange Band: John Weider] ] A further setback occurred during their first concert at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, whilst sharing the bill with Ten Years After and The Nice -- during his stage routine, Chapman lost control of his microphone stand, which flew in Graham's direction, an act Graham took to be deliberate [ Strange Band: Family facts] ] ; Chapman performed the following shows with his hands by his sides, and by the end of the tour he had lost his voice; Family's reputation in the US never recovered and they ultimately never achieved great recognition there. [ - Roger Chapman] ]

Returning to the UK, the band performed at The Rolling Stones' Hyde Park gig and the Isle of Wight Festival that summer. In late 1969, Jim King was asked to leave Family due to "erratic behaviour" and was replaced by multi-instrumentalist John "Poli" Palmer.

Later years (1970–1973)

In 1970, Family played a few more gigs in the United States, appearing in San Francisco and Boston. In early 1970, Family released their third studio album, "A Song for Me"; produced by the band, it became the highest charting album the band released, reaching #4 on the UK album charts. [ Strange Band: Gigs] ] The album itself was a blend of hard rock and folk rock. [ All Music Guide: A Song for Me] ] Family's new lineup played at major rock festivals that summer, including the Kralingen Festival in the Netherlands and the Isle of Wight Festival for the second year in a row. The band appeared in the documentary film Message to Love about the latter festival. [,,1842641,00.html Artist Direct: Message to Love] ]

Family's followup album "Anyway", released in late 1970, had its first half consist of new material recorded live at Fairfield Hall in Croydon, England, with the second half a set of new songs recorded in the studio, and reached #7 on the UK charts. [ Strange Band: Anyway] ] In March 1971 the compilation album of previously recorded material Old Songs New Songs was released, and in June Weider left Family to join the band Stud. He was replaced by former Mogul Thrash bassist John Wetton [ All Music Guide: Fearless] ] , who had just declined an invitation from Robert Fripp to join King Crimson.

As with Ric Grech in Family's original lineup, Wetton also shared vocal duties with Chapman, and this line-up soon released Family's highest-charting single "In My Own Time/Seasons" which reached #4, and the album "Fearless" in October 1971, which charted in both the UK and the US. In 1972, another album, "Bandstand" was released, which leaned more towards hard rock than art rock, [ All Music Guide: Bandstand] ] featuring the singles "Burlesque" in late 1972 and "My Friend the Sun" which was released in early 1973.

In mid-1972, John Wetton left Family to join a new lineup of King Crimson and was replaced by bassist Jim Cregan, and at the end of that year John "Poli" Palmer also left the band and was replaced by keyboardist Tony Ashton, previously of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke. After Wetton's departure (but before Palmer's exit) Family toured the United States and Canada as the support act for Elton John, but their performances were often greeted with silence and Poli Palmer later recalled that "the only clapping in this huge stadium would be the guys doing the PA".

In 1973, Family released the largely ignored "It's Only a Movie" (and on their own label, Raft, distributed by Warner/Reprise), which would be their last studio album, followed by another tour. [ All Music Guide: It's Only a Movie"] ]

Family gave their final concert at Leicester Polytechnic on October 13, 1973. The band never reformed, but instead many of its members went onto different musical projects; Roger Chapman and John "Charlie" Whitney formed the band Streetwalkers,; John Wetton played with King Crimson eventually became the lead singer of the band Asia. [ All Music Guide: John Wetton] ] Rob Townsend was a member of Medicine Head between 1973 and 1975. Ric Grech died of kidney and liver failure in 1990 at the age of 43, as a result of alcoholism. [ All Music Guide: Ric Grech] ] Tony Ashton died in 2001 at the age of 55 of cancer. [ Strange Band: Tony Ashton] ]


Family's sound was distinguished by several factors. The vocals of Roger Chapman, described as a "bleating vibrato" [ In Music We Trust: Family Live] ] and an "electric goat", were considered unique, although Chapman was trying to emulate the voices of R&B and soul singers Little Richard and Ray Charles, with some reviewers noting however that Chapman's voice could be grating and irritating occasionally. John "Charlie" Whitney was an accomplished and innovative guitarist, and Family's often complex song arrangements were made possible through having multi-instrumentalists like Ric Grech and Jim King in the band and access to electronic keyboards such as the Hammond organ and the new Mellotron. The band's sound has been variously described as progressive rock, psychedelic rock, acid rock, folk rock, jazz fusion and hard rock.

Family were particularly known for their live performances; one reviewer describing the band as "as one of the wildest, most innovative groups of the underground rock scene", noting that they produced "some of the rawest, most intense performances on stage in rock history" and "that the Jimi Hendrix Experience were afraid to follow them at festivals".

Georgiy Starostin notes that the band's sound can most closely be compared with Traffic, but that Family were a considerably stronger group. Family was an influence on Jethro Tull, with Ian Anderson noting that the band were particularly underrated.. Both in his vocal sound and style and his dramatic stage presentation, Chapman was also a strong early influence on Peter Gabriel, lead singer of Genesis (band).



*Roger Chapman - vocals, harmonica, tenor saxophone, percussion (1967–1973)
*John "Charlie" Whitney - guitars, sitar, keyboards (1967–1973)
*Jim King - saxophones, harmonica, tin whistle, piano, vocals (1967–1969)
*Ric Grech - bass, violin, cello, vocals (1967–1969)
*Harry Ovenall - drums, percussion (1967)
*Rob Townsend - drums, percussion (1967–1973)
*John Weider - bass, guitar, violin (1969–1971)
*John "Poli" Palmer - keyboards, flute, vibraphone, synthesisers (1969–1972)
*John Wetton - bass, guitar, vocals (1971–1972)
*Jim Cregan - bass, guitars (1972–73)
*Tony Ashton - keyboards, accordion, mellotron, vocals (1973)

ession musicians

*Dave Mason - keyboards, bass, guitar (on "Music in a Doll's House")
*Nicky Hopkins - keyboards (on "Family Entertainment")


*John Gilbert - "Music in a Doll's House" and "Family Entertainment" (executive producer)
*Dave Mason - "Music in a Doll's House"
*Jimmy Miller - "Music in a Doll's House"
*Glyn Johns - "Family Entertainment"
*George Chkiantz - "A Song for Me", "Anyway", "Fearless", "Bandstand", "It's Only a Movie"


tudio albums

* "Music in a Doll's House" (Reprise, 1968)
* "Family Entertainment" (Reprise, 1969)
* "A Song for Me" (Reprise, 1970)
* "Anyway" (Reprise, 1970)
* "Fearless" (Reprise, 1971)
* "Bandstand" (Reprise, 1972)
* "It's Only a Movie" (Raft, 1973)


External links

* [ Family] at Allmusic
* [ Family] at MusicBrainz
* [ Family] at Rate Your Music
* [ Strange Band] - a Family tribute site
* [] - a Family biography
* [ A Family Affair] - reviews of Family albums
* [ Zeitgeist] - reviews of Family albums
* [ Leicester Bands] - interviews with Family band members
* [ Family Bandstand] - a Family site with audio, video

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