Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Roger 'Chappo' Chapman (Family & Streetwalkers)

The Farinas were a UK r'n'b outfit from Leicester and formed in 1962. The art school band consisted of John ‘Charlie” Whitney (guitar and keyboards), Ric Grech (bass and vocals), Harry Ovenall (drums) and Jim King (saxophone and harmonica). In 1965 Tim Kirchin replaced Ric Grech and Roger "bleating vibrato" Chapman joined the band as the lead vocalist. As a gimmick the band wore double breasted suits on stage and looked menacing like ‘mafia men’. At the suggestion of Kim Foley (US record producer), in 1966 they became Family (as in Mob) and played a hot mixture of rock'n''roll, folk, psychedelia, acid, jazz fusion. The band was very much in casual gear which suited their set.

"Scene Through The Eye Of A Lens/Gypsy Woman" was their first single in 1967 and was released on Liberty Records but did very little. Rob Townsend replaced Harry Ovenall on drums and in 1968 the band signed with the Reprise Records label. As was the trend for progressive rock acts they released an album called Music in a Doll's House (1968).

The album met with critical acclaim and DJ, John Peel (BBC) loved it and promoted it heavily bringing it to the attention of his radio audience. The album featured the sounds of several unusual instruments for a rock band and blended perfectly with the complex song arrangements sung superbly by Roger Chapman and complemented with John ‘Charlie” Whitney innovative guitar play. Music in a doll’s house would become a classic of UK psychedelic rock. Family became the toast of the British psychedelic/progressive "underground" circuit and toured extensively.

The follow up album Family Entertainment (1969) sold well and again help its own in the top 10 UK album charts. An ill-fated US tour followed during which time Ric Grech left to join Blind Faith.

He was replaced with John Weider (formerly of Eric Burdon and The Animals). Back luck followed the tour and as a result Family never was able to recover their reputation in the US. On return to the UK, the band performed with The Rolling Stones' at their free Hyde Park concert. They also featured at the Isle of Wight Festival. By the end of 1969, John Poli Palmer (keyboards and synthesizers) had replaced Jim King and they released their third studio album, A Song for Me.

More a blend of hard rock and folk rock the album went to number 4 in the UK album charts. The distinct change in style had more to do with the continuing changes in the band’s line up than following popular trends but it did suit the record buying audience. Family was by now a major attraction at festivals including a second appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival.

Dubbed one of the wildest, most innovative groups of the underground rock scene, on stage their performances were legendary. It has even been claimed the late, great Jimi Hendrix was in fear of following their set at festivals. Their fourth album, Anyway, sold well and reached # 7.

Line up chances continued and John Wetton replaced John Weider. Wetton shared vocals with Roger Chapman and the band's next single "In My Own Time/Seasons" reached # 4 in The UK singles chart and the album Fearless (1971) sold well in both the US and the UK.

By 1972 the band were playing more hard rock and released their Bandstand album.

John Wetton (King Crimson) and John "Poli" Palmer left the band in 1972 and were replaced by Jim Cregan, and Tony Ashton (Ashton, Gardner and Dyke) respectively. After a tour of Canada and the US which met with indifference they recorded their last album in 1973, soon after they broke up. Roger Chapman and John "Charlie" Whitney quickly formed the band (Chapman Whitney) Streetwalkers and signed to the Vertigo label. The band enjoyed some success in USA and Europe with their best works on the Red Card album (1976).

Like Family before them, Streetwalkers were well respected by music fans and the music press but changing musical taste at the end of the decade saw the band break up in 1977. Roger Chapman has continued with a solo career and released many albums including Hide and go seek (double album ) in 2009

Worth a listen
The Breeze (1968)
Peace Of Mind (1968)
Never Like This (1968)
The Weaver's Answer (1969)
In My Own Time/Seasons"
Burlesque" (1972)
My Friend the Sun" ( 1973)

Parisienne High Heels
Burn it down
Roll up, Roll Up (1976)
Run for Cover (1976)

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