Friday, May 27, 2011


This is a band that occupied a position in the transitional period between the hard rock-heavy metal of the 70's and the new wave of heavy metal of the 80's. Formed in 1969 by Singer Phil Mogg, Bassist Pete Way, guitarist Mick Bolton and drummer Andy Parker, they were originally called Hocus Pocus, then changed to UFO in honor of the London club in which they were spotted by Noel Moore who signed them to the Beacon Records label. Their eponymously named first album was typical hard rock fare, including a heavy version of Eddie Cochran's "C'mon Everybody". It and the follow-up album, UFO2-Flying, became successful in Japan and Germany, but not so much in the U.S. and the U.K.
Part of the band's early work was in the Pink Floyd-Hawkwind space rock vein, where Bolton in particular was quite comfortable. However Bolton left the band in 1972, and the search began for a more hard rock-oriented replacement.
Guitarists Larry Wallis and Bernie Mardsen came and went, and finally they recruited Michael Shenker, formerly with the German band The Scorpions. Shenker was at the time a highly regarded guitarist  even though he was all of 18 years old.

Next up was a new label (Chrysalis), a new producer (Ten Years After's Leo Lyons) and a new album called Phenomenon. An instant classic released in 1974, it contained such fan favorites as "Doctor,Doctor" and "Rock Bottom". Two subsequent albums, 1975's Force It and 1976's NoHeavy Petting, along with extensive touring greatly raised the band's profile with American audiences and built a large following in England. By this time the band had added Danny Peyronel on keyboards and guitar.

In 1976 Peyronel left and the band recruited keyboardist-guitarist Paul Raymond,who had just left blues-rock band Savoy Brown. They then recorded the next album, Lights Out. Released in 1977,the album was a high point in the band's career,containing songs such as the title track, "Too Hot To Handle" and "Love To Love". It is counted among the best of the 70's hard rock genre and was critically acclaimed. Enjoying new-found success the band came back with the next album, Obsession, released in 1978, followed by a U.S. tour which produced a live album, Strangers In The Night which hit #7 in the U.K. charts in 1979. Unfortunately, Shenker's increasing alcohol abuse and friction with Phil Mogg resulted in his departure from the band after the U.S. tour. He was replaced by Paul "Tonka" Chapman.

The George Martin-produced No Where To Run was released in January,1980 to considerably less success. At this time Paul Raymond left to be replaced by ex-Uriah Heep man John Sloman and then by former Wild Horses member Neil Carter, who was with the band at  1980's Reading Festival. The band-produced album The Wild, The Willing, And The Innocent came out early the following year with a lighter pop-rock sound. The style,being popular at the time, helped the LP to crack the U.K. top 20.
After 1982's Mechanix, Pete Way left the band to form Waysted wth ex-Motorhead Guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke. Billy Sheehan, late of Talas,replaced him and 1983's Making Contact was released. The album tanked. The band broke up that March, but was re-formed shortly thereafter with Mogg, a returning Paul Raymond, guitarist "Atomic" Tommy MacLendon, and ex-Damned bassist Paul Gray.
This line-up released two albums, Ain't Misbehavin' and Misdemeanor, both of which despite having some quality material and inspired playing by McLendon, failed to generate any major interest.
Once again UFO disbanded.

In 1992 Phil Mogg re-formed UFO and since then the band has seen numerous personnel changes including the returns and re-departures at various times, of Shenker, Raymond, Way and Chapman. Their 19th studio album, The Visitor was released in 2009. the band still tour and have released a six CD live box set. they are working on their 20th album, due in June, 2011.


  1. UFO is among one of my favorite hard rock/metal bands out there! They somehow pull off some face melting free flowing jams that never goes "over the top". "Rock Bottom" off of the Strangers in the Night live album is a prime example of that. Guitarist Micheal Schrenker slays me with an at least a five minute guitar solo with the rest of band systematically establishing an excellent rhythm, backing him up awesomely!

  2. I'm with you there,Drew! Lights Out and Shoot Shoot are probably my fave UFO tunes, but I dig pretty much all their stuff. One of the real classic hard rock bands!

  3. Yeah UFO is my favorite band of all time. They really have a raw talent to them. I just started a new blog about them. The URL is

  4. Great article. UFO is so amazingly great. They made such an improvement from their first three lumps to their first with Michael Schenker. They are so raw. My personal favorite by them is "Love To Love" because it is so complex and the solo in the end is outstanding. I love shoot shoot and lights out also.

  5. Schenker nis on my short list of favorite guitarists. I've got all of his solo stuff and while "Tonka" and Atomic Tommy are fine axemen,Michael Schenker is the real deal. So glad you liked the post,Ryan!