Family (band)

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Family (English for " family ") was an adventurous and difficult to categorize British rock band around the songwriting duo Charlie Whitney / Roger Chapman . With their unusual mixture of wild stage presence and musical sensitivity, the band acquired a loyal following, but never made the big breakthrough, to which the excessive "rock'n'roll lifestyle" of the musicians certainly contributed.


Roger Chapman 1974

1962 John "Charlie" Whitney (guitar) founded in Leicester with Jim King (vocals, saxophone, harmonica), Harry Overnall (drums) and Tim Kirchin (bass), the rock 'n' roll band The Farinas , the 1964 recorded the single You'd Better Stop / I Like It Like That . In 1965 Ric Grech (bass, violin) replaced Kirchin, in 1966 Roger Chapman joined as singer. They called themselves the Roaring Sixties and toured England.

When recording a demo tape for producer Kim Fowley , this gave the band the name The Family in 1967 , as they performed on stage like a mafia gang. However, the outfit soon changed (jeans instead of a suit), and the musical style also began to change under the influence of American West Coast bands such as the Byrds and the Doors . After the release of the first single, Scene Thru The Eye Of A Lens / Gypsy Woman , recorded with the participation of all members of the band Traffic in October 1967, Rob Townsend replaced the previous drummer Overnall.

In 1968 Family opened for Tim Hardin in London and toured England with Jethro Tull and Ten Years After . The band's debut album, Music in a Doll's House , released in July of that year and produced by Traffics Dave Mason , was a very psychedelic affair that garnered critical acclaim. The ghostly falsetto interludes on pieces like The Chase or Old Songs, New Songs came from Jim King, who also sang the verses of Me My Friend . Dave Mason's Never Like This was a one-time third-party composition on a family album; the band also played with their producer on his solo b-side Little Woman .

A more accessible second album, Family Entertainment , presented for the first time in February 1969 a style change made by the band practically with every new release and reached number 6 in the British album charts. The included piece The Weaver's Answer , which was never released as a single, but was later only part of an EP, is the best-known song of the group. In addition to Chapman, King ( Observations from a Hill ) and Grech ( Second Generation Woman , Face in the Cloud ) also contributed lead vocals; the latter was also able to strengthen his profile as a songwriter. The album cover was influenced by that of the Doors album Strange Days . The band also recorded the piece Young Love , which was used in the film The Adventurers ( The Adventurers , 1970) as background music for a fashion show, but has not yet been released on record or CD.

In April 1969 Ric Grech left the band during their first US tour to join Blind Faith . He was replaced by former New Animals member John Weider (bass, violin). On this tour, Family performed with The Nice and Ten Years After at the Fillmore East . However, there was no success in America. In July 1969, Family played with King Crimson at the Rolling Stones concert in London's Hyde Park . At the end of the year Jim King had to be replaced by John "Poli" Palmer (keyboards, flute, vibraphone) due to unpredictable and unreliable behavior, which changed the band's sound again. On the B-side of the single No Mule's Fool / Good Friend of Mine from October, both musicians could be heard through overdubbing.

The third album A Song For Me , released in January 1970, reached number 4 on the charts. There was a general lack of orientation in the work, also due to the fact that some pieces that had been written earlier had to forego King's participation and had to be rearranged for Palmer. Among other things, with the nine-minute title song, which is most likely a mixture of hard rock and soul, the band was able to convince again. In August 1970, Family took part in the Isle of Wight Festival for the second time and is featured in the accompanying documentary Message to Love with a performance of Good News Bad News . The longer piece was also part of the album Anyway , released in November , which consisted of half live and studio material.

1971 John Weider left the band and was replaced by John Wetton (bass, vocals) from the band Mogul Thrash. In July of that year, Family had the biggest single success with In My Own Time / Seasons (4th place). On the album Fearless that followed in October , Wetton took on parts of the lead vocals for the pieces Spanish Tide and Save Some For Thee , while Larf and Sing was performed by Poli Palmer. The next album, Bandstand , came out in September 1972 and was the band's "most mass-compatible" product since Family Entertainment . Roger Chapman calls it his favorite today and plays the two single releases Burlesque and My Friend The Sun at his solo concerts. Wetton had left the band before the record was released to play for King Crimson .

With bassist Jim Cregan as Wetton replacement, Family went on a US tour with Elton John in 1972 , which was, however, disappointing. By then, the band had become estranged from Poli Palmer, who was eventually fired and replaced by keyboardist Tony Ashton from Ashton, Gardner & Dyke . The seventh and final family record It's Only A Movie was recorded with Ashton and Cregan, the former also being the lead singer of Sweet Desiree and the B-side Drink to You . The band's happiest album was arguably their most commercially oriented album, but ironically, it didn't sell. In October 1973, Family gave a farewell concert in Leicester and then broke up. The main songwriters Whitney and Chapman subsequently formed the Streetwalkers before Chapman continued solo from the late 1970s. Ric Grech died in 1990, Tony Ashton in 2001, Jim King in 2012, John Wetton in 2017.

Family celebrated the 40th anniversary of the band's breakup on February 1 and 2, 2013 at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire in London with two reunion concerts with Roger Chapman, Rob Townsend, Poli Palmer and Jim Cregan plus guest musicians. The setlist consisted of Top of the Hill , Drowned in Wine , Holding the Compass , Part of the Load , Ready to Go , Crinkly Grin , Burning Bridges , No Mule's Fool , Sat'd'y Barfly , Between Blue and Me , Hung Up Down , Burlesque , In My Own Time and the encores The Weaver's Answer , My Friend the Sun and Sweet Desiree . In addition, on August 16 of the same year, Family were the main attraction of the "Rockin 'the Park 2013" festival in Nottingham's Clumber Park, along with Asia and Caravan . Another festival appearance, this time on the occasion of the band's 50th anniversary, took place in July 2016 at the Ramblin 'Man Fair in Maidstone, Kent. At the end of 2016 the band played three more concerts; the final one on December 22nd in their founding city of Leicester.


Studio albums

year title Top ranking, total weeks, awardChart placementsChart placements
(Year, title, rankings, weeks, awards, notes)
1968 Music in a Doll's House UK35 (3 weeks)
1969 Family entertainment UK6 (2 weeks)
1970 A song for me UK4 (13 weeks)
Anyway UK7 (8 weeks)
1971 Fearless UK14 (2 weeks)
US177 (7 weeks)
1972 Band stand UK15 (10 weeks)
US183 (5 weeks)
1973 It's only a movie UK30 (3 weeks)
Number one albums UK-UK US-US
Top 10 albums UK3UK US-US
Albums in the charts UK7thUK US2US


  1. Chart sources: UK US

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