UFO: Space Rock Pioneers Still Circling the Globe
UFO continues to rock the musical globe long after being identified as part of the first wave of British heavy metal in the late 1960s. Band sightings are frequent, thanks to the more than 21 albums worth of material and the band's love of performing. Grab your UFO tickets to have a close encounter of the metal kind.
Following the release of their first album, UFO I, the heavy metal progenitors were set to explode in their home country. Instead, they blasted off in Japan, France and Germany, touring those countries extensively to promote the first two studio albums. In fact, UFO's first live album, Live, was recorded in Tokyo, and for a long time it was only available in that country.
Touring has always been a big part of the UFO experience. They've been around the world, playing some of the biggest venues like the Hammersmith Odeon and Roundhouse in London, the Rockpalast in Vienna, and Tokyo's Hibiya Park. Whenever they head out on the road, it's always a true world tour.
The group originally formed under the name The Boyfriends. They were also known as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Acid and finally Hocus Pocus before being discovered by Neil Moore in 1969 and signed to Beacon Records. UFO is the name of the club where they were discovered.
The band has been through its fair share of lineups since forming in the 1960s. One constant has been lead singer Phil Mogg. Even after being discovered, the band remained largely off the radar until 1973, when original guitarist Mick Bolton left and was replaced by Michael Schenker. Schenker, the brother of Rudolf Schenker from the Scorpions, helped the band reach commercial and critical success. He proceeded to leave the band twice mid-tour, before returning.
Drummer Andy Parker joined the group in 1969. He stuck with them until 1995, when he took a 10-year hiatus. During that time, his seat was filled by a rotating lineup of drummers that included Jason Bonham, son of the late John Bonham.
The band experienced their greatest international success during the period from 1973 to 1978. They first charted in 1974 with Phenomenon, which reached number 202 on the United States charts. It was the band's third studio album and fifth overall, following a pair of live albums. It was their first album on Chrysalis Records. It was remastered in 1994, and re-released in 2007 with the inclusion of six previously unreleased tracks.
Force It followed the success of Phenomenon and climbed to number 71 in America. No Heavy Petting peaked at number 169. Success in their home country came in 1977, with Lights Out becoming their first UK gold record and garnered a number 23 chart position in America. The following year brought Obsession, another UK gold record. Their peak years came to an end by 1978, when No Place To Run went silver in the UK, and reached number 51 on the US charts. Their best UK chart position would come with 1982's Mechanix, which peaked at number 8.
Like their name would suggest, a UFO concert is an ethereal experience that is not to be missed. A toned-down yet somehow epic stage presentation provides the perfect backdrop for UFO's sound. While the rockers may be getting on in age, you can expect that they will bring it full force whenever they are in town. To see them live is to witness one of the progenitors of the form still achieving new heights.
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