Considered as one of the original and greatest British Hard Rock bands of all time, ‘UFO’ have never strayed far from the limelight. A career that has spanned nearly 50 years and with 22 studio albums under their belts, this band hailing from London were one of the most successful and iconic bands to have ever been associated with Revolver. Their success was many years in the making however, and they didn’t hit their heights until the release of 1977’s ‘Lights Out’ which received substantial critical acclaim and lead the band to finally break the US.
The band originally formed in 1969 with a line up featuring singer Phil Mogg, guitarist Mike Bolton, bassist Pete Way and drummer Andy Parker. Despite beginning with a different name the band soon changed it to ‘UFO’ which was named in honour of the London club where they were spotted by head of ‘Beacon Records’ Noel Moore. Releasing their self-titled first album in 1970, and their second (‘UFO 2: Flying’) in 1971, they achieved some success abroad but struggled at this point to form a strong fan base in the U.K.. At this point in their career the band’s sound was heavily influenced by ‘Space Rock’, which was modestly popular at the time. However, the band soon realised that this style was somewhat limited and in January 1972, Mick Bolton left the group, and UFO set out to find a new guitarist with the aim to write music with a more standard Rock sound.
Between the years 1973 and 1978 UFO had their greatest success, releasing five studio albums and despite a number of line up changes the band began embarking on bigger tours and achieving more commercial success. As well as the releases of ‘Force It’ (1975), ‘No Heavy Petting’ (1976), ‘Lights Out’ (1977) and ‘Obsession’ in 1978, the band went on tour in the USA and recorded a live album, ‘Strangers In The Night’, which was released in 1979 and was a critical and commercial success, reaching Number 8 in the UK Albums Chart in February 1979.
Shortly after they released their next LP, ‘No Place to Run’ in January 1980. Produced by the former Beatles producer, George Martin, No Place To Run sadly failed to match up to the success of its predecessors, even though it narrowly missed the UK Top 10. Despite this the band continued to achieve success and even headlined Reading Festival in 1980. At the beginning of the following year, UFO released the self-produced album ‘The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent’, which had a lighter pop rock sound and achieved mild success in the UK, reaching the UK Top 20. After releasing ‘Making Contact’ in 1983, this album was a critical and commercial failure and thus, that March, UFO decided to disband. The band went on a supposed farewell tour in the UK with Paul Gray (ex ‘Eddie and the Hot Rods’ and ‘The Damned’ bassist) but there was a hint that this might not be permanent. When UFO released a compilation album entitled ‘Headstone’, the sleeve showed a headstone, denoting UFO with their formation date but an incomplete end date. This proved to be a short hiatus as, two years later, Mogg assembled a new UFO line-up, featuring Paul Gray on bass again, ex- Diamond Head drummer Robbie France, and guitarist Tommy Mc Clendon, a former roadie who also wrote lyrics for Loudness and Paul Raymond rejoining shortly after for the release of the album ‘Misdemeanor’.
These constant line up changes however were seriously affecting the sustainability of the band which began to make songwriting difficult for current members. After a number of conversations within the group, the band decided to return to their Hard Rock roots to a more raw and personal sound. Phil Mogg believed that their music lately had become too ‘polished’ and they wanted to release something a bit more “personal”. Written and recorded between the Misdemeanor US tour and the end of 1987, the result was the EP ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’’ which was released through FM Revolver in 1988. Despite the renewed activity of the band after a short break, neither of the last few releases including this EP were financially successful and the band soon officially disbanded again in 1989 after a string of guitarists replacing McClendon.
The band then reunited again in 1991 under a new line up and have continued to tour and release music ever since. Going on a number of worldwide tours and appearances at some of the biggest Rock festivals in the world, the band certainly haven’t slowed down, and in September 2016 guitarist Vinnie Moore announced that a new UFO album would be released sometime in 2017.