The Groundhogs

 

In the early 1960s Tony(TS) McPhee was working for Post Office Telephones and joined his work mate John Cruickshank's band, which was then called 'The Dollarbills'. Neither liking the name or the 'pop' music they played, he persuaded them to start playing Blues and R&B after he had seen Cyril Davies and the All-Stars playing at the Marquee club and suggested 'Groundhogs' as a name for the band, after a track on John Lee Hooker's album 'House of the Blues'.

Tony and the band played all of the gigs on the blossoming blues circuit and then backed Hooker on the final week of his first British tour. John liked the band so much that he always asked for them to back him on British tours and preferred to travel with them in their Commer van. In an interview of the time he called them the 'number one British blues band'. At around the same time the Hogs also backed Champion Jack Dupree who later said in an interview with Melody Maker that they were 'the best band he'd ever played with'. In 1965 the Hogs backed Hooker on an album which was initially called John Lee Hooker, but which has also been re-released as 'Hooker & the Hogs', & 'The London Sessions'

The first album 'Scratchin' the Surface' (1968) was a basic blues album with line up bass player Pete Cruickshank, drums Ken Pustelnik (previously with Bristol band The Deep) and Steve Rye on Harmonica. The second album 'Blues Obituary' saw the departure of Steve Rye and a more 'progressive' approach. Tony wrote all of the songs for the third album 'Thank Christ for the Bomb' which entered the charts after John Peel played one of the tracks 'Soldier' on his Sunday afternoon Radio show and it sold 30,000 copies.

The follow-up 'Split' went straight in the charts and would have made number one, however the record company had not re-stocked in time! Despite this ridiculous cock-up the album re-entered the charts stayed for 6 months. sold 100.000 and became 6th best-selling album of 1971, Tony was voted 5th best guitarist of the same year. In that year they toured with the Rolling Stones and Glyn John, who was recording the Stones recorded one of the Groundhogs sets and Mick Jagger presented Tony with the tapes. These were first used as a promo for the States (rare item as only 100 were produced) and released later as 'Live at Leeds'.

Tony and the Groundhogs have released over 20 new albums since then and have appeared on numerous compilations and collaborations. Notably 'Hogwash' and 'Who Will Save The World?' in 1972, which was a UK Top Ten entry, reaching No. 8 and staying in the charts for 9 weeks. The famous comic strip style album cover was designed by Marvel Comics artist Neil Adams of 'Spiderman' Fame. 'Solid' was released in 1973, this was also the year which saw a resurgence in Tonys solo career with 'The Two sides of Tony McPhee' which featured one side with a collection of blues and electric solo numbers and side two an innovative synthesizer based work called 'The Hunt', which expressed his disgust and hatred of blood 'sport'. In 1974 the band disbanded, till 1975 and two albums 'Crosscut Saw' and 'Black Diamond' were released in 1976. After releasing the double live album 'Hoggin' the Stage' (1984). The Groundhogs lead by Tony McPhee (with various line ups) have been gigging ever since.
 

In 2003 Tony McPhee put together a short lived (18 months) 'Original Line-Up' to celebrate 40 years of The Groundhogs. This band was disbanded again in 2004 and Tony concentrated for a short time on an acoustic duo with Joanna Deacon which featured a major tour in 2004 with Edgar Winter and Alvin Lee and an acoustic blues album 'Blues at Ten'. Tony again put together a new line up in 2007, with long-time Groundhogs bassist Dave Anderson ex-Amon Duul II/Hawkwind and Marco Anderson (no-relation) on drums This trio toured England in 2008 with Focus and Martin Turners Wishbone Ash.

The Most recent line up (2009) of The Groundhogs comprises Tony McPhee, Dave Anderson and previous long term drummer Mick Jones.

 


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