Flamin' Groovies Biography

This unflinchingly self-assured act evolved from an aspiring San Francisco-based garage band, the Chosen Few. Roy Loney (13 April 1946, San Francisco, California, USA; vocals), Tim Lynch (b. 18 July 1946, San Francisco, California, USA; guitar), Cyril Jordan (b. San Francisco, California, USA; guitar), George Alexander (b. 18 May 1946, San Mateo, California, USA; bass) and Ron Greco (drums) subsequently flirted with a new appellation, Lost And Found, before breaking up in the summer of 1966. All of the group, bar Greco, reassembled several months later as the Flamin’ Groovies. New drummer Danny Mihm (b. San Francisco, California, USA) joined from another local act, Group ‘B’, and the new line-up embarked on a direction markedly different from the city’s prevalent love of extended improvisation. The Flamin’ Groovies remained rooted in America’s immediate beat aftermath and bore traces of the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Charlatans. Having completed a promising private pressing, the group recorded their official debut, Supersnazz, which also revealed a strong debt to traditional rock ‘n’ roll. The group’s subsequent albums, Flamingo and Teenage Head, were influenced by Detroit’s MC5 and offered a more contemporary perspective. The latter set drew complementary reviews and was compared favourably with the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers, but it marked the end of the original line-up. Loney and Lynch were replaced, respectively, by Chris Wilson and James Farrell.

Denigrated at home, the Flamin’ Groovies enjoyed a cult popularity in Europe and a series of superb recordings, including the seminal anti-drug song, ‘Slow Death’, were recorded during a brief spell in Britain. Several of these performances formed the basis of Shake Some Action, their majestic homage to 60s pop, which remains their finest and most accomplished work. New drummer David Wright had replaced a disaffected Mihm, while the group’s harmonies and reverberating instrumental work added an infectious sparkle. The group then adopted former Charlatan Mike Wilhelm in place of Farrell. However, subsequent releases relied on a tried formula where a series of cover versions disguised a lack of original songs. The Flamin’ Groovies were then perceived as a mere revival band and the resultant frustration led to the departure of Wilson, Wilhelm and Wright.

Buoyed by Europe’s continuing fascination with the Flamin’ Groovies, Jordan and Alexander continued relatively undeterred, adding Jack Johnson (guitar) and Paul Zahl (drums) from Roky Erickson’s backing band. The reconstituted line-up toured Europe, Australia and New Zealand and completed a handful of new recordings, including 1987’s One Night Stand and 1992’s Rock Juice. However, despite promises of a greater prolificacy, they remain unable to secure a permanent recording contract and remain perennial live performers. Paradoxically, original member Roy Loney has enjoyed a flourishing performing career, honing a style not dissimilar to that of Supersnazz and Flamingo.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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