Skip Bifferty Biography

Mickey Gallagher (keyboards) and Tommy Jackman (drums), were members of beat group the Chosen Few. They linked up with John Turnbull (guitar/vocals) and Colin Gibson (bass) who were together in another Geordie R&B group the Primitive Sect. Both were based initially based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. Vocalist Graham Bell was added to the line-up which assumed the name Skip Bifferty in the spring of 1966. The quintet made their energetic debut in August the following year with the excellent ‘On Love’, a song from their previous incarnation’s repertoire. It was followed by two memorable examples of pop psychedelia, ‘Happy Land’ and ‘Man In Black’, which was produced by the Small Faces team of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. Skip Bifferty’s first album continued the melodic craftsmanship of those singles. Bell’s assured voice soared over a rich tapestry of sound, resulting in one of the late 60s’ most rewarding collections. The band’s potential withered under business entanglements and an astonishing conflict with their proprietorial manager Don Arden. Although they tried to forge an alternative career as Heavy Jelly, litigation over the rights to the name brought about their demise. Gibson had a brief foray as Griffin with Pete Kirtley (guitar), Kenny Craddock (keyboards) and Alan White (drums), Bell, Turnbull and Gallagher were later reunited in Bell And Arc, but while this excellent singer then embarked on an ill-fated solo career, his former colleagues found success in Ian Dury’s Blockheads. Skip Bifferty have subsequently become a cult item for UK record collectors, with their lone album fetching very high prices. Castle were able to do justice to their legacy with a lavish double CD featuring all the original material, plus BBC sessions and bonus tracks.

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

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