Sharks (band formed 1972)

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Sharks were a British rock band, formed in September 1972, by the ex-Free bass player, Andy Fraser, upon his departure from Free.[1] They were signed to Island Records and were rated by critics, especially for Chris Spedding's tasteful guitar work. The initial line-up consisted of Fraser (bass, piano), Snips (real name; Steve Parsons) (vocals), Chris Spedding (guitar) and an American, Marty Simon (drums).

Formation[edit]

Andy Fraser had originally contacted Chris Spedding, in July 1971, to discuss playing in his first post-Free band, Toby. When Fraser formed Sharks a year later, he contacted Spedding again and, this time, they agreed to work together. Fraser had already recruited his friend, Marty Simon, so auditions were held for a singer, to complete the line-up. Robert Palmer and Leo Sayer were turned down in favour of an unknown 21-year old from Yorkshire, Steve Parsons, originally spotted by Island A&R man, Muff Winwood. Parsons "played one song of his, Snakes and Swallowtails and he was in", Spedding later told Melody Maker.[2]

Career[edit]

Sharks' first gig was in October 1972, in Islington and they played a few clubs in Europe during December 1972, before returning to London, to record their debut album.

In January & February 1973, Sharks embarked on a UK tour, playing clubs and universities. To promote the band, whilst touring, Chris Spedding customized his Pontiac Le Mans, fitting a shark fin on the roof and fibreglass teeth on the grill. On the 19 February 1973, on the way back to London from a gig in Cleethorpes, the car skidded and hit a tree. Fraser suffered injuries to his wrist and, during recuperation, had second thoughts about the band.[2]

After a short break, the band went back on the road in March and April, opening for Roxy Music, although Fraser had some difficulty playing with his injury. On 17 March, they made an appearance on the BBC Two programme, Old Grey Whistle Test. The tour ended on 15 April, in Cardiff.

Sharks' debut album, First Water, was released in the same month, to critical acclaim, but Fraser left shortly afterwards and the band began searching for a replacement. Those considered included Tom Robinson, Ric Grech and Boz Burrell. Mick Jagger then recommended a bass player from Memphis, Tennessee, Busta Cherry Jones, who joined in July 1973, along with the ex-Audience keyboard player, Nick Judd.

A new UK tour with this line-up began in September 1973 and ran through until March 1974, when their second album, Jab It in Yore Eye, was released. The band then toured the United States during April and May 1974, travelling in the same bus used by The Beatles on their first American tour, in 1964.

On their return to the UK, they began recording their third album, with the working title, 'Music Breakout', in June 1974. However, Simon was unhappy with the recording and was replaced by Stuart Francis. Jones then decided to return to the States, selling one of Spedding's guitars, which he stole, to pay for the flight. With Island Records not keen on the original master recordings for the third album, financial support was withdrawn and the band folded in October 1974.

Spedding continued his session work and solo career, whilst Snips joined Ginger Baker in the Baker Gurvitz Army and then went solo himself.

In 1993, Spedding and Snips began recording together again as Sharks, although the album, Like a Black Van Parked on a Dark Curve..., was not released until 1995. There was a one-off gig in London, in December 1995, featuring Snips, Spedding, Jackie Badger (bass), Blair Cunningham (drums) and Nick Judd (keyboards) but the band has not re-surfaced.

Related Projects[edit]

In 2011, Chris Spedding and Steve Parsons re-united for a new project, King Mob, featuring Martin Chambers (ex-The Pretenders) on drums, Glen Matlock (ex-Sex Pistols) on bass and a new guitarist, named 'Sixteen'. Their debut album, Force 9, was released on the Steamhammer label, in November 2011.

During 2013, Andy Fraser contacted Chris Spedding and the two performed UK gigs together for the first time in 40 years, backed by Fraser's band, Tobi.

Discography[edit]

  • First Water (1973)
  • Jab It in Yore Eye (1974)
  • Music Breakout (unreleased)
  • Like a Black Van Parked on a Dark Curve (1998)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 244. CN 5585. 
  2. ^ a b Bright, Kimberly (2006). Chris Spedding: Reluctant Guitar Hero.