Opal Butterfly

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Opal Butterfly
Also known as The Cardboard Haven
Origin Oxfordshire, England
Years active 1967 (1967)-1970 (1970)
Labels CBS

Opal Butterfly were an English, psychedelic rock band, from Oxfordshire, England that was active between 1967 and 1970. Although the band itself did not gain widespread success, the musicians did go on to conduct successful musical careers. The band featured Simon King (drums) 1950) and for a short time, Lemmy, who both met again in Hawkwind. Further members were Robert "Robbie" Milne (lead guitar) (born 1947), Allan Love (lead vocals) (born 1947), Richard Bardey (bass) (born 1947), and Tommy Doherty (rhythm guitar) (born 1947). The band released three official singles of the heavy psychedelic rock style before disbanding.[1]


Before becoming Opal Butterfly, the group was known as Cardboard Heaven They were formed in 1967 in Oxfordshire. Their original lineup consisted of Roger Warner on bass guitar, Robbie Milne on lead guitar, 17-year-old Simon King on drums, Alan Cobb on keyboards, and vocals shared by Stuart Thornhill and Denny Sutcliffe. Locally, they performed at clubs and dance halls with a repertoire of R&B and blues standards. Even though the group garnered a considerable following, Simon King would leave the group to form Opal Butterfly.[2]

Opal Butterfly[edit]

Later in the year Simon King formed his new band and recruited Milne. The remaining lineup were associates of the two and included Allan Love on vocals, Richard Bardey on bass, and Tom Doherty on guitar. Regarding the name, Doherty stated "Butterfly by itself was a bit dull, so we thought of something more colorful".[2]

The group began recording demos and received the interest of CBS Records. These included covers of "I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)" and "Wind Up Toys", both tracks by The Electric Prunes.[3] In 1968, the band released their first official recording "Beautiful Beige"/"Speak Up" which was described as a solid piece of harmonal psychedelic pop, but made no impactful gains. The group's most notable recordings came in 1969 with an organ-backed remake of The Who composition "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand" with the B-side being "My Gration Or?". Despite radio play, the single only gained them local support and the band would revamp its lineup and change labels to Polydor. Most notably, the band acquired Lemmy Kilmister. Kilmister met the band at a shop called The Chelsea Drug Store located in the Kings Rd Chelsea. He started a friendship with King who then asked him to join, and Kilmister would be a member until the group's decision to kick him a few months later.[4] With the new label, the new lineup released a single, "Groupie Girl"/"The Gigging Song". For this final effort, the band returned to its roots as the songs were more blues influenced in nature. However, the single caused a slight uproar when the cover featured a nude woman and radio stations refused to play the single. Throughout 1969 into 1970 the band initiated a tour in Britain for sets of 90 minutes. They appeared in the Derek Ford film, Groupie Girl (1970), as "Sweaty Betty".[5] Lemmy did not contribute to any recordings or the film.[6] One last line-up change was formed but did not change the band's fortunes and they broke up in 1970. Kilmister and King would cooperate once again in Hawkwind.

In the meantime Robbie formed another Opal Butterfly line-up with replacement musicians, namely Ray Owen (vocals, also of Moon and Juicy Lucy), Davy O'List (guitar), Stan ? (bass) and Mike Burchett (drums) but this line-up only lasted a short while because Tommy and Simon formed their own version of Opal Butterfly and were not too pleased of Milne forming his version, so in 1969 Robbie let them get on with it and joined the 'New Look Soul Band' who were later to become Fine China.

Fine China were a six-piece soul band based primarily in London, but spent most of their time touring Germany. The name change came about shortly after Robbie joined, as The New Look Soul Band didn't seem very appropriate anymore, as they were leaning toward a heavier style of music mainly due to Robbie's Opal Butterfly influences, and the set included Jeff Beck; Jethro Tull and Cream numbers alongside the soul standards. They never recorded any singles but were an excellent live band, the most notable member being Michael Barrymore on keyboards. Their line-up from left to right were Robbie (guitar); Mike Holmes (sax and flute); Bob Hardy (sax); Allan Shephard (bass); John Moore (vocals and drums) and Micky Parker (keyboards). The group split in 1971.



  1. ^ "Opal Butterfly". stevelitchfield.com. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Opal Butterfly - History". marmaladeskies.co.uk. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Opal Butterfly - Biography". allmusic.com. 
  4. ^ "White Line: An Autobiography of Lemmy". Google.com. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  5. ^ "Groupie Girl (1970) | BFI". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 2015-07-02. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  6. ^ "Simon King and Hawkwind". Stevelitchfield.com. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 

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