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Rare Bird

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Rare Bird
GenresProgressive rock
Years active1969–1975
LabelsCharisma, Polydor
Past membersSteve Gould
David Kaffinetti
Graham Stansfield a.k.a. Graham Field
Mark Ashton

Rare Bird were an English progressive rock band, formed in 1969. They released five studio albums between 1969 and 1974. In the UK, the organ-based single "Sympathy" reached number 27 in February 1970, selling an estimated one million globally.[1]


The band was formed in December 1969. It featured lead singer and bassist Steve Gould, organist Graham Stansfield, electric pianist David Kaffinetti and drummer Mark Ashton.[1] The first album, released in 1969, was called Rare Bird. Along with Van der Graaf Generator and the Nice, they were one of the first bands signed to Charisma Records, the record label that Tony Stratton Smith had founded.[2]


Rare Bird began when organist Graham Stansfield (a.k.a. Graham Field) placed an advertisement for a pianist in a musical periodical. He received thirty replies and subsequently formed a group called Lunch. He met David Kaffinetti in November 1968, and together they formulated the basic ideas for Rare Bird. In August 1969, they found the ideal rhythm section in Steve Gould, Chris Randall and Mark Ashton. Field and Kaffinetti had originally envisaged that the band would be a four-piece and were looking for a singer/bass player. Gould and Randall, who had both previously been members of the pop-psych band Fruit Machine, applied to the ad as vocals/guitar and bass respectively, and both were taken on. Lunch played a few gigs. It later emerged that the founders of the band were more interested in Gould and convinced him to play bass. Randall was asked to leave the band. Two weeks later, they had signed management and agency contracts, and three weeks later, were in the studio recording their debut album. Before joining Lunch, Randall and Gould had previously written a song called "To the Memory of Two Brave Dogs". Rare Bird included this song in their debut album, renaming it "Iceberg", but Randall received no credit.[citation needed]


Their late-1969 non-album single release "Sympathy" reached No. 1 in Italy and in France, sold 500,000 copies in France and is estimated to have sold one million globally.[1] It became their only UK hit single, reaching No. 27 and staying on the chart for 8 weeks.[3]


A cover version of "Sympathy" by the Family Dogg reached No. 1 for two weeks in the Netherlands in May 1970.[4] In 1992, the song returned to the UK chart with a version by Marillion that reached No. 17.[5]

Later releases and legacy[edit]

In early 1971, Graham Stansfield left Rare Bird to form a short-lived solo project, the Fields. Later members included Fred Kelly (Nic Potter), Ced Curtis, Paul Holland, and Paul Karas on the Epic Forest album with Andy Curtis and Fred Kelly appearing on the album Somebody's Watching.[citation needed]

The band finally split up in 1975. Dave Kaffinetti (credited as David Kaff) played the part of Viv Savage in This Is Spinal Tap (1984). Chris Randall went on to play with Martin Murray and the Honeycombs.[citation needed]

Paul Holland had previously been a recording engineer at Southern Music's studio in Denmark Street, London during the time that Fruit Machine recorded songs for release on the Spark Label under the direction of Barry Kingston. He died of cancer in 2010.[citation needed]


Studio albums[edit]

  • Rare Bird (UK: Charisma, U.S.: Command/Probe, 1969) U.S. # 115 (13 w)
  • As Your Mind Flies By (UK: Charisma, U.S.: ABC, 1970)
  • Epic Forest (Polydor, 1972) U.S. # 194 (2 w)
  • Somebody's Watching (Polydor, 1973)
  • Born Again (Polydor, 1974)


  • "Sympathy" b/w "Devils High Concern" (UK No. 27, 14 February 1970)/US No. 121, 11 March 1970 / F # 3)[3]
  • "Roadside Welcome"/"Four Grey Walls" b/w "You're Lost" Uncharted UK Polydor 2814 011 (1972)
  • "Birdman -Part One" (Title No. 1 Again) US No. 122, 1 September 1973)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • Attention! Rare Bird (1972 Fontana cat. # 9299 008)
  • Rare Bird (Polydor cat. # 2384 078, a budget re-release, compiling tracks from their three albums on Polydor; released in the Polydor Special series in 1977)
  • Sympathy (Blue Plate, 1976)
  • Third Time Around: An Introduction to Rare Bird (Universal, 2003)


  1. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 284. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  2. ^ Christopulos, J., and Smart, P.: "Van der Graaf Generator - The Book", page 60. Phil and Jim publishers, 2005. ISBN 0-9551337-0-X
  3. ^ a b "ChartArchive - Rare Bird". Archive.is. 29 July 2012. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  4. ^ https://dutchcharts.nl/showitem.asp?interpret=Steve+Rowland+%26+The+Family+Dogg&titel=Sympathy&cat=s
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. ISBN 1-904994-10-5

External links[edit]