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Groundhogs were an English blues and rock band founded in late 1963, that toured extensively in the 1960s, achieved prominence in the early 1970s, and continued sporadically into the 21st century. Tony McPhee (guitar and vocals) was the sole constant member of the group, which had gone through many personnel changes, but usually recorded and performed as a power trio. The band was active from 1963 until retiring in 2014.
The band was originally formed as the Dollar Bills in New Cross, London, in 1962 by brothers Pete and John Cruickshank (born in 1943 and 1945 respectively in Calcutta, West Bengal, India). Tony McPhee (born 22 March 1944), the lead guitarist in the instrumental group the Seneschals, joined the group later that year. McPhee steered them towards the blues and renamed them after a John Lee Hooker song, "Groundhog's Blues".
At John Cruickshank's suggestion, they became John Lee's Groundhogs when they backed Hooker on his 1964 UK tour. They later supplemented Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Champion Jack Dupree when they toured the UK. McPhee featured on Dupree's From New Orleans to Chicago (1966) alongside Eric Clapton. Groundhogs issued "Shake It" b/w "Rock Me" on the Interphon record label in January 1965.
The line-up on their first album, Scratchin' the Surface, produced by the 19-year-old head of A&R for Liberty Records, Mike Batt, and released in November 1968, consisted of McPhee as singer and guitarist, bassist Peter Cruickshank (born 2 July 1945), Ken Pustelnik (born 13 March 1946 on a farm near Blairgowrie, Angus, Scotland) on drums and Steve Rye (born 8 March 1946 in London – died 19 July 1992, in London) on harmonica. In 1969, the single "B.D.D." (Blind Deaf Dumb), taken from Blues Obituary, flopped in the UK but hit number one in Lebanon.
The group's next four album releases, Blues Obituary (September 1969), Thank Christ for the Bomb (May 1970), Split (March 1971) and Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs (March 1972), were recorded as a trio without Rye; all but Blues Obituary reached the Top 10 in the UK Albums Chart. Split reached number 5, spending 27 weeks in the UK Albums Chart and achieved gold record status, while a single release from the album, "Cherry Red", was featured on BBC Television's Top of the Pops programme on 15 April 1971.
They supported the Rolling Stones on their 1971 British tour at the request of Mick Jagger and released an album of their live set on the tour, recorded at Leeds University and called Live at Leeds. All these albums and live shows were performed by the classic power trio of Cruickshank, McPhee and Pustelnik. Pustelnik left in 1972 and Clive Brooks from the band Egg joined on drums for Hogwash, released in November 1972. The Solid album of 1974 saw a last return to the charts.
After breaking up in 1974, they returned in 1975 with a different line-up. Two albums, Crosscut Saw and Black Diamond, were released in 1976. At times in the 1990s, McPhee alternated two line-ups. After years of performing and recording for a loyal following, original manager Roy Fisher put together a short-lived 'original line-up' to celebrate their fortieth anniversary. McPhee left the band again to pursue an acoustic career, leaving Cruickshank and Pustelnik to continue, subsequently forming 'The Groundhogs Rhythm Section' with invited frontmen, latterly with Eddie Martin, while McPhee embarked on a major tour in 2004 with Edgar Winter and Alvin Lee and issued an acoustic blues album Blues at Ten.
McPhee put together a new band in 2007, with long-time Groundhogs bassist Dave Anderson (ex-Hawkwind) and Marco Anderson on drums. This trio toured the UK in 2008 with Focus and Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash. The 2009 line-up of Tony McPhee's Groundhogs comprised McPhee, Anderson and previous long-term drummer Mick Jones. The Groundhogs Rhythm Section's latest recruits, Bob Bowles (guitar, vocals) and Jon Buckett (guitars, keyboards, vocals), joined Ken Pustelnik and Pete Cruickshank in February 2011. As of 2011, the new Groundhogs' lineup consisted of McPhee, Anderson, Joanna Deacon (vocals), and Carl Stokes (drums) from the death rock band Cancer. Due to McPhee's ongoing health issues relating to a stroke in 2009, Tony McPhee & Groundhogs retired in January 2014, although Tony McPhee and Carl Stokes have since worked with David Tibet's Current 93.
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Groundhogs initially formed as a blues band, but subsequently began incorporating elements of psychedelic, progressive music and space rock into their sound. Prog magazine wrote, "the four albums they recorded between 1970 and 1972 – Thank Christ for the Bomb, Split, Who Will Save The World? and Hogwash – saw the band become increasingly ambitious, both compositionally and conceptually, with the deployment of Mellotron and synth helping to create an exciting progressive/blues rock hybrid". The band was also described as a "shapeshifting blues/acid-rock power trio".
- Former members
- Joanna Deacon – vocals (2001–2003, 2011–2014)
- Tony McPhee – guitars, vocals (1963–1974, 1976, 1982–2004, 2007–2014)
- Dave Anderson – bass (1986–1988, 2001–2003, 2007–2014)
- Carl Stokes – drums (2011–2014)
- Peter Cruickshank – bass (1963–1974, 2003–2004)
- Dave Boorman – drums (1963–1965)
- Bob Hall – keyboards (1963–1965)
- John Cruickshank – harmonica, vocals (1963–1964)
- Ken Pustelnik – drums (1965–1972, 2003–2004)
- Tom Parker – keyboards (1965)
- Steve Rye – harmonica (1969; died 1992)
- Clive Brooks – drums (1972–1974; died 2017)
- Dave Thompson – bass (1972)
- Mick Cook – drums (1976; died 1997)
- Martin Kent – bass (1976)
- Dave Wellbelove – guitars (1976)
- Rick Adams – guitars (1976)
- Alan Fish – bass (1982–1994)
- Wilgar Campbell – drums (1982–1984; died 1989)
- "Mighty" Joe Young – guitars (1982–1983)
- Mick Kirton – drums (1984–1989)
- Mick Jones – drums (1989–1994, 1999–2003, 2009–2011)
- Chris Bennett – drums (1990–1991)
- Jon Camp – bass (1989)
- Eric Chipulina – bass, live guitars (1994–1996, 1996–1999)
- Pete Correa – drums (1994–1996, 1996–1999)
- Pete Chymon – bass (1996)
- Dale Iviss – drums (1996)
- Brian Jones – bass (1999–2001)
- Marco Anderson – drums (2007–2009)
The Groundhogs rhythm section
- Scratching the Surface (December 1968)
- Blues Obituary (September 1969)
- Thank Christ for the Bomb (May 1970) – UK Number 9
- Split (March 1971) – UK Number 5
- Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs (March 1972) – UK Number 8, US Number 202
- Hogwash (November 1972)
- Solid (June 1974) – UK Number 31
- Crosscut Saw (February 1976)
- Black Diamond (October 1976)
- Razor's Edge (May 1985)
- Back Against the Wall (1987)
- Hogs in Wolf's Clothing (January 1998)
- The Muddy Waters Song Book (April 1999)
- Hoggin' the Stage (April 1984) - Recorded in Leeds and London in 1971 & Stockholm in 1976.
- Extremely Live (July 1988)
- Hogs on the Road (June 1988) - Recorded in Germany in December 1987
- No Surrender (August 1989)
- Groundhog Night (July 1993)
- Who Said Cherry Red? (October 1996)
- Live at Leeds '71 (August 1998) - Featuring the 5 tracks recorded in Leeds previously released on "Hoggin' The Stage".
- No Surrender – Razors Edge Tour 1985 (1998) - Recorded in Northfleet, Kent in 1985
- UK Tour '76 (1999)
- U.S. Tour '72 (1999) (Akarma Records)
- Live at the Astoria (September 2001) - Recorded at the Astoria, London on 20th February 1998.
- Live at the New York Club, Switzerland 1991 (2007)
- Live at Anti WAA Festival 1989 (CD, 2014; Nibelung Records)
- Christmas Marketing in Weiden (Download 2017) (Nibelung Records)
- Road Hogs: Live from Richmond to Pocono (3LP/2CD, 2021) (Fire Records) - Live at Richmond Athletic Ground, London, England, 7th November 1969 & at Pocono Raceway, Pennsylvania, USA, on 8th July 1972.
- Groundhogs Best 1969-1972 (March 1974)
- Moving Fast, Standing Still (May 1986) - compilation of Razor's Edge and Two Side Of T.S. McPhee plus 4 mid 60's tracks.
- The Best Of (May 1997) - compilation from first 6 studio albums.
- 54146 (October 2001) - compilation of Back Against The Wall and Hogs On The Road.
- Thank Christ For The Groundhogs: The Liberty Years (1968-1972) (2010)
- The United Artists Years (1972-1976) (2013)
Tony McPhee (solo):
- The Two Sides Of T.S. McPhee (1973)
- The Blues and the Beast (1991) (Nibelung Records)
- Foolish Pride (February 1993)
- Slide, T.S., Slide (1996)
- Bleaching the Blues (April 1997)
With John Lee Hooker:
- ...And Seven Nights with John Lee Hooker (Verve Folkways, 1965)
DVDs and videos
- Live at the Astoria (1999) [video]
- 60/40 Split (2005) [DVD]
- Live at Anti WAA Festival 1989 (DVD, 2014; Nibelung Records)
- ^ Harold, Chuck (15 August 1972). "Mighty Groundhogs Will Save The World". The Evening Independent. p. 6-A. Retrieved 30 January 2011.
- ^ a b c d e f g Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 405–406. ISBN 1-84195-017-3.
- ^ a b c d e f g Colin Larkin, ed. (1995). The Guinness Who's Who of Heavy Metal (Second ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 155. ISBN 0-85112-656-1.
- ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 237. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- ^ "Blues Night: Bob Bowles with the legendary Groundhogs Rhythm Section! – Saturday 19 February 2011 at 19:30 | Riffs Bar – Live Originals & Covers Music Venue in Swindon, Wiltshire". Riffs Bar. 19 February 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- ^ "The Groundhogs Archive". Thegroundhogs.co.uk. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Groundhogs – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
- ^ a b c Banks, Joe (March 2021). "The Groundhogs: their path from blues to something far more progressive". Prog Magazine. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
- ^ a b DeGagne, Mike. "Hogwash Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
- ^ Clarke, Patricia (5 August 2021). "High On The Hogs: Artists On The Genius Of The Groundhogs". theQuietus. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
- ^ There may be an issue with this listing. The Groundhogs official website http://www.thegroundhogs.co.uk/41%20years.html does not list Chaz Depaolo as being with them as a member. It also lists these people for collaborations: John Lee Hooker, Jo Anne Kelly, Dave Kelly, Champion Jack Dupree, Eddy Boyd, Big Joe Williams, Hapshash & the Coloured Coat, John Dummer Band, Andy Fernbach, Mike Batt, Billy Boy Arnold, Blue Cheer, Amon Duul, Yorkshire Chamber Choir, Dick Heckstall-Smith. The UK Scarborough News has articles about Depaolo using the rhythm section of the Groundhogs for some short tours in the UK. He had Ken Pustelnik and Pete Cruickshank back him for a few tours. http://www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk/what-s-on/gigs-music/as-printed-in-the-scarborough-evening-news-on-8-december-1-1489220#ixzz427XZQvN4
- Hanson, Martyn (2005). Hoggin' The Page: Groundhogs: The Classic Years. Northdown Publishing. ISBN 978-1-900711-16-6.