Mike Harrison, Spooky Tooth Singer, Dies
Mike Harrison, lead singer of Spooky Tooth, has passed away. He died Sunday, March 25 at the age of 72. No cause of death has been reported.
The news was reported by the BBC. They referenced his beginnings in the North West England city of Carlisle, forming a band called the V.I.P.'s with Keith Emerson, Greg Ridley, Luther Grosvenor and Mike Kellie. But in early 1967, Emerson departed for London to found the Nice. The band changed their name to Art and issued Supernatural Fairy Tales in 1967. It remains a psychedelic classic.
Art lasted only that one LP, but the band would soon take on a new member, keyboardist Gary Wright, and change their name again, this time to Spooky Tooth. With their 1968 debut, It's All About, they began in a somewhat soulful psychedelic vein, but on their next release, Spooky Two, the band would sharpen their sound, adopting a more straight ahead hard edged style. Judas Priest famously covered the song "Better by You, Better Than Me" on their 1978 LP Stained Class.
In 1969, the band teamed up with avant garde composer Pierre Henry for a unique collaboration titled Ceremony. Unlike their first couple of albums, the material wed experimental electronic ideals to the band's rock and roll. Though they considered themselves as the backup band to Henry here, the record company decided to release it as the third Spooky Tooth album, confusing standing, and potential fans to some degree and ultimately causing Gary Wright to leave the band.
They would rebound with the classic The Last Puff in 1970, an album still regarded by many fans as their pinnacle. The album opens with a dramatic take on the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" that Spooky Tooth incredibly manages to put their own stamp on it.
The following year, while still a member of Spooky Tooth, Harrison would issue his first solo album, simply titled Mike Harrison. It showed a different style from his work with Spooky Tooth and stands as one of his finest works. A second record, Smokestack Lightning, arrived the next year and saw him working with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.
Harrison left Spooky Tooth following 1973's Witness and a third solo effort, Rainbow Rider, was released in 1975. Spooky Tooth would issue one more album before calling it a day, though they would reunite, with Harrison involved, for one final album in 1999.
Harrison would continue making music sporadically throughout the years, issuing what would be his final solo album, Late Starter, in 2006.