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Velvett Fogg were a British psychedelic rock band. Tony Iommi was a member in mid-1968, but soon left to form Black Sabbath. Their lone eponymous album was released in January 1969, and re-released on CD by Sanctuary Records in 2002.
Velvett Fogg were one of many new bands within the underground scene, that were formed at the end of the 1960s that would attempt to take pop music to a higher level of creativity. Birmingham also had its own flourishing underground music scene during that time with a variety of innovative groups emerging. The line up of Velvett Fogg all came from within this alternative music scene in the city.
Velvett Fogg were formed in 1968 from members of a Birmingham band Gravy Train. Up front was soul singer Ernie Handy, Bob Hewitt was lead guitarist, with Graham Mullett on drums, and Mick Pollard on bass guitar. Londoner Frank Wilson who played Hammond organ, was also on vocals, eventually becoming band leader and lead vocalist. The newly formed band spent most of the year touring Germany playing at army bases and clubs. Their stage act included a light show and a go-go dancer.
On their return to Birmingham, the band, now managed by an agency called Inter City Artists, were given a record deal by Jack Dorsey of Pye Records. It was also a time when it seemed that the more unusual or controversial a band was, then the greater chance there would be for success in the record business. The record label was looking to sign unusual underground music acts and Velvett Fogg were told to, in Jack Dorsey's words, "develop an image that would make people think you would piss on the pope!" (Keith Law).
The initial line-up of Velvett Fogg featured guitarist Tony Iommi (later with Black Sabbath). Iommi was in the line-up for only one gig before he left to be replaced temporarily by Ian Leighton. Leighton was "a great blues guitarist", said his friend Frank Wilson. It was during this time that Pye Records arranged a photo-shoot of the band for the cover of their proposed first album.
Before recording could begin in late 1968, Ian Leighton left the band and was replaced by guitarist/vocalist Paul Eastment (a cousin of Iommi). Paul Eastment contributed original compositions for the album, as did Frank Wilson, Graham Mullet and Mick Pollard.
Velvett Fogg recorded the tracks for their debut album on Pye Records under the direction of Jack Dorsey. Apparently, Dorsey aimed to get the band onto the then-popular progressive band wagon. "I was a classically trained pianist but we all had to play way below our capabilities" says Frank Wilson. The band were also allowed to record covers of a few songs they liked and these included psychedelic-sounding versions of New York Mining Disaster 1941 by The Bee Gees and Tim Rose's Come Away Melinda.
Frank Wilson - Hammond organ, Vocals
Keith Law - Songwriter
Paul Eastment - Guitar, Vocals
Graham Mullett - Drums
Mick Pollard - Bass Guitar