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HOT NEWS: Bullfrog songs have been featured in some sparkling compilations by Cherry Red Records:
Dozy Dora can be found : Oh You Pretty Things
Ice Cold Dick can be found : Riding the Rock Machine
Steve Thompson and Robin Hird attended the same secondary school. Although Robin was in the year above Steve, most people who had an interest in playing music, particularly the guitar, kind of knew each other. Upon leaving school they both did what most people in the area did, and went to work in Consett Steel Works. It was at the Steel Works that the pair re-made their acquaintance and talked about forming a band. Robin offered to give Steve a bass guitar if I would take on bass duties and they added Mick Simmons on drums and Mick Glancy on vocals and started rehearsing.
They were building up a set of songs of the time (late 60's early 70's), Hendrix, Cream, Free, that kind of thing. They knew their first gig had to be the Freemasons Arms Ballroom in Consett as this was their stomping ground. They all went there every Saturday to scoff at whatever band was on and tell themselves how much better they were. Allegedly the place was like the Wild West with frequent fights breaking out in which chairs, tables and glasses went flying. Eventually, the band was given a date at the Freemasons and they played their first gig in 1971.
They kept at it and soon were getting loads of gigs all over the North East. The workingman's club scene was thriving then and bands could do rock material with no problems and eventually Bullfrog started to introduce our own songs and had no problem playing their own material in those venues. Then one day Mick Glancy announced he was quitting to go to University in London. The band put up ads in the music shops in Newcastle (where all the local bands hung out Saturday afternoons). Pete Macdonald answered the advert and after a brief try-out at Bullfrog's Consett band room Pete became the new singer.
Bullfrog later acquired a manager called Ray Cioates who was a Karate instructor, Black Belt Third Dan. He was well over six foot tall and wore winged trousers. He had contacts in the music business and secured for the band a recording audition with Decca. "Aha", the lads thought "they failed to sign the Beatles; surely they will not make the same mistake twice"! The band drove down to London in their van overnight. Mick Simmons had taken to experimenting with drugs and was acting in a bizarre fashion. There was an altercation and he thumped Pete at a motorway service area. As a result, their seven-foot ninja turtle manager performed a dropkick on Mick with spectacular results. They slung the unconscious drummer into the van and headed off to their date with fate in London. The atmosphere was a little tense and their manager used his contacts to have Cozy Powell on standby in the studio control room in case of further mishaps. The band somehow got through the session and headed wearily home. Once back home they decided they could no longer work with Mick and decided to replace him.
Steve Thompson takes up the story "Fearing for our safety we all went together to Mick's place and delivered his drums and told him he was out of the group. To our surprise, he did not beat us all up. I remember clearly he said, "OK if that's your decision" I felt a bit sad".
Bullfrog then recruited Jim Harle to play drums. The Decca recording audition came to nothing but the band continued to work at it, make demos and perform at loads of gigs. Bullfrog did some pretty big gigs and supported some big name acts. They also did a recording audition with EMI but it was eventually Cube Records who signed them. Bullfrog's stable mates were another North East band, Kestrel. Both bands knew each other quite well. There was quite a lively local music scene in the North East in the early 70's and many of the bands got to release records. The band’s first producer was Rodger Bain (Budgie, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath). The sessions took place at Island Studios. The record company weren't happy with Rodger Bain's production and brought in Hugh Murphy and together they recorded quite a few tracks. For some dumb reason Bullfrog had written a joke song called "Riddley Tiddley Tum" and to their horror, the record company declared this was to be the first single. The band were mortified but at least managed to convince Cube records change the title to "Glancy". However, they hated the record and promoted the B-side "In the City" instead. It's likely that this did not endear them to their record company
Things became strained with their record company and then it got worse. Cube Records brokered a deal whereby Bullfrogs singer, Pete MacDonald and Kestrels guitarist, Dave Black joined The Spiders from Mars (Minus Bowie and Ronson of course). The guys had to decide whether to call it a day or press on. They recruited some new people: Alan Roadhouse on vocals and sax and Roly Bell on Keyboards. This line-up was quite short lived. Eventually, Jim Harle quit and was replaced by Kestrel's Davie Whitaker on drums. They wrote some new songs and did a few gigs but felt it just wasn't the same. Steve Thompson had written some songs and went into a recording studio with Jim Harle on drums and made some demo recordings. He then told Robin Hird he was quitting the band to concentrate on songwriting. That left Robin the only original member and Davie Whitaker had just quite to tour with Geordie. This clearly was the end of Bullfrog.
40 years on Bullfrog's first single is included in ‘20 Powerglam Incendiaries’ an album which charted briefly and now changes hands at £40 a pop. Just as they were getting over the embarrassment of writing a song entitled ‘Riddley Tiddley Tum’ they get re branded Power Glam!
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