One of Rock
's few genuine mavericks. After his troubled teenage years in the RAF
, a mental hospital and prison, mid-60s gigs at London Folk clubs led to the reputation-boosting albums Come Out Fighting Genghis Smith (1967), Folkjokeopus (1969) and Flat, Baroque And Berzerk (1970), featuring the politically explicit 'I Hate The White Man' and his first electric track, 'Hell's Angels'.
His albums Stormcock (1971) and Lifemask (1973), acclaimed at the time, now seem self-indulgent and pretentious. Live, he veered from engaging insight to stoned rambling, but remained highley regarded by fellow musicians. He had a guest spot on Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here (1975); Paul and Linda McCartney appeared on his highest-charting album Bullinamingvase (No 25, 1977); Kate Bush sang on The Unknown Soldier (1980); and Jimmy Page, who raised his mate to guru status on Led Zeppelin III (1970), collaborated on the career-revitalizing What Ever Happened To Jugula? (1985) among others. Much of his material reflected his inner turmoil and uncompromising opinions, while retaining affection for English tradition: 'When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease' on 1975's HQ, for instance, was dedicated to players Geoff Boycott and John Snow.
Despite his intermittent ill-health- a lung disorder almost killed him in the mid-70s- he continues playing and, in 1993, began reissuing his back catalogue on his own Science Friction label.
Sources: Science Friction