The Marquee Club - A tribute site dedicated to the history of the legendary Marquee club at London's 90 Wardour street.

The Puple Gang - Biography

The Purple Gang

Gigs at the Marquee club: 3
Period of performances: 1967
Formed in: Chesire, UK, 1965
Line-up members at the Marquee club:
Chris "Joe" Beard (guitar), Peter Walker (vocals), Trevor 'Ank' Langley (Jug), Geoff Bowyer (piano, washboard, vocals, Kazoo), Gerry Robinson (harmonica, mandolin)

The Purple Gang was formed in Cheshire, UK, in the late 1965 by a group of students at the Stockport Art College, including Chris "Joe" Beard (guitar), Peter Walker (vocals), Trevor 'Ank' Langley (Jug), Geoff Bowyer (piano, washboard, vocals, Kazoo) and Gerry Robinson (harmonica, mandolin). The band was originally formed as the Young Contermporaries Jugband and it was one of the most original folk and blues British acts in the late 60's.

After moving to London, the band started working under the management of producer Joe Boyd, who also managed Pink Floyd and was a co-runner of the legendary underground psychedelic club the UFO.

In 1967 the band released the single "Granny Takes a Trip" on the British folk label Transatlantic records. The song became a popular anthem of the psychedelic scene and was wrongly banned by the BBC from its airwaves for making reference to LSD in it's lyrics.

In early 1967, the Purple Gang performed the first of three gigs at the Marquee club, supporting Long John Baldry. None of these gigs were officially billed and Trasnsatlantic records contracted the band's shows to the Marquee club for no money. Their last performance supported young songwriter Steve Adams -widely known as Cat Stevens-, as Joe Beard can remember: "I met a young dark-haired guy in there in the dressing room called Steve Adams and he let me have a go on his beautiful "Black Box" Gibson..he let me tune-it in for him as his hands were shaking (after all he was going on solo as compere). He did OK and was signed up after that gig. His song "I Love My Dog" was haunting that night and we all congratulated the young "Cat Stevens" to be."

At the time, the band became a popular underground act in London's scene and used to perform dressed in gangster suits, an image that was also used by other underground bands at the time such as the Move and Syn. They played at the top clubs of the London psychedelic underground scene, such as the UFO, Wizard and the Roundhouse. During these days they had a close friendship with Pink Floyd and Syd Barrett wrote the song "Here I Go" for the band.

In 1968, the Purple Gang released their debut album "Strikes", featuring bassist Tony Moss, where they were forced by the record company to refrain from producing psychedelic and experimental oriented stuff.

1969 saw numerous changes in the band. Vocalist Peter Walker quit the band and later became a painter artist. Trevor Langley quit also and later began an advertising and graphics firm. Drummer and washboard player Alex Sidebottom joined the band and later bassist Chris Millward replaced Tony Moss. Eventually, the band split when Joe Boyd formed a new project called Sudden Earth, along with Pete Band (drums) and Barry Edge (bass vocals). The Purple Gang reformed shortly later featuring Joe Boyd, Geoff Bowyer, Gerry Robinson, Tony Moss and Alex Sidebothan and started working under the management of Dave Symonds. In 1972 Joe Beard quit the band to start a solo career and was replaced by Tony Davies from the Jericho Jug Band. Finally, the band split shortly after.

After the split of the Purple Band, Joe Beard produced the multi-media project "The Edge". In the following years he concentrated to his career as a painter, artist and lecturer and opened his own art gallery. Geoff Bowyer went into comedy and acting and formed a comedy duo with Radio 1 DJ, Annie Nightingale. He also became a writer and a teacher for drama in London.

In 1998, Joe Beard resurrected the Purple Gang with a new line-up including himself plus Chris Millward (bass), Pev Pevitt (vocals, kazoo, harmonica), Andy Stark (lead guitar), John Curtis (keyboards, vocals) and Gabor Bartos (drums). The band released a new studio album in 2003 entitled "Night of the Uncool".

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The Purple Gang gigs at the Marquee Club

0?-February-1967, supporting Long John Baldry
0?-February-1967, supporting Bakerlooo Line
0?-February-1967, supporting Long John Baldry, Meg Aikman and Steve Adams (Cat Stevens)

Please note that we don't have the exact dates of these gigs since they were not billed by the club.

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