Thursday Night Music Byte
The Pretty Things are an English rock and roll band from London. They pioneered a raw approach to rhythm and blues that influenced a number of key bands of the 1960s British invasion, including The Rolling Stones. David Bowie covered two of their songs on his album Pin Ups.
The Pretty Things were preceded by Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, which consisted of Dick Taylor, fellow Sidcup Art College student Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger. When Brian Jones joined the band on guitar, Taylor was pushed from guitar to bass and the band changed its name to the Rollin’ Stones.Taylor (born Richard Clifford Taylor, 28 January 1943, in Dartford, Kent) quit the Stones several months later when he was accepted at the London Central School of Art, where he met Phil May (born Phillip Arthur Dennis Wadey, on 9 November 1944, in Dartford, Kent) and they formed The Pretty Things.Taylor was once again playing guitar, with May singing and playing harmonica. They recruited Brian Pendleton (born 13 April 1944 in Wolverhampton – died 16 May 2001 in Maidstone, Kent) on rhythm guitar; John Stax (born John Edward Lee Fullegar, 6 April 1944 in Crayford, Kent) on bass; and Pete Kitley, replaced by Viv Broughton (on drums) and then by Viv Prince (born Vivian St John Prince, 9 August 1941, in Loughborough, Leicestershire) on drums. Viv Prince made his first set of drums himself while a student at Loughborough Grammar School.
The Pretty Things caused a sensation in England, and their first three singles — “Rosalyn” #41, “Don’t Bring Me Down” #10, and the self-penned “Honey I Need” at #13 — appeared in the UK singles chart in 1964-1965. They never had a hit in the United States, but had considerable success in their native United Kingdom and in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and the Netherlands in the middle of the decade. However, in the U.S. they, along with The Yardbirds and Van Morrison’s Them, were a huge influence on hundreds of garage bands, including the MC5 and The Seeds.
Their early material consisted of hard-edged blues-rock influenced by Bo Diddley (they took their name from Diddley’s 1955 song “Pretty Thing”) and Jimmy Reed. They were known for wild stage behaviour and edgy lyrical content; their song “Midnight to Six Man” defined the mod lifestyle. Around this time, the first of what would be many personnel changes over the years also began, with Prince the first to go late in 1965. He was replaced by Skip Alan (born 11 June 1948 in London). Brian Pendleton left late in 1966, and was not initially replaced. Stax quit early in 1967. Jon Povey and Wally Waller (both former Fenmen from Bern Elliott and the Fenmen) joined to make the band a five piece once again.
After a flirtation with mainstream pop on the Emotions album in 1967, they embraced psychedelia, producing the concept album S.F. Sorrow during 1967-68. This album, released in late 1968, is one of the first rock operas, preceding the release of The Who’s Tommy in April 1969 by a few months. It was recorded over several months during 1967 at EMI’s famous Abbey Road Studios in London, during the same period when The Beatles and Pink Floyd were recording Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and The Piper at the Gates of Dawn respectively. These albums share a similar late-1960s psychedelic sound, and the Floyd and Pretty Things albums were both produced by the late Norman Smith, who had engineered most of the Beatles’ recordings until 1966.
Original rhythm guitarist Brian Pendleton died of lung cancer on 16 May 2001. The following year ex-keyboard player Gordon Edwards died of a drug overdose.
Here is a video of The Pretty Things performing their 1966 song, LSD. Please enjoy.