Lead vocals on all seven albums. Born Roger Maxwell Chapman, April 8, 1942.
From Roger’s Public Relations Dept.:
“After a career spanning 30 years, Roger Chapman’s fiery stage presence remains undimmed. He still struts and frets, wringing every syllable from a multicoloured repertoire of rock, soul and ballads. His astounding voice rips through the lyrics, devastating the unsuspecting listener with raw emotion. The sheer power and commitment of his delivery is a revelation to audiences brought up on a diet of blandness and mediocrity. Chappo is both a legend of rock past and a pioneer of rock present, and the story is still very much unfolding…”
For more Chappo info, please visit Roger Chapman Appreciation Society
1979-2000 History by Andy Jago
On Thursday February 22nd, 1979 Roger Chapman walked onto the stage at the Oxford Student Union to the opening bars of Moth to a Flame dressed in a red boiler suit from the Otis Training School Montrose. He was to join Clem Clemson (guitar), Jerome Rimson (bass), Tim Hinkley (keyboards), Raf Ravenscroft (sax), Stretch (drums) and backing vocalists Helen Hardy and Kathy O’Donoghue. A fine assembly of musicians gathered together under the banner ‘The Shortlist’, a name taken from Mickey Jupp’s song of the same title from his 1978 album Juppanese. It was a song adopted by Chappo that soon became the band’s anthem. “I was down at the office listening to the tape and liked the stuff a lot – it was my type of music. We started playing Shortlist, then the agency wanted a name for the band so it seemed like a good idea”.
Oxford was the first of a twenty three-day British Tour to promote the 36 year olds long awaited solo album Chappo. The tour, consisting of sixteen concerts, a combination of clubs and universities throughout England and Scotland, ended on March 16th at Birmingham’s Barbarellas.
The band had been put together with the help of Chapman’s long time friend and keyboard player, Tim Hinkley, the pioneer of Hinkley’s Heroes. Together they pieced the band together. Clem Clemson of Humble Pie fame was asked after Mick Grabham of Procol Harum was unavailable. Jerome Rimson had played with Van Morrison and Detroit Emeralds as well as producing the debut album of the Real Thing. Raf Ravenscroft was with Gerry Rafferty and is best known for the sax solo on Baker Street. Stretch had been touring with Marvin Gaye. Helen Hardy and Kathy O’Donoghue were drafted in when Joy Yates and Vicky Brown, who both appeared on the Chappo album, were unavailable to tour. Chappo later said of this band “Raf and Clem live were tremendous; doubling lines on Midnite Child was a particular delight and the rest lived up to their professional reputations. I obviously wanted to do the gigs but there was nothing permanent as far as the band went”. It has remained that way ever since.
After the debut tour they performed at The Venue in Victoria, London twice at the end of April, the first being broadcast on the BBC Radio programme ‘John Peel Session’, and again at the end of June. Already the line-up of the band had changed with Geoff Whitehorn replacing Bobby Tench who had replaced Clem Clemson for the June dates, and Mel Collins replacing Raf Ravenscroft.
On August 28th and 29th the band played two concerts at The Markthalle in Hamburg. The first was recorded for the Live in Hamburg album, the second, with Nick Pentelow replacing Mel Collins on tenor saxophone, was filmed by ‘Rockpalast’ and later screened on German TV. Chappo’s version of the Rolling Stones Let’s Spend The Night Together was then released as a single and received much air play in the UK and on the continent.
Promoting the launch of his solo career had been hard work but a monumental success, with much praise and back slapping along the way. Not happy to sit back and soak up the plaudits, Chappo and the band were back on the road once again in the November. Starting at The Venue in London on November 10th the band went on to play fourteen universities up and down the country, including three in Scotland, finishing at Leicester University on December 4th. On January 5th, 1980 The Shortlist appeared at The Paris Studio’s in London to record ‘In Concert’ for BBC Radio. A feat they repeated later that year on December 19th when Helen Hardy and Kathy O’Donoghue made their last appearance together with the band. The following night Chappo appeared at The Venue with Hinkley’s Heroes and a ten piece backing band – Tim Hinkley (keyboards), Geoff Whitehorn (guitar), Steve Simpson (guitar and vocals), Henry McCullough (guitar and vocals), Jerome Rimson (bass guitar), Poli Palmer (vibes), Mel Collins (saxophone), Mitch Mitchell (drums), John Halsey (drums and vocals) and Duncan Kinnel (percussion). This mind-blowing assembly then played the Rock City in Nottingham on December 23rd. Merry Christmas!
But 1980 had not been a happy year for Chappo. After the initial euphoria things had started to turn a little sour. Chris Youle’s record label, Acrobat, which had released Chappo and Live in Hamburg, folded during the making of Mail Order Magic. It left Chappo high and dry as no record label in England showed willing to complete the album. He turned to Germany where he received support and backing from Line Records which enabled the album to be completed and released. The experience and circumstances understandably left Chappo hurt, disillusioned and bitter towards the music business back home. “I’d been battering my brains out for years in the UK but musicians like me get slagged to death and I didn’t need that. When I got the chance to have a go on the continent, where people actually admire what I do, I went over there to make my living”.
Mail Order Magic was released at the end of 1980 with a promotional tour of Germany organised for the first two months of 1981. He invited Steve Simpson, Boz Burrell and Poli Palmer, from Hinkley’s Heroes, to team up with Geoff Whitehorn, Tim Hinkley, Nick Pentelow and Stretch. On October 17th, 1981 this band also appeared at the Grughalle, Essen at 4.00am, a concert again screened by Germany’s top music show ‘Rockpalast’. The show was shown in fourteen countries to a viewing audience of over 25 million. Chappo, looking fit and slim, was at his very best. It was a memorable concert that was to launch him to the heights he had worked so long and hard for. If these guys had been together ten years earlier, instead of at a time when Britain was indulging itself in the aftermath of Punk and New Romanticism, they would unquestionably have generated a huge following in England.
To build on this new found success, the November / December tour of Germany was recorded and released in 1982 as a double live album He Was She Was You Was We Was which stands as being one of the best live albums of that period. For the first time in his life Roger Chapman was receiving the recognition and acclaim he justly deserved, confirmed when he was voted Germany’s overseas number one vocalist and the album Hyena’s Only Laugh For Fun International Album of the Year.
During 1982 and 1983 Roger Chapman and The Shortlist also performed under the pseudonym The Riffburglers, each member taking false names, Chappo being Sonny Spider. Primarily performing cover versions of artists from their musical roots the band recorded two albums. In 1981 The Legendary Funny Cider Sessions (or Riff Burgler) and in 1983 Swag. The former includes a Chapman / Seals penned country influenced number (Get Out Your) Big Roll Daddy which was later recorded in 1991 by Jerry Lee Lewis on his Honky Tonk Rock ‘n’ Roll Piano album. A deed Chappo regards as a highlight of his recording career.
The line-up of The Shortlist had changed by the time Mango Crazy was released in 1983. Tim Hinkley, Poli Palmer and Stretch had moved on, leaving Geoff Whitehorn, Steve Simpson, Boz Burrell, Nick Pentelow and Alan Coulter on drums. After the European tour to promote the album, which began on April 19th at the Regal Theatre, Hitchin and concluded on June 26th at Spuugh in Valls, Steve Simpson and Boz Burrell also went their separate ways. Chappo, meanwhile, strengthened his popularity further by recording Shadow On The Wall for Mike Oldfield’s Crisis album. The first single taken from the album, Moonlight Shadow, stayed in the German Top 20 charts for 19 weeks, peaking at number 2. The follow up, Shadow On The Wall, entered the charts in October 1983 and remained for 14 weeks, reaching number 3 in early December. “This was a good period for me, things were blossoming, even seriously booming away, especially in Germany” explained Chappo proudly.
Chapman had also earlier appeared on Mike Batts 1979 rock musical Tarot Suite, singing Imbecile and Run Like The Wind. Colin Blunstone also appeared as vocalist on Losing Your Way In The Rain. In 1986 Chappo also recorded with The Box Of Frogs, a band featuring several members of The Yardbirds, including Jimmy Page, on the Strange Land album. Chappo featured on the songs Strange Land and Heartful Of Soul.
By 1984 The Shortlist had a completely new look built around Geoff Whitehorn and Nick Pentelow. Tony Stevens (bass), ex-Streetwalker Brian Johnstone (keyboards) and Sam Kelly (drums) were drafted in and toured extensively throughout the year. In the July German television broadcast ‘Lieder im Park’ (Songs in the Park) which was filmed at the FSV Stadion in Frankfurt, with Chappo sporting a new bleached hairstyle. ‘The Busted Loose Tour’ of Germany, Austria and Denmark to promote The Shadow Knows album and the new single Leader Of Men began on the 12th October in Bremen and finished on 9th December in Berlin. The concerts at the Metropol, West Berlin on December 8th and the Metropol, East Berlin on December 9th were recorded and released five years later in 1989 as Live in Berlin.
The next time the band assembled was at the Glastonbury Festival on June 21st, 1985 when The Shortlist was made up of Geoff Whitehorn, Bobby Tench, Tony Stevens, Brian Johnstone, Nick Pentelow and John Lingwood (drums). This line-up appeared at various European festivals throughout the summer opening the set with Dancing In The Street.
The next few years saw a period of transition and experimentation in the studio as Chappo changed direction somewhat with the release of Zipper in 1985 and Techno-Prisoners in 1987. Zipper had been the third successive studio album co-produced by Chapman and Whitehorn, but as it happens the last. At his own admittance in an interview with Pete Feenstra in 1992 Chappo declared “I hate producing, I’ve not got the patience for it. I ended up leaving it to others when I’m supposed to be in charge. I’m not blaming Geoff for anything, but I’m more into the R&B, even Country end of things, but not the heavier side of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Techno-Prisoners was produced by the Dutch brothers, Rob and Ferdi Bolland of Rock Me Adameus fame with drum machines and the like. Although an album of many fine songs, Chappo confessed “The biz came to mistrust me, because I was a folk hero in a sense, playing real music etc, and I quickly came to realise that I’d shit on somebody’s doorstep seriously”.
Still he continued to play regularly in Germany to full houses maintaining his reputation as a fine live performer. At the Werner Festival, Hartenholm on September 3rd, 1988 the band performed in front of an estimated audience of 300,000. The Shortlist by now was Geoff Whitehorn, Steve Simpson, Peter Stroud (bass), Tim Hinkley, Poli Palmer, Nick Pentelow and John Lingwood. This concert was filmed for future video release but sadly, despite rave reviews, Summerhaze Music Ltd. didn’t pursue it. Within a couple of months, on November 10th, this line-up played together for the last time at the Melibokushalle, Zwingenberg when Geoff Whitehorn, Tim Hinkley and Poli Palmer split. Not so much Zwingenberg but sling your hook! It was the end of an era.
In the aftermath of this break up, Chappo reverted back to his more familiar R&B ground and recorded three fine albums over a two-year period. In 1989 he released the quite superb Walking The Cat, produced by Byron Byrd, and Live In Berlin, which had been recorded in 1984. Walking The Cat remained in the German album charts for three months. The following year Hybrid & Lowdown, produced by David Courtney, who had previously produced Chappo, was released together with a Best Of Roger Chapman CD entitled Strong Songs. 1991 saw the release of Under No Obligation, produced by Mike Vernon, and Kick It Back, a compilation of Walking The Cat and Hybrid & Lowdown for the UK market. Each CD was accompanied by extensive tours of Germany to rebuild his damaged reputation. For the 1989 ‘Walking The Cat Tour’ Chappo called on stalwarts Steve Simpson, Bobby Tench, Peter Stroud, Nick Pentelow and John Lingwood and introduced Ian Gibbons, the former Kinks keyboard player. This line-up remained until the ‘Hybrid & Lowdown Tour’, which began on October 11th,1990 in Oldenburg and lasted nearly two months until December 8th in Dortmund. The new line-up saw Micky Moody (guitar), of Whitesnake fame, Henry Spinetti (drums), and Mick Weaver (organ) teaming up with Peter Stroud and Ian Gibbons.
Under No Obligation saw the return of Geoff Whitehorn on Just A Child U.N.O. and Dance Hall Years and the CD cover carried the note ‘Nice to see Big George Heartburn, Suede Soupspoon and Sonny Spider together again, for Auld Lang Syne etc’ but the reunion was short lived. The 1992 ‘Under No Obligation Tour’, which coincided with Chappo’s fiftieth birthday, saw Laurie Wisefield, of Wishbone Ash, and John Lingwood replacing Micky Moody and Henry Spinetti respectively to team up with Peter Stroud, Mick Weaver and Ian Gibbons. Two fabulous female backing singers, Gina Brown and Debbie Sharp, were also introduced to the band.
Since 1979 Chappo had played very few dates in England, but in the November of 1992 Chappo undertook a six day tour of Wales and England – Swansea, London, Leeds, Cleethorpes and Derby – with Steve Simpson, Anthony Glynne (guitar), Gary Twigg (bass guitar), Ian Gibbons, Mick Weaver and John Lingwood. Encouraged by the reception he received he decided to tour Britain with this line-up extensively in 1993 to promote the Kick It Back compilation album, playing thirty concerts at various venues around the country, including a seven date pre-Christmas tour. Playing to packed audiences, Chappo was back on home territory, and how the fans enjoyed and appreciated it. The Riffburglers also played at The County Arms, Isleworth, London on 29th December to celebrate their 10th anniversary. Thankfully, Chappo continued to play selected venues in England after this.
In 1994 Polydor released the non-complimentary titled CHAPPO King Of The Shouters – The Best Of Roger Chapman 1979-1992, the seventh CD to be marketed in five years. By the time Kiss My Soul, produced by Dieter Falk, was released in 1996 The Shortlist had a familiar and settled look about it. Steve Simpson and Laurie Wisefield on guitar, Gary Twigg bass guitar, Ian Gibbons keyboards, Pat Crumly sax, John Lingwood drums and Helen Hardy backing vocals. This CD stands as being one of Chappo’s finest and contains songs co-written by Chapman with Steve Simpson, Jim Cregan, John Wetton, Laurie Wisefield and Micky Moody.
This band played the Frankfurt Seile Set (Sound of Frankfurt) in July, 1997 and the Easter Blues Festival at the Bisquithalle, Bonn in April, 1998 which were both televised by German TV. Together with Anthony Glynne and Mick Weaver they also appear on the In My Own Time (Live) double CD. This was a CD released in 1999 that contained several tracks from the Tour De Force Live album which had originally been planned for release in 1993 but never saw the light of day.
This remained the stable line-up of The Shortlist throughout most of the second half of the decade and together they recorded A Turn Unstoned? in 1998. A double CD, Anthology 1979-1998, containing 33 tracks, was also released later the same year. After the Gosport Summer Festival on August Bank Holiday Sunday, 2000 Chappo reduced the size of the band from seven to four as he moved away from the big band sound to a more acoustic, country feel combined with the Rock and R&B.
The four piece he assembled for the unplugged December 2000 tour, a fore runner of the Spring 2001 tour to promote the Rollin’ & Tumblin’ CD, was Steve Simpson, Gary Twigg, Ian Gibbons and Geoff Dunn on drums. At Christmas 2000 a CD, Un-Stuffed, was made available exclusively to members of The Appreciation Society to celebrate the Society’s 21st Year.
As The Shortlist moves into its twenty-third year one can look back on an array of fine musicians that have stood and shared the same stage with Roger Chapman. This in itself is testimony to his status and his music, and the high regard held by his musical contemporaries. On stage he is still as exuberant as ever and remains one of the finest live performers of his generation. Of those who saw him back in his early days with ‘Family’, how many would have predicted that he would have the talent and resilience to survive so long? For here was a singer who on stage, although visually stunning, portrayed an idiot dancing, tambourine trashing, mic-stand throwing wild man with a vibrato like a ewe in lamming season. But he is a perfectionist serious about his music and a character of strength that is confident of his own ability. A performer who strives always to give his best and a proven survivor. As a teenager in his hometown of Leicester he had a reputation of being a hard nut with his LOVE HATE finger tattoos and only changed his ways following a serious car accident at 18 when he suffered a broken neck. He still has a forceful and unpredictable personality but behind the image lies a good natured, friendly and modest individual. He has been his own man throughout the whole of his career, which is commendable, but such an insular attitude often closes doors rather than opens them. At his own confession his approach to the people in the music business has been, to say the least, circumspect and in the past he has, and rightly so, resisted pressure to change his image. His unique voice, which at times is harsh enough to cut and grate the senses like a cheese wire, is not instantly appealing to the impartial listener, but the sheer power and energy of his delivery engages the senses and emotions when you see him live on stage. You may not find Roger Chapman & The Shortlist listed in any rock encyclopaedia, although you may find a reference at the end of the entry for ‘Family’. This is simply because his music as a solo artist has never charted here in Britain despite recording 14 fine studio albums (including two with The Riffburglers), 5 live albums and 4 compilation albums. A remarkable feat. He may not be a mainstream artist or a household name in Britain but he is held in high esteem in the British R&B music scene where he is regarded as being one of this country’s finest vocalists and musical innovators. Over the years he has generated a loyal following that appreciates that he is one of the most conscientious and hard working people in the music business. This has earned him the title ‘Prolekunstler’ (the Working Class Artist) in his adopted Germany. However, it’s only the elite and the steadfast that earn sufficient money to spend the whole of their working life doing something they excel and enjoy. As a singer-songwriter and performer Roger Chapman has been doing that professionally for 35 years now, and he’s not finished yet – still drawing his admirers to concerts like a Moth to a Flame.
Group & Guest Discography
The Rockin’ R’s (pre-Family)
The Exciters (pre-Family)
Danny Storm and the Strollers (pre-Family)
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Solo career (1978-present)
Mike Batt & Friends Tarot Suite (1979) – An orchestrated work (with the LSO) and based on the Tarot cards, also with Rory Gallagher, Jim Cregan, Chris Spedding, Tony McPhee (Groundhogs), B.J. Cole, Mel Collins, and others. Chappo sings on two cuts, “Run Like The Wind” and “Imbecile,” the latter being extremely good. [Thanks B.T. Hathaway]
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Mike Oldfield Crises (1983) – also w/ Jon Anderson
Box of Frogs Strange Land (1986) – The second album by former Yardbirds Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith. Other guests include Rory Gallagher, Steve Hackett, Jimmy Page, Graham Gouldman, Peter-John Vitesse (from Jethro Tull), and Max Middleton (former Streetwalker). Chapman sings “Heart Full of Soul” in a modern style. Unfortunately they drop the main riff, which to me is the big attraction. Rory does play it on electric sitar in the middle. Chapman also sings the title track.
- Chappo (1979)
- Live in Hamburg (1979)
- Mail Order Magic (1980)
- Hyenas Only Laugh For Fun (1981)
- The Riffburglar Album (aka Funny Cider Sessions) (1982)
- He Was, She Was (Double, Live) (1982)
- Swag (as the Riffburglars) (1983)
- Mango Crazy (1983)
- The Shadow Knows (1984)
- Zipper (1985)
- Techno Prisoners (1987)
- Live In Berlin – EP (1989)
- Walking The Cat (1989)
- Strong Songs – The Best Of… (1990)
- Hybrid and Lowdown (1990)
- Kick It Back (UK compilation) (1990)
- Under No Obligation (1992)
- CHAPPO King Of The Shouters (1994)
- Kiss My Soul (1996)
- A Turn Unstoned? (1998)
- Anthology 1979-98 (1998)
- In My Own Time (live) (1999)
- Rollin’ & Tumblin’ (live) (Mystic, 2001)
- Chappo-The Loft Tapes, Volume 1: Manchester University 10.3.1979 (2006)
- Chappo-The Loft Tapes, Volume 2: Rostock 1983 (2006)
- Chappo-The Loft Tapes, Volume 3: London Dingwalls 15.4.1996 (2006)
- Chappo-The Loft Tapes, Volume 4: Live At Unca Po’s Hamburg 5.3.1982 (2006)
- One More Time For Peace (2007)
- Hide Go Seek (2009)
- Live At Newcastle Opera House 2002 (2009)
- Live at the Y (2010)
- Maybe The Last Time…Live (2011)
- Midnite Child / Moth To A Flame (March 1979)
- Who Pulled The Nite Down / Shortlist (Live) (May 1979)
- Let’s Spend The Night Together / Shapes Of Things (Jul 1979)
- Speak For Yourself / Sweet Vanilla (1980)
- Mango Crazy / Shot In The Dark (1983)
- Mike Oldfield & Roger Chapman: Shadow On The Wall / Taurus 3 (Sep 1983)
- How How How (Mad Love) / Hold That Tide Back (March 1984)
- The Drum (12″ mix) / Red Moon & New Shoes (1987)
- Ball Of Confusion / Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed (Wild Blood)
- Song of Desire (People Want to Rock) / One More Whiskey / Outside Looking In (1996)
- Hell Of A Lullaby / Devil Gotta Sun / Jerusalem (2006)
- Roger Chapman (German LP, AMIGA – 8 56 124)