Timeline

Origins

  • Origins In 1962, guitarist John “Charlie” Whitney formed the R&B group Farinas with drummer Harry Ovenall, bassist Tim Kirchin, and vocalist Jim King. They played Chuck Berry and Coasters covers across English clubs and colleges.

Early Years (1964-1966)

  • August 1964: Farinas release debut single “You’d Better Stop”/”I Like It Like That” on Fontana
  • 1965: Ric Grech replaces Kirchin on bass
  • 1966: Roger Chapman joins as vocalist, expanding their repertoire beyond blues and R&B. Suits and Mafia-inspired imagery gives way to a looser look.

1967

  • Demos recorded in London with U.S. producer Kim Fowley, dubs them “The Family” from their Mafia image. Become heavies in the London underground scene. Family loses the suits in favor of blue jeans and vests. Rob Townsend replaces Ovenall on drums. They become heavily influenced by U.S. west coast bands like The Byrds and The Doors.
  • Charlie Whitney: “Up until then, we’d just taken old blues things and rearranged them, but suddenly we found we were pouring out new songs. When we came to London, everyone always thought that we took acid all the time, but we were much more of a working class band. People would take one look at Roger and say ‘He has just got to be on acid’.”
  • July 1967: Band makes its London debut at Royal Albert Hall, opening for Tim Hardin.
  • September 1967: One single with Liberty, “Scene Through the Eye of a Lens/Gypsy Woman” produced by Jimmy Miller. it had moderate sales, but no airplay.

1968

  • Family signs with Reprise Records and becomes immersed in London’s underground scene.
  • Jenny Fabian, occasional girlfriend of both the band’s manager and bassist Ric Grech, captures Family and their circle in her 1969 memoir Groupie. Though unflattering, it cements their status as hipster “heavies.”
  • The Rolling Stones’ producer Jimmy Miller was slated for Family’s debut but was sidetracked so Traffic’s Dave Mason takes lead, contributing the song “Never Like This.” Family backs Mason on his single “Little Woman.”
  • June 1968: Single “Me My Friend/Hey Mr. Policeman” gets a push from BBC man John Peel.
  • July 1968: Music In A Doll’s House released with good reviews, hits #35 on UK album charts.
  • October 1968: A-side of single “Second Generation Woman/Hometown” features Ric Grech in a straight-up rocker unlike nornal Family fare.

1969

  • March 1969: Family Entertainment released and reaches #6 in the charts. The cover features circus performers on a black background, and the band admits it was “inspired” by the Doors’ Strange Days. Band disapproves of the mixing.
  • April 1969: Ric Grech leaves during the band’s first U.S. tour to join Blind Faith. Chapman has commented on this by saying that the band was the last to find out. He heard it after Hendrix mentioned it in an interview. “[Grech] could have at least told us before the tour began!”
  • Tour manager Peter Grant recommends John Weider to join on bass, violin and guitar. He leaves L.A. club group Stonehenge, and flies to Detroit so that the Family U.S. tour can continue. At the Fillmore East, Family begins the first of eight shows between the Nice and Ten Years After. On the first night the Nice ignore Bill Graham’s word and burn the American flag during “America”. Then Family follows, and Chapman’s stage antics cause a microphone stand to be sent in Bill Graham’s direction offstage, who takes it as a threat. For the following shows, a well-behaved Chapman bores the crowd with his arms pinned to his sides. The tour ends when Chapman loses his voice AND his visa is revoked. Some feel that Graham blacklisted the band, causing Family to miss out on the U.S. success so deserved.
  • July 1969: On the 5th, Family plays at the Rolling Stones’ Hyde Park gig, a Brian Jones Memorial, with King Crimson.
  • August 1969: Family plays the Isle of Wight festival, on Saturday the 30th.
  • October 1969: Single “No Mule’s Fool/Good Friend of Mine” reaches #29. Manager John Gilbert is fired for mismanagement of the previous American tour. Jim King’s erratic behavior leads to his dismissal, and he joins Ring of Truth. He is replaced by John “Poli” Palmer to play vibes, keys, and flute.

1970

  • January 1970: A Song For Me is released and the first to be produced by the band itself. Hits #4, the highest album position the band would attain.
  • March 1970: Chapman’s passport is stolen in New York, and the band is forced to play in Canada without him.
  • April 1970: “Songs for Lots/Today” single released.
  • June 1970: Family plays the Kralingen Festival in the Netherlands. Production for compilation Old Songs New Songs begins and features new versions of three Family Entertainment songs.
  • August 1970: Maxi-single of “Strange Band/ Weaver’s Answer (new)/Hung Up Down (new)” reaches #11 and stays in UK Top 50 for three months
  • November 1970: Anyway released and features half-live/half-studio. It goes to #7.
  • Family completes a second U.S. tour between October 1969 and June 1971.

1971

  • March 1971: Old Songs New Songs released.
  • June 1971: John Weider decides he has tired of bass guitar and joins Stud with Jim Cregan (formerly of Blossom Toes, Julian Covey and the Machine), Charlie McCracken and John Wilson (both formerly in Taste). Cregan goes on to Family 15 months later. McCracken later joins Charlie Whitney’s Axis Point.
  • Meanwhile Jim Cregan notifies an old friend about the open position in Family. John Wetton joins on bass, guitar, and vocals. Preceding this, Robert Fripp had asked Wetton to join the Boz Burrell-era King Crimson, but Wetton didn’t feel comfortable with the rest of the lineup. Instead, Wetton accepts Family’s invitation, but keeps in touch with Fripp.
  • July 1971: Biggest single for the band, “In My Own Time/Seasons”, hits #4 in the UK.
  • October 1971: Fearless released, hits #10 and even charts in U.S.! Album cover features layered paging, with computer-generated band photos, and it’s the first Family album to use synthesizer.

1972

  • August 1972: Disappointed with near-success, Wetton departs to Crimson pastures, even though new album is ready for release. Jim Cregan leaves Stud and joins the band.
  • September 1972: “Burlesque/the Rockin’ R’s” reaches #13.
  • October 1972: Bandstand released in an album cover with rounded edges, shaped like an old television, goes to #15. The album features even greater presence of synthesizer, and is a little more straight-forward than the previous. Album climbs to #183 in the U.S. Elton John gets them to open for his U.S. tour (Family’s third visit). Palmer remembers the audience being caught off guard by their brand of English Rock: “We would play, finish, and there would be silence … The only clapping in this huge stadium would be the guys doing the PA.”
  • Roger Chapman: “By this time we’d become a bit of an island, unable to get across the little stretch of water keeping us apart from bigger things.”
  • November 1972: Poli Palmer is let go as he began to favor his primitive YCS3 synthesizer more and more. The band felt it would take him too long during concerts to program the patches for tiny bits of music. He had planned to form a band with former Family-man Ric Grech, but it never got going.
  • December 1972: Poli’s replacement comes in the form of the talented and rowdy Tony Ashton.

1973

  • January 1973: “My Friend the Sun/Glove” released as a post-album single, doesn’t chart. Family forms their own label, Raft.
  • April 1973: “Boom Bang/Stop This Car” is released, which also sinks.
  • September 1973: “Sweet Desiree/Drink To You” single released. Band is frustrated at lack of success in the States, decides to pack it in gracefully. Cuts last album IT’S ONLY A MOVIE (which charted at #30), does the tour.
  • October 13th, 1973: Family’s farewell concert at hometown Leicester Polytechnic, with guest players and Family favorites from all periods.
  • Pete Frame, famous for his Rock Family Trees: “They went down with their label; gritty, loose, rough and powerful, they were one of those bands you always remember with a smile. I can still see them now… bunch of lovable scruffy ‘erberts.”

1973 Onwards: Chapman and Whitney Collaborations

  • 1974: Best Of Family was released, and in November a posthumous single: “My Friend the Sun/Burlesque”.
  • In late 1973, Chapman and Whitney began working as a duo after Family’s split. This led to a Chapman/Whitney album called Streetwalkers in 1974, with many friends as backing musicians (John Wetton, Linda Lewis, Ian Wallace, Boz Burrell, Ric Grech, Poli Palmer…).
  • The following year they formed the Streetwalkers, a rock R&B outfit that also featured former Jeff Beck vocalist Bob Tench. Three albums and a live-one later, they broke up in 1977. Streetwalkers found greater commercial success in the United States compared to Family.

Post Streetwalkers 1978-2012

  • Chapman started his long-awaited solo career in 1978 with the album Chappo. Chapman has released over a dozen studio albums, finding a niche audience in Germany where he has focused much of his efforts. His 2016 album Hide Go Seek and more recently, 2022’s Life In The Pond, was well-received in his native UK.
  • Charlie Whitney was pretty much low-profile in the ’80’s, but his laid-back acoustic blues and bluegrass outfit, Los Racketeeros, put out a couple CD’s in the late 1990s.

Reunion 2013

  • September 2012: Family announced a one-off reunion gig on February 2, 2013 at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London featuring original members Roger Chapman, Poli Palmer, Rob Townsend and Jim Cregan.
  • Due to high demand, a second London show was added the night before the first gig.
  • August 2013: Family played the Rockin’ the Park Festival in Nottinghamshire.
  • The band’s limited edition box set Once Upon a Time won a design award at the 2013 Progressive Music Awards.
  • Family played more reunion gigs in the UK in 2014 and 2015.
  • In 2016, they appeared at festivals in England and Italy, as well as two December shows billed as the band’s last ever gigs. Chapman, Palmer and Cregan were joined by five other guest musicians.

Deaths

  • Sadly, Ric Grech died on March 17, 1990, due to kidney and liver failure after a brain hemorrhage at Leicester General Hospital.
  • May 28, 2001: Keyboardist Tony Ashton died at age 55 of cancer
  • February 6, 2012: Original vocalist Jim King died at age 69
  • January 31, 2017: Bassist John Wetton, who was in Family 1971-1972, died at age 67

 

 
More info visit each band members page.

4 responses to “Timeline”

  1. Jenny Johnson Avatar
    Jenny Johnson

    Hi, I have a half ticket stub from the gig I went to in Southampton 3/10/73.
    My friend Ross was fanatical about Family. The other friend we went with caught a tambourine thrown out from the stage. Ross pleaded with her all the way home, citing every track they had ever made etc to prove his worthiness. She finally relented and he had the tambourine.

    1. Chappo Jr Avatar

      Hi Jenny, so awesome to see such a great post here on this site. This site really is the only site in existence to accurately and painstakingly write truths and document Family and Streetwalkers. I am a bit fanatical myself. I found Family in the USA. That was hard enough at 13 years of age. My mother let us kids pick our own LPs and 45s. That was in 1969. Your post is special because your friends were at one of their last shows . Your friend Ross was truly a fan and got a tambourine (even though his girlfriend held the truth above his head) . Now, it is listed for the world at this one of a kind website: Familybandstand.com. Again many thank yous from all Family fans…

  2. John Dixon Avatar
    John Dixon

    I am fairly sure that I saw Family at Stirling University in the early 1970’s however I cannot find any information regarding this. Are there any contributors on this site that can verify this.

    1. Slim Livingstone Avatar
      Slim Livingstone

      Stirling Pathfoot was the Streetwalkers Album tour. Not yet called Streetwalkers but billed as Chapman Whitney. Opened with Crawfish then the rock songs from Streetwalkers. Big fight between sitting down students and jump about dancers during Call Ya. Chappo kept singing but commented on the best punches by making faces. Big Band seven maybe eight onstage.

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