The Purple Gang (band)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Purple Gang are one of the longest-lived but relatively unknown British rock bands, who narrowly missed stardom in 1967. Several of the original members are still playing together.


Although they were associated with the London psychedelic scene at the time of their near-brush with fame, they originated in Stockport in Cheshire, in north-west England, as a Jugband. In London, they engaged Joe Boyd as their producer, and shared a studio with Pink Floyd as they cut their first single, Granny takes a trip (named after the eponymous shop in the Kings Road). Floyd were making their own first single, Arnold Layne, at the time.

Unfortunately, the BBC spotted the word trip in the title and assumed it to be a reference to LSD. They banned the record from their airwaves. Also noticing that the band's lead singer at the time (Pete Walker) was nicknamed "Lucifer", they said that the group "would not be tolerated by any decent society". An LP, "The Purple Gang strikes" was released in 1968, but failed to sell. Pirate radio station DJ's such as John Peel praised the group, but without backing from the big record companies, fortune would elude them.

Although disappointed, the band continued during the early 1970s with a slightly different lineup. In 1998, the band reformed and produced a CD "Night of the Uncool" with several new songs by Joe Beard, some of which were produced by Gerry Robinson, the mandolin and harmonica player from the original 1967 line-up. One of the tracks, "Almostgotitogetheronce" is a tribute to their near-success in their early career. ("Almostgotitogethertwice" is the closing, fade-out number.)

In 2003, they re-released their earlier LP, "The Purple Gang strikes", as a CD. This contains remixes of several of their 1967 near-misses, including the "notorious" "Granny takes a trip". Another track, "Madam Judge", is their reply to its banning.

Most of their songs are written by their early members: guitarist Joe Beard (born Christopher John Beard, November 28 1945, at West Park Hospital, Macclesfield, Cheshire), and organist Geoff Bowyer (born Geoffrey Paul Bowyer, in 1947, in Leek, Staffordshire). Some other members were vocalist Pete Walker (born Peter John Walker, in 1946, in Hyde, North Cheshire), jug / banjo player Ank Langley (born Trevor Langley, in 1946, in Stockport, Cheshire) and mandolin / harmonica player Gerry Robinson (born David John Robinson, in 1947, in Hyde). Their musical influences and styles are varied, from Country and Western, through psychedelic, to simple stomping rock numbers.

They adopted the name, The Purple Gang when they changed their image to the well-dressed, clean-cut "gangster" style in the sixties.


  • Night of the Uncool
  • The Purple Gang strikes

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Purple Gang (band)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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