One of the best blues singers… soul singers… hard rock singers… Mike Harrison, who passed away today, March 25th, at the age of 75, was as impossible to pigeonhole as SPOOKY TOOTH, the band he used to front, were. But when Mike delivered the likes of “Better By You, Better Than Me” nobody cared for categorization – being carried away with the sheer emotionality of Harrison’s voice. Either stood at the microphone or sat at the piano, he seemed to symbolize any group, though, despite the presence of great instrumentalists such as Keith Emerson, a fellow member of THE V.I.P.s in the ’60s, and “Supernatural Fairy Tales” – which he recorded when that ensemble became ART – is a minor psychedelic classic. Still, it’s the TOOTH that the vocalist found fame with.
From 1966 to 1970 and in 1972-1973, Mike shone in the vast variety of SPOOKY styles, on both covers like Dylan’s “The Weight” and originals, mostly written by keyboard player Gary Wright. The collective got resurrected, with some of the musicians absent, in 1998 and 2004, the latest – last ever – reunion resulting in "Nomad Poets" which would serve as their epitaph now that the singer and drummer Mike Kellie died. There were also less celebrated records with Harrison on: "Ceremony", the band’s collaboration with Pierre Henry, who recently checked out from this mortal coil, too, a document of his stint with HAMBURG BLUES BAND, and Mike’s solo albums. The brilliant likes of “Rainbow Rider” featured stellar line-ups, including Mick Jones and Morgan Fisher, and were covers-heavy – and there could have been much more if the vocalist didn’t disappear from public view for long periods of time, as he did between 1975 and 1997 and from 2006 until now.
Of course, there’s a video from 2012 available, but here’s Mike Harrison in all his glory… shining on the low quality footage:
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