In the history of hard rock music, few bands have had the longevity of UFO. Formed in 1969 in England, the band has undergone numerous line-up changes, with vocalist Phil Mogg being the one constant in the group’s 42-year history. Whether the band’s guitarist was Michael Schenker, Paul Chapman, Atomic Tommy, or current axeman Vinnie Moore, UFO’s sound is unmistakable… You know it’s them from the moment Phil starts singing.
When UFO began its storied journey over four decades ago, drummer Andy Parker was there along with singer Mogg. From that original line up, only the two remain. Andy, in his self-deprecating manner will be the first to point out that only Phil has been there from beginning to present, but the years Andy missed in the middle were the band’s least productive musically speaking. He has played on 16 of the band’s 20 albums to date.
From UFO‘s iconic “Schenker era” in the early to mid-70’s, Phil, Andy, Michael Schenker, Pete Way and Paul Raymond, created some or rock music’s most enduring songs and albums. Among them, Strangers In The Night, which is arguably the greatest live album ever recorded. Shortly after its release Schenker moved on to be replaced by Paul Chapman, who incidentally had joined the band as touring guitarist briefly in 1974.
The second era of UFO produced another set of inspired rock albums, but changing musical directions to new wave and punk hurt many bands, UFO among them. The lack of label support and inner turmoil building in the band led to bassist Pete Way’s departure in 1982, followed by Parker’s departure in 1983. In fact, UFO temporarily disbanded altogether. Parker then did a brief stint with Pete Way in the band Waysted, before dropping out of music for a decade.
While Phil spent the next decade trying to put the band back together again, the result was a mere two records and one EP. The band reformed with the iconic Mogg/Way/Schenker/Parker/Raymond line-up for 1995’s Walk On Water, after which Parker would again cede his kit to drum legends Ansley Dunbar, Simon Wright, and Jason Bonham, before returning for good in 2005.
The band released their 19th studio album, The Visitor in 2009, though health issues prevented bassist Pete Way from participating in the recording and subsequent tour. Now as the band prepares to enter the studio in June to record their 20th studio effort, Way’s lifestyle and health are still keeping him out of the fold. In fact, Way’s recent side project, Strangers In The Night, with Michael Schenker and former Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell, has already had to cut him loose due to his hard partying ways. As I talked with Andy this week, the topic of Pete was a painful one, and you could hear it in his voice as he spoke of his longtime friend and band mate.
Parker took time to fill Metalholic in on the band’s upcoming tour, the forthcoming album, which may or may not have a name, Billy Sheehan’s temporary replacement of Way in the ’80s, as well as his own time out of the band. He even divulges a song that will likely be in the set for this year’s tour that the band has never before played live. Here’s a hint, it comes from one of there early albums. Listen in below…
Also check out 10 Things you didn’t know about Andy Parker