UFO are a British hard rock/heavy metal band formed in 1969. UFO became a transitional group between early hard rock and heavy metal and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. UFO's influence was strongly felt in the 1980s heavy metal scene and they have been cited as a primary influence of Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Kirk Hammett of Metallica, Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, Frank Hannon of Tesla, and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, among others.
UFO was ranked #84 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Singer Phil Mogg, guitarist Mick Bolton, bassist Pete Way, and drummer Andy Parker formed the band in August 1969. Originally taking the name 'Hocus Pocus', the group changed their name in October 1969 to UFO in honour of the London club where they were spotted by Noel Moore, who signed them to his Beacon Records label. Their eponymously titled first album debuted in 1970 and was a typical example of blues and boogie based hard rock. The album included a heavy version of the Eddie Cochran's classic "C'mon Everybody." Both UFO 1 and its follow-up UFO 2: Flying, were very successful in Japan (especially the single "C'mon Everybody" which became a huge hit there) and Germany (the song "Boogie For George," also from the first album, reached #30 in German singles charts and "Prince Kajuku" from Flying reached #26 there), but generated poor interest in Britain and America. Consequently, their third effort, Live (later re-issued as UFO Lands In Tokyo), was originally only released in Japan in 1972.
Part of UFO's early heavy metal work was strongly influenced by space rock (their second album, including a 26-minute long title track and a 19-minute long opus "Star Storm," was subtitled "One Hour Space Rock") that was modestly popular at the time, but the band soon realised the style was somewhat limited. In January, 1972 Mick Bolton left the group, and UFO set out to find a guitarist who could provide the band with a more standard rock sound.
After brief trial runs with Larry Wallis (February - October, 1972) and Bernie Marsden (he toured with UFO in Europe and recorded a demo, "Give Her The Gun") the band recruited Michael Schenker from the Scorpions in June 1973. Schenker was only 18 at the time but was already a well-respected guitarist. On a new label, Chrysalis Records, and with a new producer, Leo Lyons (formerly of Ten Years After), UFO recorded Phenomenon in 1974, which debuted the band's harder-edged guitar sound. Phenomenon was an instant classic, containing many fan favorites such as "Doctor Doctor" (later a minor hit single as a live track) and "Rock Bottom" (which was extended live to provide a showcase for Schenker). By the time of the Phenomenon tour, ex-Skid Row guitarist Paul Chapman joined the group, but he left in January 1975 to form Lone Star.
Two later albums, Force It (July 1975) and No Heavy Petting (May 1976), and extensive touring brought UFO increased visibility with American audiences and increased their following in the UK.
After the band experimented with keyboards during the recording sessions of Force It (Chick Churchill from Ten Years After played them), Danny Peyronel (previously in Heavy Metal Kids) joined the line-up in August 1975 but left the next summer to form The Blue Max. In July, 1976 the band recruited keyboardist and rhythm guitarist Paul Raymond from Savoy Brown to make 1977's Lights Out. This album was the pinnacle of UFO's studio career and is considered a genuine 1970s hard rock classic, containing songs such as "Too Hot To Handle," "Lights Out," and the 7-minute opus "Love To Love." With Lights Out, the band received substantial critical acclaim.
With their new-found success, the band went back into the studio to record Obsession in 1978. Later that year, the band went on tour in the USA and recorded a live album, Strangers In The Night, which was released in January 1979. Strangers was a critical and commercial success reaching Number 1 in the UK album charts in February 1979.
Along with Schenker's increasing alcohol abuse, tensions had begun to grow between Mogg and Schenker in the late 1970s. Soon after UFO's final US show in Palo Alto, California in October 1978 Schenker left the band. He made a brief return to the Scorpions before going on to form his own Michael Schenker Group.
After Schenker's exit, UFO rehired Paul "Tonka" Chapman on guitar who brought over unused track ideas from Lone Star's drummer Dixie Lee. Shortly after they released their next LP, No Place To Run in January, 1980. Produced by the former Beatles producer, George Martin No Place To Run failed to match up to the success of its predecessors. Paul Raymond left the band at the end of the No Place To Run tour and was replaced by John Sloman from Uriah Heep for a couple of months and then by former Wild Horses guitarist and keyboardist Neil Carter, who helped fill the void in the songwriting left by Schenker's departure. Carter debuted in UFO on stage at Reading Festival August 23, 1980 when the band played as headline act. At the beginning of the following year, UFO released the self-produced The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent, which had a lighter pop rock sound, which was popular at the time. The album achieved mild success in the UK, sparked by the Top 20 single "Lonely Heart".
In February, 1982 the band released Mechanix. It contained the popular song, "Back Into My Life", which was a minor hit in the USA. Later that year, founding member, Pete Way left the band to form Fastway with M?torhead guitarist Eddie Clarke and then his own band, Waysted. He was replaced by Talas bassist, Billy Sheehan. UFO released Making Contact in 1983, but the album was a critical and commercial failure. Thus, that May, UFO decided to disband.. However, there was a hint that this might not be permanent when UFO released a compilation album featuring songs by UFO as well as other groups featuring ex-members Headstone, the cover of which showed a headstone denoting UFO with their formation date but an incomplete end date.
This proved to be a short hiatus as, two years later, Mogg assembled a new UFO line-up and released Misdemeanor. This was followed by the 1988 EP Ain't Misbehavin'. Despite the renewed activity of the band, neither release was financially successful and they disbanded again.
In 1992, Mogg and Way decided to put a new UFO line-up together with Clive Edwards and Laurence Archer in the band and released High Stakes & Dangerous Men. While only released on a small independent label, High Stakes was enough to generate serious interest in a full-blown reunion. The following year, the late 1970s UFO line-up ? Mogg, Schenker, Way, Raymond and Parker ? reunited, and the resultant albums were Walk on Water (1995), Covenant (2000), and Sharks (2002). This line-up went on a world tour (barring Parker's replacement by AC/DC's Simon Wright on drums). However, tensions arose again, and Schenker left the band in the middle of the tour. Therefore, the other members went their separate ways again.
Phil Mogg and Pete Way continued working together, however, and released two albums under the Mogg/Way name in the late 1990s, - Edge of the World and Chocolate Box. In 2003 they released The Plot with drummer Jeff Martin.
In 2000, Schenker rejoined UFO and the band released the double CD Covenant (with Aynsley Dunbar on drums), which contained a disc of new material and a disc of live classics. In 2002, the band recorded Sharks; shortly after Sharks was released, Schenker left the band yet again and was replaced with Vinnie Moore.
In 2004 UFO released their eighteenth studio album You Are Here with their new permanent guitarist Vinnie Moore and Jason Bonham on drums (intermittently). UFO recorded their live set and released a double-DVD recording titled Showtime (2005) along with a double live CD on SPV in November 2005, mixing a number of re-recorded studio songs. In November 2005, Andy Parker returned to the band to play in the Piorno Rock Festival in Granada, Spain. UFO's nineteenth studio album, titled The Monkey Puzzle, was released in 2006.
Andy Parker returned in early 2007 after recovering from leg surgery. On the 2008 tour, Pete Way was unable to get a work visa to enter the United States, Rob De Luca (of Sebastian Bach's band) filling in.
UFO released their twentieth studio album, The Visitor, in June 2009 and followed with a tour of the UK?without Pete Way, who is suffering from a medical condition (bass tracks on The Visitor were also played not by Pete Way but by Peter Pichl, and Pete Way is not credited as a band member on a The Visitor cover, as there is no any other bassist).
In July 2009 UFO released a 6-CD box set containing all the songs between 1975 to 1982 as well as previously unreleased live songs.
Phil Mogg - vocals
Vinnie Moore - guitar
Paul Raymond - keyboards, guitar
Pete Way - bass
Andy Parker - drums
Michael Schenker - guitar
Paul Chapman - guitar
Laurence Archer - guitar
Bernie Marsden - guitar
Larry Wallis - guitar
Billy Sheehan - bass
Aynsley Dunbar - drums
Robbie France - drums
Jason Bonham - drums
Simon Wright - drums
Neil Carter - keyboards, guitar
Paul Gray - bass
Mick Bolton - guitar
Tommy McClendon - guitar
Clive Edwards - drums
Danny Peyronel - keyboards, piano