The Craig

The CraigFrom: Birmingham, England

The Craig developed out of popular R&B band The King Bees, who were formerly known as The Castaways. The Craig recorded an original song called “I Must Be Mad,” which is now considered one of the best British psychedelic rock tracks of the 1960s. The band is also significant in music history as one of the earliest bands that Carl Palmer was a part of. Palmer would go onto play with Thunderbirds, The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Asia. Other members included Geoff Brown (lead vocal, guitar), Richard Pannell (guitar), and Len Cox (bass).

In early 1966, The King Bees manager Alan Clayton introduced the band to influential record producer Larry Page who had worked with The Kinks and The Troggs. Page saw potential in the band and arranged for them to record a cover of an American hit “A Little Bit Of Soap” by The Exciters. The B-side, “Ready Steady Let’s Go,” was written by Brown. Surprisingly, Page was not a fan of Palmer’s drumming, and didn’t find him suitable to play on the recording. According to Brown, “The really interesting part is that Larry Page didn’t think Carl had the right feel for the song in the studio so he brought in a session drummer he liked at the time, Mitch Mitchell (later to find fame in The Jimi Hendrix Experience) to play on the single. Carl said he didn’t have the same rock feel to his drumming. He said he learnt a lot from that experience in terms of tighter playing and drum tuning”.

Larry Page made the decision to change the band’s name from The King Bees to The Craig, because of other bands using the name The King Bees. However, Alan Clayton had concerns with the new name, worrying that it would confuse fans in the Midlands and affect the group’s bookings. In the end, the record was released on Page’s own label, Page One Records under the name The Craig and distributed by Fontana Records. It is said that the name The Craig originated when a member of the London mod band The Clique’ told Page that his friend Craig would be helping bring in gear for a recording session. Page liked the name and used it for his new band.

The single failed to chart in Britain for both The Exciters and The Craig. The band did not think the single was a good representation of what their sound was, and were left looking for more. Brown recalls, “I was still at university at the time and we didn’t think the record really reflected what the band was about. The record was a minor success, but didn’t make the charts. Larry page wanted us to record another cover of a Georgie Fame song ‘Getaway‘, which I didn’t like and couldn’t really sing that well.”

For their second single, the band was given much more freedom in the studio and in choice of material. They recorded some original songs that did far more in capturing the band’s energy and sound. Brown came into the studio and played Page “I Must Be Mad,” a Who-like psychedelic number that had a big build up and big drum sounds. The Craig played it once for Page, he liked it, so they played it a second time, and that is the version that was released. No overdubs were added to the song.

Unfortunately, the song failed to become a hit, despite its quality. The Craig’s hopes for topping the charts soon evaporated. Cox recalls, “We recorded a few things for Larry Page at a studio in the famous ‘Tin Pan Alley’, but our bid for fame was frustrated by him trying to take us in a musical direction that did not sit comfortably with us. The name change from The King Bees to Craig was the innovation of Larry and being somewhat naive and hungry for success we went along with it, but it was the beginning of the end.” Geoff Brown remembers: “We all had relationships and the band was going nowhere even though we all got on. We weren’t really happy about the name change and the direction Larry wanted to take us in and we decided to call it a day.” By mid-1967, The Craig decided to call it quits.

Brown and Pannell went on to form the progressive rock band Galliard who made a couple of well-received albums. Pannell eventually became a sound engineer and worked with the hugely successful Electric Light Orchestra. Cox left the music business to become a vicar. Brown would eventually end up working in the video game field where he continues to work today.

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Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

From the 1967 single “I Must Be Mad”
I Must Be Mad

  • I Must Be Mad