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Last update Ė 5 July 1997.

Lucifer's Friend history
an article from "Lucifer's Friend" (70) album.


This is the liner notes from the German Repertoire CD reissue of the first album by LF. The text was very poorly written by someone with a not-so-strong command of the English language, so I've taken the liberty of editing and pruning it a little bit, without changing the sense too much... †††Ė Alex Gitlin

LUCIFER'S FRIEND

The biography of the four members of German rock group Lucifer's Friend is the vital part of the German rock music family tree. Peter Hesslein had started in 1963 as a guitar player for the GIANTS. Peter Hecht and Dieter Horns were also members of the German Bonds since 1965; in 1968 Hesslein joined them. 1970 was the last year for the German Bondsí existence; following the breakup, its members took up studies in graphics and design. Late 1970 most of what was left of the BONDS, including drummer Joachim Rietenbach, started planning the recording of a new album. They searched for the proper vocalist, and finally found John Lawton, former member of the British band called Stonewall. "The album, "Lucifer's Friend", recorded by this super-energetic German rock-quintet, had more than a passing resemblance with Led Zeppelin (as stated by the Chicago Express at the time); it was released in January 1971. After rave reviews for this debut, the five members of LF decided to try their hand at live performances. In the Winter of 1972 the band went back into the studio to record "Where The Groupies Killed The Blues".

"The masterpiece with strange symbolic lyrics and even more strange sounds" ("raved" Chicago Sun Times). In 1974, this was one of the rare foreign albums which received huge Stateside airplay (as per Billboard). In 1972 Lucifer's Friend decided to give up playing live. "We were being paid poorly, cheated and had terrible debts," says Hesslein. The band carried on as a studio unit only. Hesslein earned his keep with the Rattles, Les Humphries Singers and, last not least, the James Last Orchestra. The rest of the band took up similar jobs, which involved less creativity, but higher salaries. Their third album, "I'm Just A Rock 'n Roll Singer", in some American cities became the most demanded record of the year! Their reputation in the USA was tremendous for a German band. Cash Box called them "One of the most vehement European bands". Lucifer's Friend became the top-selling German band in the USA.

Nevertheless, no royalties were transferred to Germany. In the Summer of 1973 they had their first change in the lineup. Drummer Rietenbach left the band and Herbert Bornholdt, former member of the Rattles, took over the drum stool. In 1974, the bandís work revolved primarily around the recording of their fourth album, "Banquet" . Furthermore, they engaged 30(!) session musicians for this recording. Again, the production was clearly aimed at the American market, but found positive reactions in Germany as well. "It's an orchestral rock banquet for musical gourmets" (POP). The next record, "Mind Exploding" proved to be less successful and the record company took it off the market one year after the release. In 1976, the band decided to try again as live performers. Singer John Lawton left and joined British pomp(!) rock outfit Uriah Heep. He was replaced by Mike Starrs, one of the founders of Spinning Wheel. With Starrs, they recorded "Good Time Warrior", a record almost in the same vein as their earlier works.

"Lucifer's Friend's last album showed an astonishing standard in rock music", wrote Sounds about "G.T.W." To reproduce the high quality standard on-stage, Adrian Askew was engaged as the second keyboardist. Since 1970, he had played with Edison Lighthouse, and since 1974 - with Atlantis. The official comeback show took place in the Musikhalle Hamburg in October 1978. But Lucifer's Friend packed too much of everything into one single showcase, and thus left the audience baffled. After a handful of TV appearances, Lucifer's Friend joined Manfred Mannís Earth Band on their European tour of 1979. Mann said later about LF, "This is the best support act I had ever had!".

The most commercial LP from the band was released in 1980 and entitled, "Sneak Me In". Although the album contained straight rhythms and polished harmonies, it didn't sell quite as well as had been expected. Even the bandís continued tour as a support act for Scorpions and Van Halen did not exactly set the sales charts on fire. In late 1980, Mike Starrs and Adrian Askew left the band and, fortunately for LF, John Lawton came back. No doubt, he was the better heavy rock singer. Peter Hecht decided to return to his keyboards also. The old lineup was complete once again. In 1981, Lucifer's Friend recorded "Mean Machine", an album following the then-booming heavy metal trend. In the Autumn of 1981, the last tour of small clubs followed, but the band didn't succeed in invoking any more popularity. In 1982, the band sadly vanished from the face of the Earth... until 1994...


Transcribed by Alex Gitlin

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(c)†1997