Medicine Head were a British blues rock band – initially a duo – active in the 1970s. Their biggest single success was in 1973, with "One and One Is One", a Number 3 hit on the UK Singles Chart. The group recorded six original albums, the opening trio of which were on John Peel's Dandelion label.
|Labels||Dandelion, Polydor, WWA|
|Past members||John Fiddler
For most of its career, the group was a duo comprising:
- John Fiddler (born 25 September 1947, the Moxley part of Darlaston, Staffordshire, England) – (vocalist, guitarist, pianist, drummer)
- Peter Hope-Evans (born 28 September 1947, Brecon, Powys, Wales) – (harmonica, Jew's harp, and mouthbow player).
Fiddler and Hope-Evans met when they both attended Wednesfield Grammar School, Wolverhampton, and then Stafford Art School. After both dropped out of their courses, they began performing together on an informal basis and around 1968 started performing blues and rock'n'roll songs in pubs and clubs in and around Birmingham. They were seen at the Lafayette club by radio DJ John Peel, who in turn played a tape of their songs to John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend and, at Lennon's insistence, signed them to his Dandelion record label.
The demo recording of "His Guiding Hand" was released as a single, Peel describing it as "the cheapest single ever made and one of the classic records of all time" and keeping the single in his box of most treasured records. The duo's first album, New Bottles Old Medicine, was recorded in a single two-hour session, and they toured with Peel at many of his gigs, Peel paying them out of his own fee. Their second album, Heavy On The Drum, was recorded with Keith Relf, formerly of The Yardbirds, as producer. The single "(And The) Pictures in the Sky" rose to no.22 on the UK Singles Chart in 1971. This was not included on Heavy on the Drum but was added to CD reissues of their debut, New Bottles Old Medicine. "(And The) Pictures in the Sky" was the first hit on the Dandelion label.
Hope-Evans left the band for over a year, and Fiddler, Relf (on bass), and drummer John Davies recorded the band's third album and last on Dandelion, Dark Side of the Moon. It was released in 1972, the year before the Pink Floyd album of the same name. According to Nicholas Schaffner, Pink Floyd briefly changed the name of their piece (which they were already performing live), to Eclipse, until the Medicine Head album turned out to be "a commercial dud". The track "Only To Do What Is True" appeared on the 1972 compilation, There Is Some Fun Going Forward.
Medicine Head signed for Polydor Records, and Hope-Evans returned for the album One & One Is One, produced by Tony Ashton and recorded with various session musicians. The title track became the band's biggest hit, reaching no.3 in the UK in 1973, and they followed it up with "Rising Sun" (no. 11). For the next album, Thru' A Five, the duo were augmented on a regular basis by Rob Townsend – previously of Family – on drums, Roger Saunders on guitar, and George Ford on bass. The album featured Slim Harpo's song "Slip and Slide", which became the band's final hit, reaching no.22 in the UK in 1974. Despite consistent touring, often as a supporting act, Medicine Head failed to place an album on the UK Albums Chart. For their final album, Two Man Band, recorded at Pete Townshend's Eel Pie Studios, they reverted to being a duo. Medicine Head finally folded in 1977.
In 2005 Angel Air released the album Don't Stop The Dance. In effect it was a 'lost' album, compiling some singles from an unsuccessful period with the WWA label, and some unreleased sessions with the band as a five piece. In March 2007 Medicine Head's debut album New Bottles, Old Medicine was re-released on CD by Cherry Red Records. In May 2009 Cherry Red also released, One And One Is One – The Very Best Of Medicine Head. Fiddler released solo albums after the breakup of the band but revived the Medicine Head name for Fiddlersophical in 2011.
Post break-up careersEdit
Since the band's break-up, both members have continued to work in the music industry.
Fiddler was a member of British Lions and Box of Frogs, and has released solo material including a 1995 album, Return of the Buffalo. He has occasionally revived the Medicine Head name, to tour a show of their hits (fellow musicians have included Clive Edwards, Laurence Archer, Mark Luckhurst and James Fox) and to release further low-key recordings.
Hope-Evans appeared on many albums, most prominently with Pete Townshend, and has played in several bands including The Dance Band, who released a 1980 album Fancy Footwork, and more recently accompanying singer-songwriter Noah Francis.
His Guiding Hand. First Medicine Head 7" single. Released 1969
- "(And The) Pictures in the Sky" – Number 22 – 1971
- "One and One Is One" – Number 3 – 1973
- "Rising Sun" – Number 11 – 1973
- "Slip and Slide" – Number 22 – 1974
- New Bottles, Old Medicine – 1970
- Heavy on the Drum – 1971
- Dark Side of the Moon – 1972
- One & One Is One – 1973
- Thru a Five – 1974
- Medicine Head – 1976
- Two Man Band – 1976
- Live at the Marquee – 2001
- Don't Stop the Dance – 2005
- Only the Roses – 2005
- BBC Radio Sessions – 2010
- Fiddlersophical – 2011
- Du Noyer, Paul (2003). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Music (1st ed.). Fulham, London: Flame Tree Publishing. p. 181. ISBN 1-904041-96-5.
- Roberts, David, ed. (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, England: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 359. ISBN 978-1-904994-10-7.
- Nick Dalton, "A Medical Miracle", Record Collector, no.415, June 2013, pp.30-36
- "Biography by Jason Ankeny". Allmusic.com. Retrieved 21 October 2009.
- 'Dark Side of the Moon MTV.com
- Schaffner, A Saucerful Of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey, 1992, Delta Publishing
- "Allmusic ((( Medicine Head > Discography > Main Albums )))".