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R.I.P. Phil May, Frontman of UK Rock Band Pretty Things Dies at 75

Also featuring The Rolling Stones’ Dick Taylor, the band achieved a string of top 50 hits in the 1960s and is credited with writing the first rock opera

Phil May of Pretty Things
Phil May of Pretty Things
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    Phil May, the longtime vocalist of UK rock band Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75.

    According to The Guardian, May died in a Norfolk, UK hospital due to complications from hip surgery. His death was not COIVD-19 related.

    May formed Pretty Things in 1963 alongside former Rolling Stones guitarist Dick Taylor. They were initially a part of the British blues rock scene, achieving six top 50 hits between 1964 and 1966. Their biggest single, “Don’t Bring Me Down”, peaked at No. 10 on the UK charts, while its follow-up, “Honey I Need”, hit No. 13. Despite their early success, and sharing the same management as Pink Floyd, Pretty Things failed to achieve the same international success as fellow rock bands of their times. They later attributed their lack of fame in the US to a decision to tour Australia and New Zealand at the same time as bands like The Stones and The Beatles were playing shows in the states.

    In the late 1960s, Pretty Things began experimenting with a more psychedelic sound, culminating in the release of 1968’s S.F. Sorrow. Widely considered the first concept rock opera of its time, the album was recorded at Abbey Road Studios while The Beatles and Pink Floyd were in nearby spaces making The White Album and A Saucerful of Secrets, respectively.

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    In 1973, Pretty Things got a nod from David Bowie when the Thin White Duke covered two of their songs — “Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down” — on his album Pin Ups. Bowie also reportedly “Oh! You Pretty Things!” in their honor. The following year, they signed to Led Zeppelin’s label Swan Song Records for the release of Silk Torpedo. The album achieved moderate success in the US, cracking the Billboard Hot 100.

    Pretty Things continued to record music and tour throughout the next thirty years, with a rotating cast of musicians performing alongside May and Taylor. In 2015, they embarked on a 50th anniversary tour and released what proved to be their final album, The Sweet Pretty Things (Are in Bed Now, of Course…).

     

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