With his flaming headdress, pre-KISS facial makeup and wild dervish dancing, Arthur Brown was one of the most exotic characters on the 60s London underground scene.
Picked up for Track Records by Pete Townshend, UFO Club regular Arthur Brown should have made an impact with his September 1967 single Devil’s Grip, but it was to be nine months before Fire – a dose of proto-Gothic psych rock and acid paranoia lyrics – took his incendiary stage act from the bowels of the underground to the top of the charts (which produced one of the most memorable Top Of The Pops appearances of all time!).
The original Crazy World line-up featured Brown, an ex-philosophy student called Vincent Crane on organ, and drummer Drachen Theaker (who got the gig after failing to show up for an audition with Jimi Hendrix).
Crane (who also worked as co-writer with Brown) had a history of manic depression while Theaker was a wild free-spirit dubbed “The Psychedelic Gypsy” by manager Kit Lambert.
The authorship of Fire became a matter of dispute. Its similarity to a song written by two of Brown and Crane’s housemates led to an eventual co-credit for Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker, though it appears Brown saw little of the money, mostly due to record company wrangles.
Its similarity to a song written by two of Brown and Crane’s housemates led to an eventual co-credit for Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker, though it appears Brown saw little of the money, mostly due to record company wrangles.
In a bizarre later twist, Theaker eventually won a settlement from Track for back royalties for his part in Fire, gaining all rights to the song, then selling them to Polydor for £100,000.
Theaker died of a brain tumour in 1992, while Crane killed himself three years earlier.