Back in the days when nobody was ashamed to be called a hippie, Welsh band Man were the closest thing the British side of the Atlantic had to those all-time great star-truckers the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers.
Maybe they lived too much in the shadow of Swansea’s Dark Satanic Mills ever to be as carefree as their American blood brothers but they gigged and gigged, smoked a lot of dope, and gigged again, singing songs about gigging and smoking and playing everything like they knew what they were talking about. Which they did.
Guitarists Micky Jones and Deke Leonard and organist Clive John were the nucleus of the first Man – the one immortalised on two Pye albums, Revelation and Two oz. of Black Plastic With A Hole In The Middle.
In their first six years, the band went through six line-ups. In 1975, they were joined by John Cipollina (ex-Quicksilver Messenger Service). In Man, Cipollina found a band that let him stretch out like he hadn’t done since 1969, and in return, Micky Jones and the boys found the inspiration for some very fine music.
Man were an underground band, building an audience through constant touring and regualr album releases rather than ephemeral hit singles. The touring had an effect om their music, which became increasingly elongated, experimental and improvised. No two shows were ever the same.
The Greasy Truckers Party LP became part of Man folklore, as its version of Spunk Rock too up an entire side of vinyl, showing the group at their improvisational best.
Man eventually split up in 1976 with three nights at the Roundhouse. They recorded their last hours for posterity too (just like Man really – their eight-year history was studded with live albums invariably taped on ‘historic’ occasions.)
The group re-formed on April Fool’s Day 1983 but it would be another decade before they would release an album of new material. Man’s second incarnation would last over three decades, yet, for all their efforts, they struggled to regain any semblance of their former status.
Micky Jones died on 10 March 2010, aged 63, following a long fight against a brain tumour. Clive John died after a battle with emphysema on 24 August 2011. Bassist Ken Whaley died from lung cancer in May 2013, aged 66. Deke Leonard passed away in January 2017, aged 72. Will Youatt died in his sleep on 13 September 2017. Bassist John McKenzie died on 10 May 2020 at the age of 64.
Man continue to peform sporadically and have been based in Germany since 2011.
Roger ‘Deke’ Leonard
Vocals, guitar, keyboards
Alan ‘Tweke’ Lewis
Keyboards, guitar, vocals