British band Mr Big began life as a group called Burnt Oak in the sixties. The new name was first used when the band performed at the Marquee Club London in 1972 where (for some reason) they were erroneously billed as Mr Big. The club manager wouldn’t change it, so the name stayed.
Led by multi-talented vocalist/guitarist/composer, Dicken (real name Jeff Pain) the band signed to Epic in 1974 and released three singles without making a major breakthrough. The singles did lead to their first TV appearances – in Lift off with Ayshea and Softly Softly: Task Force.
In 1975 the band signed to Bob Hirschman who was then manager of Mott The Hoople. Their first album, a Styx-like fantasy concept called Sweet Silence, was released to great reviews from the press, followed by more promotional TV appearances including Supersonic with Mike Mansfield and Superpop.
In November 1975, Mr Big toured with Queen on their Night at the Opera tour. The group undertook their own UK headline tour in 1976 and supported Sweet on their tour of Europe. They then recorded their second (self-titled) album in Los Angeles with producer Val Garay.
Mr Big toured the US in February, March and April 1977 with Tom Petty, Journey, Kansas and The Runaways. Meanwhile, the single Romeo reached #4 in the UK (despite being banned for a while by the BBC). The single sold well in Japan, Australia, the USA and parts of Europe. Sadly the follow-up single, Feel Like Calling Home, only reached #35 in the UK.
The third album, Seppuku (1978) was recorded with Ian Hunter as producer. Unfortunately, EMI sat on the album and it did not see the light of day until 2001 when Angel Air Records released it on CD.
The group continued to tour the UK and appeared once on Top Of The Pops to promote their single Senora. Mr Big then split up, with Dicken and Pete Crowther forming an outfit called Broken Home in 1979. Their debut self-titled album (1980) was produced by Mutt Lange for Warner Music and released worldwide.
The band toured the UK and performed at the Reading Festival in August 1980. Their 1981album Life was produced by Greg Walsh and released in Europe only, where their single Oh Yeah provided them with a hit in Norway and Germany. Shortly after Broken Home broke-up.
Vince Chaulk emigrated to Australia. Dicken went on to a solo career and has performed with various lineups of Mr Big from time to time, often performing as ‘Mr Big UK’ so as not to be confused with the American band who stole the name in the late 80s.
Jeff “Dicken” Pain