Formed in the early 70s in St Louis, Missouri, by David Surkamp and Mike Safron from the remnants of a band called High On A Small Hill, Pavlov’s Dog were unlike anything else.
The band were fronted by the dirty angel vocals of Surkamp (heard to great effect on Julia), with a background brew of mellotrons, violins and skewed prog-pop-rock.
Signed to ABC/Dunhill, they received $600,000 for their first album, Pampered Menial (1975) – at that time the biggest ever fee for a new act – but were then traded to CBS for Poco.
As a result, their debut LP emerged on two different labels with two different covers on the same day!
Surkamp’s unusual vocal delivery polarised public opinion and sales were only a little short of catastrophic.
Their second album, At The Sound Of The Bell, was even further out as producers Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman (famed for their work with Blue Öyster Cult) introduced Yes drummer Bill Bruford and added the High Wycombe Boys Choir to Valkerie.
Revered in the UK, at home in the States, Pavlov’s Dog remained a parochial affair and their third Columbia album, The St Louis Hounds, was shelved. A fourth disc (Lost In America) only appeared on a small local label.
Following an emotional farewell gig on a St Louis riverboat called The Admiral, the band split due to diminishing returns rather than the traditional ‘musical differences’ or drug problems. In a nutshell, they were broke.
Siegfried Carver (Richard Nadler)