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Phil May

Pretty Things Frontman Phil May Passes

Dick Taylor, left, and Phil May. deargdoom57 / CC BY
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NORFOLK, UK (CelebrityAccess) — Phil May, lead vocalist and founding member of the English rock band Pretty Things, has died. He was 75.

According to The Guardian, May died in hospital in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, from complications following hip surgery to address an injury sustained in a cycling accident.

Born Philip Arthur Dennis Wadey, May formed Pretty Things in 1963 with guitarist Dick Taylor, who had recently had exited from The Rolling Stones.

Like their compatriots, The Stones, Pretty Things initially focused on blues rock influenced by the likes of Bo Diddley and scored several early hits in the U.K. with “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Honey I Need” but failed to chart in the U.S.

In 1968, they changed course with the release of their fourth album, the high concept “S.F. Sorrow” which May served as the primary lyricist for.  Borrowing heavily from psychedelia, the album, presented as a rock opera preceded The Who’s “Tommy” by a year but it landed with a thud with the band’s fans and led to the dissolution of the early lineup of the group with Taylor and drummer Twink both exiting within a year.

The group reformed in 1971 and the group scored a minor chart success in 1974 with their album “Silk Torpedo” but May departed the group amid growing tension over the band’s artistic direction.

The 1967 line-up of Alan, May, Povey, Taylor and Waller reformed in 1978, and expanded to a six piece in 1980 to record for Warner, but the group failed to gain traction on the charts and effectively dissolved.

However, Taylor and May kept the brand alive by touring through the 1980s with a revolving cast of supporting musicians.

In the early 1990s, Pretty Things successfully sued EMI, alleging the label had failed to pay years worth of royalties. As a result of the suit, the band reclaimed their masters from EMI as well as an undisclosed financial settlement.

Following the suit, Pretty Things reunited their 1967 lineup and they teamed up with Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour and English singer-songwriter Arthur Brown for their first U.S. tour in decades.

The group continued to tour and record into the 2000s but health issues of several members prompted a rotating lineup. Original rhythm guitarist Brian Pendleton died of lung cancer on 16 May 2001 and drumemr Skip Allen was frequently sidelined with heart issues.

In June 2009, May, Taylor, Waller, Povey and Allan reunited to receive the “Heroes” award at the annual Mojo Awards ceremony and the following year, re-record their 1970 album “Parachute” to mark its 40th anniversary.

The Pretty Things announced plans to retire in 2018 amid May’s declining health.

“The band is performing very well at the moment,” Taylor told X-Press at the time. “Unfortunately, Phil May is finding it very difficult to tour, so the intensive touring needs to come to a hold. But we might do some festivals and what have you if anyone twists our arm enough and offers us enough cash basically.”

The Pretty Things played their final show at London’s 02 in December, with guests including David Gilmour and Van Morrison.

A moment from the band’s final show at the O2 in 2018

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