Natural Gas was a rock band featuring Peter Wood, Joey Molland, Mark Clarke and Jerry Shirley. They released one album, Natural Gas, produced by Felix Pappalardi, in 1976. The group performed a few gigs as an opening act for Peter Frampton in 1976. They released a self-titled album and three singles.
The band consisted of Joey Molland, a guitarist in Badfinger, the famous Beatles-influenced pop act which collapsed after the suicide of its primary songwriter. Mark Clarke, a sideman bass player best known for playing in Uriah Heep during '71-72, along with Jerry Shirley, the drummer from Humble Pie and Quiver member Peter Wood.
Issued in 1975 on Private Stock, Natural Gas's only album aimed vaguely at being a harder-sounding version of Badfinger.
Joey Molland (born June 21, 1947, Edge Hill, Liverpool, England) is a composer and rock guitarist whose recording career spans four decades.
Molland’s recording career began in earnest in 1967 when he joined Gary Walker (formerly of the Walker Brothers) for the group “Gary Walker & The Rain.” The Rain released several singles, an EP, and an album on the Polydor and Philips labels in the UK and Japan between 1967 and 1969. The album titled #1, which featured four Molland compositions, was especially well received in Japan.
Molland auditioned for the band Badfinger in November 1969 and was subsequently hired. Badfinger were a conspicuous Apple Records recording group at the time (a label launched by The Beatles). The band enjoyed an early string of successful singles and albums for the next couple of years.
During Molland’s association with Apple, he made guest appearances on two George Harrison albums, All Things Must Pass and The Concert For Bangla Desh, and the John Lennon album Imagine. Molland left Badfinger in late 1974 due to disagreements over management.
In 1975, he joined with Jerry Shirley (formerly of Humble Pie) and formed a group called Natural Gas. The band released the LP Natural Gas on Private Stock Records in 1976, and enjoyed a successful tour with Peter Frampton the following year. According to Molland, a general lack of organization led to the band’s demise late in 1977.
Molland and former Badfinger band mate Tom Evans recorded two albums under the Badfinger name, Airwaves in 1978, and Say No More in 1981. Molland and Evans split acrimoniously after Say No More and the two performed in rival touring Badfinger bands until Evans’ death in 1983.
Most of Molland’s career since 1983 has been with various groups performing tours under the Badfinger name, or as “Joey Molland’s Badfinger.” Earlier versions of these groups sometimes included original Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins.
Peter Wood (1950–1993) was a British musician, born in Middlesex, England. In his early years he lived with his parents in Hythe Field Avenue, Egham, Surrey. He was a member of Quiver, and Natural Gas, before he began to work closely with Al Stewart, Roger Waters, as well as Cyndi Lauper, Jonathan Kelly, Tommy Shaw and Bob Dylan just to mention a few.
Wood is the co-writer of the 1976 Al Stewart single “Year of the Cat”. He was one of the original members of ‘The Bleeding Hearts Band’ (John ‘Willie’ Wilson, Andy Bown, Snowy White and Peter Wood), who featured as a supporting/backing band in the ‘The Wall’ live shows in 1980 and 1990, and after his death the group toured extensively with Roger Waters, although with additional musicians. Wood died in 1993.
Mark Clarke (born July 25, 1950, in Liverpool, England) is a former member of Colosseum and Uriah Heep. He was the bass guitarist for Colosseum from 1970 until 1972 (and from 1994 after Colosseum’s reunion), when he briefly joined Uriah Heep, performing (and co-writing) for just one studio track, “The Wizard”, on their 1972 album Demons & Wizards. He also played bass on Ken Hensley’s solo albums.
In 1975 he went on to join Natural Gas, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, and in 1980 started working with Billy Squier and recorded Don’t Say No, The Stroke, In the Dark and many other albums with him. In 1985 he joined The Monkees and until recently still worked with Davy Jones. Clarke has also worked with Mountain (Leslie West) and Ian Hunter (Mott the Hoople), recording albums with both of them.
Jerry Shirley (born 4 February 1952, Waltham Cross, London) began playing drums at an early age and was recruited by noted vocalist and guitarist Steve Marriott to join the newly-formed Humble Pie when he was just 17 years old.
Shirley remained as Humble Pie’s drummer throughout the group’s entire career. He also worked on Steve Marriott’s solo projects, and was a co-founder of the popular 1980s group Fastway. Shirley co-wrote Fastway’s biggest hit, “Say What You Will”.
After Fastway disbanded, Shirley decided to reform Humble Pie in the United States. Being the only original group member, the band was called Humble Pie Featuring Jerry Shirley. Former Victory and Ted Nugent band singer Charlie Huhn joined Shirley, and together they performed as Humble Pie Featuring Jerry Shirley with several other rotating musicians for approximately ten years. During this time, Shirley also worked as a disc jockey at WNCX in Cleveland, Ohio.
Shirley returned to the UK in 1999 and has participated in several musical ventures since, including tribute shows dedicated to the memory of his former Humble Pie bandmate, Steve Marriott.
Shirley owns all legal rights to the name Humble Pie. He now plays with the Deborah Bonham Band, whose lead singer is Debbie Bonham, younger sister of the late drummer, John Bonham.
Legendary Natural Gas Album Featuring Badfinger, Humble Pie and Uriah Heep Members Gets Remastered and Re-released
11/17/2010 – Philadelphia, PA - Music collectors worldwide are ecstatic with the remastering and re-release of the legendary 'Natural Gas' album featuring Badfinger, Humble Pie and Uriah Heep alumni on November 16, 2010. The Natural Gas album has been given the CD treatment by premier record label ItsAboutMusic.com, who has an impressive back catalog of releases. An out of print inferior reissue of Natural Gas was previously released in 2009, and now the album has been completely re-hauled - meticulously remastered with the original artwork restored and the blessings of the band. Originally released in 1975 on the Private Stock label, the eponymous debut by Natural Gas featured Joey Molland of Badfinger, Jerry Shirley of Humble Pie, Peter Wood of Quiver and Mark Clarke of Uriah Heep and Colosseum.
"I went to this place called Blakes in London, which was a hangout for rockers," recalls Joey Molland. "It was a cool little place. One night I saw a friend of mine there named Mark Clarke; a bass player from Liverpool who’d played with Uriah Heep and Colosseum. We were just talking and having a laugh and I asked him, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'I’m going up to Jerry Shirley’s this weekend. I’m going to stay there and we’ll probably have a jam – why don’t you come with us.' I didn’t really know Jerry, but I thought it would be cool. So Mark calls him and Jerry says. 'Come on up.' We go on up to Jerry Shirley’s house – he had a lovely little farmhouse outside of London. We found out that day that he had just left Humble Pie. Later on that night we had a jam; I think it was Clem Clemson, Jerry, Mark, myself and there may have been one or two others. We had a lot of fun, just playing rock ‘n’ roll songs and blues songs. The next morning Mark, Jerry and myself decided to put a band together. We thought, 'Why not. But do we have any songs?' I had a couple of songs, which I played to them. One was called 'Once Again A Love Song' and the other was called 'Dark Cloud'. Likewise, Mike had a couple songs. We also got a keyboardist, a guy named Dave Kafinetti from the band Rare Bird. He went on to be the keyboard player in 'Spinal Tap'. What a knockout guy!" Kafinetti was replaced before the recording of the album by Peter Wood who co-wrote 'Year of the Cat' with Al Stewart.
The Natural Gas album was recorded at Crystal Studios in Los Angeles and produced by legendary Mountain member Felix Papalardi. "Felix was really nice," says Joey, "a real sociable guy and talented fellow. As far as a producer went, we really wanted Mal Evans to do it. But the label wanted Felix Papalardi, the bass player from Mountain who’d done Cream and all that – the label wanted him to do it. Apparently Felix wanted to do the project as well, so that was that. I think Mal was pretty disappointed actually."
And what about a name for the new super group? "I think Jerry Shirley came up with the name ‘Natural Gas’ – he was very into it. I never really suggested names for bands – I’m not really good at it. At the time in 1975 natural gas was very much in favor; it was the new clean burning fuel being more and more used. So it seemed like a good idea, and I guess it’s a cool name. It did suggest energy, which was what we were all about. The philosophy of the band was to rock out, you know what I mean…just have a really good time doing it."
The LP was released to critical praise from the music press worldwide. Natural Gas would support the album release with a major tour opening for Peter Frampton on his 'Frampton Comes Alive' world tour. "Jerry Shirley had played with Peter Frampton in Humble Pie and so they were obviously close," Joey recalls. "I’d known Peter myself kind of at arms length since he was with the Herd all those years before. So on and off we’d cross each other’s paths. I think Jerry had been working with an agent who’d worked with Humble Pie – Frank Barcelona of Premier talent. He got in touch with them to see if they’d be interested in booking Natural Gas. They were at that time putting the 'Frampton Comes Alive' tour together. They were able to get us opening slots on a lot of the shows – they did us that great favor!"
Unfortunately, Natural Gas's debut album would became the band's only release. Joey Molland would soon return to the Badfinger fold, while Jerry Shirley would go on to work with Fastway and eventually return to Humble Pie. Mark Clarke would find work with Rainbow, Billy Squier and Leslie West, while Peter Wood, who passed away in 1993, would later work with Roger Waters and Bob Dylan. The 'Natural Gas' album sadly drifted into obscurity and eventually would become a much sought after collector's item. Now fans of Natural Gas can rejoice with the new re-mastered version of the album.
Joey Molland is currently touring, and recently did a stint of performances with the legendary Jack Bruce. Mark Clarke's first solo album called 'Moving To The Moon' will also be released on ItsAboutMusic.com November 16, 2010.