Exploring the mesmerising journey of Pretty Things, the English rock band that left an indelible mark on the music scene. From their formation in 1963 to the evolution of their sound, this article delves into the captivating history of a band that shaped the rock landscape.

Formation (1962–1964)

Before the birth of Pretty Things, there was Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys, featuring Dick Taylor, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and others. The dynamics shifted when Taylor left the Rolling Stones, leading to the formation of Pretty Things in September 1963. Phil May, Dick Taylor, John Stax, Brian Pendleton, and Pete Kitley embarked on a musical journey, setting the stage for the band’s distinctive sound.

Early Career (1964–1966)

Pretty Things swiftly made their mark on the UK Singles Chart with hits like “Rosalyn,” “Don’t Bring Me Down,” and “Honey I Need.” While their success resonated in the UK, the band’s provocative image stirred controversy, with May boasting the longest hair in the UK and Prince causing chaos. Their unique blend of rock and R&B set them apart, but a tour of the Southern Hemisphere in 1965 impacted their US prospects.

As the R&B scene declined in 1966, the band explored soul music, charting for the last time with “A House in the Country.” Personnel changes followed, with Prince’s departure and the introduction of Skip Alan. The band’s venture into filmmaking with “The Pretty Things on Film” showcased their evolving style.

S. F. Sorrow and Parachute (1967–1971)

Embracing psychedelia, Pretty Things signed with EMI’s Columbia label in 1967. The release of “Defecting Grey” marked the beginning of the S. F. Sorrow album sessions, a groundbreaking rock opera ahead of its time. Despite commercial challenges, the album’s significance in shaping the genre cannot be overstated.

The late 1960s brought disillusionment and lineup changes, with Taylor’s departure and the inclusion of guitarist Victor Unitt. A unique collaboration with French millionaire Philippe DeBarge resulted in an album intended for a select audience, capturing a moment in the band’s history.

The psychedelic sound persisted with the album “Parachute,” featuring Skip Alan’s return. Despite critical acclaim, sales remained modest, leading to the band’s disbandment in mid-1971.

1970s and Swan Song Records

Pretty Things re-emerged in late 1971, signing with Warner Bros. Records and releasing “Freeway Madness.” The 1973 cover of their songs by David Bowie in “Pin Ups” showcased the band’s enduring influence. Joining Swan Song Records, they released “Silk Torpedo,” a significant milestone for being the label’s first British album release.

Jimmy Page praised Pretty Things for their evolving musicality, acknowledging their impact on the industry. However, internal tensions during the recording of “Savage Eye” led to May’s departure and the eventual disbandment of the original lineup.

Though their commercial success varied, their influence on music, acknowledged by legends like Jimmy Page and David Bowie, ensures that Pretty Things will forever be remembered as pioneers of provocative rock.