Quatermass – The John Peel BBC Session (1970)

QuatermaFrontCover1ss were a British progressive rock band from London, active between 1969 and 1971. A related band, Quatermass II, was active in the mid-1990s.

The trio consisted of bass player and vocalist John Gustafson, keyboardist J. Peter Robinson and Mick Underwood on drums. Underwood had previously played with Ritchie Blackmore in the Outlaws, while Gustafson had been a member of Cass and the Casanovas, the Big Three, the Seniors, and the Merseybeats. Underwood later became drummer with Episode Six, and was joined by Gustafson after Roger Glover (and Ian Gillan) left to join Deep Purple. The band took its name from Professor Bernard Quatermass, a fictional scientist who had been the hero of three science fiction serials produced by BBC Television in the 1950s, and were signed to Harvest Records.


The group formed as a power trio with Hammond organ as the main instrument. Their first and only album sold itself through “…compactness, wealth of ideas, forceful lead vocals and complicated arrangements, enriched by pianist Robinson’s tasteful use of classical strings which are on display along with spacious keyboard passages at their height in the mold of The Nice.” One track, “Laughin’ Tackle”, includes 16 violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos, and 3 double bass, arranged by Robinson, and a drum solo by Underwood. Underwood remained in close contact with Blackmore, and visited Deep Purple in the studio while they were recording In Rock.

The group split in early 1971. Gustafson formed a new band, Hard Stuff (Bullet) with ex-members of Atomic Rooster.


The band’s song “Black Sheep of the Family”, a cover of Chris Farlowe, was the first track to be recorded by Rainbow, having been rejected for the Deep Purple album Stormbringer.[6]

In 1994, Underwood, and founding Deep Purple member Nick Simper joined in a project titled Quatermass II. Gustafson contributed two songs on their album, Long Road (1997), which also involved Gary Davis and Bart Foley on guitars, with Don Airey on keyboards.

And here´s a wonderful BBC broadcast recording (one of these legendayry John Peel Sessions !) inclduing this heavy and hissing organ by Peter Robinson.

What a great group … criminally underrated … one of the finest bands from this period … if you like organ/bass/drums trios !


John Gustafson (bass, vocals)
Peter Robinson (keyboards)
Mick Underwood (drums)


01. Black Sheep Of The Family (Hammond) 3.19
02. Laughing Tackle (Robinson) 10.49
03. Make Up Your Mind Now (Hammond) 9.09
04. One Blind Mice (Gustafson/Robinson/Underwood) 6.16



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