The Misunderstood were a psychedelic rock band originating from Riverside, California in the mid-1960s. The band moved to London early in their career, and although they recorded only a handful of songs before being forced to disband, they are considered highly influential in the then-emerging genre.
Creem magazine, in their September 2004 review, wrote, “The saga of the Misunderstood is one of the most unbelievable, heartbreaking, and unlikely stories in the entire history of rock.”
Classic Rock magazine’s June 2010 issue stated, “The truth is that this band (The Misunderstood) were so far out on their own, so individual and innovative that you can only wonder at the set of circumstances that conspired to prevent them from becoming the iconic name that was surely their destiny.”
The band began in 1963 as one of many garage bands formed in the US in the wake of the British Invasion. They moved to London in 1966, with the assistance of their manager, John Peel, who would later gain fame as an influential BBC Radio DJ. In UK they recruited Englishman Tony Hill on rhythm guitar. Hill and singer Rick Brown formed a songwriting team. Bass player Steve Whiting was also involved in developing material for the band.
The band was influenced by and often compared to The Yardbirds. Distinctive features of the band’s sound included the steel guitar of Glenn Ross Campbell and the innovative style of Whiting, known for his use of slide, fuzz tone and distortion.
Fontana Records introduced the band with a 4-song live performance in London’s Philips Studios. British media response was positive, but at this juncture it was decided that Campbell, Whiting, and Moe should go to Europe to sort out their British visas and work permits, while Brown returned to California for his draft.
In London they released their second single, “I Can Take You To The Sun”, before being forced to disband. They had only recorded seven tracks in London.
In spite of their relatively small output, many musicians consider them to be influential pioneers of the acid style of rock music. Head Heritage Magazine, in a 2006 review wrote, “The Misunderstood’s material extended far beyond the reach of the period in which it was conceived. The extraordinarily advanced tracks on side one from 1966 reveal them as one of the earliest and most original probes into psychedelic rock.”
British DJ John Peel championed the Misunderstood music throughout his entire career. Shortly before his death, in an interview with Index Magazine, Peel stated, “If I had to list the ten greatest performances I’ve seen in my life, one would be The Misunderstood at Pandora’s Box, Hollywood, 1966. My god, they were a great band!”
The band are known for having pioneered the live light show. Campbell initially soldered a guitar jack to a car light bulb and plugged this into the extension output behind each amp. This simple idea produced visual music, as the response between the guitars and the lights plugged into the amps was identical. They first showed this feature at the Hi Ho Club in Riverside in early 1966. They also played with lights at the Marquee Club in London in mid 1966. An advanced, multicolored, large scale version of this “light show”[disambiguation needed] or “visual sound” system was being planned in London when the band were forced to retire. Another feature of their visuals was getting all three guitars feeding back using different tremolo settings, thereby leaving the stage flashing with musical lights.
Glenn Ross Campbell went on to Juicy Lucy, while Tony Hill formed High Tide and recorded a solo album titled Inexactness.
In 1982, Glenn Ross Campbell and Rick Brown, reunited as “Influence” and recorded two self-penned tracks, “No Survivors” and “Queen of Madness”, for UK’s Rough Trade Records in 1983. They disbanded in 1985 when Campbell moved to New Zealand and Brown moved to Thailand.
Cherry Red Records (UK) released three albums of Misunderstood music, viz., Before the Dream Faded (BRED 32) in 1982, The Legendary Goldstar Album (CDM RED 142) in 1997, and a full album of The Misunderstood’s later material under the name of The Misunderstood: Broken Road (CDM RED 147) in 1998.
In 2004, Ugly Things Records (USA) issued another full album of previously unreleased tracks named The Lost Acetates 1965-1966, that received International media coverage.
A motion picture screen play (The Misunderstood: WGA 977444) about the band and Brown’s adventures was written by the rock historian, Mike Stax (Editor of Ugly Things magazine) in 2002, and is under revision.
A novel: Like, Misunderstood – based on the script was published in October 2007.
One of the great lost ’60s albums. Side one includes all six of the tracks the Misunderstood recorded in England in 1966, with magnificent guitar work and nervy, ambitious (if a bit overtly cosmic) songwriting that combines some of the best aspects of the Jeff Beck-era Yardbirds and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd. Remember that Pink Floyd and Hendrix had yet to record when these sides were waxed; they aren’t derivations, but genuinely innovative and groundbreaking performances. Side two contains seven pre-psychedelic demos from their U.S. garage days in the mid-’60s that, while not nearly as important as their 1966 work, are solid, crunching R&B-soaked rock in the tradition of their chief British influences. (by Richie Unterberger)
I add a long interview with Glenn Ross Campbell about his times with The Misunderstood.
Rick Brown (vocals, harmonica)
Glenn Ross Campbell (steel-guitar)
Steve Whiting (bass)
Rick Moe (drums on 01. – 06.)
Tony Hill (guitar, vocals on 01. – 06.)
George Phelps (guitar on 09. + 11. – 13.)
Greg Treadway (guitar, keyboards on 07. – 13.)
Colour Of Their Sound:
01. Children Of The Sun (Brown/Hill) 2.56
02. My Mind (Brown/Hill) 2.36
03. Who Do You Love (McDaniels) 2.28
04. I Unseen (Hill) 2.04
05. Find A Hidden Door (Brown/Hill) 2.19
06. I Can Take You To The Sun (Brown/Hill) 3.41
Blue Day In Riverside:
07. I’m Not Talking (Traditional) 2.27
08. Who’s Been Talking (Burnett) 2.59
09. I Need Your Love (Treadway/Brown)
10. You Don’t Have To Go Out (Reed) 3.22
11. I Cried My Eyes Out (Treadway/Brown) 4.25
12. Like I Do (Treadway/Brown) 2.53
13. Crying Over Love (Treadway/Brown) 2.22