Mick Underwood

Michael John "Mick" Underwood (born 5 September 1945) is a British drummer. He first played drums at the age of 14 and was a professional musician by the time he left school.

Underwood has collaborated with a number of notable musicians and groups, including Jet Harris, The Outlaws (with Ritchie Blackmore), The Herd (with Peter Frampton), Episode Six (with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover), Quatermass (with John Gustafson) and Gillan (again with Gillan). He is currently the drummer for Mick Underwood's Glory Road.

Mick Underwood
Mick underwood
Background information
Birth nameMichael John Underwood
Born5 September 1945 (age 73)
Middlesex, England
GenresRock, hard rock, blues rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsDrums and percussion
Years active1961–present
Associated actsThe Outlaws, The Herd, Episode Six, Quatermass, Gillan

Early years

Underwood was born in Middlesex.[1] At the age of 14 he was given his first drum, a second-hand snare drum, and added a third-hand bass drum shortly after. He received drum tuition from Jim Marshall, who went on to become the inventor and manufacturer of the Marshall amplifier. During this period, Underwood met Ritchie Blackmore (then known as Ricky Blackmore) and the two played together in a band called The Dominators, although Underwood was eventually asked to leave the band for "...playing too loud!"[2]

His next band was The Satellites, until he was invited to join The Crescents, who were playing residencies at large ballrooms. Underwood left school at 16 to work with Jet Harris, and joined a tour of Britain with Sam Cooke and Little Richard. It was at the end of this tour that Screaming Lord Sutch (in whose band, The Savages, Blackmore now played) suggested he approach the independent record producer Joe Meek for further session work.



Meek's studio, RGM Sound, was based in North London, where he used a band called The Outlaws as his permanent studio musicians, also allowing them to record material under their own name. When Underwood arrived to audition for Meek, the Outlaws were also recruiting for a lead guitarist and it was Underwood who suggested Ritchie Blackmore should fill the role, an invitation he duly accepted.

Between January 1963 and June 1965, The Outlaws released six singles, as well as playing on hundreds of Meek's recording sessions with various artists. They also headlined at the Star-Club in Hamburg with both Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent. In 1964, they appeared in the movie Live It Up!,[3] performing their single "Law & Order", mislabelled "Law and Disorder" on the end screen credits.

A reviewer of Underwood's work at this time described his drumming style as "...coupling Charlie Watts type steadiness with little Jim McCarty style flourishes."[4] Blackmore eventually moved to another of Meeks' bands, joining Heinz Burt's backing band The Wild Boys, but he and Underwood still collaborated in recording sessions with Meek's engineer Derek Lawrence. One of the Derek Lawrence sessions produced Blackmore's first official release, the now highly sought after single "Get Away" / "Little Brown Jug", released in July 1965. They also recorded "Earthshaker" and "Satan's Holiday, " which were released on the Titan label, credited to The Lancasters. "Satan's Holiday" was a fast, rock adaptation of Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King", a tune that stayed in Blackmore's stage repertory right into the 1990s. Shortly afterwards, Underwood also left The Outlaws to take up an offer to join The Herd.


With The Herd, Underwood began playing at all the major venues on the circuit, such as the Marquee Club and Eel Pie Island. Despite their busy schedule and the release of three singles, Underwood grew increasingly frustrated at the band's lack of success, and in 1966 he resigned from the band and the music business. However, a year later he accepted an invitation from singer James Royal as a session drummer for a two-week residency at Hatchets in London's West End. At the end of the residency Underwood decided to stay with the band, the James Royal Set to tour with Johnny Cash.

At the end of this tour Underwood spoke with Peter Grant, whom he knew from the time that Grant had been tour manager for Gene Vincent when The Outlaws had been his backing band. Grant explained that he was currently working with guitarist Jimmy Page, and was recruiting musicians to form a new band around him. Underwood considered the offer, but instead accepted one to join established act Episode Six. Grant had asked one of his other acts, singer Terry Reid, to join the project, who had also turned down the offer. Undeterred, Grant went on to recruit two previously unknown musicians, the singer Robert Plant and drummer John Bonham, and the band became Led Zeppelin.

Underwood joined ex-The Authentics frontman Henry Turtle in psychedelic rock outfit The Doves from 1967 to 1968 alongside former The Herd guitarist Terry Clark plus Brian Curtis, Ian McGlynn and Harvey Hinsley (formerly of The Outlaws and later a member of Hot Chocolate. Underwood departed in July 1968 after EMI declined to release intended single She's Not There, with Decca having done the same with the band's planned debut single, Smokeytime, Springtime, the previous Autumn.


Roger Glover, bass player for Episode Six, said of their new drummer: "Mick represented a step up for us because he had been around in other bands. The Herd had one fairly big hit so it was as if we had been connected with success."[2] Also in the band was singer Ian Gillan.

Despite numerous BBC sessions and two singles, commercial success never came for the band and there was a feeling that they were failing to move with the times as the music scene rapidly changed at the close of the 1960s. Along with Gillan, Underwood was drawn to the heavier sound of the emergent new bands, in particular Deep Purple (Ritchie Blackmore's new band) and Led Zeppelin. When Blackmore contacted Underwood for a recommendation for a singer, he immediately gave them Gillan's name. Along with Jon Lord, Blackmore attended an Episode Six gig to listen to Gillan, and shortly afterwards recruited both him and Roger Glover into Deep Purple. Following this shake-up, bassist/singer John Gustafson and keyboard player Pete Robinson were called in to shore up the band, but shortly afterwards the two newcomers left, along with Underwood, to form their own band Quatermass.


After several showcase gigs, Quatermass were signed by George Martin's Air London company and began to put together their first album, using their own material plus several songs written by Steve Hammond. Recorded at EMI's Abbey Road Studios the band's eponymous album was released on EMI's progressive rock label Harvest Records. One of the Hammond tracks on the album was titled "Black Sheep of the Family", later covered by Blackmore on the first Rainbow album. To promote the album the band undertook a European tour, with performances on radio and TV timed to coincide with the release of the album in various countries. Despite wide critical acclaim, the project had insufficient financial backing however, and there were many problems on their subsequent tour of the United States. On their return to the UK the band dissolved.

Underwood began discussions with Paul Rodgers who was looking to form a new band after the break up of Free, and along with bass player Stuart McDonald they formed the band Peace. Signed to Island Records, Peace began to write material for a debut album and also embarked on a UK tour supporting Mott the Hoople but within a year Free reformed, and Underwood formed another new band, called Sammy.

It was around this time that Underwood was offered the position of drummer with Hot Chocolate but he declined and successfully recommended Tony Connor – who had recently left Audience – for a position which was then held, temporarily, by session drummer Cozy Powell.[5]

Underwood called on Gillan to produce their first single, and the band then went into rehearsals for their debut album, which was then recorded in a single 72-hour session. As in previous projects, there was little commercial success and Underwood dissolved the band, returning to session drumming.

His next band was Strapps. Their eponymous debut album was recorded in 1976 at Ian Gillan's Kingsway Recorders studio in London, produced by former Episode Six colleague Roger Glover. They then toured as support act on Deep Purple's tour of the UK, and went on to release three further albums.[6]

Underwood worked again with Gillan as the support act on the UK tour of the Ian Gillan Band, whose line-up included former Quatermass colleague John Gustafson, on bass and backing vocals. Underwood sometimes took the opportunity to view the show from within the audience after playing his own set, and recalled that he "really picked up this bewildered vibe. The fans just couldn't connect with the music, however well it was played."[2]

Strapps fourth and final album Ball of Fire was recorded at Ian Gillan's Kingsway studios and during recording Underwood was asked by Gillan if he could use a couple of hours of their studio time to lay down a vocal with his latest band, Gillan. Several weeks later Gillan invited him to be the drummer in this new venture.


Former Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice had also auditioned for Gillan but according to guitarist Bernie Torme "...he had some difficulty after playing "Secret of the Dance" due to his only having one lung, and being a bit out of practice. He played it brilliantly but he had to lie down on the floor for five minutes afterwards. He did not want to join because of our fast tracks, he said he no longer wanted to play stuff like that. I think the fact that he had been offered to join Whitesnake with his old friend Jon Lord made a big difference.[7] Meeting Gillan again at the studio had obviously put Underwood's name on the list of potentials for the job, and as Torme revealed "...we finally found the magnificently solid and under appreciated Mick Underwood.[8] The day after he accepted the job, Underwood and the band began to record the Mr. Universe album, released in October 1979.

Since 2006

Since 2006, Underwood along with bassist Johnny Heywood and former Heavy Metal Kids guitarist Cosmo, formed the blues-based trio Raw Glory, which released an album, City Life, in 2007. In 2012, he formed Mick Underwood's Glory Road with Rob Cooksley as singer, Jeff Summers on guitar, Gary Summers on bass and backing vocals and Roy Shipston on keyboard, which consists of songs from the Gillan era.


Underwood performed as a session musician on hundreds of recordings, and much of his catalogue of later works have been reissued on retrospective compilations of other artist's works. This discography covers the work of Underwood in his own bands."[9]

  • With The Outlaws
    • "Poppin' (Part 1.)" / "Poppin' (Part Two)" (Released as The Chaps) (single) (1962)
    • "The Return of the Outlaws" / "Texan Spiritual" (single) (1963)
    • "That Set the Wild West Free" / "Hobo" (single) (1963) note : Underwood does not play on "Hobo")
    • "Law and Order" / "Do-Da-Day" (single) (1963)
    • "Keep a Knockin'" / "Shake with Me" (single) (1964)
    • "Only for You" / "Don't Cry" (single) (1965)
    • The Outlaws Ride Again (retrospective compilation album) (1990)
  • With The Herd
    • "She Was Really Saying Something" / "Here Comes the Fool" (single) (1965)
    • "So Much in Love" / "This Boy's Always Been True" (single) (1966)
  • With Episode Six
    • "Lucky Sunday" / "Mr Universe" (single) (1968)
    • "Mozart Versus the Rest" / "Jack D'Or" (single) (1969)
  • With Quatermass
    • "One Blind Mice" / "Punting" (single) (1970)
    • "Black Sheep of the Family" / "Good Lord Knows" (single) (1970)
  • "Gemini" / "Black Sheep of the Family" (single) (1971)
  • With Peace
    • The Free Story (album) (1973) – Underwood performs on the track "Lady"
    • Live at the BBC – (22 December 1971)
  • With Sammy
    • "Goo Ger Woogie" / "Big Lovin' Woman" (single) (1972)
    • "Sioux Eyed Lady" / "70 Days" (single) (1972)
    • Sammy (1972)
  • With Graham Bonnet
    • No Bad Habits (1976)
  • With Strapps
    • "All Thru the Night" / "Understand It" (single) (1977)
    • "In Your Ear" / "Rita B" (single) (1977)
    • "Child of the City" / "Soft Touch" (single) (1978)
    • "Turn Out Alright" / "Take It Break It" (single) (1978)
    • Strapps (1976)
    • Secret Damage (1977)
    • Prisoner of Your Love (1978)
    • Ball of Fire (1979)
    • Live at the Rainbow 1977 (2008)
  • With Gillan
  • As Mick Underwood
    • "Earthquake at the Savoy" / "Redwatch" (single) (1980)
  • With Ian Gillan
  • With Quatermass II
    • Long Road (1997)
  • With Raw Glory
    • City Life (2007)


  1. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Mick Underwood Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Carol Hynson. "Biography of Mick Underwood". Mickunderwood.com. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  3. ^ "Live It Up!". IMDb.com. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  4. ^ Eder, Bruce. "'The Lancasters". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  5. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20070927142435/http://www.audienceareback.com/news/news_09.htm. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 28 January 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20060923034905/http://www.cherryred.co.uk/thunderbird/artists/strapps.htm. Archived from the original on 23 September 2006. Retrieved 28 January 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Let It Rock: Interview with Bernie Torme". Dmme.net. July 2000. Retrieved 27 January 2007.
  8. ^ "Bernie Torme's Gillan Page". Bernietorme.com. Retrieved 31 January 2007.
  9. ^ "Mick Underwood catalogue researched by Tom Casey". Mickunderwood. Retrieved 27 January 2007.

External links

Double Trouble (Gillan album)

Double Trouble is the fifth album by the British rock band Gillan, released in 1981. It was released as a double album, the first disc containing studio material, and the second containing live recordings. It reached No. 12 in the UK charts. In 1989, Virgin re-released the album, with the same track listing, in CD format. It is the first album to feature Janick Gers, since Bernie Tormé left the group during the tour of Germany in 1981. In fact Tormé was fired because he did not want to participate in the playback TV performance of "No Laughing in Heaven" at "Top of the Pops" on 24 June 1981. Janick Gers came in for the rest of the tour on 25 June 1981.

In 2007, Edsel Demon Music Group released this album with bonus material.

"Nightmare" was covered by Lionheart on their 1984 album, Hot Tonight.

Episode Six

Episode Six were an English rock band formed in Harrow, London in 1965. The band did not have commercial success in the UK, releasing nine singles that all failed to chart, but they did find minor success in Beirut at the time. Group members Ian Gillan and Roger Glover left in 1969 to join Deep Purple, while drummer Mick Underwood founded Quatermass and later collaborated with Gillan.

Future Shock (Gillan album)

Future Shock is the fourth album by the British rock band Gillan. Released by Virgin in 1981, it reached number 2 in the UK album chart; this would remain the band's highest placing.

The title is taken from Alvin Toffler's book Future Shock.

The original vinyl LP had a gatefold sleeve, with centre pages. Cover painting was by Alan Daniels for Young Artists.

Gillan (band)

Gillan was a rock band formed in 1978 by Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. Gillan was one of the hard rock bands to make a significant impact and commercial success in the United Kingdom during the early 1980s, with 5 albums in the Top 20.

Glory Road (album)

Glory Road is the third album by the British rock band Gillan, released in October 1980. The album reached No. 3 in the UK album charts.

Ian Gillan

Ian Gillan (born 19 August 1945) is an English singer and songwriter. He is the lead singer and lyricist for the rock band Deep Purple.

Initially influenced by Elvis Presley, Gillan started and fronted several local bands in the mid-1960s, and eventually joined Episode Six when their original singer left. He first found widespread commercial success after joining Deep Purple in 1969. He resigned from the band in June 1973, having given a lengthy notice period to their managers. After a short time away from the music business, he resumed his music career with solo bands the Ian Gillan Band and Gillan, before a year-long stint as the vocalist for Black Sabbath in 1983. The following year, Deep Purple reformed and two more successful albums followed before he left in 1989. He returned to the group in 1993, and has remained its lead singer ever since.

In addition to his main work—performing with Deep Purple and other bands during the 1970s and 1980s—he sang the role of Jesus in the original recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, performed in the charity supergroup Rock Aid Armenia, and engaged in a number of business investments and ventures, including a hotel, a motorcycle manufacturer, and music recording facilities at Kingsway Studios. More recently, he has performed solo concerts concurrently with his latter career in Deep Purple, and his work and affinity with Armenia, combined with his continued friendship with Tony Iommi since his brief time in Black Sabbath, has led him to form the supergroup WhoCares with Iommi. His solo career outside of Deep Purple was given a comprehensive overview with the Gillan's Inn box set in 2006.

John Gustafson (musician)

John Frederick Gustafson (8 August 1942 – 12 September 2014) was an English bass guitar player and singer, who had a lengthy recording and live performance career. During his career, he was a member of the bands The Big Three, Ian Gillan Band, Roxy Music and his own group, Quatermass, among others.

Live It Up! (film)

Live It Up! is a British music-film (US release title: Sing and Swing) released in 1963. It was filmed at Pinewood Film Studios in London, England, and featured Gene Vincent, Jenny Moss, the Outlaws, Patsy Ann Noble, the Saints and Heinz Burt (most of them being produced by Joe Meek who wrote the film's theme) among others. It was filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire, England. The film also featured a young actor called Steve Marriott who went on to become a well-known singer with Small Faces and Humble Pie.The film was quite successful and Be My Guest was the follow-up.

Magic (Gillan album)

Magic is an album by British rock band Gillan, their final collaboration, released in October 1982. It features eight original songs, mostly co-written by Ian Gillan and Colin Towns, and a cover of Stevie Wonder's 1973 hit single "Living For The City". This cover was released as a 7" single, in both picture-bag and picture-disc editions, and was accompanied by a promotional video.

Although the album was generally accepted by Gillan's staunch UK following, it failed to achieve the chart success of Glory Road or Future Shock, peaking at No. 17 in the UK chart.

Magic was reissued in 1989 and in 2007 with seven bonus tracks, including cover versions and B-sides.

Mr. Universe (album)

Mr. Universe is the second album by the British rock band Gillan, and the first with the classic line-up with Gillan, Towns, McCoy, Tormé and Underwood.

Released in October 1979. The album reached No. 11 in the UK album charts, and sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Quatermass (album)

Quatermass is the only studio album by English progressive rock band Quatermass, released in May 1970 by Harvest Records.

Quatermass (band)

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

Raw Glory

Raw Glory is a British rock band, formed in 1994 as the vehicle for accomplished professional musicians Mick Underwood, Gary Davis , John Savage and Peter Taylor


Strapps was a British hard rock group formed in 1974. The band was popular for the straightforward rock songs and for the raunchy visual image created by photographer Mick Rock. Strapps toured with Deep Purple and Ian Gillan Band, and have recorded 4 albums.

The Free Story

The Free Story is the second greatest hits album by Free, and the first which was released outside of the USA. It was released on 31 December 1973 by Island Records. The album reached number 2 in the UK Albums Chart and stayed in the charts for 6 weeks. On 22 July 2013, the album was awarded a silver certification by the BPI, for UK album sales of over 60,000 units.The album covers the entire studio album collection of Free from their debut album Tons of Sobs through to their final studio album Heartbreaker and includes their biggest hit single "All Right Now".

It also has one non-Free track - the song Lady, from Rodgers' post-Free group, Peace, which included bassist Stewart McDonald and drummer Mick Underwood.

The Herd (British band)

The Herd were a pop rock band, founded in 1965 in the UK. In 1966 a 16-year-old Peter Frampton joined as lead singer and guitarist. The band had three UK top twenty hits in the late 1960s, including "From the Underworld" and "I Don't Want Our Loving to Die", before Frampton left in 1968 to form Humble Pie with Steve Marriott. The band broke up shortly after, reforming briefly and unsuccessfully in 1971.

The Outlaws (band)

The Outlaws were an English instrumental band that recorded in the early 1960s. One-time members included Chas Hodges (born Charles Nicholas Hodges in 1943), Bobby Graham (born Robert Francis Neate in 1940), Ken Lundgren, Ritchie Blackmore (born Richard Hugh Blackmore in 1945), Mick Underwood (born Michael John Underwood, 1945), Reg Hawkins (born Reginald Hawkins, in 1942), Billy Kuy (born William John Kuy Jnr., 12 December 1940) and others.Their name was originally conceived by Joe Meek (born Robert George Meek in 1929), who needed a backing group for Mike Berry's "Set Me Free" in 1960. After that recording, they continued being one of the house bands of his recording studio at 304 Holloway Road, London. As such, they were used for recordings, demos and auditions. Many of their songs were written by Meek and credited to his pseudonym, Robert Duke. They appeared as themselves in the 1963 British film, Live It Up!.

In addition to featuring on three hit singles backing Mike Berry (born Michael Hubert Bourne in 1942), they also recorded singles in their own right, see discography below.


Underwood is a surname of English topographic origin.

What I Did On My Vacation

What I Did on My Vacation is an official compilation album from Ian Gillan, released in 1986 in UK by 10 Records. The album covers Gillan's recordings between 1977 and 1982 and was released in three formats (2LP, CD, MC). All songs from the album had been previously released. Although not credited on the cover, "Scarabus" is preceded by an instrumental piece by Colin Towns, which was used as the intro to "On The Rocks" (from the Glory Road album). The LP version set boasts four more tracks than the CD version.

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