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Friday, 25 July 2014

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It Bites set to rock stadium as top support for the Quo

IT BITES have been named as the main support band to the legendary Status Quo when they play Whitehaven in August.

The local band shot into the limelight with their hit Calling All The Heroes in 1986, with Francis Dunnery as frontman.

With his own music career mainly based in America, Francis has been replaced by John Mitchell.

The rest of the line-up are original members John Beck on keyboards, drummer Bob Dalton and bass player Dick Nolan.

They will be joining Status Quo at the Recreation Ground on Saturday, August 2 in front of thousands.

Local bands are also getting a chance to take centre stage at the gig.

Bob told The Whitehaven News this week: “The band are really looking forward to playing the gig with Status Quo, we are sure it will be a great success and become a regular festival event in Whitehaven.

“We are also returning to play a gig in Whitehaven Civic Hall later the same month as part of a planned UK tour promoting our new album The Tall Ships.”

Gerard Richardson, promoter of the event, said: “We were exploring all sorts of potential support acts ranging from The Enemy who are a current, Oasis-style band to Suzi Quatro.

“But a couple of weeks ago, Bobby (Dalton) called and said It Bites would love to play support.

“To be honest, I had one of those ‘why didn’t I think of that’ moments.

“Apart from being one of the most talented bands to come from this area, they are individually some of the most skilled musicians in the business so when faced with the offer from Bobby, it was a no brainer.

“I personally think they’ll rock the stadium and will set the atmosphere magnificently for the Quo. I can’t wait.”

It Bites formed in 1982, when Egremont schoolfriends Francis, Dick and Bob met John, from Whitehaven, on the local gig circuit.

They played gigs at working men’s clubs and nightclubs locally for about a year before deciding to call it a day.

Frank moved to London, Dick and Bob had a short spell in Birmingham, and John went to Manchester where he’d been living previously.

Six months later, Bob, Dick and John met by chance on a Wednesday night in an Egremont pub, and the idea of reforming was discussed. Luckily Frank was also in town, so it was decided to give it another go, but this time in London.

They settled into an empty council flat, with very little equipment and a cassette deck which the early demos were recorded on!

After a year of rehearsing, the band booked three days at a studio.

Eventually they were signed by Virgin Records with the demo of All In Red their first single in March 1986, followed in June by Calling All The Heroes which got a huge amount of radio play, plus TV appearances on Top Of The Pops, Wogan, and The Old Grey Whistle Test amongst others.

This saw the song racing up the UK Top 40 singles chart and reaching number six. The following single Whole New World also hit the charts, but not at such a high position.

Their debut album Big Lad In The Windmill followed in July 1986, which charted at number 35.

The band toured with Go West, then Marillion in late 1987, and Robert Plant in early 1988.

The follow-up album Once Around The World was released in March 1988 and showcased their more progressive musical influences. The band toured successfully across the UK, USA and Japan.

Eat Me In St Louis was released in 1989 and received great reviews in Kerrang and Raw.

In 1990, Francis announced he was leaving the band to focus on his solo career.

Thank you and Goodnight, a live recording, was the band’s last release which came out in August 1991.

After going their separate ways they worked with a variety of high profile musicians.

John played keyboards for the Alan Parsons Project and John Wetton (of Asia fame); Dick played bass for the Alan Parsons Project and Ray Davies, and recorded with Tony Banks on his 1989 Bankstatement album, and Bob played drums for John Wetton, Chris Norman and Ray Davies, as well as teaching at the Academy of Contemporary Music.

John and Bob came together with Pete Trewavas (of Marillion) and John Mitchell (of Arena) in the band Kino, and released album Picture in 2005 which was a huge success.

Francis moved to the USA and launched a solo career, recording six solo albums and touring around the world to his base of old and new fans.

In August 2003, he held a fan club convention at the Union Chapel in London, and invited John, Dick and Bob along, culminating in them joining him on stage – for the first time in 13 years.

The following months saw the band get together in Cumbria to write some new songs, and run through old ones. However, with Francis having family commitments in New York, it was difficult to keep the momentum up after he returned to the US.

John and Bob approached Kino's singer and guitarist John Mitchell (a huge It Bites fan since his teenage years) and proposed reforming the band.

For tickets for the Status Quo/It Bites gig log on to www.ticketline.co.uk or you can also telephone 0871 424 4444.

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