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Elmer Gantry

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Biography

A second-division British psychedelic band with a tangled history, Elmer Gantry&the Velvet Opera recorded a couple of albums in the Pink Floyd/Soft Machine/Tomorrow/Nice mold in the late '60s without coming close to establishing a solid identity of their own. Originally a London soul band called Five Proud Walkers, they threw their lot in with psychedelia after supporting Pink Floyd at an early 1967 show. Vocalist Dave Terry changed his name to Elmer Gantry, after the evangelist played by Burt Lancaster in a 1960 film. A 1967 album (Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera) showed some promise, particularly on the more psychedelic tunes, even if the group flitted from soul-mod to sitar arrangements to English whimsy without really committing to anything too distinctive.Gantry aka Terry left the band after the first LP, and the group ploughed on as Velvet Opera, releasing Ride a Hustler's Dream on British CBS. But Gantry's absence reduced them to a somewhat faceless entity, and they sounded like psychedelic bandwagon jumpers on their later efforts. Drummer Richard Hudson and bassist John Ford joined the Strawbs, and had some success in the U.K. as a duo in the 1970s. Gantry became notorious for participating in the "fake" Fleetwood Mac that toured the U.S. in 1974; that group renamed themselves Stretch and had a Top 20 hit in Britain that was inspired by the sordid incident, "Why Did You Do It?" ~ Richie Unterberger
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