Just as future U.S. glam superstars Mötley Crüe were cementing their bad-boy reputation stateside on their party-as-you-go Shout at the Devil tour, on the other side of the pond, four young upstarts by the name of the Queerboys were taking their first baby steps as perhaps the heirs-in-waiting of a raucous barroom sound that the Faces and Rod Stewart helped to pioneer in the early '70s.
Led by vocalist Spike Gray and guitarist Guy Bailey, the Queerboys [sic] were rounded out by bassist Nigel Mogg (the nephew of bassist Pete Way of UFO fame) and Paul Hornby on drums. Hornby quickly split to form future U.K. underground darlings the Dogs D'Amour along with toxic frontman Tyla. By 1987, the Queerboys had changed their name to the more consumer-friendly Quireboys and had added keyboard man Chris Johnstone, guitarist Ginger, and a drummer by the name of Coze to the fold. In 1988, the band recorded "Mayfair" and eventual live favorite "There She Goes Again" as a pair of singles for EMI U.K. imprint Survival Records. By 1990, Ginger had been fired (he would go on to form the critically acclaimed the Wildhearts), and after bringing in new drummer Ian Wallace to the fold, the Quireboys signed to EMI proper and recorded a stunning debut entitled A Bit of What You Fancy. On Fancy, the band made no bones of hiding their influences -- they didn't even have to try. The spirit of Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, and the Faces was well and alive on song's like "Sex Party," the gentle "Sweet Mary Ann," and especially the let's-drink-one-with-the-boys "7 O'Clock."
Released to massive worldwide success, Fancy would yield four huge singles outside the U.S. -- these included "Hey You," "7 O'Clock," "I Don't Love You Anymore," and "There She Goes Again." When it came time for its stateside release, the band, who had by now become bona fide rockstars and media darlings back home, had their name tweaked to the London Quireboys by EMI's U.S. parent company Capitol. With powerhouse manager Sharon Osbourne now on board, A Bit of What You Fancy initially met with an enthusiastic response in the States and things looked bright as the band embarked on its first U.S. tour. Alas, their moment in the sun was to be short-lived, as a little band from Georgia by the name of the Black Crowes would not only steal the band's thunder, they would quickly make everyone in the U.S. forget about the band. With massive singles like "Hard to Handle" and "She Talks to Angels" leading the way, the sales of the Crowes' debut Shake Your Money Maker would eclipse the Quireboys' sales 30 to one. On August 8, 1990, the London Quireboys returned to the U.K. for a tumultuous appearance at the legendary Castle Donnington hard rock festival, which featured Whitesnake as headliners. The band would later release a live record (cleverly called, er, Live Album) which was never released Stateside as the band had failed to come close to replicating their Euro-success on these shores.
In 1993, the Quireboys finally released Bitter Sweet & Twisted -- their sophomore effort. Produced by producer du jour Bob Rock, the album featured 14 tracks that, for the most, part lacked the songwriting craft of the band's debut. Originally intended as a double album, many leftovers exist and remain in the vaults from these Bob Rock sessions. Having had the wind sucked out of them, the band disbanded after a bout of European touring. Post breakup, 1994 saw the release of From Tooting to Barking -- a Castle Communications collection of primitive Queerboys demos.
After the Quireboys' demise, the band's ex-members embarked on a seemingly endless parade of side projects starting with bass player Nigel Mogg and guitarist Guy Griffin, who joined forces on an ill-fated L.A.-based side project by the name of Blood from a Stone. The band quickly splintered and Mogg moved to New York to help form the much-touted Nancy Boy, featuring Donovan Leitch (yes, Donovan's son), of all people, on vocals. Signed by legendary music maven Seymour Stein, the cooler-than-thou act released a 1996 self-titled album on Elektra. It stiffed hard. As for Gray, the singer would eventually be offered the vocalist slot in Slash's Snakepit, but declined, choosing instead to form the short-lived God's Hotel.
After putting together a 1994 cassette-only blues effort with Darrell Bath (Take Out Some Insurance), the singer resurrected the Quireboys one more time for a 1995 live gig at the Newcastle Mayfair in tribute to his father who had recently passed away. For the one-off, the shoes of Nigel Mogg and Guy Griffin were filled by various members of the Almighty and Honeycrack. In 1996, Gray joined forces with now ex-Dogs D'Amour leader Tyla to release Flagrantly Yours under the moniker Hot Knives. With commercial success now way behind him, the singer released his debut solo album, Blue Eyed Soul in 1997. The album was available through mail order only. Guy Bailey was last heard from in a band called Dog Kennel Hill while Gray fronted a band under the God's Hotel emblem. Worthy of mention, the act features ex-Burning Tree drummer Doni Gray on drums. In 1999, Guy Griffin resurfaced as part of a three-piece called Glimmer. The act released its self-titled debut under the Atlantic umbrella in October of that same year.
In 2001, the band re-formed under Gray and Griffin, releasing the live album, Lost in Space, as well as their third LP, This Is Rock 'n' Roll. The album peaked just outside the Top 100 on the Billboard album chart. They followed with Well Oiled (2004), Homewreckers & Heartbreakers (2008), and Halfpenny Dancer (2009). In 2010, the Quireboys joined with Joe Elliott (Def Leppard) to record as Down 'n' Outz, touring with Paul Rodgers the following year.
Their seventh studio LP, Beautiful Curse, was issued in 2013. The album's arrival kicked off a steady schedule of yearly releases, with Black Eyed Sons, St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul, Twisted Love, and White Trash Blues carrying the Quireboys into 2017. ~ John Franck