Singer reveals “bittersweet” decision to retire.
Phil Mogg’s retirement spells the end of UFO; Izzy Stradlin on not wanting to be part of GN’R’s reunion; Lindsey Buckingham on his ousting from Mac… Say hello to The Church Of The Cosmic Skull and Thomas Wynn & The Believers, welcome back Sons Of Apollo, Roger Joseph Manning Jr and James Williamson, say goodbye to Glenn Snoddy, Ben Grave…
UFO look set to disband after they finish a 50th-anniversary tour next year. Frontman Phil
Mogg, the band’s sole constant member since they formed in London in 1969 and who appears on all 22 of their studio records, has announced his intention to retire from studio and live performances once the halfcentury celebrations are completed.
UFO will no longer release any new music, which means that A Conspiracy Of Stars in 2015 and last year’s covers collection The Salentino Cuts are set to become their swansong releases.
“This decision has been a long time coming,” Mogg explains. “I’ve considered stepping down at the end of UFO’s previous two tours. I don’t want to call this a farewell tour as I hate that word, but next year’s gigs will represent my final tap-dancing appearances with the band. 2019 marks UFO’s fiftieth anniversary, so the timing feels right.”
Mogg turned 70 in April this year, and although his voice remains strong, he admits that age played its part in his decision.
“I’m a big reader of obituaries, and I wonder how old they were,” he says. “The last few years have been tough. Losing Lemmy was awful, and we also lost Chris Tsangarides [the producer who worked on UFO’s most recent two albums]. I was also sad that Jimmy Bain [Dio and Rainbow bassist] passed away on a cruise ship. That distressed me quite a lot.”
Mostly, though, the singer has tired of life on the road. Consequently, this final run of dates will focus mainly on the UK but will also visit key cities that UFO retain a strong connection with.
“The road isn’t always tremendously luxurious, and although the playing is as great as it ever was, the stuff that surrounds it becomes very tiresome,” Mogg says. “I always told myself that when I reached that stage I would step down, and that’s what I’m going to do. This is the right time for me to quit.”
Although Mogg owns the UFO name, he stresses that he would have no problem should his current bandmates – keyboard player/second guitarist Paul Raymond, guitarist Vinnie Moore, drummer Andy Parker and bassist Rob De Luca – decide to continue using the name without him.
“I’ve told the guys that this is how it is,” Mogg states. “They know it’s my time to go, and they know that they can do whatever they want to do without me, but I don’t want to play live or make records any more. Though having said that, I might go on and do an album of my own. I’ll have to see how I feel about that.”
When Classic Rock contacted Parker, a co-founder of UFO who has enjoyed several stints with the long-standing band, he voiced sympathy with Mogg.
“Personally, I still feel like I could do another fifty years, and of course I will really miss my bandmates, the fans and UFO’s family, but if Phil’s done then I completely understand,” he said. “We have lost so many close friends, that I think Phil is taking stock of his own mortality. Nobody wants to die in some godforsaken shithole in Bumfuck, Idaho.”
However, Parker admits that while the prospect of the remaining members continuing as UFO is unlikely, the idea remains on the table.
“I won’t tell you that it’s not going to happen, and we’ve yet to take a straw poll among the guys,” he confides. “Sure, there are people that would like to step up and sing with this band, but could UFO without Phil Mogg even work? That’s like Mick Jagger saying the Stones could tour without him. Who’d want to go and see them? Phil is irreplaceable.”
UFO have, of course, split up, retired or gone on hiatus several times before, so despite the finality of Mogg’s statement, fans can hang on to a sliver of hope.
“I still believe that this band has something to offer,” says Parker. “I’ve yet to talk to Phil about any of this. Maybe I’ve got my head in the sand, but I’m not totally convinced that things won’t go on a little bit longer [than a short run of dates]. There are places we’ve yet to play, including Australia and New Zealand.”
On social media, most fans accepted Mogg’s decision. Many of those same commentators believe that co-founding bass player
Pete Way, who left 10 years ago, and Michael Schenker, their former guitarist who played on the band’s biggestselling releases during a golden era that ran from 1973 to ’78, should play a part in any final tour. “I suppose that’s entirely possible, but I can’t see
Phil agreeing to it,” says Parker. “The guy’s getting out of being in a rock band because he’s worn out with the stress. Maybe it might work for the very last show. Who knows? ”
One former member of UFO in particular who is keen to play a part in the band’s farewell tour is Paul ‘Tonka’ Chapman, the guitarist in their post-Schenker era, who now lives in Florida.
“Facebook is full of fans saying they want to see Pete, Michael, Neil [Carter, rhythm guitar/keyboards] or myself get up with the band,” Chapman tells Classic
Rock, “and I would love to play with Phil and Andy again one more time. I want to be there! I’ve never played with Vinnie Moore before. Whenever, wherever, that would be great.”
As an aside, Chapman is set to work once more with Pete Way in a new-look version of the bassist’s band Waysted, after the pair connected again after 14 years.
“I will be in UK again in the near future to see how the arrangement might pan out,” Chapman reveals.
“We are both extremely excited. It seems that Pete is in really good health, and we can’t wait.”
However, it’s only fitting that the final words go to Phil Mogg. “Probably the best description for all of this is ‘bittersweet’,” he concludes. “But my time has arrived, and all that remains is to make sure we have a good tour.” DL
“2019 marks UFO’s fiftieth anniversary, so the timing feels right.”
This month The Dirt was compiled by Simon Bradley, Rich Chamberlain, Lee Dorrian, Dave Everley, Ian Fortnam, Jamie Hibbard, Jo Kendall, Dave Ling, Henry Yates