Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Flashback - A band called Fruupp, November 1973

Back in 1973, Belfast's only musical export of any note was Van Morrison. but, for a time, it looked as if a band with the unlikely name of Fruupp would be joining him in the stratosphere of pop.

Back in 1973, Belfast's only musical export of any note was Van Morrison. but, for a time, it looked as if a band with the unlikely name of Fruupp would be joining him in the stratosphere of pop.

Fruupp were four musicians - guitarist Vince McCusker, drummer Martin Foye, bassist Peter Farrelly and keyboards player Steve Houston (later replaced by John Mason) - who had earned a reputation as a band destined to earn a place alongside some of the biggest names in progressive rock.

The band claimed they were given their unusual name by a ghost that haunted the terraced house in Belfast where they once rehearsed. They said the ghost was a friendly spirit who made weird noises, one of which sounded like the word 'fruupp'.



Managed by Paul Charles from Maghera, who later became a major player in the record industry and is now carving out a career as a successful novelist, Fruupp played their first gig in London in 1971 - for a paltry fee of just £5.



"It barely covered petrol money,' said Paul, "and it certainly didn't stretch to paying repairs on our broken down car. But we were starting out and were no position to turn down any work."



Things improved when the band signed a three-year two-album contract with Dawn Records, a subsidiary of Pye. The label invested £60,000 in nurturing the Belfast musicians and their first album sold 12,000 copies. By 1975, the members of Fruupp were earning £300 per gig.



One unusual footnote to their career came in November 1973 when Fruupp teamed up with the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra for a concert in the Whitla Hall at Queen's University.



"I don't want Fruupp to be labelled as simply a rock band," said Paul Charles at the time. "I want it to be known that we are into music which has its foundations outside rock, and this is the band's chance to prove it."



The concert proved to be a memorable night and, although Fruupp ultimately never made it into rock's premier league, the band undoubtedly paved the way for other Northern Ireland groups at a time when making it in England seemed like an impossible dream.

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