Budgie were a Welsh heavy metal band from Cardiff. They are described by author Garry Sharpe-Young as one of the earliest heavy metal bands and a seminal influence to many acts of that scene, with fast, heavy rock (an influence on the new wave of British heavy metal (NWOBHM) and acts such as Metallica) being played as early as 1971. The band has been noted as “among the heaviest metal of its day.”
Budgie formed in 1967 in Cardiff, Wales under the name Hills Contemporary Grass. Their original line-up consisted of Burke Shelley on vocals and bass, Tony Bourge on guitar and vocals, and Ray Phillips on drums.[non-primary source needed] After performing several gigs in 1968, the band changed their name to Budgie the following year and recorded their first demo. The band had initially considered going under the name “Six Ton Budgie”, but decided the shorter single word variant was preferable. Burke Shelley has said that the band’s name came from the fact that he, “loved the idea of playing noisy, heavy rock, but calling ourselves after something diametrically opposed to that”.
Their debut album of strong, blues-oriented hard rock was recorded at Rockfield Studios with Black Sabbath producer Rodger Bain and released in 1971, followed by Squawk in 1972. The third album, Never Turn Your Back on a Friend (1973), contained “Breadfan”, which was covered by Metallica in 1987. Metallica had covered another Budgie song, “Crash Course in Brain Surgery”, earlier in their career. Ray Phillips left the band before the fourth album In for the Kill! was recorded. He was replaced by Pete Boot.
In late 1974, Boot left and was replaced by Steve Williams for the album Bandolier. For concerts promoting this album (and the follow-up, If I Were Brittania I’d Waive the Rules), the band were augmented by second guitarist Myf Isaac. Music from the 1978 LP Impeckable was featured in the 1979 film J-Men Forever (shown frequently on the USA Network’s “Night Flight” T.V. in the 1980s) which is now considered a cult classic. Both Bourge and Isaac left in 1978 and were replaced by ex Trapeze guitarist Robert Kendrick and ex Hawkwind guitarist Huw Lloyd-Langton. Langton’s stint was short lived as Kendrick convinced the band to fire him. In late 1978, having been dropped by A&M and with no new recording contract, this line up floundered, and after 12 months Kendrick was replaced by “Big” John Thomas (b. 21 February 1952) in late 1979. This line up recorded two albums for Kingsley Ward’s ‘Active’ label: Power Supply (1980) and Nightflight (1981). 1982 saw them signed to RCA for Deliver Us from Evil their final recording for a “major label”.