The Sensational Alex Harvey Band
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was one of the most unconventional bands that were part of the 1970s glam rock era. Fronted by Alex Harvey accompanied by Zal Cleminson on guitar, bassist Chris Glen, keyboard player Hugh McKenna and drummer Ted McKenna their music veered from progressive rock to experimental jazz, around a core of experimental and avant garde rock, dealing with themes from environmentalism to chinese take away food. While they achieved an almost legendary status in the UK, they struggled to make a huge impact in the USA.
In 1972, Alex Harvey formed the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (often shortened to SAHB) with guitarist Zal Cleminson, bassist Chris Glen, and cousins Hugh and Ted McKenna on keyboards and drums respectively, all previous members of progressive rock act Tear Gas. SAHB produced a succession of highly regarded albums and tours throughout the 1970s. The band never achieved acclaim in the United States the way it did in Great Britain, but it had a cult following in certain US cities, especially Cleveland, where the group first played at the Agora Ballroom in December 1974. Thanks to airplay from WMMS, songs like “Next” and “The Faith Healer” became very popular. Cleveland remained a city where the Sensational Alex Harvey Band had a devoted following. However, they were unable to replicate that popularity in most other US cities.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band had Top 40 hits in Britain with the single “Delilah”, a cover version of the Tom Jones hit, which reached number seven in 1975, and also with “The Boston Tea Party” in June 1976. After Harvey left the group later that year, the other members continued as “SAHB… without Alex”. Harvey re-joined the group for 1978’s Rock Drill, but they disbanded shortly afterwards.