Welsh rock guitarist Paul “Tonka” Chapman died on his 66th birthday, on June 9th. Chapman had suffered a stroke last year and his wife had also recently died. Prior to his death, Chapman taught music one-on-one at his studio in downtown Melbourne, Florida.
Chapman’s death was confirmed through Facebook by his daughter:
“It is with a heavy heart writing this, today is my dads 66th birthday. He passed away earlier this afternoon. He was a brilliant, energetic, loving and most carefree person and the First man I ever loved. Everyone he came in contact with loved him. no ADORED him. will keep everyone posted on his celebration of life. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers as his family grieves and processes everything at this time. I love you Dad. So much.”
Paul William Chapman was born in Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales, in 1954. While perhaps mostly remembered for the four album that he helped make during his years with hard rock legends UFO (1978-1983), he also recorded with Lone Star, Waysted, and others.
Chapman played with the Welsh outfit Universe before replacing Gary Moore as guitarist in the Irish blues rock band Skid Row (December 1971-July 1972). At that point, Skid Row (not to be confused with the much later U.S. band fronted by Sebastian Bach) was a power trio also featuring the founding members Brendan “Brush” Shiels (bass, vocals) and drummer Noel “Nollaig” Bridgeman. Skid Row were first formed in 1967, the 16-year-old Gary Moore joined in mid 1968 and their first single (“New Places, Old Faces”, 1969) also featured future Thin Lizzy leader Phil Lynott on vocals. Later that year, Shiels dropped Lynott from the line-up. By way of compensation, Shiels gave him a bass guitar and taught Lynott to play bass. After a stint with the band Orphanage (with future Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey), Lynott went on found Thin Lizzy as bass player and lead vocalist.
By the time Chapman joined them, Skid Row had already released two albums with Gary Moore: “Skid” (November 1970) and “34 Hours” (1971). Actually, three albums if you count the recordings from December 1969 that CBS had pressed as a self-titled debut in May 1970. It was swiftly withdrawn from circulation, however, when it was decided to re-record certain songs and add new material to create the “Skid” LP. A follow-up to “34 Hours” had also been recorded in the autumn of 1971 but Moore left the band in December 1971. Chapman overdubbed Moore’s guitar tracks on the unreleased album but it was never released. The original recordings featuring Gary Moore were eventually released in 1990 as “Gary Moore/Brush Shiels/Noel Bridgeman”.
Before Paul Chapman became the band’s full-time guitarist, Gary Moore had temporarily been replaced by original Thin Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell. When he eventually left Thin Lizzy after a New Year’s Eve concert in 1973, Eric Bell would himself be replaced by Gary Moore. Moore stayed until April 1974 and recorded the version of “Still in Love with You” that was included on 1974’s “Nightlife”. The classic Lizzy line-up with Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham (who played on the other “Nightlife” tracks) wasn’t formed until after a tour of Germany in May 1974, which Thin Lizzy did augmented by guitarists John Cann (ex-Atomic Rooster, Hard Stuff) and Andy Gee (ex-Peter Bardens, Ellis).
As the band faltered, Chapman left Skid Row in July 1972. Skid Row eventually reformed in 1973 and kept going until 1979. The double-disc live album “Alive And Kickin” was released in 1976 and featured cover songs. Seemingly bitter about another band being much more successful while using the same name, Shiels made a new album as Skid Row in 2012, titled “Bon Jovi Never Rang Me”.
Either way, Chapman left Skid Row and went on to play with Kimla Taz (December 1972-May 1974) before first joining UFO as second guitarist, to augment their sound on tour to promote the “Phenomenon” album. He left UFO in January 1975, however, and went on to join Lone Star.
Lone Star were a Welsh hard rock band formed in Cardiff in 1975. An embryonic line-up consisted of former Iona members Kenny Driscoll and Tony Smith, the two members who were also credited for writing all of the original material for the self-titled album debut. “Lone Star” (August 1976) opened with a cover of The Beatles’ 1966 “Revolver” classic “She Said She Said”.
Chapman had joined by the time the debut was recorded at Coperhagen’s Sweet Silence studios with Roy Thomas Baker producing. While perhaps most associated with Queen (who Baker worked with on “Queen”, “Queen II”, “Sheer Heart Attack”, “A Night at the Opera” and “Jazz”), he had also worked with Free, Nazareth, Hawkwind and Denmark’s own Gasolin. Driscoll had recently suffered a broken collarbone in a car crash and was disappointed with his drunken vocal performance. The album was supported by a UK tour with CBS label mate Ted Nugent.
Kenny Driscoll left Lone Star in 1977 and was replaced by 20-year-old John Sloman (ex-Trapper). The band’s second album, “Firing on All Six” was produced by Gary Lyons and released in August 1977. Regarding the recording, Lone Star’s manager Steve Woods said that “the idea was to write a new record, but the band just started smoking masses of dope in bong pipes, and got into these extended jams. It turned into Pink Floyd or funk jams.” The tracks on the second album were co-credited to all musicians in the band (Paul Chapman, Dixie Lee, Rick Worsnop, Tony Smith, Peter Hurley) and the vocalist at the time. “The Bells Of Berlin” and “Hypnotic Mover” were co-credited to Driscoll while all other tracks co-credited Sloman.
The band toured with Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush later that same year but were also on hiatus for a period when Chapman was asked to fill in for Michael Schenker during UFO’s US tour with Rush. Upon Chapman’s return, the band began to prepare and demo material for a proposed third album. Lone Star splintered in late 1978 (as Paul Chapman left to permanently take Michael Schenker’s spot in UFO) before a third album could be completed, however.
A third Lone Star album, “Riding High”, was eventually released in 1999. Recorded between January and August of 1978 by the same line-up as on “Firing On All Six” (sans guitarist Tony Smith), with all songwriting credited to Chapman alone. Produced without participation of other band members, “Riding High” consisted of previously unpublished Lone Star material.
The original vocalist Kenny Driscoll and his friend Steve Jones adopted the “Lone Star” moniker in 1979 but failed to obtain a recording contract. They played some gigs in 1980 before Jones left the band. Gary Moore joined to complete some outstanding gigs before this incarnation of Lone Star also disbanded. Driscoll then briefly joined Gary Moore’s band (then featuring Don Airey, Andy Pyle and Tommy Aldridge), as captured in 1980 on the “Live At The Marquee” album.
John Sloman and Lone Star drummer Dixie Lee (who’d tour with Wild Horses and cut demos with an early incarnation of Ozzy’s Blizzard Of Ozz) soon joined forces with Canadian outfit Pulsar, before Sloman was invited to replace John Lawton for Uriah Heep’s controversial 1980 album “Conquest”. Sloman departed Uriah Heep in 1981, first replaced by Peter Goalby (1981–1985) before they settled with Bernie Shaw, Heep’s current vocalist. John Sloman’s Badlands next featured former Trapper drummer John Munro, Whitesnake’s bass player Neil Murray and former Tygers of Pan Tang guitarist John Sykes, this being prior to him joining Thin Lizzy (1982–1983) and later reuniting with Murray in Whitesnake (1984-1987). Sloman and Murray also joined Gary Moore’s band for “Rockin’ Every Night: Live in Japan”, the 1983 live album that also featured Deep Purple’s Ian Paice and Don Airey.
Lone Star recorded three sessions for BBC during their time with Paul Chapman, some of which were released in 1994 on the CD “BBC Radio One Live In Concert”.
Chapman rejoined UFO on a full-time basis in December 1978, after Schenker and UFO parted company. By this time, UFO was an international success who were about to release their legendary double live album, “Strangers in the Night”, which had been recorded in October 1978.
Discussing the difference between his guitar work and that of Schenker, Chapman said in 2015 that the latter “was a big Ritchie Blackmore, organized kind of player, whereas I was more of a Hendrix, Zappa type, a freer type. … I’d say to Michael, ‘Why don’t you let loose some nights, you know?’ He’d be doing the same thing. The solos, they’d be beautiful, but they’d be almost identical every night. … I’d have a certain part, but I’d go off, and that’s the difference between the two players, really.”
Chapman recorded his first album with UFO, “No Place To Run” (January 1980) with ex-Beatles producer George Martin in August of 1979. Chapman was credited for the opening track, “Alpha Centauri”, and co-credited with Phil Mogg (frontman and only constant member) for “This Fire Burns Tonight”. “Young Blood” and “Lettin’ Go” (both by Mogg and Pete Way) were released as singles and the album also featured one cover song. “Mystery Train” was written and recorded by American blues musician Junior Parker in 1953. Elvis Presley released his famous version in 1955.
UFO undertook a tour to promote “No Place To Run”, culminating in a five night sell out at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. UFO still consisted of the founding members Phil Mogg (vocals), Pete Way (bass) and Andy Parker (drums) when Chapman joined them. They and guitarist Mick Bolton had formed the band as Hocus Pocus in 1968. The band name was changed to UFO in October of 1969, in honour of the London club where they got signed. Paul Raymond (keyboards, guitar, vocals) first appeared on 1977’s “Lights Out” and left UFO after “No Place To Run” – for which he wrote “Take It or Leave It” – before joining The Michael Schenker Group.
UFO had made two space rock influenced albums – “UFO 1” (1970) and “UFO 2: Flying” (1971) – before parting ways with Mick Bolton in January 1972. After brief trial runs with Larry Wallis (February–October 1972) of Shagrat and Blodwyn Pyg (later in the Pink Fairies and an early member of Motörhead) and future Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden, the band recruited 18 year old Michael Schenker from the Scorpions in June 1973. Schenker’s initial run with UFO would result in five studio albums: “Phenomenon” (1974), “Force It” (1975), “No Heavy Petting” (1976), “Lights Out” (1977) and “Obsession” (1978), before Chapman took his place.
Rudolf Schenker formed The Scorpions as a beat pop band in Hannover back in 1965. He was joined in 1970 by vocalist Klaus Meine (the only other member to appear on all Scorpions albums) and Schenker’s younger brother Michael. In 1972, the group recorded and released their excellent debut album “Lonesome Crow”, which they promoted as opening act for UFO. Near the end of the tour, Michael Schenker accepted an offer to join UFO. Uli Jon Roth, a friend of Michael’s, was then introduced and helped Scorpions finish off the tour. The departure of Michael Schenker then led to the breakup of the Scorpions. Uli Jon Roth had his own band, Dawn Road, which Rudolf Schenker and Klaus Meine eventually joined instead. While there were more members of Dawn Road than former Scorpions in the band, they still decided to adopt the name “Scorpions”. Scorpions went on to record four studio albums – “Fly to the Rainbow” (1974), “In Trance” (1975), “Virgin Killer” (1976) and “Taken by Force” (1977) – before Uli Jon Roth departed to form his own band, Electric Sun. Matthias Jabs was recruited as his replacement in mid-1978 but after Michael Schenker quit UFO he decided to return to Scorpions. “Lovedrive” (1979) was recorded with three guitarists. In April 1979, he again quit Scorpions and went on to form MSG, The Michael Schenker Group.
Paul Raymond left UFO for MSG at the end of the “No Place To Run” tour and was replaced by Chapman’s former Lone Star bandmate John Sloman on keyboards for a couple of months. A more permanent replacement was then found in guitarist and keyboardist Neil Carter, formerly of Wild Horses, the band formed in 1978 by guitarist Brian Robertson (ex-Thin Lizzy) and bassist Jimmy Bain (ex-Rainbow). Chapman’s former Lone Star bandmate Dixie Lee had played with Neil Carter in Wild Horses back in 1978–79. Chapman and Carter would both play on the next three UFO albums: “The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent” (1981), “Mechanix” (1982) and “Making Contact” (1983). Carter subsequently played guitar and keyboard in Gary Moore’s band, appearing on all of his studio albums from “Victims of the Future” (1983) through “After the War” (1989). Carter would be credited for co-writing a number of Gary Moore’s songs, including the worldwide hit “Empty Rooms”.
Carter made his debut with UFO as the band headlined Saturday night at the 1980 Reading Festival. At the beginning of the following year, UFO released the self-produced album “The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent”. Chapman was co-credited for “Long Gone”, the title track, “Makin’ Moves”, “Profession of Violence” (all by Chapman, Mogg), “Lonely Heart” and “Couldn’t Get It Right” (both by Chapman, Way, Mogg). “Lonely Heart” (feat. Neil Carter on saxophone) was a minor UK hit single.
“Mechanix” (February 1982) was successful in the UK, reaching #8, the band’s highest ever placing. Chapman was co-credited for “The Writer” (with Phil Mogg, Neil Carter), “You’ll Get Love” (with Carter, Mogg), “Doing It All for You” (with Way, Carter, Mogg) and “Terri” (with Mogg). The album also featured a cover of rockabilly musician Eddie Cochran’s 1959 classic “Somethin’ Else”.
Later that year, founding member Pete Way left the band to form Fastway with Motörhead guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke and then his own band, Waysted. He was replaced on a 1983 tour by Billy Sheehan (bassist in the band Talas, who had opened for a UFO concert in the 1970s), who would later go on to play with David Lee Roth, Mr. Big, The Winery Dogs and Sons of Apollo.
Due to the departure of Pete Way, Chapman and Carter shared bass duties on the following album recordings. Chapman co-wrote “When It’s Time to Rock” (with Mogg), “The Way the Wild Wind Blows” and “No Getaway” (both with Carter and Mogg) for “Making Contact” (1983) but the album and resulting tour was a critical and commercial failure. UFO thus decided to disband that March. Phil Mogg would, of course, assemble a new UFO line-up in late 1984 and keep the band going to this day. UFO’s current line-up again features both Parker and Carter, but Chapman never returned.
After the final UFO tour, Chapman went to Florida, United States, to form a new band DOA. This didn’t last long as he soon hooked up with his former UFO band member Pete Way in Waysted.
Waysted was formed in 1982 by the UFO bass guitarist Pete Way and the Scottish rocker Fin (Ian) Muir. Recruiting Frank Noon (formerly with Def Leppard) and Way’s former UFO bandmate Paul Raymond, Waysted signed to Chrysalis Records and released “Vices” in 1983. UFO drummer Andy Parker played on the self-titled Waysted EP (1984) before Chapman joined Way and Muir for their second full-length album, 1985’s “The Good the Bad the Waysted”. All songs were credited to the trio, except Chuck Berry’s “Around and Around”.
Chapman also played on the follow-up album “Save Your Prayers” (1986) – with all titles composed by Chapman and Way – and the trio’s re-union album “Back from the Dead” (2004). At that point, Pete Way was also a member of UFO again, having re-united with Mogg for “High Stakes & Dangerous Men” in 1992. Way again left UFO in 2008.
“Save Your Prayers” (1986) didn’t feature the original Waysted vocalist, Fin Muir, but rather an American singer by the name of Danny Vaughn. When Waysted disbanded in 1987, Vaughn would go on to form Tyketto. In 1995, after two albums, Vaughn left Tyketto and got replaced for one album by the future Journey vocalist (1998-2006) Steve Augeri, formerly of the band Tall Stories.
In all, Chapman was a member of Waysted from 1984 to 1987 and briefly in 2003. There’s also a Waysted live album, “You Won’t Get Out Alive” (2000), recorded in 1984 with the line-up of Chapman, Way, Parker and Muir. The EP from 1984 was re-issued on CD as “Waysted Plus” in 2008, with six songs recorded live at the Kerrang! Weekend Festival in 1984. These tracks also feature Chapman.
1989 saw the release of “Oh Splendid Mushroom”, an album by the UK noise rock band Bastard Kestrel. Paul Chapman was credited with writing and playing guitar on “Motofry” and “Slob” as well as playing guitar on the Sonic Youth cover “Skitzersister”. At least that’s what Discogs claims.
In 1993, Chapman founded a band called Ghost (not the later Swedish band) fronted by another Welshman, Carl Sentance, formerly of Persian Risk and the Geezer Butler Band. Tony Harrison had sung on the initial demos but his voice was rejected by the label.
A CD called “Paul Chapman’s Ghost” was eventually released on the Zoom Club label in 2002, with all songs written by Chapman, Ned Meloni (bass) and drummer Dale Russell, except The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly” and “Don’t Walk Away” by Carl Sentance.
Carl Sentance became Nazareth’s vocalist in 2015.
Chapman played on a Nazareth tribute album, “Another Hair Of The Dog” (2001), appearing on the tracks “This Flight Tonight” (w/ Doogie White) and “Let Me Be Your Dog” (w/ Nicky Moore).
2002 saw the release of “2 Ways 2 Skin A Groove” by Steve Fister. Paul Chapman was credited with playing bass on the tracks “Dessert Sun” and “Hidin The Bone”, the latter co-written by Paul Chapman, Eddie Tuduri and Steve Fister. Steve Fister has performed and recorded with artists such as Steppenwolf, King Kobra, Quiet Riot and The Pat Travers Band. Other guests on “2 Ways 2 Skin A Groove” include Tony Franklin and Carmine Appice, both formerly of John Sykes’ Blue Murder.
Prior to re-joining Waysted, Chapman also guested on “Under A Savage Sky” (2003), an album by former Virgin Steele guitarist Jack Starr’s new project, Guardians of the Flame. Chapman played the first lead solo on “Cry For Dawn”.
Chapman eventually settled in the US, operating a studio and working as a guitar teacher in South Florida. Chapman also went on to form a new band, PCP (Paul Chapman Project) and started writing on a book, “Tonka Tales”. In May 2006, he announced he was planning to re-record classic UFO songs. He enlisted the help of Robin McAuley (ex-MSG) who sang on versions of “No Place To Run”, “Wild, Willing & Innocent” and “The Writer”. None of this appears to have been released.
In July 2006, Chapman joined Gator Country (2005-2010), a southern rock band featuring members of the original Molly Hatchet. Chapman played on their only release, the 2008 “Live” album.
In 2015, Chapman went out for a 10-week US tour with Killer Bee, a Swedish band with a Canadian vocalist. Killer Bee was formed in 1992 as a hard rock/AOR band in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, by songwriters Anders “LA” Rönnblom and Brian “Bee” Frank. Kee Marcello (ex-Europe) produced and played on the band’s third album, “World Order Revolution” (1997), after which the band disbanded. The band released a comeback album in 2012. Chapman plays on their 2016 album “Eye In The Sky”.
Over the years, there has also been several UFO live albums released that feature recordings from the years when Paul Chapman played with them. Chapman can be heard on “BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert” (1992), “Live In Texas” (2000), “Regenerator – Live 1982” (2001), “UFO Live Throughout The Years” (2007), “Headstone: Live At Hammersmith 1983” (2009), “Hot ‘N’ Live: The Chrysalis Live Anthology 1974-1983” (2013), “At The BBC On Air 1974 – 1985” (2013) and “Live Sightings” (2015).
Selected Paul Chapman discography:
1976: Lone Star – Lone Star
1977: Lone Star – Firing on All Six
1980: UFO – No Place To Run
1981: UFO – The Wild, the Willing and the Innocent
1982: UFO – Mechanix
1983: UFO – Making Contact
1985: Waysted – The Good the Bad the Waysted
1986: Waysted – Save Your Prayers
1999: Lone Star – Riding High (archival recordings from 1978)
2002: Paul Chapman’s Ghost – Paul Chapman’s Ghost (archival recordings from the 1990s)
2004: Waysted – Back from the Dead
2008: Gator Country – Live
2016: Killer Bee – Eye In The Sky