The Purple Gang are a British rock band active intermittently since the 1960s. Although they were associated with the London psychedelic scene, they originated in Stockport, then in Cheshire, as The Young Contemporaries jugband. The band adopted the name, The Purple Gang, when they changed their image to the well-dressed, clean-cut "gangster" style in the 1960s. In London, they engaged Joe Boyd as their record producer, and shared a studio with Pink Floyd as they recorded their first single, "Granny Takes A Trip" (named after the eponymous shop in the Kings Road). Pink Floyd were making their own first single, "Arnold Layne", at the time.
The BBC spotted the word 'trip' in the title and, assuming it to be a reference to LSD, banned the record from their airwaves. Also noting that the band's lead singer at the time (Pete Walker) was nicknamed 'Lucifer', the BBC Controller said ". . . a song with a dubious title designed to corrupt the nation’s youth – and a band that boasts a warlock for a singer will not be tolerated by any decent society . . ." An album, The Purple Gang Strikes was released in 1968, but failed to sell, although Pirate radio station DJs such as John Peel praised the group.
The band continued during the early 1970s, with a slightly different line-up. In 1998, the band reformed and recorded an album, Night of the Uncool, with several new songs by Joe Beard, some of which were produced by Gerry Robinson, the mandolin and harmonica player from the original 1967 line-up.
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Links to Peel
Whilst working for Radio London, Peel gave repeated airplay to the Purple Gang's "Granny Takes A Trip" (issued on Transatlantic's singles label Big T) on the Perfumed Garden, on one show describing it as "a little UFO music" because guest pianist on the track was UFO Club co-founder John "Hoppy" Hopkins. When Peel joined the BBC in October 1967, he was forbidden to play the track on Top Gear because the Corporation had banned it.
A follow up single issued a year later, ," Kiss Me Goodnight Sally Green"", was played by the DJ, but by that time, the band were on the verge of splitting. The record made little impact, unlike its predecessor, which became one of the more memorable songs of the British "summer of 1967", even if it never made the charts. Despite the BBC banning "Granny Takes A Trip" in the late 60's, Peel throughout his career would often revisit the track and nominated it as one of his choices for his Peelenium 1967 in 1999.
- 12 July 1967: Granny Takes A Trip (single) Transatlantic (JP; "a little UFO music for you...[laughs]...oh, it's good to be back")
- 16 July 1967: Granny Takes a Trip (single) Transatlantic
- 14 August 1967: Granny Takes A Trip (single) Transatlantic
- 30 June 1968: Kiss Me Goodnight Sally Green
- 22 December 1968: Auntie Monica (b-side of single Kiss Me Goodnight Sally Green) Big T
- 09 July 1981: Granny Takes A Trip (LP - Strikes) Transatlantic
- 10 October 1983: Granny Takes A Trip
- 21 October 1990: Granny Takes A Trip (7") Big T