Frijid Pink’s eponymous debut is a Hard Rock cult masterpiece. Heavy, blues-oriented, smokey-vocalled Rock and Roll from Detroit.
Frijid Pink was the first Hard Rock group from Detroit Motor City that had a Top Ten single and their homonymous debut LP is a cult classic among fans of the Heavy sound. They began as the Detroit Vibrations which was managed by Clyde Stevers (an Allen Park policeman) with his son Rick Stevers on drums and Tom Harris playing bass. The Vibrations were always in demand, having success playing teen clubs, parties, dances and high schools mostly in the downriver area. One day, the Vibrations played a teen club in Allen Park called The Chatterbox when Clyde was approached by a brash but accomplished young guitar player named Gary Thompson. Gary told Clyde he was better than his guy and that he should have the job. Gary was better so Clyde hired him along with another local guy with a very powerful voice named Tom Beaudry, later known as Kelly Green. Also hired on guitar was Dan Yehley, who was drafted shortly thereafter and sent to Vietnam. Unfortunately, he was killed in an enemy ambush before he could see where his band was headed. With the lineup now set, they continued to play as the Detroit Vibration. Clyde’ s wife, Clara Stevers, told the guys they needed a name change to go with the new group. As it happened, her son Rick was painting her bathroom a very trendy pink. Apparently, he had it everywhere including his hair when his mother suggested they call the band “frosted pink” It was quite fashionable for a woman to have her hair frosted at the time. Well that didn’t fly but she didn’t lose her train of thought. Sitting in her kitchen table, she stared at their Frigidare refrigerator then blurted out, “Frigid Pink!” and then suggested dropping the “g” for a “j” and the name was born.
After the Harbor Lights debut, Frijid Pink was in demand. They hit the studio in the fall of 1969, recording their first tapes at Pioneer Studios in Detroit. They recorded several songs during this session including “God Gave Me You” and “Tell Me Why.” With about 10 minutes of studio time left, the engineer asked them if there was anything else they wanted.
”The guys had been working on a song that they wanted in their live set but with expensive studio time left over, they decided to lay it down anyway. With only a minimum amount of practice and in only one take, Frijid Pink recorded a hit – a heavy version of the public domain song “House of the Rising Sun.” At the time, there were only two radio stations in Detroit that played rock n roll, CKLW and WKNR. Paul Cannon was a very popular DJ at “keener 13” and a close friend of Rick Stevers. As a matter of fact, he was dating his daughter Linda. One day at the Cannon house, he asked Rick if he had his studio tapes with him. Rick went out to get them and they sat and listened. Cannon liked what he heard and just when the last song started, which was the beginning of “House” , Rick shut off the tape. Rick and the guys never considered “House” a releasable song because it was destined for their live set, but Cannon told him to turn it back and let it play. He finished listening and walked away telling Rick he needed to call New York right away. Cannon contacted the then President of London Records Walt McGuire, who had already released “God Gave Me You” and “Drivin Blues” in Detroit and Buffalo, and persuaded him to stop the release and get “House” out right away. Cannon knew he had a hit, but never imagined how big.
Within days the song charted and was getting national and then international air play within weeks, eventually reaching the Top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Frijid Pink was then flown to New York to finish recording their first album at Media Sound Studios for London / Parrot Records. While they were in New York they stayed at the Lowes Midtown Hotel where they were checked-in along with other musicians who were performing in the area. Rod Stewart, Janis Joplin, Gordon Lightfoot and Frijid Pink were kept isolated from other guests as best they could. Their first album was larger than life in the United Kingdom and especially in Germany, where their signature Detroit sound was beloved. They were on the cover of all their music magazines and spent 11 weeks at #1 in Germany and 5 months in their Top 100. They were also invited to the white house by president Richard Nixon who apparently was a major fan.
Their debut album remains essential for their few, yet devoted fans-including yours truly. Heavy, Blues-oriented, smokey-vocalled Rock and Roll for fans of the Psych. An eclectic and relatively unknown record you will most certainly enjoy. The band recorded two more albums with little commercial success and keeped changing members until they eventually broke up. They are now etched into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on the “One Hit Wonder Wall”.