Forgotten Artists – Eggs Over Easy

Eggs Over Easy? A band that few have heard of and even fewer have heard but who are one of the most influential bands of the ’70s, who not only contributed to the foundations of Americana but also created the environment for punk and new wave music to subsequently bloom.

As with most great musical leaps there wasn’t a meticulously worked out master plan but simply a group of good musicians, being true to themselves and dealing with the challenges and opportunities that the music business threw at them.

Eggs Over Easy were American musicians Austin de Lone keyboards, guitar, vocals, Jack O’Hara guitar, bass, vocals and Brien Hopkins guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals with various drummers. Formed in 1969 and heavily influenced by The Band, by 1970 the group were beginning to make a few waves in New York when their manager put a deal together that included Chas Chandler producing the group’s first album in London. Recording for the debut album finished in early 1971 but contractual issues prevented the album’s release and their manager advised them to stay in London until he could get the situation resolved.

The group were living in a band house in Kentish town, just around the corner from The Tally Ho pub which had regular jazz nights. They were an experienced American bar band, so they blagged a gig at the Tally Ho despite its Jazz Only policy. Playing a mix of country rock, southern soul, blues and rock and roll, with a mix of originals and covers rumoured to total more than 100 songs, they started drawing more and more people to their gigs. By late 1971 their residency at The Tally Ho had increased to three nights a week and the Sunday Lunchtime slot. On other nights they played the Marquee and other venues in London. Musicians, including Graham Parker, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and Frankie Miller were now attending their gigs. Nick Lowe, bassist and lead songwriter with Brinsley Schwarz, was inspired to move away from the then current Brinsley Schwarz psychedelic style to a more roots-based sound. Their manager, Dave Robinson, saw the opportunity to develop a new audience from what was now the nascent pub rock scene.

Towards the end of 1971, Eggs Over Easy heard that the contractual issues preventing the release of their debut album could not be resolved and despite their success in London and playing a few provincial concerts no new record company had expressed interest in signing them and their manager advised them to return to America. Their last gig in the UK was on 7th November 1971, at the Tally Ho, but their influence was now undeniable as the Pub Rock scene became the force of mid seventies UK music, leading ultimately to Punk and New Wave. Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello also became major influences on key artists such as Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, who helped found the Americana movement closing the transatlantic circle.

Returning to America the band recorded their debut album with Link Wray producing. ‘Good ‘n’ Cheap’ had a great cover inspired by the Nighthawk by Edward Hopper and eleven easy rocking tunes not dissimilar to Brinsley Schwarz’s ‘Silver Pistol‘, the first Pub Rock classic album. Wray’s production gave a more rock and roll feel to the record, though it doesn’t capture fully their live sound. The songs are varied with many standout tracks, the songwriting being a cut above what you would normally expect from a bar band. ‘Party Party’ gets the album off on the right note recalling the fun of a good night-out at The Tally Ho, Hope and Anchor or other similar venue. The band’s ballad style is showcased by ’Pistol On The Shelf’ and ‘Arkansas’.

Unfortunately, while the group toured America supporting Yes and The Eagles, they never found an American audience nor did they return to the UK. There was an early ’80s album, ‘Fear Of Frying’, that sank without trace, again due to record label issues. Austin de Lone carved out a still flourishing 50-year career as a session musician and keyboard player to Bill Kirchen and Dan Hicks. He has also kept close musical contact with his old mates Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello, while Jack O’Hara and Brien Hopkins quietly retired from full time music.

For any reader who is interested in hearing more of this legendary band then ‘Good ‘n’ Cheap: The Eggs Over Easy Story’ was released by Yep Rec Records in 2017 and it includes both ‘Good ‘n’ Cheap’ and ‘Fear of Frying’. Unfortunately, we can only imagine what they were really like on a good night at The Tally Ho.

Author: Martin Johnson

I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.

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