Origin: Victoria, British Columbia, 🇨🇦
May Blitz was one of the first four bands signed by eminent progressive and heavy rock label, Vertigo, along with future legends Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, and the largely forgotten Juicy Lucy, whose less fortunate fate they would unfortunately share, in the end. Although usually attributed to former Jeff Beck Group drummer Tony Newman (who had played on the all-time classic Beck-Ola), May Blitz was in fact first envisioned in early 1969 by relative unknown James Black (lead vocals and guitar), who along with eventual bassist Reid Hudson was a Canadian, recently relocated to the U.K. in search of fame and fortune. Evidently molded upon the then extremely popular power trio template (established a few years earlier by Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and soon adopted by countless upstarts like Rory Gallagher's Taste, New York's Sir Lord Baltimore, and an early Thin Lizzy, to name but a few), May Blitz worked up their repertoire by playing the U.K. pub and college circuit, before inking their Vertigo deal and getting to work on their eponymous first album. Released in mid-1970, that self-produced platter showcased an interesting selection of proggy acid rock jams, infused with proto-metal guitar histrionics, but wasn't distinctive enough, overall, to separate May Blitz from the hordes of competitors mining similar terrain. (No thanks to its hideous cover art, depicting a poorly rendered caricature of what Mountain's Leslie West might look like in drag!) Sales were similarly disappointing, and so the trio soon returned to the studio -- this time with producer John Anthony helping out -- and began working on their cleverly titled sophomore opus, The 2nd of May, which emerged barely six months later, in early 1971. Yet, despite adding a few novel elements of folk and space rock, and reigning in some of its predecessor's long-winded flights of fancy, The 2nd of May was nowhere near as compositionally inspired; sporadic bright moments were lost amidst several improvised jams masquerading as proper songs, so that consumers, once again, seemed more interested in satisfying their power trio fix elsewhere. Not ones to delude themselves, either, the members of May Blitz were able to read the tea leaves prophesying their dim future prospects, and mutually decided to go their separate ways later that year. Drum-stool lifer Newman didn't tarry long before trying his luck with another hard rock power trio called Three Man Army (with much the same underwhelming results, unfortunately), while Black and Hudson quietly vanished from historical record altogether, reputedly heading back home to Canada in due time.
May Blitz interview with Tony Newman:
May Blitz was a Canadian-British psychedelic rock power trio that was active in the early 1970s.
Can you elaborate the formation of May Blitz?
Tony Newman: Well, I had just been relieved of duties with The Jeff Beck Group and I met a manager who suggested I get my own band together. He introduced me to a bass player called Terry Poole. We auditioned for guitarists and James Black came to the fore. Unfortunately Terry did not work out, so Reid Hudson was recruited from Canada (a friend of James). So, the birth of the blues…
Please share your recollections of the sessions. What were the influences and inspirations for the songs recorded?
I remember the studio we used was a bit cold (sound-wise) but we soon warmed it up by smoking the sessions away. All the songs were new and so it was an exciting time.
“I was using Ludwig drums which had been given to me by John Bonham.”
In 1970 you released your debut.
I was using Ludwig drums which had been given to me by John Bonham. Our manager introduced us to a very withdrawn, thin artist, Tony Benyon, who we’ve never been able to find since that time. His artwork was quite revolutionary and he encapsulated the band’s quirky characters in his abstract drawings. Highly collectible I’m told.
Did the band tour to support the LP?
We toured England, France, Germany, and America. Our opening gig in America was with the Beach Boys (1971 or so) and there was a riot after our set and we were thrown off the tour – they couldn’t take the competition (haha).
One night in Belgium we had been working at a really, trippy club and Desi (one of our road crew) started tripping out all over the club (swinging from the balcony and jumping around). We all decided we wanted to be where he was at and took some acid and, I think, joined him. I don’t remember too much but I remember looking at a brush upside down with George (our other roadie) and watched the bristles dancing together. We went back to the hotel and Reid came into my room and leaned against the sink on the wall. There was an awful splitting sound as the sink collapsed, pulling all the pipes above it and across the ceiling, exposing them. I think we ran away and as I went outside the trees started to bleed. Man I’m glad I don’t go there anymore!
A year later you released The 2nd of May.
The 2nd of May was much more laid back. I think we were all getting exhausted with the heavy metalling all the time. At this time I was using Asba kit (French) gold plated, double kick, and the guys were using orange amps.
You were pretty well known…
Mid-range, small clubs, and rock festivals during the summer months. Actually, we did lots of shows with Black Sabbath.
What happened next?
We broke up. We could no longer sustain.
Thank you. Last word is yours.
Ya, we have a live CD coming out late summer. It will be called May Blitz at Essen 1970 on Garden of Delights label. Go out and buy it! It’s the first product we’ve had out in 40 years. Reid, James and I are still in touch, and I was in Canada 2 years ago, and we had a band reunion when I was working with the Everly Brothers. Happy, happy days!