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Charlie Patton painting © Copyright 2004 Loz Arkle
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Hero. Legend. Good Bloke.
John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



Tony 'TS' McPhee, Joanna Deacon
and The Groundhogs

Tony ‘TS’ McPhee is most widely known as guitarist, singer and songwriter for his band The Groundhogs.

Formed in the early 1960’s, they soon gained recognition through backing John Lee Hooker on his British Tours.

Through the early 70’s the band produced massive selling albums including ‘Thank Christ For The Bomb’, ‘Split’ and Who Will Save The World which achieved chart success and prompted appearances on Top of The Pops and The Old Grey Whistle Test. However, before taking the band into the progressive rock sound of the 70’s, Tony was a bluesman and he has maintained this interest in the background, touring with an acoustic blues solo set, which now includes duets with partner Joanna Deacon.

Tony has been playing guitar since the age of 14, self taught, he cut his teeth copying guitar instrumentals by groups such as The Shadows, then he heard the Cyril Davies Blues Band and he was hooked. Tony’s style reflects the early bluesmen such as John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson and Howlin Wolf. He plays without a pick, with and without slide, accompanied by vocals which range in texture from gravel to subterranean growl.

Tony has played with many of the blues giants including Memphis slim, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed and Champion ‘Jack Dupree. In ‘John Lee’s Groundhogs’ he made his first recording on the Album ‘John Lee Hooker’ (also released as ‘Hooker and the Hogs’). One of his long term collaborations was with Jo-Anne Kelly and he has played and recorded with her and brother Dave on various albums including ‘Me and The Devil’, ‘I asked for water, she gave me gasoline’ and ‘Same Thing On Their Minds’. Tony also appeared on albums with Champion Jack Dupree, Eddie Boyd the John Dummer Blues Band and on blues compilations with John Mayall, Eric Clapton & Savoy Brown.

His talent as a blues guitarist has made him sought after in the business and he has refused offers to join the bands of Chris Barber, Alexis Korner and an offer to replace Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, preferring to go his own way.

The talents of the Groundhogs and ‘TS’ McPhee have bean widely recognised:

‘No. 1 Best British Blues Band’ – John Lee Hooker

‘One of my early influences’ – Eric Clapton

Check out www.thegroundhogs.co.uk for more details

Thanks to Tony / John O'Gaunt for the notes