Musician known for heavy metal band UFO

Born: November 16, 1945;

Died: April 13, 2019

PAUL Raymond, who has died aged 73, was a British musician who played keyboards and guitars and a versatile member of a number of noted rock groups. Most famously, he was a key member of the metal group UFO on-and-off for nearly four and a half decades, including the period during which they rose to fame as a missing link between the hard rock sound of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, and the 1980s new wave of British heavy metal.

Although contemporaries on that scene such as Def Leppard, Iron Maiden and Saxon had their roots in the late 1970s, and rose to prominence at the same time as UFO, the latter band had been in existence since 1968 and were viewed as elders of the movement. Raymond joined them as keyboard player, rhythm guitarist and later backing singer in 1976, his initial involvement lasting for three albums – Lights Out (1977, the group’s sixth record), Obsession (1978) and No Place to Run (1980).

Although UFO were never as commercially successful as many of their contemporaries, they retained a strong and loyal following among metalheads, and the latter two albums were a top 30 and nearly a top ten hit in the UK, respectively. From these, the tracks Doctor Doctor (1979) and Young Blood (1980) were minor chart hits which capably demonstrated the group’s rough-edged, careering metal style. The live album Strangers in the Night (1979) was also a big UK hit.

Yet Raymond left UFO in 1980 to record MSG (1981), the second album by UFO’s recently departed guitarist’s band, the Michael Schenker Group, and Vices (1983) by their bassist Pete Way’s new band Waysted. By the time he returned briefly for UFO’s twelfth album Misdemeanor in 1985, the group’s commercial high was already behind them. From 1995, Raymond recorded and toured with the group regularly and for a thrilled and receptive heavy metal audience. Among the number of new recordings he was involved with was 1995’s Walk on Water, which briefly welcomed Schenker back to the fold.

A valued writer and co-writer throughout his time with UFO, including, for example, the sole credit on Take It or Leave It from No Place to Run, Raymond’s final act was to take part in their Last Orders 50th anniversary tour, and also the final tour for founding and ever-present singer Phil Mogg, whom it was announced would be retiring after these shows.

Paul Martin Raymond was born in St Albans in Hertfordshire in 1945. In 1964 his career began in earnest, as he started playing London jazz clubs with more experienced players and picking up every trick he could. In 1967 he joined the band Plastic People, whose style was a kind of psychedelic country Americana, and had a top ten hit with Everything I Am the same year, before disbanding in 1970 after three fairly lukewarm albums.

In 1969 Raymond answered an ad in the Melody Maker looking for a new keyboard player and backing singer in the group Chicken Shack, following previous incumbent Christine Perfect’s (later McVey) defection to Fleetwood Mac. By 1971 almost the entire group had quit to join the significantly more successful Savoy Brown - with them, Raymond recorded six albums between 1971 and 1976, and played Madison Square Garden in New York, before UFO came calling.

Moving to Japan with his then-girlfriend in the late 1980s, Raymond began the occasional Paul Raymond Project, but following bad experiences in the late ‘90s he quit rock to play piano in a succession of London clubs. Yet UFO remained his most significant and revisited project; witnessed at their show in Edinburgh the other month, it’s fair to say that Raymond’s ageing mod look belied a virtuosic piano playing, in particular, which breathed life and freshness into the songs.