Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group

Having started their journey as a harsh musical backdrop for munching and relaxing after a hard day of British workers, the Tygers of Pan Tang group managed to elevate themselves to the peak of the musical Olympus as the best heavy metal band from foggy Albion. And even the fall was no less crushing. However, the history of the group is not yet complete.


Love of science fiction and the benefits of reading newspapers

The small industrial town of Whitley Bay in the north-east of England was not much different from other such towns. The main entertainment of local residents were gatherings in local pubs and eateries. But it was here that the Tygers of Pan Tang group appeared in the late 70s of the last century. She pioneered the emerging new wave of British heavy metal movement.

The band was founded by Rob Weir. He is the only member of the original line-up who continues to play in the group to this day. A talented guitarist, who decided to find like-minded people with whom he could earn some money by playing his favorite music, went the simplest way. He placed an ad in the local paper. Two responded to it - Brian Dick, who sat down at the drums and Rocky, who masterfully owns a bass guitar.

Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group
Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group

It was in this composition that the first performances of the group took place in 1978. They performed in various pubs and clubs in one of the suburbs of Newcastle. The name "Tygers of Pan Tang" comes from bassist Rocky. He was a big fan of writer Michael Moorcock. 

In one of the science fiction novels, the royal rock of Pan Tang appears. This mountain was inhabited by elite warriors who worshiped chaos and kept tigers as pets. However, it was not so important to the public what the names of "these guys" playing on the pub stage were called. Much more attracted to the heavy music issued by their instruments.

Initially, the work of "Tygers of Pan Tang" focused on the already popular then "Black Sabbath", "Deep Purple", and only a few years later the group achieved its original sound and style.

A song without words will not bring glory 

Since none of the group members could sing and did not have memorable vocal abilities, the first performances of the group were exclusively instrumental. They were complete pieces of music. They attracted attention and frightened the listeners with their gloominess and heaviness. But the group gained momentum and became popular within the hometown.

At some point, the musicians decided to give themselves a voice, so the first vocalist Mark Butcher appeared in the group, found again through ads in the newspaper. Cooperation with him was short-lived, after only 20 joint concerts, Butcher left the group, saying that the group would never become famous at such a pace.

Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group
Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group

Fortunately, his prophecy turned out to be wrong. Soon, Jess Cox became the soloist, and the founder of the Neat Records record company, which in 1979 released the first official single "Tygers of Pan Tang" - "Don't touch me there", noticed the new heavy metal bands.

And so the tour began. The group actively traveled all over England, performing as the opening act for popular rockers, among which were Scorpions, Budgie, Iron Maiden. Interest in the group has grown significantly, and they are already interested in a professional level.

Already in 1980, the musicians lost their independence and practically became the property of the MCA company. In July of the same year, the first album "Wild Cat" was released. The record managed to immediately win 18th place in the British charts, given that the group was not really known yet.

The first ups and downs of Tygers of Pan Tang

Having reached the professional level and received the approval of the audience, "Tygers of Pan Tang" did not stop there. The musicians found their own sound to be soft and not as powerful as we would like. The situation was saved by guitarist John Sykes, who gave the game of heavy metallers more "meat" and thrash. 

And the successful performance at the Reading Festival confirmed the right direction of the band's development. But the grandiose success became the reason for sorting out the relationship and pulling the blanket over each of the team members. As a result, Jess Cox went into free swimming. And the new soloist of the group was John Deverill. The most important album in the band's discography, "Spellbound", was recorded with him.

Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group
Tygers of Pan Tang (Tygers Of Pan Tang): Biography of the group

Everything was going well, but the management of the company "MCA" required more active work. Musical bosses wanted to have time to cash in on the newcomers who soared up into the rock sphere of Britain, as much as possible. Therefore, they demanded that the band quickly record the third album. So the world saw "Crazy Nights", which turned out to be a rather weak album for the heavy metal of those years.

In addition, the musicians already felt stable under their feet and began to look and sound more solid. They got rid of the unpredictability and spontaneity that attracted viewers and listeners to their first performances.

Unexpected changes in Tygers of Pan Tang

The first blow for "Tygers of Pan Tang" was the forced replacement of the soloist. The conflict with Jess showed that musicians cannot always agree not only with the company releasing them, but also with each other. And then, realizing that the group has no management, John Sykes unexpectedly leaves the team. And he does it at a very unfortunate moment - on the eve of a tour of France.

In order for the tour to take place, the group had to urgently look for a replacement. The new guitarist was Fred Purser, who had to learn all of the band's material in less than a week. The band continued to play shows and even recorded their fourth album, The Cage. But thanks to the guitar parts of Purser, who is frankly fond of the mainstream, the record turned out to be not at all in the spirit of "Tygers of Pan Tang". It only remotely resembled the style of heavy metal.

Toothless tigers go underground

Probably, it was the departure of Sykes and the choice in favor of Purser that became the fatal mistake with which the black streak of the group began. The fourth album "Tygers of Pan Tang" was received extremely negatively by fans. Managers simply refused to sell it, and further cooperation with MCA was on the verge of collapse. The label management demanded that the musicians find themselves a new manager. But who will work with a group that has frankly begun to slide down from the musical Olympus?

Independent attempts to change the recording studio ended in failure. In "MCA", referring to the terms of the contract, they asked for an incredible amount to stop working together, no other company for "Tygers of Pan Tang" at that time was ready to give such money. As a result, the group made the only correct decision at that time - to cease to exist.

After a couple of years of timeout, lead singer John Deverill and drummer Brian Dick tried to start over. They brought in guitarists Steve Lam, Neil Sheppard and bassist Clint Irwin. But even the recording of full-fledged two albums did not save them from harsh criticism from music experts and negative reviews from rock fans about these frankly weak and bad records.

However, Rob Ware and Jess Cox also failed to create something new and good sounding within the framework of the alternative project "Tyger-Tyger". Both options for reforming the Tygers of Pan Tang group turned out to be completely different from what it was created in 1978 for. They did not have that intensity, power and sincere drive, which distinguish good heavy metal from bad.

All is not lost

Only in 1998 did the world again hear the familiar "washed down". The Wacken Open Air festival became a platform for the band's resurrection. Rob Ware, Jess Cox and a selection of new musicians teamed up to play some of the band's hits, marking the band's 20th anniversary. Considering that the festival itself was celebrating a decade, such a gift was received with a bang by the audience. The group's performance was even released as a separate live album.

It was this event that became the starting point in an attempt to restore their status as the best British heavy metal band. Yes, they had a new line-up, an updated sound, and only its permanent member and creator, Rob Ware, kept in touch with the history of the group. After 2000, Tygers of Pan Tang began performing at various festivals. The group began to record albums.

It cannot be said that they had the same incredible popularity as in the early 80s. But fans and music critics reacted favorably to fresh records, noting the high-quality sound and the returned energy of the team.

Perhaps the revival of "Tygers of Pan Tang" was made possible by Rob Ware's desire to play his favorite music, no matter what. Records recorded in the new millennium did not have such tremendous sales. But the group managed to regain the love of fans, attracting new listeners to their ranks. 

Tygers of Pan Tang today

The group's current vocalist is Jacopo Meille. Rob Ware plays guitar with Gavin Gray on bass. Craig Ellis sits on drums. British heavy metallers who broke through in the late 70s of the last century continue to please their fans with very good albums, releasing them every three or four years.


The last disc was "Ritual". Released it in 2019. The band is currently preparing to re-release their 2012 album Ambush. They are also looking for a new guitarist after Mickey Crystal left the band in April 2020. As you can see, history repeats itself. Fans of "Tygers of Pan Tang" hope that the musicians will be able to stay afloat this time and will delight heavy metal fans with their performances and new albums for a long time to come.

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