Roger Chapman of Family - a voice that once had the distinction of winning out over Tom Jones.

Roger Chapman  of Family - a voice that once had the distinction of winning out over Tom Jones.
Roger Chapman of Family – a voice that once had the distinction of winning out over Tom Jones.

Click on the link here for Audio Player: 1968-September – Family

You absolutely could never mistake the voice of Family’s Roger Chapman for anyone else. No other singer sounded anything like him. The American press wasn’t all that keen on this distinctive vocal-chord adventure. Reviews were sometimes unkind. But the press has, well . . .that kind of reputation anyway, so it was taken with a very tiny grain of salt.

Family were very popular in the UK and throughout Europe. That they didn’t crack the U.S. market was more of a shame for us than for them. They enjoyed a long and successful run, finally splintering off in other directions in the mid-1970s with Chapman-Whitney/Streetwalkers being one of those directions.

Tonight’s session is their debut appearance on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops program from September 1968. They are in fine form and Roger fairly devastates with his brand of vocal pyrotechnics. They were, and still are one of my favorite bands.

Factoid: Not many people know that, early on in his career, well before Family, Roger took part in a song contest. He won handily, beating out the competition, among whom were none other than Tom Jones. Makes you wonder what “What’s New Pussycat?” would have sounded like, given the Chapman treatment . . . .we can only imagine.

That tidbit of information was substantiated by none other than the inimitable Mr. Chapman himself, during the course of an interview I did with him in 1973.

So now you know.


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2 thoughts on “Family – In Session 1968 – Nights At The Roundtable

  1. Cheers once again, Gordon–I loved Family, especially the later years (“Anyway” on up, but I got a copy of “Best Of Family”–the one with the awful green cover with a painting of them playing football…or as we call it, soccer, and fell in love with the older stuff too). Wish they’d been bigger in the States, but US ears couldn’t quite take Chappo’s wondrous bleat of a voice.

    I suppose I’m glad that John Wetton, from the last incarnation of the band, went on to become obscenely rich with Asia, especially since he’d soldiered on through the last three albums from King Crimson’s original incarnation and probably didn’t get rich from that, either. (And I’d forgotten until I looked him up in Wikipedia, but he was on Eno’s first solo album “Here Come The Warm Jets” as well!) But Chapman and Whitney wrote such amazing, beautiful songs (I believe Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey–ex dB’s–did a great version of “My Friend The Sun”, at least live)…bloody shame they couldn’t break through in the US.

    But GOD could they rock…the title track of Burlesque, It’s Only A Movie, and countless others.

    One (possible) correction, via the Family fanpage–these tracks appear to have come from Saturday Club…see this comment from a page about TOTP:

    “In case anyone is confused the Top Of The Pops series we are referring to here IS NOT the same as the TV series. The performances contained on these records were taken (cherry picked!) from radio shows mostly Saturday Club and Top Gear that featured live sessions. They were then cobbled together with links from the DJ (usually Brian Matthews) with small interviews from the artists and assembled into a show which lasted about 40 mins and pressed up as Transcription Discs to be sent around the Commonwealth.”


    Gets a bit confusing, but Brian Matthew was the Saturday Club compere, so it’s entirely possible.

    REGARDLESS…thanks once again! (And if you’ve got any latter-day Family, I’d lurve to hear it!)

  2. Oy…deteriorating brain cells…

    The tracks you posted were on the UK release of “Family Live at the BBC Vol. 1”, and are indeed attributed to Saturday Club.

    But after listening to your post’s tracks, I’ve been playing other gems from the Family catalogue: Sweet Desiree, In My Own Time, etc., and GOD they were marvelous.

    One could only wish that today’s crop of two-piece ukelele-wielding “bands” would rediscover Family, and let the inspiration flow…!

    (BTW-the correct URL for the Family fanpage is “”, omitting the extra word, which will take you nowhere. But I’m guessing you figured that out.)

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