Killing Floor is now working with its original four piece line-up of Bill Thorndycraft, Bazz Smith, Mick Clarke and Stuart "Mac" McDonald.
Bill Thorndycraft formed Killing Floor with Mick Clarke in 1968.
Read Bill's thoughts about the blues and his memories of Freddie King, Howlin' Wolf and others
Guitarist Mick Clarke was a founder member of Killing Floor and has since gone on to a solo career with The Mick Clarke Band.
Mick joined his first professional band at the age of just seventeen. The Cliff Charles Blues Band played just three momentous dates.. Warwick University with the Graham Bond Organisation, Middle Earth club in London also with Graham Bond, and the Nags Head blues club in Battersea with Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.
A year later, in 1968, Mick met up with singer / harp player Bill Thorndycraft. Founding the band Killing Floor with Stuart McDonald, Bazz Smith and Lou Martin they hit the road and had an eventful four year ride of recording and touring, backing Freddie King on two UK tours and playing concerts with Howlin' Wolf, Captain Beefheart, The Nice, Yes, Jethro Tull and many other important acts of the time. The band recorded two albums released worldwide, and toured across Europe.
After the band went into its extended rest period in 1972 Mick went on to work with numerous other bands. The first of these was Toefat, the blues rock band formed by the blues and soul singer Cliff Bennett. This was followed by a spell with the American band Daddy Longlegs, touring all over the UK and Northern Europe, playing a mix of blues and rock. When this band finished Mick went through a spell of confusion.. the blues was not happening in England at the time, and Mick played with a variety of strange bands formed by ex members of Roxy Music and others..
However, in the mid seventies Mick formed up with singer Stevie Smith, and along with Stuart McDonald created SALT - an excellent hard hitting blues rock band. SALT was very successful on the English club and college scene playing many times at the Marquee club in London and building a strong following. The band later opened for Muddy Waters and performed at the Reading Festival in 1977.
The Punk Rock explosion signalled the end of SALT and its successor Ramrod, and again Mick went into a directionless period..living for a year in Los Angeles before returning to London to continue with a second version of SALT, battling against the prevailing winds of new wave and two tone...
In the early eighties a new international blues scene evolved with new clubs and festivals appearing all over Europe and the US. Mick finally started a solo career and has been touring and recording with the Mick Clarke Band ever since.
Albums have included "Steel and Fire" produced by Mike Vernon, and "West Coast Connection" recorded in America with ex members of the Robert Cray Band and Roomfull of Blues. "No Compromise" received heavy airplay on UK radio..his current live CD "Ruff''n'Roar" is his seventeenth album release. Mick tours regularly all over Europe and has toured in America five times, including shows with Canned Heat and Johnny Winter. He recently appeared at the Great British R&B Festival in Colne as part of the "British Blues All Stars" and in 2014 he took his band to India to appear on the Simply The Blues festivals in Mumbai and Bangalore. The Mick Clarke Band continues to record and tour regularly.
Go to Mick's website
Photos: Above - Carola Holl, Right - Carlo Aquistapace
Stuart "Mac" McDonald
At the age of fifteen Mac and friends Tony Lancett and a young drummer named Simon Kirke joined a band called "The Maniacs" in their native Mid-Wales, playing all over their local area of Presteigne, Radnorshire. After a couple of years playing barn dances and village halls, guitarist Tony bought the album "John Mayall's Bluesbreakers". The three of them had found a new musical direction - raw British blues rock. They left the Maniacs and formed a new band - the "Express Blues Band" and that is where they stayed until their school days were over.
The three moved to London. Simon went on to drum for "Black Cat Bones" the legendary "Free" and "Bad Company", and Tony became a sound engineer, spending twenty years in Toronto Canada and winning awards for his work.
Initially, Mac got a day job and lived in his van, parked behind Clapham Common tube station in South London. Six months later, after answering an ad in the Melody Maker music paper, he joined up with Mick Clarke and Bill Thorndycraft and became bass player with the newly formed "Killing Floor". Drummer Bazz Smith was the next recruit, folowed by Lou Martin on piano. The year was 1968.
Through Simon and Paul Kossof, originally the guitarist with Black Cat Bones, Mac got to know "Free" singer Paul Rodgers, eventually sharing a flat with him in London. While Killing Floor made two albums and worked steadily all over Britain and Europe, "Free" became a huge name with their number one hit "All Right Now", and later, when "Free" and "Killing Floor" had finally split up, Mac joined up with Paul in his new band "Peace". The band had a short but vivid career - playing just one radio session for John Peel on Radio One, and touring with Mott The Hoople on their "Mad Shadows" tour. Five timeless studio tracks were recorded: "Lady" "Seven Angels" "Like Water" "Pawn in the Game" and "Heartbreaker". No album was ever made, but "Lady" appeared on the "Free Story" album. "Peace" split when "Free" was briefly reformed.
After the traumas of Killing Floor and Peace, Mac took off for Europe and played in the house band for Club Mediteranee, Villars, for the next three months. Eventually "cabareted out" he returned to Britain to play with the British blues band "Jellybread" who were signed to Mike Vernon's Blue Horizon label, and the band worked hard around Britain and Holland.
A year later Mac joined up with his friend Barry Paul, ex "Heavy Metal Kids", and moved to Denmark, where they worked with "Life", a rock band based in Copenhagen. However, after a few months a call from London brought Mac back to England to join the reformed American band "Daddy Longlegs" - again featuring Mick Clarke on guitar and just beginning a hectic work schedule around Britain. The band toured steadily around the UK, Holland, Denmark and Sweden for the next two years, before Mick and Mac finally left.. there was a new project in the offing.
SALT, featuring singer / harp player Stevie Smith, was formed in 1974, and was a big hit on the London club scene and the college scene nationwide. The band proceeded to wear out five drummers and backed up visiting American blues acts such as Big John Wrencher and Cousin Joe, building a strong following and playing London's Marquee Club many times to packed houses. They also opened for the great Muddy Waters at his major "New Victoria" London concert in 1977. In the same year the band played at the Reading Festival, a dream realised.
In 1978 Lou Martin and Rod De'Ath, both ex Killing Floor members, were touring the world with the Rory Gallagher Band. When they left Rory's band after a seven year stint they formed up with Mac, Stevie and Mick to create "Ramrod", a powerful five piece blues rock band which made an instant impact on the British club circuit. The band also toured Ireland and played another date with Muddy Waters, this time at the famous "Rainbow Theatre" in London. However in England it was time for Punk and New Wave, and the band failed to secure the major record deal which they deserved. Mick left to live for a year in the U.S. and Mac returned to his native Presteigne.
Over the following years Mac played with various local bands and worked on recording projects with his wife Jan. In the year 2002 came the call that he was waiting for... the new album by KILLING FLOOR. The band has since hit the road again with new concerts across Europe.
Mac has also been working with Herefordshire based blues rock trio The Troy Redfern Band. You can find their music at their facebook page.
Bazz Smith is the drummer with Killing Floor and is featured on the new album "Rock'n'Roll Gone Mad".
Bazz has also worked extensively as a session musician on the Los Angeles music scene and as house drummer of Elephant Studio in London. He has recorded with musicians including Lee Scratch Perry, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Robbie Shakespeare, Rico, Family Fodder and Release De Beat.
Now relocated to Neuchatel Switzerland Bazz works with a number of projects playing African, Rock, Jazz and Blues. His new album "Kinshasa 2 Brixton" is available now.
Tributes here to our friends Lou Martin Rod De'Ath and Mick Hawksworth