Within weeks of Nick Simper's final show with Deep Purple on July 4th 1969, he had played the Isle Of Wight Festival as part of singer Marsha Hunt's backing band White Trash, and was beginning to plan a new group of his own.
After just a couple of gigs with Marsha, Nick realised that the rest of her band weren't really up to the job, said as much, and found himself with the job of finding suitable replacements. He roped in Ged Peck on guitar (with whom he'd toured with The Flowerpot Men and Billie Davis), and his old Pirates band-mate Roger Pinner (aka Roger Truth) on drums. Pinner was soon replaced by Mac Poole. While this was going on Nick still found time for outside work, playing BBC sessions with The James Royal Set, and also putting together his own extracurricular band. Ged Peck and Mac Poole were first on board, followed by singer Ashley Holt, who had auditioned for Deep Purple back in 1968. The James Royal Set's keyboard player Rick Wakeman took part in early rehearsals but proved unreliable, and when the band's first demo was recorded in April 1970 he was replaced by Frank Wilson. Very soon afterwards the band became a full time operation when Marsha Hunt folded her group due to the fact that she was pregnant by Mick Jagger.
Initial events made it look as if Warhorse's starting path would be similar to that of Deep Purple Mk1.
A record contract quickly arrived (with the new Vertigo label), an album was recorded, and the band made their debut live show - supporting Mott The Hoople in Hemel Hempstead. 'Warhorse' was released in November 1970, sounding pretty much like a heavier version of Deep Purple Mk1, and fully illustrating how much Nick Simper had contributed to both bands. However, Vertigo's promotion concentrated more on the label than the album, and it undeservedly failed to chart, as did the belated single 'St.Louis' (an Easybeats song which had been in Deep Purple's live repetoire until August 1969). Around the same time, Ged Peck made his exit, apparently after increasing difficulty in dealiing with Simper's pre-eminence in the group. His replacement was Pete Parks from Black August, a band who had been sharing Warhorse's rehearsal room.
Warhorse had built up a healthy live following inside their first year, and continued to do so when Pete Parks seamlessly stepped in on guitar, but the band's fortunes had already peaked.
They were forced to rush the recording of their second album 'Red Sea', which nevertheless received favourable press reviews, and pushed the band's heavy credentials forward by being more guitar based than its predecessor. However, it received very little label promotion, and soon after its June 1972 release Warhorse were dropped from the roster.
Around the same time Mac Poole decided to throw his lot in with Gong, after having deputised with them for a few shows.
Drummer Mac Poole was replaced by Barney James, and Warhorse picked themselves up yet again, this time beginning to incorporate soul elements into their music.
After a time Rick Wakeman appeared back in the scene. He produced a set of demos for the band, and then borrowed Holt and James to help record his UK #1 'Journey To The Centre of The Earth' solo album. Despite the fact that a new record contract for Warhorse was in the offing, both men decided to throw their lot in permanenty with Wakeman, and in June 1974 Nick Simper decided to bring the band to a close.
The Warhorse musicians have since played together on occasions, including 1985 and 2005, latterly for drummer Mac Poole's 60th birthday. (see the photo link below)
.... Warhorse Discography ....
2005 DPAS/Darker Than Blue.
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