Original Members: Kenny Pickett, vocals; Eddie Philips, lead guitar; Jack Jones, drums; Bob Garner, bass
Sometimes a music group seems to have all the pieces to become stars, and still never manage to break through. The Creation surely fits into this category. I only heard of them recently* when their name came up as a suggestion from Last.fm. When I listened, I discovered a very talented group that never got the right breaks and whose history had some eerie connections with the Who and the Beatles.
The group started out as “The Mark Four,” playing just north of London and – like the Beatles – in Germany. Two singles were released, but when nowhere. But in 1966, the group signed with new management, changed bassists,** and changed their name.
Shel Talmy, best known for producing the early Who albums, produced their first singles. “Making Time” was their first attempt.
The song had some similarities to the Who circa “The Who Sing My
Generation.”*** But instead of a monster hit first time out, the song failed to crack the top 40.
Their next song, “Painter Man” showed further promise, breaking into the top 40.
The group had a dynamic stage show, with guitarist Eddie Phillips**** showing some good licks and innovation, including playing the guitar with a bow. They often performed “Painter Man” while spray painting the stage and setting it afire.
However, instead of building, things started falling apart. It’s possible that a band that sounded like the Who was at a disadvantage when the Who was around. Finally, Kenny Pickett, their lead singer, left, and their next single was a departure from the sound of the first two, confusing their fans. No album was released in the UK.
In Germany, though, things were different, the group was a major success there, with “Painter Man” going to #1. Their singles and unreleased tracks were cobbled together into an album, "We Are Painterman,” but it was never released outside of the Continent.
The group remained a footnote and was forgotten. Pickett and Phillips, the group’s songwriters occasionally collaborated (notably on “Teacher, Teacher,” recorded by Rockpile). And, as time went by, there was an appreciation of the group’s talent. Phillips and Picket re-formed the group in the mid-80s, and the original lineup was back in place in 1993, due to the high regard of the group in some circles. The reunion ended when Pickett died in 1997, though Philips still is around making music.
It’s one of the more interesting what-might-have-beens in rock history.
*I’ve read Lilian Roxon’s Rock Encyclopedia multiple times over the decades, and also the NME Encyclopedia of Rock. Neither mentions them.
**Bob Garner, like Paul McCartney, played bass backing up Tony Sheridan.
***Including the same guitar, bass, lead singer, drums combination.
****Peter Townsend supposedly asked him to join the Who as a second guitarist. He declined.
*****Including a short stint by eventual Faces and Rollling Stones guitarist Ron Wood.