With all of their potential, what actually happened to Armageddon? Obviously, Keith Relf's tragic death on May 16th, 1976 sealed the fate of the band forever, but what happened before that? They were supposed to tour, weren't they? What are the surviving band members doing now? The Armageddon Chronicles will seek to provide you with detailed answers to some of these questions, and more. But let us start off by thanking Armageddon's Martin Pugh and Louie Cennamo for their considerable input and support during this project.
THE ARMAGEDDON STORY
The genesis of Armageddon actually began with the final Steamhammer LP ("Speech") in 1973, as Keith Relf gave some production support to Martin Pugh, Louis Cennamo, and drummer Mick Bradley during these sessions (as an aside, Steamhammer was one of the most popular rock bands in Europe during the late 60's and early 70's - their hard rocking/bluesy style and considerable talent placed them alongside great British bands like Cream, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, et al. If you have never heard Steamhammer, you may want to check out our review of the "Speech" LP by clicking here ). Mick Bradley died from leukemia shortly after the LP was recorded, and Keith, Martin, and Louie decided to pursue a new project. They ran in to some difficulty securing a record contract in England, so they set out for the US in '74. While looking for a drummer in LA, Keith ran into Bobby Caldwell at The Rainbow - a short time later, A&M Records snapped them up.
All of the critical elements were there - the lyrics, the arrangements, the production, the musicianship, the actual recording pushed the current technology to it's limits, and the band was given considerable creative reign over the project. A very flattering "Rolling Stone" review stated that "...former Yardbirds' frontman Keith Relf has never sounded better, but the real star of this album is guitarist Martin Pugh". The review also offered a slight criticism, calling some tracks "a bit long winded" - while it may be true that some numbers could have been arranged a little differently, it is also the case that performances on this record approached the realm of the "other-worldly". This record is a melting pot of dramatic themes, raw emotion, and musical precision - the overwhelming energy leaps right off the turntable at you. Of course, it is not possible for any one record to be all things to all people...
It was now the mid 1970's, and this should have been Armageddon's "day in the sun". They played a couple of big club dates in the LA area (Martin Pugh recalls playing two live shows at The Starwood Club in Hollywood), and the LP was comfortably lodged in the top 100. But a scheduled tour with Eric Clapton had been scrapped - there was some shuffling in management - Punk Rock loomed large on the horizon - FM radio embraced AM radio programming styles - and Keith became very ill, winding up in the hospital for an extended period (he was a chronic asthmatic). The band began to lose momentum, and Keith returned to London early in '76.
As all Armageddon and Yardbirds fans know, Keith Relf died suddenly in May of 1976. The official report concluded that he was killed by accidental electrocution - he was found in his West London home with his electric guitar plugged in and turned on.
For a glimpse into the vision that Keith may have had for Armageddon's future, you may want to pick up the independently released "Enchanted Caress" CD by Illusion, Relf's former Renaissance bandmates. It features a haunting track called "All The Fallen Angels" (with Louie Cennamo on bass), one of Keith's last recorded efforts.
Return to the Armageddon Chrocicles main page