When 2019 comes to a close, the skies will have one less high-flying object for us to see and hear as UFO are making one last trip across the U.S. in recognition of their 50th anniversary.
Retirement on the horizon
News of a final tour had circulated for some time before frontman Phil Mogg, the lone constant member of UFO, finally confirmed the rumors on Facebook last year, stating that he was retiring after the conclusion of this tour.
A press release later confirmed this. In the release Mogg said that the decision has been a long time coming.
“I had considered stepping down at the end of UFO’s previous tour in 2016,” he said, but decided to make one last run. “I don’t want to call this a farewell tour as I hate that word, but (these) gigs will represent my final tap-dancing appearances with the band.”
The fact that 2018 marked UFO’s 50th anniversary as a band seemed to make the decision a bit easier for Mogg, feeling that it was better to go out on a high note during a milestone year rather than staying too long at the dance.
“The timing feels right,” he said in the release. “Being out on the road isn’t always tremendously luxurious and although the playing is as great as it ever was, the stuff that surrounds it becomes very tiresome. I always told myself that when I reached that stage I would step down, and that’s what I’m going to do. This is the right time for me to quit.”
UFO have had a storied career, one that Mogg probably never would have dreamed of back in 1968, the year he helped form the group along with guitarist Mick Bolton, bassist Pete Way, and drummer Andy Parker. The band has released 22 studio recordings, 14 live albums, and one collection of cover songs, selling over 20 million copies of those albums.
Their live album, Strangers in the Night, capturing the band at the height of their prime, is widely regarded as one of the best live albums of all time and they have often been cited as a major influence by commercially successful rock bands of the ’80s and ’90s. The current lineup consists of Mogg, Parker, guitarists Vinnie Moore and Neil Carter and Rob DeLuca on bass.
The Last Orders Tour has been a huge success with fans and critics raving about the shows, but it almost came to a premature end when bassist Paul Raymond died April 13. Raymond had a fatal heart attack just a week after UFO finished the first leg of the tour in the UK. While mourning Raymond’s loss, UFO sadly also had to face the reality of what to do with the band. After careful consideration, the band members, both individually and collectively, felt moving forward with the remaining dates of the tour was the right thing to do.
“We all know this is what Paul would have wanted us to do,” Mogg said on Facebook. “We are therefore very pleased to announce that our friend and former bandmate Neil Carter has agreed to join us again and take over the keyboards/guitar and vocals slot for the remainder of the tour.”
Night of Classics
Expect a night full of classics. There’s no doubt you’ll hear “Rock Bottom,” “Lights Out,” and “Doctor Doctor,” but you also might hear something from You Are Here, Moore’s debut with UFO, or a hidden gem from Walk on Water, the 1995 album that saw guitarist Michael Schenker reunite with his former bandmates in the “classic” lineup, an experiment that didn’t last long as Schenker walked away the tour booked to support that album just four shows in.
Mogg is offering little to those who hope he might change his mind about calling it quits again. For Mogg, there will be no further concerts of any kind.
“I’ve told the guys that this is how it is,” he said in the press release. “They know it’s my time to go and they know that they can do whatever they want to do without me, but I don’t want to play live or make records anymore, though having said that I might go on and do an album of my own.”
Of course, Mogg, who turned 71 this year, is sad that the finishing line is now well within sight, but he has had sufficient time to live with and process the ramifications of his decision. If you can read anything into it, he seems to have made peace with it.
“Maybe the best word to use is ‘bittersweet’,” he said. “But my time has arrived and all that remains is to make sure that we have a good tour.”
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