A look at this heavy [and sometimes confusing] German band who’ve made a surprise return over the last year; as well as the careers of singers John Lawton and Mike Starrs.
German based hard-rock band Lucifer’s Friend had a strong cult following in North America in the ’70s, despite not touring, over the years the band’s albums have become highly sought after – not just for the band’s scary name and ever-changing musical direction from album to album, but also for being fronted by John Lawton – prior to his Uriah Heep tenure. The band’s original line up, aside from Lawton, would include guitarist Peter Hesslein, keyboardist Peter Hecht, bass player Dieter Horns and drummer Hans-Joachim Rietenbach [RIP], Rietenbach would be replaced on a few albums by Herbert Bornholdt.
Peter Hesslein – “My early bands in the ’60s were The Giants, The German Bonds (with these bands I played in the Star Club). … I saw The Beatles, Searchers and many other bands. We played together also with famous American stars. We were friends with Toni Sheridan, Remo Four, King Size Taylor and many more. …I met Ritchie Blackmore, he was living in Hamburg in the ’60s. He played a few times with my amp. He turned my amp up to the backside and turned the volume on 10! So it was very loud and powerful; different to the beat style of the other Beat Club bands. That was first inlfluence of playing rock more harder.”
The German players all knew each other and had worked in various bands and recordings together [and would continue to do so], via The German Bonds, and various others.
PH – “We met John before that project. He was playing with an English band in the Top Ten, and made songs for a publishing company. A guy who was working there was Gibson Kemp, he also played in the Star Club as a drummer with King Size Taylor, Patti, Klaus & Gibson. It was a suggestion to work with John together that fore [?] we gave our publishing rights to this company.”
John Lawton – “I hooked up with Lucifer’s Friend through Peter Hesslein, the guitarist – who happened to play with Les Humphries as well. He said to me they had a German band, and they were looking for an English singer, and if I fancied doing [?], and I said ‘yes!'”
Prior to Lucifer’s Friend’s debut, band-members recorded an album under the name of Asterix, which would become highly sought after over the years [now it’s on youtube!], but Lawton and Hesslein do not see it as a LF album by another name –
JL – “In regards to the Asterix album, I wrote a few things on there, but the majority of the backing tracks were done. What we needed were some English lyrics – which I did, together with the other guys who sang on it – Tony Cavanna.”
PH – “Asterix was not a forerunner to Lucifer’s Friend, it was just a project idea of the producer – Hildebrandt.”
The first Lucifer’s Friend album, initially released in November of 1970, is a classic early metal record, much in the vein of early Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and sits comfortably alongside great titles as In Rock, Master Of Reality and dare I add in Heep’s debut.
John Lawton recalls the album’s cover + – “Our guitar player Peter Hesslein liked to draw, so he scribbled down a few ideas and gave it to the label, and this is what they came back with. The tall guy was a waiter, and then we thought ‘what if we got a minute guy to stand next to him?’ The whole thing was shot in Hamburg.”
It featured the band’s best known rocker “Ride The Sky”; perhaps the only song most old school metal fans know of this band!
JL – “I still feel that Ride The Sky, at that time, was a very good rock song, and still think it is!”
But really, beyond the obvious lead off rocker and single, this album doesn’t let up, with side one being killer stuff, lengthy jams and guitar and Hammond organ interplay throughout this whole thing. Musically dark and very heavy. The title track is a spooky epic [listen to the first few minutes of this then check out Rush’s beginning to 2112], “Everybody’s Clown” was another standout rocker. “Ride The Sky” was issued as a single with the non album track “Horla” in some European countries, as was the lengthy title of “In The Time Of Job When Mammon Was A Yippie”. Peter Hecht [Hammond] and Peter Hesslein [guitar] comparing fairly to Blackmore & Lord in places. And what can be said about John Lawton!? His performance alone here should have him named right alongside the likes of Robert Plant, Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, etc… and frankly – he has surpassed them in his later years.
From Billboard [Nov ’73] – “Driving rock reminiscent to that of Led Zeppelin. Best example is the cut ‘Ride The Sky’.”
Lucifer’s Friend would sell 35 000 copies in the US alone.
The band’s albums up until 1976 were released in Canada and the US on various different small labels [Phillips, Vertigo, Passport, Billingsgate, Janus], often at different times.
JL – “I think a lot of the influences came from Sabbath, Purple, and lots of gothic stuff that was around at that time.”
Where The Groupies Killed The Blues was the band’s follow up in ’72 [but as with the first album – would not see a US release until 3 years later]. This album cut out a lot of the weight. The Hammond had been largely exchanged for piano, then add in strings and brass and more progressive arrangements, with elements of jazz and fusion [such as on the track “Mother”] all made for a much less heavy album. But song-wise this was a pretty fine album with the first half including rockers like “Hobo” and “Prince Of Darkness”, as well as fan favorite “Burning Ships”.
PH – “Burning Ships was one of our first acoustic songs, inspired from the Hamburg Harbor. Just before the recording date John was ill, I said ‘it doesn’t matter – ’cause sailors never have clear voices!'”
JL [from blastzoneonline] – “2nd Lucifer’s Friend album, very progressive I thought. Several lyrics written by a guy called John O’Brian Docker but a very strong album, got into the Billboard chart which was very good for an unknown German band.”
PH –” O’Brien-Docker wrote lyrics on the first 2 albums, it was a suggestion of the publisher [except Ride The Sky, Hobo, and Burning Ships].”
Mike Starrs – “Where The Groupies Killed the Blues [which was with John], was the biggest selling import album for that year [not sure which year early 70s] — sold almost 150000. Then the small indie label went bust. So nobody saw any monies etc.”
The band’s next album Banquet would be their most ambitious with lengthy numbers accompanied by full brass and string arrangements. A far distance from the band’s debut! “High Flying Lady – Goodbye” being the closest thing to a rocker here. Only the US edition would include “Our World Is A Rock n Roll Band”.
The album though remains a favorite among many fans, as well as Lawton – “Banquet was (if anything) – an experiment. We used brass and strings, and I think that probably the album was way ahead of it’s time. …. Banquet is still my favorite album. We never had the chance to perform that album live, and it would’ve been nice to pick a place and do the gig with the brass sections and the strings, and play the whole album.”
John Lawton on LF changing styles from album to album [from hit-channel.com] –
“I don’t think it was planned. It just happened. The guys would come along with the songs and the melodies. I would always come and write the lyrics and change the melodies around, and just worked out how it was. The only thing that we really wanted to do was the album Banquet, which we know straight away as soon we had the tracks of the songs, the basic songs how we wanted to do it. To present it with the brass section and the strings, and the songs were very complicated. That was my favorite album. After that people started saying that we did a fusion album, that it was too progressive, maybe they wanted it to be a little more rocky. Then we did Mind Exploding, when we tried to bring the band back to the more rock side of the things. It didn’t seem to work, but we never intentionally set out to write an album which would be rock or a jazz.”
JL [from blastzoneonline] – “Featured the brass section from the James Last Orch. Great songs only 6 of them, but great to record….A bit jazzy for some fans but it just showed how diverse we were.”
PH – “Banquet was a very interesting album because we played long songs live together and imagined an orchestra playing with us – which came later on.”
JL [on the album’s cover photos – which saw differed in some places for the front] – “The Banquet shot was done in an old graveyard in Hamburg which had an old Mausoleum…..was a bit of a spooky shot and I remember we were all aloud to have the leather suits made for us… Mine carried over for a while with Heep….doesn’t fit anymore now though. :-)”
Next up was the album “I’m Just A Rock N Roll Singer” in early 1973, with songs being cut down in length, a bit more back to rock here, a bit of r&b, jazz, while retaining a good bit of brass on some tracks. Includes a couple of standouts such as “Born OnThe Run”, the ballad “Lonely City Days”, and heavy-ish rocker “Mary’s Breakdown”. Hesslein’s playing on this album seems to be heavier and more dominant throughout, if only there were a few more heavy solid rockers.
From Billboard [June ’74] – “Straight rock set from this top rated German band. Fine vocals and sharp instruments. Best cut: ‘Born On The Run’.”
JL – “Lonely City Days” from R.n.R Singer – good song, I enjoyed singing that one. Yeah you are right this album got into the Billboard charts and kinda established a cult following in the U.S.”
JL – “Peter is a very technical guitarist. He has all the technical ability a guitarist could want…There’s not a chord in the book he doesn’t know – and he makes up his own! [laughs]”
Mind Exploding would be the last to feature John Lawton before his departure for Uriah Heep. This album from 1976 featured the band’s most memorable cover, and would be the most accessible to get in to for more mainstream rock fans. A bit progressive, more rock…
PH – “Over the years our musical influences were changing, so we worked with that in our songs. We all loved to melt different styles together. So I think the essence of it all came together on Mind Exploding.”
JL [from blastzoneonline] – “Back to the rock roots, and again a good album with some terrific musicianship from the band.”
JL [from fabricationshq.com] – “Mind Exploding was an excellent album as regards how the band delivered and there are some really good tracks on it. So, yeah, second on my Lucifer’s Friend list!”
JL – “Yesterday’s Ideals” just stands out for me….a great piece of musicianship from the guys.”
JL [on the album’s cover art] – “I seem to remember Peter Hesslein had something to do with this, I think it sprang from one of his ideas, he was very artistic.”
Mike Starrs – “Mind Exploding was very special, even the album cover.”
John Lawton [from balkanrock.com] – “I would think probably Lucifer’s Friend period from 1973 to 1975 – It’s probably my favorite, some of the best work that I’ve done was in that period. Then during Uriah Heep was ok, but I don’t consider it my best work. I did a solo album “Still Paying My Dues to the Blues” which I consider another piece of good work, it was well produced and the songs were good. I enjoyed making it. I did enjoy working with Uriah Heep, don’t get me wrong, but every musician has his favorite part of life, and Lucifer’s Friend is the period of time when we were very productive as a band.”
JL – “If I had not joined Heep I don’t think Lucifer’s Friend would’ve carried on because we were never really a touring band or a live band, which is a shame. But that’s the way it was. I earned my daily bread with Les Humphries and the rest of the guys had other things; Peter was playing with the James Last Orchestra. Everybody had other things going on, so it was more like a hobby than anything. It was just a case of getting together once every year and letting off a bit of steam, and doing something different.”
A compilation album titled ‘Devil’s Touch’ was issued is West Germany in late 1976. This was issued on Fontana and contained 10 tracks from drawn from each album, except the second one. It is significant for it’s lengthy and informative liner notes on the back cover.
Somewhere in there Lawton was also invited by Roger Glover to record a single with him and take part in the live performance of Glover’s ‘Butterfly Ball’.
He also missed a chance at the Deep Purple frontman opening a few years earlier – “When they were looking for someone to replace Ian Gillan I was invited to a jam session in Hamburg with Ritchie Blackmore. I was in the studio at the time, and by the time I got the message – it was too late to go to this jam session!”
As for his joining Heep, Lawton recalls – “I was surprised when Ken Hensley actually phoned me and asked if I’d come for an audition. I immediately went out and bought 3 albums to pick songs from to sing at the audition.”
Early on his career with The Les Humphries Singers, Lawton had sang “Look At Yourself” for one of the band’s albums of top hits covers.
Following Lawton’s departure, after the classic Mind Exploding album in 1976, the band carried on and recorded 2 further albums with Scottish singer Mike Starrs, ex of Colosseum 2 [with Gary Moore] and a solo artist.
PH – “As John went to Uriah Heep, we had changed record companies, that was only possible as a ‘live’ band. So we looked for a lead singer. We met Mike Starrs from Colosseum 2, and he joined us. We made 2 albums, and played live gigs and TV shows [Rockpalast, RockPop…]”
MS – “I was going through some personal problems and LF were looking for a replacement for John so I auditioned and went to Germany. I never really relocated, more so commuted to and fro.”
The band signed with WEA records and their next album was Good Time Warrior, released in September of ’78. Lucifers Friend turned towards a more mainstream rock direction, with pop leanings. Gone were the brass and strings and lengthy numbers, and in were more conventional rock songs, riffs, more guitar, modern keyboards, backing vocals, catchy choruses, a mix of rockers, a few ballads, and the odd progressive epic. Despite it’s change in personnel and direction I really like this album, although I’m sure many may pass this era up – Good Time Warriors is well worth checking out. Tracks such as the ballad “My Love” and the 10 minute progressive epic “Warriors” highlight this period for the band, and really could be included among Lucifer’s Friend’s ‘best’. But I enjoy everything here [a very accessible album] with rock tracks like “Sweet Little Lady”, “Gamblin Man”, “Old Man Roller”, and the more pop driven “I’ll Meet You In LA” [great hook].
MS – “Good Time Warrior was recorded in Jan Akkerman’s [Focus] Studio in Holland. We rehearsed for approximately 6 weeks in a farmhouse near the East Sea. The music was a combined effort all the lyrics were penned by me.”
MS – “With GTW we were unsure about which direction we were heading so on reflection it was a wee bit of trial and error. So from ‘Meet You In LA’, which was very poppy to ‘Warriors’, which was a little bit more progressive – you can see we were still looking for a style which suited my voice..
..Regarding radio play we had some radio and tv shows with ‘Good Times’, ‘Sneak Me In’ and ‘Stardancer’.”
MS – “The other voice on ‘Warriors’ is Peter Hesslein. Peter V. Asten was co-producer; I also think he was co- owner of the studio with Jan Akkerman.”
Sneak Me In released July, 1980 was even more commercial and pop directed.
MS – “Sneak Me In” was recorded in Hamburg, it was a similar arrangement regarding the music but by now we had another keyboard/Guitarist in the band called Adrian Askew so we both wrote the lyrics. [Adrian comes from Sheffield, England and is now gigging with The Clem Clempson Band. Adrian & myself left LF.]”
MS – “As before we still didn’t really have the right mix with our material from the very poppy ‘Goodbye Girls’ to the more rocky ‘Foxy Lady’ and then the more progressive ‘Cosmic Crusader’. We were looking for radio friendly tracks, which unfortunately, we didn’t find.”
MS – “LF didn’t really have any major success even though WEA were 100% behind us; they put us on 2 major European tours supporting MM’s Earthband and Van Halen, and The Scorpions…We never played America/ Canada… The tour we did with the Earthband was a lot of fun and Rockpalast was a big highlight for me simply because I think every major act has played Rockpalast…
My Favorite songs from this time would be Burning Ships, My Love and Foxy Lady… My favorite was Good Time Warrior.”
MS [shares a road tale from opening for Van Halen] – “Van Halen were great live but Mr Roth had a bit of a problem with me. He came into our dressing room before one of our shows with his bodyguard and insisted that I didn’t jump off the drum riser, as that was his thing. I explained that as I couldn’t jump half as high as he could I didn’t think I was spoiling his show. Anyway, his bodyguard was standing in the front row looking very intimidating as I made my first jump of the evening. Eddie did apologize the next evening.”
MS – “The reason I left was basically WEA had spent all they were prepared to spend on L.F. And I have to say it was a lot. I had commitments, so as I said Adrian and myself left and went on to form Toneband – which became relatively successful….Toneband had a top 20 hit with “Germany Calling”. We released 2 albums on Polydor – Germany Calling and The Tokyo Twist…Unfortunately, I don’t see any of the guys apart from Adrian we are in close contact. We are like brothers…
..In the 80s I met my “Partner In Crime” – Richard Rossbach we were together in a German band called Duisenberg we toured and recorded an album which unfortunately didn’t see any release. It was a hard time for Rock bands in Germany this was the New German Wave time a bit like the Punk era in England.
The 90s was relatively quiet for me I made one album with a guitarist called Ray Fenwick it was a bit country style. I worked clubs and small venues around England.
… I made one album with Lake – The Blast Of Silence . We toured extensively until I left in approximately 2009.”
Following his break from Uriah Heep, John Lawton reconnected with his former band-mates and released a solo album – Heartbeat [titled Hardbeat outside of North America], in early ’81. .
.JL – “Peter and I had a lot of songs in the can, which we’d written together over a period of years and hadn’t recorded. Peter suggested to me that it might be a good idea to put it down as a solo album, and not as a Lucifer’s Friend album. I said ‘ok’, but only on condition that you guys play on it.’ The only difference is that we used a guy called Curt Cress on drums, and he was a very good drummer, one of the best session drummers around in Germany…
I think the songs were a lot more poppier than anything Lucifer’s would’ve recorded, and that’s why it was easier to put it out under my name.”
Following that the band reconvened for a new Lucifer’s Friend album for WEA., and the under rated and barely promoted, straight ahead hard rocking Mean Machine was released October 1981
Mean Machine featured the single “Action”, as well as such cool guitar driven rockers “One Way Street to Heartbreak”, “One Night Sensation” [which bares a bit of similarity to “Ride The Sky”], “Fire and Rain” and “Hey Driver” -[ the latter 2 both featuring on the band’s 2 recent releases].
from Billboard – “Playing teutonic heavy metal, a particularly ponderous musical force is Germany’s Lucifer’s Friend… Though the band does not have the same manic energy as second generation metallers as AC/DC or Saxon, Lucifer’s Friend has all the riffs and poses down pat. Then it’s just a matter of going through the motions. Best cuts: ‘Cool Hand Killer’, ‘Fire And Rain’, ‘Action’.”
JL – “I was still under contract to RCA following on from my solo album.
The Mean Machine album was recorded in England, just outside of London. It was the first time the guys had ever recorded outside of Germany. we decided that we were going to do a rock album, without any experimentations, anything like that – just a straight forward rock album, and it was ok.
It wasn’t the best, but at least we did something different.”
PH: “Mike was a great guy, but we he had more of a softer voice than John. So my idea was getting harder again. Mike and Adrian Askew left the group to make pop music. John and I were still friends, so we thought making Lucifers Friend more heavy and harder, and it was good to have John back.”
JL – “After we recorded Mean Machine we went on the road promoting, and Andy [Dicke] took over from Dieter Horns. Although Dieter did record the album, he didn’t want to go on the road.”
PH: Mean Machine was a lack of record company support, because at the time success was going down, so the record company finished our contract.”
In the mid ‘90s Lawton and Hesslein got together to reform the band [as Lucifers Friend II – featuring John Lawton], this line up also included Andreas Dicke and keyboard player Jogi Wichmann .T he album Sumo Grip was released in 1994 on Castle. It was a fairly pop driven album, but included the stand out rocker “Heartbreaker”, as well as few good cuts in “Sheree” and “Any Day Now”.
JL – “It was the same old situation – Peter and I had written some songs, which we thought we would like to record, and we had some time to do it. … I flew over to Hamburg to record the vocals, a couple of times.”
PH: “I had a friend in the Castle Records company. He had the idea for making Sumo Grip” as a ‘little’ comeback with John and I – Lucifer’s Friend 2.”
The album also featured 2 well known covers –
JL – “’Free Me’, it was felt that it would be good to do a connection between Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep, so Free Me came up and the record company said ‘yes – we would like the connection.’ I had no objections. It was ok. ‘Ride The Sky’ was because it was the very first single we ever put out. The idea to record that was purely off the cuff, and I think it worked.”
Sumo Grip was issued in the US as a John Lawton album with the pre fix “former Uriah Heep vocalist / Featuring Lucifers Friend”, with a totally different cover. The US version was also cut down to 10 tracks [from 16 + the intro], excluding the covered classics.
John Lawton would return to the Heep family and fans in the early ‘90s, as well as stepping in to sing on a tour of South Africa with the band in 1995. He has always been busy recording and performing, and his lengthy list of diverse projects and guest recordings over the years have kept fans extremely loyal and busy trying to keep up! In the 90s he recorded the debut album with German heavy metal band Zar, which was a follow up from the 80s album with Rebel [these were re-issued years ago as a 2 on 1 CD]. He also played regularly and recorded with his blues rock band Gunhill, reunited with Ken Hensley [ex of Uriah Heep] in 2000, guest’ with Uriah Heep a couple of times [via The Magicians Birthday Parties], and then went on to make a few solo albums, the John Lawton Band, and recorded with Steve Dunning [of the JLB]. In more recent years he has been as active as usual, recording with OTR [w/ Jan Dumee, ex of Focus], and with the Intelligent Music Project – the first or 2 ‘The Power of Mind was released as John Lawton & Diana Express. These were made in Bulgaria where Lawton has made a series of travel documentaries over the years.
JL – “Milen Vrabevski (the writer and producer of the POM) asked me to have listen to the songs to see if I was interested in singing the album in English. After a few spins, I thought yeah I can bring something to the table, let’s do it….Milen is a very nice guy, not only a good keyboarder but guitarist as well…. He does a lot of work for the underprivileged not only in Bulgaria but throughout the Balkans..[FairyTale] – Good song, and a stand out as a 1st single I suppose.. The video was shot in a club in Sofia / Bulgaria with the guys, interesting as it’s been a long time since I shot a video.”
In the same interview Lawton commented – “There have been some great combinations in the past and I have worked with some absolutely stunning musicians from the Lucifer’s Friend guys, Steve Dunning from JLB, and Jan Dumee on the OTR album. It’s never been a case of ‘well we have recorded something so let’s move on to something new’.
I am still in touch with all of these wonderful musicians and ones should never say never and I would love to work with all of them again, but I feel time is against us.”
Mike Starrs returned to a full album release this year with his project Partners In Crime and the CD “Crime Time”. Not in the same style as Lucifer’s Friend or Lake, but more upbeat pop stuff, well produced – complete with female backing singers, and a brass section.
MS – “The Partners In Crime album has turned out, in my opinion, a good example of where I am at this moment in time. We have already finished enough material for our follow up… All songs apart from the odd cover (‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’) are originals written by Rico & myself. Rico produces and has produced me for many years he has also produced many well known German acts.….My personal favorite’s are ‘Loving You’, ‘How Long’, ‘P.I.C.’ and ‘Shine On’ … ‘Trace’ was featured in the film Going Undercover starring Jean Simmons & Christopher Lemmon [son of Jack].
‘Shine On’ is a song about WW 2, with a message to the world that maybe we should ‘all shine on….’Our Set list comprises of all the material from the album and a few covers.”
In 2015 Lucifer’s Friend would return with a few new releases, as well as reunion shows [with Lawton], and 2016 has begun with a new live album and plans for a brand new studio album!
The ‘Live At Rockpalast’ CD & DVD release was taken from the well bootlegged show, featuring Mike Starrs on vocals.
MS – “I was contacted by Peter telling me Repertoire Records was interested in Re – Releasing The Rockpalast show and asking me how I felt about this, Of course I said yes, as it was. What I remember was a pretty good example of where we were at this stage of our careers.”
Asked if he’d ever consider recording something heavier Starrs responds –
“If the right material and musicians came along and I had some time out from PIC then never say never. But right now I’m a very happy man.”
A 2 CD compilation titled “Awakening” was also issued, with 1 disc of the band’s favorites [as picked via youtube stats!], and 1 disc containing 4 new studio songs featuring original members Lawton, Hesslein and Dieter Horns. The band then played a couple of live shows, most notably appearing at the Sweden Rock Festival; a show which was recorded and just released on CD. It is great sounding, energetic set of LF classics along with the new songs, especially “Pray” [the first song] – which all make for a long overdue and historic return for the band.
John Lawton – “This being only the second live concert since our reformation, we were all of course a bit nervous. However the crowd made us more than welcome and after the first few notes, the adrenalin kicked in and we were up and running. To play Sweden Rock Festival…one of the biggest festivals on the circuit was for us a great honour and one which we will hopefully repeat. This live album represents the band in full flow and with a new studio album planned in 2016, we hope to go on ‘Riding The Sky’”
The band is also set to tour with Lawton’s former band Uriah Heep in Japan in early 2016 [Should be interesting!]
To Purchase: Lucifer’s Friend LIVE @ SWEDEN ROCK 2015:
Amazon CD: http://geni.us/1niL
Amazon Digital: http://geni.us/pts
To purchase: Lucifer’s Friend AWAKENING:
Official Website: www.lucifersfriend.com
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucifersFriendOfficial
Hopefully a proper and Full CD re-issue of the band’s entire catalogue will be on the horizon as well, as the band’s albums have been sporadically and [some titles] numerously released on CD via Repertoire [a few most recently this year!], Howling Wolf, WEA, etc…
*For a great read and discussion on LF album’s I highly recommend checking this interview out! – http://jeffcramer.blogspot.ca/2014/04/a-very-candid-conversation-with-john.html
And this one – http://www.cuttingedgerocks.com/Lucifer’s%20Friend.html
This is a German interview with Peter Hesslein about his ‘60s playing days – http://www.bonds-live.de/dieband.html
*my 2002 interview with John regarding the Rebel & Zar projects! http://www.travellersintime.com/UniversalWheels/lwrz02.html
*by Kevin J., Jan 2015. Interviews by myself – 1997, 2013,2015. +from Heavy Metal Album Covers [book]. Thanks to John L, Peter H, Mike S, Billy James, and to Boris Shnitzer [for some of the images].