TOM MURRAY - Drums, Percussion Instruments
Originally born in Cleaveland Ohio in 1948, Tom Murray moved to Richfield, Minnesota with his parents when he was still a young boy. By the time he was 8 years old he had already begun to play the drums. Actually he only had a snare drum to practice on. It would be six more years before he would have a complete drum set. Inspired by his idol, Gene Krupa, he quickly learned how to coordinate the rest of the drum set with the snare and it wasn't long before he sounded like a pro.
Tom did his share of jamming with other musicians while he was attending Edina High School but it wasn't until he auditioned for "The Litter", and got the job, that he considered himself a professional.
With "The Litter" Tom Murray, just out of school and on his own for the first time, got an education in life as the band traveled the United States and Canada. Tom spent those early years with the group fine tuning his style. He tried a lot of different beats and listened to a lot of Rock records, particularly "English" releases. He learned as he listened to great drummers like Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, John Bonham and Mitch Mitchell. Playing gigs on the same bill with groups like "Cream" didn't hurt either as Tom got to watch many big name drummers in action.
Since "The Litter" put on a very exciting stage show including the use of lights, fire and smoke, Murray learned quickly the importance of stage presence and showmanship. He developed a unique handling of his drumsticks, flipping them in the air, twirling them around and throwing them into the crowd gathered in front of the stage. With his long hair flying as he moved his head up and down to the music, he would go into long drums solos utilizing all his cymbals and every drum piece to the maximum. The Murray drum solo would always be, and still is, a highlight of any "Litter" concert.
The more the band played the better Tom became on his drums. By the time the band was opening for groups like "Led Zeppelin" in the late '60's and early '70's, Tom Murray could hold his own with the best of them.
By 1970 to '71 "The Litter" had already undergone a few member changes and when Jim Kane finally left the group, Tom Murray took over as leader. He not only planned the group's direction and kept it going, but became involved with the bookings as well.
With Murray as a driving force behind the band, "The Litter" managed to squeeze out another year, but by 1972, the ride was over.
Tom Murray had no intention of giving up. He immediately formed a new band called "Straight - Up". It was about this time that Murray got together with a promoter friend and began booking bands as well. Through Schoen Productions he was not only able to learn the booking business but was also able to keep "Straight - Up" playing on a regular basis. Eventually recording a single, covering a tune by "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown", the record Fire became a local hit.
In the meantime Tom was learning how to promote and market groups as he pushed "Straight - Up" into the local limelight. At one point the group incorporated smoke, fire, lights, movie screens and Android costumes into their stage show. They had a semi-truck hauling their equipment and band members would arrive at venues in a limousine. For awhile it looked as though the band was going to make it. They had a big following and Murray, through his connections and years of experience, was finally able to get a major record label interested in signing the band . During negotiations with Warner Bros., communications between certain band members and Warner's began to break down as ridiculous demands were being made by the group. Becoming disgusted and extremely upset with the situation, Tom decided to pull the rug out from underneath them and had the deal cancelled.
As the '70's reached the half way mark, things were beginning to wind down for the group and Murray's desire to devote his efforts full time to promoting and booking led him to open his own agency. For the rest of the '70's Tom booked and managed many groups, but the closest he got to repeating "The Litter's" success was with a band called "U.S. Kids". He not only promoted them but could also be found filling the seat behind the drum set. But by now Murray was feeling let down by the business he loved so much. After selling his agency he moved away from Minneapolis in the early '80's. It would be almost ten years before he would finally return to his home town.
Traveling first to LA and then to Las Vegas, Murray finally settled in Denver, Colorado. It wasn't long before he became very successful in the Denver area doing what he knew how to do best, playing drums and promoting bands. His own group "The Electric Playground" fast became the #1 draw in Denver and the surrounding area. Building a huge following, the band was consistently able to pack the local clubs whenever they appeared. Eventually they found their way into the recording studio, sandwiching sessions in between their busy schedule.
The album was a success locally but Tom was having difficulty getting major labels interested in picking it up for national release. Unable to cut a deal, the group continued to play in and around Denver until early in 1990 when Tom Murray received the shock of his life.
Finally tracked down, after a long search by "Zippy" Caplan and Denny Waite, he was presented with the opportunity to be a part of "The Litter" again. Amazed at the renewed interest in the group he agreed to be a part of a "Litter" reunion. Still having bookings to fulfill with "Playground", Tom requested tapes be sent to him with "The Litter" material planned for the event. In the meantime, the rest of "The Litter" began to rehearse the concert show using Steve Fine as a substitute drummer for Murray.
Eventually Tom was able to arrive in Minneapolis in plenty of time to run the show through a few rehearsals before the big night. The combination of a successful reunion concert and the reissuing by K-Tel of both Distortions and $100 Fine was all the group needed to confirm what had been running through their minds - keep the group going and record a new album. Murray was as much in favor of this as everyone else and returned to Denver to finish out the remaining "Electric Playground" bookings.
By April of '91 he was back in Minneapolis and in the recording studio cutting a Demo tape of new "Litter" originals. Another reunion show was planned, this time at First Avenue (formerly The Depot) in downtown Minneapolis. "The Litter" plugged the reissue of $100 Fine and had a great time doing it, but things weren't going as planned. Since the Demo tape had failed to land them a new record contract and with summer coming on, it was decided the band should take a breather in order to regroup and write new material.
Tom once again returned to Denver. It was during this hiatus that Caplan, Waite, Don Larson ("Gypsy") and Mick Stanhope came up with enough new material to do an entire album. While working with Paul Stark (Twin Tone Records) the suggestion was made that the band would stand a better chance of success if it was jobbing on a regular basis. This would give the group more exposure and hopefully perk record label interest.
Realizing he needed to move back to Minnesota to accomplish this, Tom began making arrangements to tie things up in Denver. "The Litter" was also in need of a bass player and keyboardist to replace Woody Woodrich and Denny Waite who weren't able to travel. Tom suggested his two friends from "Electric Playground", Rick Ottum on bass and Bob Hood on keyboard and second guitar. Murray also suggested that "Zippy" Caplan contact Mark Gallagher to take over for Mick Stanhope who had decided to stick with his acting career.
Meanwhile "Zip" Caplan had gone to his old friend Joey Molland ("Badfinger") and asked him to produce the new album. Joey agreed and with Caplan funding the project "The Litter" recorded Re-Emerge in November and December 1991.
Tom Murray was now living in Minneapolis as the group began to tour and in fact it was Murray who set up the dates the group played in Denver. After playing "Mirage" once more in August 1992, the group satisfied what few bookings remained. "The Litter, still unsuccessful in securing a new record deal, disbanded again.
Murray returned to Denver one last time where he remained until late 1993. He told "Zip" Caplan he was moving to Atlanta believing it would be a good place to get a new start. Tom moved back to Denver, in the late 90's joining a country group, and winning the Colarado Country Music Hall of Fame award for drumming.
Currently Tom has joined the group Red Rock Roosters and is in the process of recording the bands second CD for European release.