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Fat Mattress

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Biography

Fat Mattress are primarily known as the just-post-Jimi Hendrix Experience band of Noel Redding, putting out a couple of albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Jimi Hendrix connection was probably responsible for gaining Fat Mattress much of whatever attention they managed to attract. It might have been a double-edged sword, however, as Fat Mattress' music wasn't at all similar to what Redding had played with Hendrix, being in far lighter folk-rock, psychedelic, and early prog rock styles, and integrating plenty of vocal harmonies. Too, Redding wasn't a dominant figure in the band, though he was an important one; Fat Mattress was a true group effort, with fellow members Neil Landon and Jim Leverton writing about as much of their material as Redding did.

Fat Mattress formed in late 1968 shortly before Redding's ultimate departure from Hendrix's band. Redding had been frustrated to an extent in the Experience, playing bass although he had more experience as a guitarist, and barely being allowed to write anything on their records. Fat Mattress would open up more opportunities for him to both play guitar (and sing), and to record more original material. The rest of the band were, like Redding, from Folkestone in England. Singer Landon had done a stint in the Ivy League, and multi-instrumentalist Leverton had been in the backing band of Engelbert Humperdinck, where he met Fat Mattress' drummer, Eric Dillon.

Fat Mattress came to the attention of the music business quickly, not only via the mere presence of Redding, but also from playing support on an American tour by the Jimi Hendrix Experience (in which Redding would double as the Experience's bassist and Fat Mattress' guitarist). Polydor signed them, and their first album, issued in 1969, was very influenced by American west coast psychedelic and folk-rock bands, as well as British pop-psychedelic bands like Traffic (whose reedsman, Chris Wood, played flute on one of the tracks). At the end of the day, the album wasn't nearly as distinctive as the best acts in those styles, but it did contain some pleasant and accomplished work. It was also modestly successful, making number 134 in the U.S., with one of the songs, "Magic Forest," becoming a big hit in Holland.

Fat Mattress ran into problems soon after that, when they returned to America to do their own tour, completing only five of 30 planned dates before going back to England. A second album, the unimaginatively titled Fat Mattress 2, ran over the same ground as their debut did, but with less flair and distinction, remaining derivative and suffering in comparison with other bands using similar approaches. Having failed to graduate to the big leagues, the group broke up soon after that.

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