RESPONSIBLE for one of the greatest live albums in the history of rock, UFO have never lost sight of why they started in the first place, and as keyboard and guitar player Paul Raymond tells Richard Bennett, they are still ready to rock.

British rockers UFO are no stranger to the turbulence of being in a band. Since forming way back in 1969 the group has gone through the usual ups and downs, various members coming and going, along with the repeated cycle of split ups and reunions. With the release of their latest album Seven Deadly, and a UK tour, including a gig at The Brook in Southampton tomorrow night, this bunch of rock ’n’ roll outlaws are not ready to roll over and die just yet.

“We are a band, we enjoy playing together and despite all the splits and troubles, we always find a way to sort things out and get back together”

says Raymond.

The current line-up features Raymond along with original members singer Phil Mogg and drummer Andy Parker, but at the moment there is no place for the band’s long-time bass player, Pete Way.

Raymond says: “Pete’s behaviour has always been a bit on the hard side, and it just got to the point where I think the drink became more important to him than the band, but as Phil says the door is always open for him to return. To us and the fans he is such an integral part of UFO.”

Originally formed as a space rock band, the arrival of ex- Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker in 1973 saw the band develop a harder rock sound.

Raymond says: “Schenker is such an amazing guitarist. He has to be one of the most technically brilliant players I have ever seen.

“The problems started when Michael started to believe what those close to him were saying about how fantastic and great he was. I mean, in his defence he was only a teenager when he joined the band, but I think his ego got bigger than the rest of the band put together, and when that happens with a bunch of guys like UFO, well things aren’t going to exactly go smoothly.”

Raymond joined the band in 1976 and a year later the group released what many consider the pinnacle of their studio output with Lights Out. But for many of the band’s loyal fans it is the 1978 live album Strangers In the Night that truly sets UFO apart from many other bands.

Recorded on their American and UK tour, the double album was the band’s biggest commercial success to date, reaching number seven the UK album charts.

With tensions between Sckenker and Mogg finally reaching the point of no return, the guitarist finally left to form The Michael Schenker Group.

By 1980 Raymond had also left UFO for the first time to join the Schenker group. But by 1984, the keyboard player was back in the fold, staying until the band called it a day in 1989.

The lay-off didn’t last long, and by 1992 the classic line-up of Mogg, Way, Raymond, Parker and Schenker were back.

But it wasn’t long before the old tensions raised their head again, resulting in Schenker’s departure halfway through a tour, although he was back once again by 2000, but left for the final time two years later.

Recruiting guitarist Vinne Moore and with the return of Parker on drums, the band have continued to deliver their special type of hardedged rock to old and new fans alike.