It all began in the early 1970s when two young men sat down together in an Accrington pub and discussed forming a band.They were quickly joined by three others & Shabby Tiger was born.
Hailing from Blackburn in Lancashire, Shabby Tiger were Henderson Gibson (lead vocals) Toni Baker (keyboards, vocals) Steve Pickering (lead guitar, vocals) – replaced by Dave Almond (lead guitar, vocals, flute) Mike Ryan (bass, vocals) and Graham Fielden (drums).
The band started in 1970 playing the Northern club circuit and quickly went on to play some major venues in London, where they were spotted by Ben Findon who signed them to RCA records. In the same “stable”, were The Dooleys, Billy Ocean, & later, the Nolans. Their first single, “Slow Down” reached the top of the charts in Scandinavia, Holland, Belgium and Germany but failed to chart in the UK probably due to lack of plays on Radio One at the time, who seemed to have the monopoly on whether a record would be listed or not. There were numerous TV appearances on programmes like “Lift Off” and other pop shows of the time, whereas in Europe, the band did “Top Pop” the Dutch chart show nearly every week for about 2 months appearing with artistes as varied as “ELO”, “Pete Wingfield”, “Sweet”, “The Chanter Sisters”, “Hello” and “Thin Lizzie”. The band’s subsequent singles reached high positions once again in Europe, but still failed to reach any position in the UK charts again. After numerous successful tours of Scandinavia playing alongside “Sweet”, “Darts”, Suzi Quattro, “Thin Lizzie” etc the band finally gave up trying to get that elusive hit in the UK & finally disbanded in 1976 leaving 5 singles and one album to their credit, still they remain virtually unknown in the UK.
Strangely the album came in two different cover designs and UK catalogue numbers (RS 1065 with a partially clothed women holding a tiger mask in front of her face), and PL25046 with the more common cartoon tiger cover.
Singer Henderson Gibson, who was affectionately known as ‘Hendy’, was diagnosed with lung cancer and died aged 61 at home on March 26 2013. Henderson Gibson sang backing vocals for the Nolan Sisters, and Billy Ocean (who also guested on their album).
Toni now plays with 60s hit recording band, The Dakotas. Steve, Dave & Graham are both still performing live. Mike is working in film production.