Van der Graaf Generator

Prog rockers formed in Manchester in 1967, named after Dr Robert J Van de Graaff (1901-67), of MIT; his electrostatic generator, patented in 1935, is a machine devised to produce a high voltage by means of a belt collecting electrostatic charge and transferring it to a metal dome. (You can pick up a nice one here.) The band, still performing more than 40 years later, were early fixtures on John Peel’s Radio 1 show and were the first act signed to the famous Charisma label.


“Three berks from Newcastle” who “invented black metal”, according to Q magazine. Black Metal (1982) was their second album. Its predecessor, Welcome to Hell, “brought a new meaning to the word cataclysmic” according to one reviewer. Songs include In League with Satan and One Thousand Days in Sodom. You get the idea. They received a memorable rejection letter from EMI.

The Verlaines

Fine post-punk band signed to the cult New Zealand independent label Flying Nun in the early 1980s. Took their name from the French poet Paul Verlaine, who also features prominently in their best-known song, Death and the Maiden (as does his lover, Rimbaud, whom he shot in a drunken rage in 1873). All together now: Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine, Verlaine …

Veruca Salt

Veruca Salt is the most spoilt of the spoilt brats in Roald Dahl’s 1964 story Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, played by Julie Dawn Cole in Mel Stuart’s 1971 film version and by Julia Winter in Tim Burton’s inferior 2005 remake. Nina Gordon and Louise Post adopted the name for the alt-rock band they formed in Chicago in 1992; here they are with All Hail Me. Gordon went solo in 1998, but the original lineup got back together and released their fifth album, Ghost Notes, in 2015.

The Vibratos

From Boston, led by future Three Dog Night singer Cory Wells, they moved to Los Angeles and became The Enemys.

The VIPs

Sixties R&B combo from Cumberland who changed their name to Art after Keith Emerson and Luther Grosvenor left to form The Nice. Art duly morphed into Spooky Tooth, among the hairiest and ugliest of all the 70s prog outfits.