It Bites was formed in 1982, when Egremont schoolfriends Frank Dunnery, Dick Nolan and Bob Dalton, met John Beck who came from Whitehaven, on the local Cumbrian gig circuit. After playing gigs at working men’s clubs and nightclubs locally for a year or so (briefly featuring a saxophonist, Howard ‘H’ Smith at one point), the band decided to call it a day. Frank moved to London, Dick and Bob had a short spell in Birmingham, and John went to Manchester where he’d been living previously.
Six months later, Bob, Dick and John met by chance on a Wednesday night in an Egremont pub, and the idea of reforming was discussed. Luckily Frank was also in town, so it was decided to give it another go, but this time in London - destination Peckham, where Frank had been squatting for the previous six months.
They settled into an empty council flat, with very little equipment – Frank had a 12 string acoustic guitar with only six strings, Dick had a Yamaha bass, John a Roland TR 606 drum box, a DX7, and a Yamaha mono synthesizer, plus a Hitachi stereo cassette recorder and a Panasonic cassette deck which the early demos were recorded on. After a year of rehearsing and recording in this ‘lo-fi’ way, the band pooled their Giros until they had enough to book 3 days at an 8-track studio in Camberwell. The resulting demos were hawked round all the record companies in London. After varying tactics, the band finally got in front of Martyn Mayhead at WEA Records. He liked what he heard (the demo of ‘All In Red’), and agreed to pay for rehearsal studio time so they could begin showcasing their songs as a live band, and help them get a recording contract. A few months later, they were polished enough to start convincing record companies that the band was an opportunity not to be missed, and they were signed up by Virgin Records.
The demo of ‘All In Red’ became their first single in March 1986, followed in June by ‘Calling All The Heroes’ which got a huge amount of radio play, plus TV appearances on Top Of The Pops, Wogan, and The Old Grey Whistle Test amongst others. This saw the song racing up the UK Top 40 singles chart and reaching number six. The following single 'Whole New World' also hit the charts, but not at such a high position.
Their debut album, ‘Big Lad In The Windmill’ followed in July 1986, which was produced by Alan Shacklock, and dented the album charts at number 35. The band toured with Go West, then Marillion in late 1987, and Robert Plant in early 1988.
The follow-up album ‘Once Around The World’ was released in March 1988 and showcased their more progressive musical influences, including the seminal title track which came in at just under 15 minutes. The album was recorded at the revered Manor Studios in rural Oxfordshire, produced by Steve Hillage. It produced the singles ‘Kiss Like Judas’ in February 1988, ‘Midnight’ in April 1988, ‘Old Man & The Angel’, and the band toured successfully across the UK, USA and Japan.
Eat Me In St Louis was released in 1989 and made quite a mark on the rock scene, with great reviews in Kerrang and Raw. Unfortunately, the singles released from the album didn't make a noted mark on the music charts despite 'Still Too Young To Remember' and 'Underneath Your Pillow' being released twice by Virgin, with new videos each time. Live, the band still proved themselves exceptionally popular, playing sell-out gigs across the UK, USA and Japan, and touring with Jethro Tull.
In 1990, Francis announced he was leaving It Bites. They were in the process of writing their fourth album in an attempt to break the American market but creative pressures became too much, and Francis chose to focus his sights on a solo career.
Thank you and Goodnight, a live recording,was the band’s last release which came out in August 1991 .
Bob, John and Dick tried to continue the band without Francis, recruiting Innocence Lost singer Lee Knott (who had previously supported It Bites on tour) as lead vocalist, and John Beck taking on the guitarist role, renaming themselves 'Navajo Kiss', and later 'Sister Sarah'. This formation didn't last long, and the band went their separate ways, each doing session work for a number of high profile musicians - John Beck playing keyboards for the Alan Parsons Project and John Wetton (of Asia fame), Dick Nolan playing bass for the Alan Parsons Project and Ray Davies, and recording with Tony Banks on his 1989 'Bankstatement' album, and Bob Dalton playing drums for John Wetton, Chris Norman and Ray Davies, as well as teaching at the Academy of Contemporary Music. John Beck and Dick Nolan also recorded an album under the name of 'Unicorn Jones' featuring David Banks formerly of 'Mummy Calls' who had success with a song featured on the Lost Boys soundtrack. Most recently, John and Bob also came together with Pete Trewavas (Marillion) and John Mitchell (Arena) in the band KINO, whose 2005 album 'Picture' was a huge success on the prog rock scene.
Francis moved to the USA and launched a solo career, recording six solo albums and touring around the world to his base of old and new fans. In August 2003, he held a fan club convention at the Union Chapel in London, and invited John, Dick and Bob along, culminating in them joining him on stage - for the first time in 13 years - to play acoustic versions of 'Hunting The Whale' and 'Still Too Young To Remember' to a highly receptive audience.
The following months saw the band get together in Cumbria to write some new songs, and run through old ones. However, with Francis having educational and family commitments in New York, it proved to be difficult to keep the momentum up after he returned to the US. After a year of no further action but continued interest from the fans, John and Bob approached Kino's singer and guitarist John Mitchell (a huge It Bites fan since his teenage years) and proposed reforming the band with him taking on Francis' role.
Now, a few months later, a UK tour has been announced for December, with a warm-up gig in Holland at the end of November, and several new songs composed and ready to be recorded by the band early next year. It Bites are back!
Since this was written tons has happened! The band toured successfully in 2006 releasing a live album. In 2008 Dick was replaced with Lee and in September 2008 the new album 'The Tall Ships' was finally released.