Band HistoryBand History


It Bites was formed in 1982, when Egremont schoolfriends Frank Dunnery, Dick Nolan and Bob Dalton, combined forces with John Beck from Whitehaven. After playing gigs at working mens’ clubs and nightclubs locally for a year or so (briefly featuring a saxophonist, Howard ‘H’ Smith) and not progressing as much as theyd have liked to, 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 and Dick had a Yamaha bass. John had a Roland TR 606 drum box, a DX7, a Yamaha mono synthesizer, a Hitachi stereo cassette recorder and a Panasonic cassette deck, and it was on these that the early demos were recorded. After a year of rehearsing and recording in this ‘lo-fi’ way, the band pooled their Giros until they had enough to book three days at an 8-track studio in Camberwell. The resulting demos were hawked round various record companies in London and after varying tactics, the band finally got in front of Martyn Mayhead of Modern Media. He liked what he heard (the demo of ‘All In Red’) agreed to become their Manager and paid for rehearsal studio time so they could begin showcasing their songs as a live band in order to get signed. Shortly after 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 peaking at number six in the August. The following single 'Whole New World' also hit the charts and became a modest hit. Their debut album, ‘Big Lad In The Windmill, produced by Alan Shacklock, was released at this time and made the Top 40 album charts. Support slots with Go West and Marillion followed.

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 and 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 and notably supporting Robert Plant.

Eat Me In St Louis was released in 1989 marking a rockier sound for the band. Live, they 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 continued to play together as a band, originally under the moniker Navajo Kiss, then changing their name to Sister Sarah. They recruited Innocence Lost singer Lee Knott (who had previously supported It Bites on tour) as lead vocalist, and John Beck took on the guitarist role. The line-up eventually went their separate ways with each doing session work for a number of high profile musicians. John Beck played keyboards for the Alan Parsons Project and John Wetton (of Asia fame), Dick Nolan played bass also for the Alan Parsons Project, plus Ray Davies, and he also recorded with Tony Banks on his 1989 'Bankstatement' album. Bob could be found playing drums for John Wetton, Chris Norman and Ray Davies, as well as teaching at the Academy of Contemporary Music. John and Dick also recorded an album under the name of Unicorn Jones featuring David Banks (who’d had success with a song featured on the ‘Lost Boys’ soundtrack). A few years later, John and Bob joined forces with Pete Trewavas (Marillion) and John Mitchell (Arena, the Urbane) in the band Kino, whose 2005 album 'Picture' was a huge success on the prog rock scene.

Francis, meanwhile, had relocated to the USA and launched a successful 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, but with Francis having educational and family commitments in the US it proved impossible to maintain the momentum. After a year or so, boyed by continued interest from the fans, John and Bob approached their Kino bandmate, John Mitchell, and proposed reforming the band with him taking on Francis' role. John Mitchell had been a huge It Bites fan since his teenage years and accepted the offer. Within months, new songs were in the process of being written and the new look It Bites toured for the first time in late 2006.

A record deal with Inside Out was announced and ‘The Tall Ships’ became the new line-up’s first studio offering, attracting a number of new fans. Regular tours followed in the UK, Europe and Japan plus the release of two live albums, ‘When the Lights Go Down’ and ‘This Is Japan’. This was followed by their next studio album, the critically acclaimed ‘Map Of The Past’.

Currently, Dick Nolan is still on the music scene and Bob is very busy producing It Bites merchandise for an ever-loyal fan base. John Mitchell continues his work as Producer and owner of Outhouse Studios, playing with Arena and Kino, and fronting his brainchild project, ‘Lonely Robot’. John Beck is accompanying Fish (Marillion) on a very successful European tour.