The earth has travelled a few dozen rotations around the sun since Al Ross & The Planets first formed in 1983. Based in London, the group was originally a trio of musicians: Al Ross (real name Alan Ramirez) on lead vocals and bass guitar, Alex Mungo on keyboards and vocals, and Paul Freeney on drums. With the assistance of a variety of local guitarists, The Planets became a fully-committed live combo with setlists drawn from hits by such popular acts as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, as well as the gritty blues and soul catalogues of Stax/Volt and Atlantic Records.
In late 1985, Alex departed the band to become a touring keyboardist in the London pop group Then Jerico. As a result, The Planets went on hiatus until 1990 when Al, Paul, and new members Steve Hopwood (guitar), Bert Routledge (keyboards), and Dave Brammer (saxophone) started performing concerts. In 1992, Alex rejoined, and two years later his older brother Julian also joined as a guitarist.
The Planets were a consistent presence on the UK live circuit throughout the 1990s. They raised the roofs of such storied London venues as The Camden Palace, The Brahms and Liszt, The Half Moon, and The Roadhouse. Time Out London declared “catching a live show by The Planets is one of the best nights out in London.”
Eventually, The Planets began to integrate original tunes into their live sets. One of the first songs Ross and Mungo co-wrote was “My Love for You,” which appeared years later on the first Al Ross & The Planets album, The Planets One. By 1998, the pair were collaborating on a more regular basis, and during this period they created the frameworks for “Crossroads,” “Faith,” and “All the Things We Started,” all of which surface on the second album.
By 2001, the band was winding down.
“We started out as young, carefree musicians who just wanted to play great music to appreciative audiences and have a wild time,” explains Al. “Around the time that we really became serious about writing our own songs, our plans were indefinitely put on hold due to job commitments.”
Fate would bring the band back together in 2007. One aspect of Al’s day-to-day job was events planning, and he had booked a Norwegian band to perform at Liverpool’s famed Cavern Club. At the last minute, the band dropped out, so Al gave a call to his former bandmates. The Planets reformed, now with George E. Well on guitar, and went down a storm that night. A handful of “one-off” dates would continue over the next year, including gigs in Frankfurt and Chicago.