Opal Butterfly
(Left to Right) Alan Love - Richard Bardey (top) - Simon King - Robbie Milne - Tom Doherty

Cardboard Heaven
Line-up (Left to Right) : Roger Warner (bass); Robbie Milne (guitar); Simon King (drums); Alan Cobb (centre, keyboards) and Den and Stu (front, vocals).

Opal Butterfly was born out of Cardboard Heaven who were an Oxfordshire based band (circa 1967), playing mainly local clubs and dance halls, the group's set contained mostly soul and R&B standards.

Opal Butterfly
Later that year Simon King formed Opal Butterfly inviting old band member Robbie Milne along the way. Robbie had previously worked with a local Dicot group whose most notable member was Arthur Brown who was then a student at Reading University. The remaining line-up was made up with Allan Love (vocals); Richard Bardey (bass) and Tom Doherty (guitar). Tommy : "The name came about when I was looking at a butterfly on my wall in a case, but Butterfly by itself was a bit dull, so we thought of something more colourful".

Cardboard Heaven
Opal Butterfly CBS Records

Before signing with CBS, the band did two demo tracks (covers) at a studio in London, "I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night" and "Wind Up Toys". From a music paper of the time:

In fact, these young men were participating in an exercise new to the pop world. They were commuting to a rehearsal room to spend their whole day practising and composing. They have spent a solid six months doing just this every day. Not once have they made a public appearance. The aim, I am told, has been to create an original and unusual stage act - "A fresh musical experience".

Their first official recording was "Beautiful Beige/Speak Up", released in 1968, described in the press as a "crisp debut" and an "amiable slice of harmony pop psychedelia". From the beginning, Opal Butterfly were managed by Geoff Hibberd and Bernard Cochrane, represented by Starlight Artistes and publicity was handled by Brian Longley.
Opal Butterfly's second single was a cover of the Who's "Mary Anne with the Shaky Hand", with the rather famous "My Gration Or?", clocking in at a whopping 7 minutes, 27 seconds. "Mary Anne..." was described in the press as "opting for a more energetic and grandiose approach than the Who's own rendition".
As a point of interest, Alan Cobb of Cardboard Heaven guested on this session and on 'Beautiful Beige' there was a session man on harpsicord.
OB toured throughout 1969 and 1970, playing around 90 minute sets including covers of 'Sunshine of Your Love'; 'My White Bicycle'; 'Flames' and 'The Great Banana Hoax' . Their live performance at the time was closer to 'My Gration Or?' and the two demos (mentioned above) than the two singles suggested.
Opal Butterfly

In 1969, the band split and Robbie formed another Opal Butterfly line-up with replacement musicians, namely Ray Owen (vocals, also of Moon and Juicy Lucy), Davy O'List (guitar), XX (bass) and Mike Burchett (drums) but this line-up only lasted a short while because Tommy and Simon formed their own version of Opal Butterfly....

Groupie Girl

With the new Opal Butterfly line-up, briefly including Lemmy (guitar, also later of Hawkwind and Motorhead) and then Ray Major (guitar), and Tommy changing to bass they recorded a third single, "Groupie Girl / The Gigging Song" on Polydor and also appeared briefly in the B movie "Groupie Girl" (Directed by Derek Ford and starring Esme Johns; Billy Boyle; Richard Shaw and Donald Sumpter), Lemmy incidently had been kicked out of the band before the single and film.

Around 1970, the group finally split up and went their separate ways, with Simon moving on to Hawkwind, after an introduction from Lemmy.

Fine ChinaFine China
Meanwhile Robbie joined the 'New Look Soul Band' who were later to become Fine China.
Fine China were a six-piece soul band based primarily in London but spent most of their time touring in Germany. Formally called the New Look Soul Band, they changed the name due to mainly Robbie's Opal Butterfly influences towards a heavier style of music (namely Jeff Beck; Jethro Tull and Cream styled numbers).
They never recorded any singles and were an excellent live band, the most notable member being Michael Barrymore on keyboards.
Their line-up from left to right were Robbie (guitar); Mike Holmes (sax and flute); Bob Hardy (sax); Allan Shephard (bass); John Moore (vocals and drums) and Micky Parker (keyboards). The group split up in 1971.

Hear the Opal Butterfly sounds : HERE
Contact Robbie Milne :

Many thanks to Robbie for the help in getting this page set-up, much appreciated!!

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