A British vocal group with an ambitious take on radio-friendly pop, the Family Dogg were formed in 1966 by producers, songwriters, and vocalists Steve Rowland and Albert Hammond. Rowland, born in Los Angeles in 1932, had already enjoyed a successful career as an actor in his teens before joining Los Flaps, a vocal group based in Spain. Rowland's work in Spain led him to the U.K., where he fell into record production, overseeing sessions for the Pretty Things, the Herd, and Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich. Hammond, meanwhile, was born in British Gibraltar in 1944, and was a member of a band called the Diamond Boys that found an audience in Spain, where he and Rowland first crossed paths in 1964.
After Rowland formed a production company with Ronnie Oppenheimer, Double R Productions, he became reacquainted with Hammond, who was in England and eager to collaborate with Rowland. Teaming with vocalists Mike Hazelwood, Doreen De Veuve, and Pam "Zooey" Quinn, Rowland and Hammond formed the Family Dogg, and in 1967 made their recording debut with a single for MGM, toplined by a cover of "The Storm" by the Bee Gees. After a few unsuccessful sides recorded for Fontana and a single released as a Steve Rowland solo disc, the Family Dogg finally landed a hit in early 1969 with the song "A Way of Life," the group's first single for Bell Records. In the wake of the hit, the Family Dogg began work on an album; the studio musicians for the project included Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham, months before Led Zeppelin took off, and a pianist named Reg Dwight, who would soon be heard from under the stage name Elton John.
The debut album, A Way of Life, appeared in 1969, and was dominated by artful cover interpretations, despite Rowland and Hammond's talents as songwriters. After the album appeared, Doreen De Veuve and Pam "Zooey" Quinn both left the Family Dogg, with Christine Holmes and Ireen Scheer signing on in their places. By this time, Rowland and Hammond were spending more time working with other artists, writing and producing Oliver in Overworld for Freddie & the Dreamers and launching a solo career for Irene Scheer. In 1970, the group's name changed to Steve Rowland & the Family Dogg, and they scored a hit in the Netherlands with the song "Sympathy." By 1972, the band had essentially become Rowland's studio project, as reflected in the title of their second and final album, The View from Rowland's Head. The View included a handful of songs from Sixto Rodriguez, who years later would be the subject of the award-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man; Rowland also produced Rodriguez's second album, 1971's Coming from Reality.
A final minor hit, 1976's "Uptown, Uptempo Woman," proved to be the group's last gasp. Hammond went on to a successful solo career as a performer and songwriter, while his son Albert Hammond, Jr. would also become a star as a member of the Strokes. Rowland, meanwhile, continued to work as a producer and label boss, and founded the dance music label Dr. Beat. A career-spanning Family Dogg collection, A Way of Life: Anthology 1967-1976, was released in 2014. ~ Mark Deming