This popular UK act, which adeptly mixed soul and psychedelic/progressive styles, evolved from Jaymes Fenda And The Vulcans, one of several bands to secure a recording contract following their appearance on the televised contest, Ready Steady Win. Former Vulcans songwriter John Ford (b. 1 July 1948, Fulham, London, England; bass) joined members of R&B band Five Proud Walkers, which included Dave Terry (vocals/guitar), Colin Forster (guitar) and Richard Hudson (b. Richard William Stafford Hudson, 9 May 1948, London, England; drums). The new unit was named Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera, in honour of lead singer Terry's stage garb modelled after the preacher in the 1960 movie Elmer Gantry. Their excellent 1967 debut album included the pulsating "Flames', which, despite regular appearances on BBC Radio 1"s Top Gear, failed to become a hit.
Growing disagreements over musical direction led to the departure of Gantry and Forster. The remaining members truncated their name to Velvet Opera, added Paul Brett (guitar) and John Joyce (b. 1933, England, d. February 2004, England; vocals) to the line-up, and recorded Ride A Hustler's Dream. The album lacked the purpose of its predecessor, save for the excellent "Anna Dance Square". The quartet fell apart when Hudson and Ford joined the Strawbs, with whom they remained until 1973. Having written several of the band's most commercial offerings, the duo then left to pursue their own career as Hudson-Ford. By 1974, Gantry was fronting a band which, until checked by litigation, accepted illicit bookings as "Fleetwood Mac" while the genuine article were off the road. A year later, Gantry emerged once more as singer on Stretch's solitary UK chart entry, "Why Did You Do It?", before going on work with the Alan Parsons Project and Cozy Powell. Former member Colin Forster briefly worked with a new line-up of Velvet Opera in the early 70s.