Plastic Penny

NME Jan 68

Mick Grabham, Brian Keith, Nigel, Tony Murray, Paul Raymond
New Musical Express, January 27, 1968

Thanks Jen!

Jackie mag

Paul Raymond, Mick Grabham, Brian Keith, Nigel Olsson, Tony Murray
Jackie magazine, March 30, 1968

Nigel was the drummer for the British group Plastic Penny from their debut gig on Boxing Day, December 1967 through 1969. He was also the primary backing vocalist, and was given lead vocal duties on a few memorable numbers such as the group's most interesting take on Elvis Presley's "Hound Dog," and Three Dog Night's "Celebrate." Plastic Penny released 2 albums during their short lifespan: Two Sides Of A Penny in 1968, and Currency in 1969 after the amicable departure of lead vocalist Brian Keith. In early 1968 they had a big British hit with "Everything I Am," sung by Keith, and strived to replicate that success the rest of their short career. They supported Jefferson Airplane at the first Isle of Wight Festival (along with labelmates The Mirage) in 1968. After the group parted ways their last album, Heads I Win, Tails You Lose was released in 1970. This was a compilation album featuring the best of their work and some hard-to-find songs.

Suit and tie

Nigel flanked by Tony Murray and Mick Grabham
This appeared in the "Scraps" booklet included with Elton John's Captain Fantastic

Penny in Cashbox

Cashbox magazine
Nigel says: "No irons in those days!"

Thank you to Jim L. for donating this to the NOFC


Two Sides front Two Sides back

Two Sides of a Penny
1968 Page One Records POLS 005

Everything I Am vocal Brian
Wake Me Up vocal Paul
Never My Love vocal Brian (originally performed by The Association)
Genevieve vocal Brian
No Pleasure Without Pain My Love vocal Brian
So Much Older Now vocal Brian
Mrs. Grundy vocal Paul
Take Me Back vocal Brian
I Want You vocal Nigel
It's a Good Thing vocal Brian
Strawberry Fields Forever vocal Paul (originally performed by The Beatles)

Additional tracks on CD release (1993 Repertoire Records REP 4368)
Nobody Knows It vocal Brian
Happy Just To Be With You vocal Brian

Currency front

1969 Page One Records POLS 014

Your Way To Tell Me Go vocal Paul
Hound Dog vocal Nigel
Currency (instrumental)
Caledonian Mission vocal Paul (originally performed by The Band)
MacArthur Park vocal Paul (originally performed by Richard Harris)
Turn to Me vocal Paul (John-Taupin)
Baby You're Not To Blame vocal Paul
Give Me Money vocal Paul
Sour Suite (instrumental)

Additional tracks on CD release (1993 Repertoire Records REP 4369)
She Does vocal Paul
Celebrity Ball vocal Nigel
(a/k/a "Celebrate," originally performed by Three Dog Night on Suitable for Framing,
which also featured Elton John's "Lady Samantha.")

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

Hound Dog
She Does
Turn to Me
Caledonian Mission
Your Way to Tell Me Go
Celebrity Ball
Baby You're Not to Blame
I Want You
Take Me Back
Genevieve new version, vocal Paul
Give Me Money

Rarities front

The Best of and Rarities
2003 Repertoire Records REP 4766

Everything I Am
Nobody Knows It
Your Way to Tell Me Go
Hound Dog
She Does
No Pleasure Without Pain
Happy Just To Be With You
Baby You're Not to Blame
Genevieve (B-side version)
Tutto Quel Che Ho (Everything I Am)
Guarda Nel Cielo (Nobody Knows It)
MacArthur Park
Strawberry Fields Forever
Mrs. Grundy
I Want You
It's a Good Thing
Give Me Money
Sour Suite
Celebrity Ball

Penny in Paisley

Penny with red background

Penny in newspaper

'Your Way' single

'Nobody' single

large Rarities cover

Penny in coats

Norwegian single

Thanks to Koji in Japan for sending this!

Fan club info
Thanks to Koji in Japan for sending this!

Post-Brian promo photo

Post-Brian Keith promotional photo


Thanks to Janelle for sending this!

ad for 'Your Way...'

Thanks to Janelle for sending this!

Troggs ad


According to Disc and Music Echo dated 10 February 1968, Nigel was "rushed to hospital last week to have stiches inserted in his face following an incident at the Eastcote Clay Pigeon Club. A member of the audience smashed Nigel in the face with a broken bottle during the group's second number, and later in the evening the dance promoter was beaten up." Wow, rough crowd!

Guitarist Mick Grabham was Nigel's school mate in Sunderland, and he and Nigel auditioned together in London for the Penny. Mick later played in Cochise (with legendary pedal steel guitarist B.J. Cole, who played on Elton's Madman Across the Water), and in 1973 he replaced Robin Trower in Procol Harum. (Another Elton John/Procol Harum connection is through Dee Murray, who filled in for bassist Chris Copping on the "Something Magic" tour in 1977.) His solo album Mick the Lad (1972) features Nigel on drums.

Bassist Tony Murray (no relation to Dee) later appeared on all of the tracks on Elton John's Empty Sky, and went on to play with the legendary Troggs. Never noted in Elton John lore: Tony once told NOFC President Noreen that Elton asked him to join his nascent 3-piece band before asking Dee, but Tony turned Elton down because "I just didn't see him going anywhere." Ouch.

Brian Keith can be heard on the original studio version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Keyboardist Paul Raymond later played with Michael Schenker's UFO.

More on Plastic Penny:
Procol Harum: Beyond the Pale
Plastic Penny page in Italian