Another one of Texas' wealth of interesting, late-'60s psychedelic bands, Christopher came together in 1968 in the Houston area. Doug Tull (drums), Doug Walden (bass, vocals), and Richard Avitts (guitar, vocals) were the original members of the band, which was originally known as United Gas. Tull and Avitts, at the time playing in a series of R&B and soul-leaning groups, first met in 1966 when Tull sat in on drums with one of Avitts' bands. Tull, however, was not as serious about the music as Avitts, leading to an eventual split. Tull developed a friendship around this time with Jefferson Airplane guitarist and Texas native Jorma Kaukonen, and, in 1967, invited Avitts to jam with them. Certain that they had the makings of a band, the two went searching for a bassist who could sing, eventually finding Doug Walden. It was not long before United Gas developed a following in and around Houston, playing local clubs such as Tangerine Forest, whose owner, Nick Lee, developed an interest in the band, eventually becoming their manager. Walden and Avitts began writing their own material and recorded a demo that Lee had circulated around Las Vegas and Los Angeles by his connections in those cities. United Gas moved to Las Vegas for a brief time and then to Los Angeles after L.A. record label Metromedia offered them a two-year contract. At the behest of Metromedia, the band changed their name to Christopher so that they wouldn't be confused with similarly monikered California band Pacific Gas & Electric. Walden and Avitts felt Christopher to be a religious band -- the name is derived from Saint Christopher -- and wanted to convey this through the music. Recording of their first album started in early 1969; however, it was hampered by Tull's drug use and his failed suicide attempt. He was fired (later returning to Houston and joining Josephus) and the sessioins were completed with drummers John Simpson and Terrence Hand. The result was Christopher's self-titled debut album, released in a single 1970 pressing of a thousand LPs by Metromedia. Walden and Avitts remained in Los Angeles playing as Christopher until Avitts returned to Houston later in the year.
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