The principal players in the South London-based band Killing Floor originally met while playing in a blues band called the Loop. During the British blues boom of 1968-1969, lead guitarist Mick Clarke and vocalist/harmonica player Bill Thorndycraft decided to form a “straight blues” group, recruiting prospective members from the classified pages of Melody Maker. Joining them were piano player Lou Martin, bassist Stuart MacDonald, and drummer Bazz Smith. Taking their name from Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” (Wolf’s cover was itself a version of Robert Johnson’s “The Lemon Song”), the band played just one gig before ex-Radio Caroline DJ and ardent blues fanatic John Edward offered to manage them. Edward’s connection with the Southern Music publishing company led to them signing with Southern’s Spark Records imprint. The band was booked into Pye Recording Studios and with Edward aboard as “producer,” they recorded their self-titled debut in 12 days’ time. Most of the material was re-configured Chicago blues classics, except for a cover of Willie Dixon’s “You Need Love.” Killing Floor was released in the U.S. on new London subsidiary Sire. Meanwhile, Edward booked the band gigs at Dunstable’s California Ballroom, where they supported Ten Years After, Jethro Tull, Chicken Shack, and the Herd, to name a few. He also helped them get gigs at the Marquee, where they supported Yes and the Nice, and in 1969, they also toured with Texas bluesman Freddy King on two U.K. tours, which helped further their growing reputation.
The band also appeared on all the contemporary British radio rock shows and toured solidly around the U.K. Lou Martin left after the release of Killing Floor and a handful of BBC Radio sessions and the group continued as a four-piece band. There were additional lineup changes in 1970-1971, at which point the group included ex-Juicy Lucy vocalist Ray Owen, drummer Rod D’Ath, and bassist Mick Hawksworth (ex-Fuzzy Duck/Andromeda/Ten Years Later). A second Killing Floor album, Out of Uranus, was released in 1971 on Penny Farthing Records, this time with executive producer/label honcho and the Troggs’ manager Larry Page overseeing the sessions. By mid-1972, Killing Floor had disbanded. The various members became Toe Fat and began backing Cliff Bennett. Thorndycraft retired from music and Bazz Smith continued to play in jazz trios. McDonald formed a band called Peace (with ex-Free vocalist Paul Rodgers) before returning to his native Wales and playing in local bands. Former piano player Martin joined Rory Gallagher’s band, toured with Chuck Berry, and later played with Blues ‘N’ Trouble. In 1974, guitarist Mick Clarke formed legendary pub rockers S.A.L.T. with “Little” Stevie Smith. In 1983, he had his own group, the Mick Clarke Band, who have released numerous LPs. Both Killing Floor albums have been reissued by Repertoire Records and See for Miles (the first album was retitled Rock the Blues). In 2002-2003 the original 1968 lineup of the band reassembled to record the album Zero Tolerance (the first new Killing Floor recording in over 30 years), released by the Appaloosa label in 2004. They have appeared in concert in Europe since then, and started work on their fourth album in 2011.