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Gryphon (band)

Gryphon (band)

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Gryphon were a British progressive rock
Progressive rock
Progressive rock is a subgenre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s as part of a "mostly British attempt to elevate rock music to new levels of artistic credibility." John Covach, in Contemporary Music Review, says that many thought it would not just "succeed the pop of...

 band of the 1970s, best known for their unusual Medieval sound and instrumentation.

Career


Multi-instrumentalist Richard Harvey and his fellow Royal College of Music graduate Brian Gulland, a woodwind player, began the group as an all-acoustic ensemble that mixed traditional English folk music with medieval and Renaissance influences. Shortly after this, the duo was joined by guitarist Graeme Taylor
Graeme Taylor
Graeme Taylor is a British electric guitarist.Taylor played lead guitar with 1970s medieval/rock band Gryphon, and leading folk rock bands including the Albion Band and Home Service...

 and drummer/percussionist Dave Oberlé
Dave Oberlé
Dave Oberlé was percussionist and lead vocalist with the 1970s band Gryphon. After the band split in 1977, Oberlé went on to help launch the heavy rock magazine Kerrang!...

. After their self-titled debut, they expanded their sound to include electric guitars and keyboards as well as wind instruments, such as bassoon
Bassoon
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

s and krumhorns, not previously used in rock music. Gryphon's music often sounded as much like rural English folk or renaissance chansons as it did rock, at least on their early recordings. After their third album (Red Queen to Gryphon Three) and the subsequent tour as a supporting act for Yes
Yes (band)
Yes are an English rock band who achieved worldwide success with their progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes are known for their lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art, and live stage sets...

, their instrumentation became more conventional and the use of non-standard instruments was reduced. Fans and critics generally regard Midnight Mushrumps and the all-instrumental Red Queen to Gryphon Three as their finest albums.

In 1974, the group's publicist Martin Lewis arranged for the band to be commissioned to write and record the music for a major stage production of Shakespeare's The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

 
at Britain's National Theatre
Royal National Theatre
The Royal National Theatre in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company...

, directed by Sir Peter Hall. It opened at the historic Old Vic
Old Vic
The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal Victoria Hall. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian...

 Theatre in April 1974. The music the band wrote and recorded for the stage production inspired the 21-minute fantasia "Midnight Mushrumps" (named after a phrase mentioned in The Tempest
The Tempest
The Tempest is a play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1610–11, and thought by many critics to be the last play that Shakespeare wrote alone. It is set on a remote island, where Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place,...

) which became the title track of their second album. Following the successful premiere of the play and acclaim for its music, Lewis arranged for Gryphon to give a Sunday evening concert at the Old Vic
Old Vic
The Old Vic is a theatre located just south-east of Waterloo Station in London on the corner of The Cut and Waterloo Road. Established in 1818 as the Royal Coburg Theatre, it was taken over by Emma Cons in 1880 when it was known formally as the Royal Victoria Hall. In 1898, a niece of Cons, Lilian...

 in July 1974 - the first-ever and to date only rock concert held at Britain's National Theatre. At the concert, the band performed "Midnight Mushrumps". The concert was considered a major breakthrough for progressive rock music. Audio tapes of the fabled concert exist, but none have yet surfaced publicly. The band's sound engineer at the time, Richard Elen, recorded the event on a 4-track machine (2 tracks PA feed, 2 tracks stereo acoustic sound picked up at the balcony) and subsequently mixed it to stereo. He has cassette copies of the master tape (which have some technical issues), but Martin Lewis is believed to have the master itself. It is not known whether the master is of releasable quality.

In 1977, Richard Harvey and Jonathan Davie - under the names Rik Mansworth and John Thomas - were members of The Banned
The Banned
The Banned are a fictional band in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. The storyline aired in 1986 and although it was considered to be a failure on-screen, it nevertheless became a successful part of the serial's extensive merchandising industry that year, as it spawned two Hit singles in the UK Music...

, supposedly a punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 group, who had a hit in the UK pop charts with a version of "Little Girl", originally recorded in the 1960s by The Syndicate of Sound.

In September 2007 it was announced on Gryphon's website that, after a silence of 31 years, the band had finally decided to produce a new album. Whether the new Gryphon album will be a modern progressive and commercial sounding offering, like their later albums, or a return to the predominantly medieval-based themes of their earlier works, has yet to be announced. Whilst there was no timescale planned, it was envisaged that it would be released in the Summer of 2008 with a one-off London concert date also suggested, although not confirmed. On 15 September 2008, Gryphon announced via their website that the album was still in production, "albeit slowly". As of December 2010, no album has materialised and there have been no further updates on the band's webpage relating to it.

On Saturday 6 June 2009, 32 years after its last performance, Gryphon reformed for a reunion concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. The four original members - Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, Graeme Taylor and Dave Oberlé - opened the evening with a selection of songs and instrumentals from the first album Gryphon. They were then joined by Jon Davie (the final bass player, who appeared on Treason) and a new member, the multi-instrumentalist and film/production music composer Graham Preskett for the rest of the evening.

Members

  • Brian Gulland — Bassoon
    Bassoon
    The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

    , Krumhorn, Recorder
    Recorder
    The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

    , Keyboards
    Keyboard instrument
    A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

    , Vocals (born 30 April 1951, in Maidstone, Kent
    Maidstone
    Maidstone is the county town of Kent, England, south-east of London. The River Medway runs through the centre of the town linking Maidstone to Rochester and the Thames Estuary. Historically, the river was a source and route for much of the town's trade. Maidstone was the centre of the agricultural...

    ).
  • Richard Harvey
    Richard Harvey
    Richard Harvey is a BAFTA Award–winning British musician and composer. He is best known for his film and television soundtracks...

     — Recorder
    Recorder
    The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

    , Krumhorn, Mandolin
    Mandolin
    A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

    , Keyboards
    Keyboard instrument
    A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

    , Vocals (born 25 September 1953, in Enfield, Middlesex
    Enfield Town
    Enfield Town is the historic town centre of Enfield, formerly in the county of Middlesex and now in the London Borough of Enfield. It is north north-east of Charing Cross...

    ).
  • Dave Oberlé
    Dave Oberlé
    Dave Oberlé was percussionist and lead vocalist with the 1970s band Gryphon. After the band split in 1977, Oberlé went on to help launch the heavy rock magazine Kerrang!...

     — Drum
    Drum
    The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments, which is technically classified as the membranophones. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a...

    s, Percussion
    Percussion instrument
    A percussion instrument is any object which produces a sound when hit with an implement or when it is shaken, rubbed, scraped, or otherwise acted upon in a way that sets the object into vibration...

    , Lead Vocals (born 9 January 1953, in Farnborough, Kent
    Farnborough, London
    Farnborough is a settlement in the London Borough of Bromley. It is a suburban development located 13.4 miles southeast of Charing Cross.-History:...

    , now part of London).
  • Graeme Taylor
    Graeme Taylor
    Graeme Taylor is a British electric guitarist.Taylor played lead guitar with 1970s medieval/rock band Gryphon, and leading folk rock bands including the Albion Band and Home Service...

     — Electric & Acoustic Guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

    s, Vocals (through Raindance) (born 2 February 1954, in Stockwell, South-west London
    Stockwell
    Stockwell is a district in inner south west London, England, located in the London Borough of Lambeth.It is situated south south-east of Charing Cross. Brixton, Clapham, Vauxhall and Kennington all border Stockwell...

    ).
  • Philip Nestor — Bass guitar
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

    , Vocals (Midnight Mushrumps and Red Queen to Gryphon Three) (born in 1952, in Epsom, Surrey
    Epsom
    Epsom is a town in the borough of Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, England. Small parts of Epsom are in the Borough of Reigate and Banstead. The town is located south-south-west of Charing Cross, within the Greater London Urban Area. The town lies on the chalk downland of Epsom Downs.-History:Epsom lies...

    ).
  • Malcolm Bennett — Bass guitar
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

    , Flute
    Flute
    The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

     (Raindance)
  • Jonathan Davie
    Jon Davie
    Jon Davie, bass guitar player with British folk rock bands including Gryphon and Home Service. Was also, using the name John Thomas, a member of The Banned, a British punk / New Wave outfit in the late 1970s....

     — Bass guitar
    Bass guitar
    The bass guitar is a stringed instrument played primarily with the fingers or thumb , or by using a pick....

     (Treason), acoustic bass guitar
    Acoustic bass guitar
    The acoustic bass guitar is a bass instrument with a hollow wooden body similar to, though usually somewhat larger than a steel-string acoustic guitar...

     ("Reunion")
  • Bob Foster — Guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

     (Treason)
  • Graham Preskett — Keyboards
    Keyboard instrument
    A keyboard instrument is a musical instrument which is played using a musical keyboard. The most common of these is the piano. Other widely used keyboard instruments include organs of various types as well as other mechanical, electromechanical and electronic instruments...

    , mandolin
    Mandolin
    A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

    , violin
    Violin
    The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

    , guitar
    Guitar
    The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

    , percussion ("Reunion")

Auxiliary members


The following craftsmen manufactured instruments used on Gryphon albums, but they were not band members:
  • Ernest Hart – Organ
    Organ (music)
    The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

     (Midnight Mushrumps and Red Queen to Gryphon Three)
  • Peter Redding – Acoustic bass
    Double bass
    The double bass, also called the string bass, upright bass, standup bass or contrabass, is the largest and lowest-pitched bowed string instrument in the modern symphony orchestra, with strings usually tuned to E1, A1, D2 and G2...

     (Red Queen to Gryphon Three)


Tim Sebastion co-wrote lyrics for Treason.

Albums

  • Gryphon
    Gryphon (album)
    Gryphon is the debut album by the progressive rock band Gryphon. It was originally released in 1973 by Transatlantic, catalogue number TRA 262....

    (1973)
  • Midnight Mushrumps
    Midnight Mushrumps
    Midnight Mushrumps is the second studio album made by the band Gryphon. The album was released on Transatlantic Records in the UK, catalogue number TRA 282....

    (1974)
  • Red Queen to Gryphon Three
    Red Queen to Gryphon Three
    Red Queen to Gryphon Three is the third studio album made by the band Gryphon. The album was released on Transatlantic Records in the UK with a blue cover, while Bell Records released the album in Canada with a black cover....

    (1974)
  • Raindance (1975)
  • Treason (1977)


All albums released by Transatlantic Records
Transatlantic Records
Transatlantic Records was a British independent record label. It was established in 1961. It started began primarily as an importer of American folk, blues and jazz records - by many of the artists who influenced the burgeoning British folk and blues boom. Within a couple of years, the company had...

, except Treason, which was released by EMI
EMI
The EMI Group, also known as EMI Music or simply EMI, is a multinational music company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the fourth-largest business group and family of record labels in the recording industry and one of the "big four" record companies. EMI Group also has a major...

/Harvest
Harvest Records
-References:* Harvest Records collectors guide ISBN 978-5-9622-0021-7...

.

Compilations and other releases

  • The Collection (1991)
  • The Collection II (1995)
  • About as Curious as It Can Be (2002) - 1974 & 1975 BBC Radio session performances
  • Glastonbury Carol (2003) - 1972 & 1974 BBC Radio session performances plus the title track, theme music for the Peter Neal film Glastonbury Fayre
    Glastonbury Fayre
    Glastonbury Fayre is a 1972 documentary film directed by Nicolas Roeg and Peter Neal of the 1971 Glastonbury Festival which was held on 20–24 June 1971.-About the film:...

     about the 1971 Glastonbury Festival
    Glastonbury Festival
    The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts, commonly abbreviated to Glastonbury or even Glasto, is a performing arts festival that takes place near Pilton, Somerset, England, best known for its contemporary music, but also for dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret and other arts.The...

  • Crossing the Styles: The Transatlantic Anthology (2004)

External links