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Categories: Progressive Rock

CAMEL

Current Members

Past Members

Live Session Members

Biography

A Legendary London Progressive Symphonic Rock act founded in 1971 by vocalist/guitarist Andy Latimer, bassist Doug Ferguson and drummer Andy Ward, who had all previously been with the PHILLIP-GOODHAND BAND, together with former THEM and SHOTGUN EXPRESS keyboard player Peter Bardens, previous to forming CAMEL, Bardens had issued two solo albums on the Transatlantic label; 1970's 'The Answer' and 1971's 'Peter Bardens'. CAMEL would prove to be a lynchpin of the Canterbury scene movement, achieving both commercial and artistic success.

CAMEL's first recordings were as part of the 'Greasy Truckers- Live at Dingwalls' album alongside GONG, HENRY COW and GLOBAL TRUCKING COMPANY featuring the track 'God Of Light Revisited'. This secured a major deal with MCA Records. Their eponymous debut album, produced by Dave Williams, surfaced in February 1973.A this juncture the group saw Peter Bardens joined by vocalist / guitarist Andrew Latimer, bassist Doug Ferguson and drummer Andy Ward.

David Hitchcock manned the desk for the follow up, 'Mirage' featuring the iconic 'Lady Fantasy' and Tolkien themed medley 'Nimrodel/The Procession/The White Rider', released in March 1974. 'Mirage', clad in a sleeve mimicking a Camel brand packet of cigarettes, sold well worldwide and garnered favourable media response.

The band interpreted their own concept of Paul Gallico's 'The Snow Goose' for their April 1975 album of the same name. Gallico however was far from pleased and successfully sued the band for copyright infringement.

Following CAMEL's biggest chart success, the Rhett Davies produced March 1976 album 'Moon Madness', Ferguson departed to be replaced by former CARAVAN bassist Richard Sinclair. A further line-up shuffle occurred after the next album, September 1977's 'Rain Dances', when the band added another ex CARAVAN member keyboard player Dave Sinclair together with erstwhile KING CRIMSON saxophonist Mel Collins.

The group's first concert recording, the double 'A Live Record', arrived in April 1978. These tracks had been recorded at the London Marquee in October 1974, a complete performance of 'Flight Of The Snow Goose' from the Royal Albert Hall in October 1975, Leeds University and Bristol's Colston Hall in 1977. A further studio collection, 'Breathless' produced by Mick Glossop, was delivered in September 1978. This would be the final album to feature Peter Bardens.

In 1978 Sinclair opted to rejoin CARAVAN and CAMEL brought in bassist Colin Bass. Founder member Bardens also departed to embark on a solo career and his position was taken by Kit Watkins whose stay lasted until 1980 when he in turn was ousted by ex COCKNEY REBEL keyboard player Duncan Mackay.

1981's 'Nude' album saw CAMEL still in the British album charts but once more losing another member as Mackay joined veteran Welsh rockers BUDGIE for live work. The band drafted in Jan Schelhaas as substitute.

By the early eighties CAMEL's popularity in their home country was slipping and 1982's 'The Single Factor' album just scraped into the charts. A further original member drummer Andy Ward quit to join rising stars MARILLION for a brief tenure. CAMEL duly replaced him with Paul Burgess.

In 1984 the band totally revamped itself around Latimer, Bass and Burgess. Both Bardens and Collins returned to the fold along with no less than three additional keyboard players Tom Scherpenzeel, Chris Rainbow and Richie Close. Bardens was to take time out to appear on the KEATS album 'Keats Plus...' Later that year CAMEL disbanded but were to reform by 1991.

The 1992 album 'Dust And Dreams' is conceptually based on the John Steinbeck novel 'The Grapes Of Wrath'.

Bardens released a solo album,' Big Sky', in 1994 on HTD Records. CAMEL's 'Harbour Of Tears' opus of 1996, written entirely by written by Susan Hoover and Andy Latimer, related the tale of Latimer's grandmother's Irish family family emigrating to North America.

Bardens would also guest on the DAVE MENDENHALL solo album of 1998 'The Lost Years'. The 'Rajaz' album, generally acknowledged by fans as a return to form, was released by CAMEL in October 1999. For these sessions Andrew Latimer and Colin Bass would be joined by keyboard player Tom Scherpenzeel, cellist Barry Phillips and drummer Dave Stewart.

Sadly Peter Bardens would pass away on January 22nd 2002 after being diagnosed with lung cancer. That July CAMEL issued the studio album 'A Nod And A Wink', recorded at Little Barn Studios, through their own Camel Productions. This set was crafted by Guy LeBlanc, Andrew Latimer, Colin Bass and drummers Denis Clement and Terry Carelton. In Japan the album came serviced with an extra track, 'After All These Years'.

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