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Audience
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Art rock, progressive rock
Years active 1969–1972
2004–present
Website www.audienceareback.com

Audience is a cult British art rock band which existed between 1969 and 1972, and reformed in 2004.

The original band consisted of Howard Werth (born Howard Alexander Werth, in 1947, in Clapton, East London) on nylon-strung electric acoustic guitar and vocals, Keith Gemmell (born Keith William Gemmell, 15 February 1948, in Hackney, East London) on tenor sax, flute and clarinet, bass guitarist and vocalist Trevor Williams (born Trevor Leslie Williams, 19 January 1945, in Hereford, Herefordshire, and drummer/vocalist Tony Connor (born Anthony John Connor, 6 April 1947, in Romford, Havering).

Contents

Formation

Audience rose from the ashes of a semi-professional soul band named Lloyd Alexander Real Estate, which had included all the Audience members with the exception of Connor, who had unsuccessfully auditioned for the earlier band when John Richardson left to form The Rubettes. However, when Werth, Williams, and Gemmell decided to form their new band, it was Connor who came to mind as the right man to complete the line-up.

Within weeks of starting rehearsals, Audience had acquired management, a publishing contract, a residency at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, and a recording contract with Polydor, with whom they recorded their first album Audience. The band, however, was less than pleased with the record company's promotional approach (a single, "Too Late I'm Gone" from the album had been planned and was cancelled), and went into hiding in Switzerland to avoid getting involved with banal publicity stunts.

By the end of the year, the band was drawing public and journalistic acclaim for their songs, arrangements, and stage act. They had also been commissioned to write the score for Bronco Bullfrog, an East End skinhead film directed by Barney Platts-Mills, which established a genre subsequently taken up by Mike Leigh.

Recordings

None of this was wasted on Tony Stratton-Smith, Director of Charisma Records, who spotted the band supporting Led Zeppelin and signed them up to his label immediately. Audience recorded three albums with Charisma, the members producing and designing the first Friends Friends Friend themselves before bringing in legendary producer Gus Dudgeon, arranger Robert Kirby and top record sleeve designers Hipgnosis to get the best from their follow-up albums House on the Hill and Lunch.

Their first two albums were not issued in the U.S. Elektra signed them (around the time Elektra signed Lindisfarne, another Charisma group), and their final two albums were issued in the U.S.

Dudgeon's first 45rpm production for the band, "Indian Summer", took the band into the lower reaches of the U.S. charts, but by this time they were exhausted and fractious, having worked virtually non-stop for three years. A U.S. tour with Rod Stewart and The Faces, although successful, brought things to a head, resulting in Gemmell leaving the band.

The unfinished Lunch album was completed with the help of The Rolling Stones and Mad Dogs and Englishmen brass section, Jim Price and Bobby Keys, following which they went straight back on the road with new members Pat Charles Neuberg, from Joyce Bond Revue, on alto and soprano sax and ex-B B Blunder Nick Judd on electric piano.

Break-up

The new line-up never really worked well together, and Williams, the band's main lyricist, resigned eight months later. When Nick Judd received an offer to join Juicy Lucy, the band folded. Judd later went on to join Alan Bown, The Andy Fraser Band, Brian Eno, Frankie Miller and Sharks, most recently emerging in a Madness spin-off band.

By this time, Keith Gemmell had joined Stackridge, later to join Sammy, whose sole album was produced by Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, then on to The Roy Young Band. During this time he was simultaneously carving out a healthy career in session work and arranging, often in association with film soundtrack writer John Altman, before joining the Pasadena Roof Orchestra for fourteen years.

Trevor Williams joined 1960s hitmakers The Nashville Teens, a version driven by Len Tuckey, who left shortly after to help his girlfriend, Suzi Quatro launch a career with Mickie Most. Tony Connor also ended up with Most. After a stint with Jackson Heights, a spin-off from The Nice, he joined one of Most's stable, Hot Chocolate, with whom he has remained.

Williams moved on to Jonathan Kelly's Outside, recording one single, Outside, and an album Waiting On You with a band fronted by the twin guitars of Snowy White and Chas Jankel plus ex-Graham Bond drummer Dave Sheen and percussionist Jeff Whittaker, formerly with Peter Green and Crosby, Stills and Nash. But growing increasingly disenchanted with the music business, he drifted back to The Nashville Teens, this time in the company of friend Rob Hendry – ex-Renaissance guitarist – in a misconceived project to revitalise the band's image and fortunes. When this foundered, Williams left the business entirely.

Howard Werth was in the throes of his first solo album at this time, still with Charisma and produced by Dudgeon. Called King Brilliant, his band, containing members of Hookfoot and with Mike Moran on keyboards, was dubbed Howard Werth and The Moonbeams, and came close to having a major hit with Lucinda. However, it wasn't to be, and when he was headhunted by The Doors (Audience stable-mates on the U.S. Elektra record label) to replace Jim Morrison, Werth left for the USA. In any event, The Doors did not reform, and Werth found himself engaged in numerous short term projects with Doors' keyboard man Ray Manzarek and musicians from Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band before returning to the UK in the early 1980s. Although appearing live only occasionally, Werth subsequently recorded two more solo albums, 6 of 1 and Half a Dozen of the Other on Demon Records and The Evolution Myth Explodes for his own Luminous Music label.

Reunion

Despite a few minor projects together, the original Audience band members were not to re-emerge as a working entity until 33 years after their first incarnation. In 2004, Howard Werth, Keith Gemmell and Trevor Williams went back on the road, gigging in Germany, Italy, Canada and the UK, replacing Tony Connor with drummer/vocalist John Fisher (born 8 December 1960 at Buxton, Derbyshire) and recording a live album alive&kickin'&screamin'&shoutin' for Eclectic Records. During this period, Gemmell released two solo albums, The Windhover, inspired by a poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins, and Unsafe Sax.

Following the death of John Fisher from pancreatic cancer on 27 September 2008, Audience recruited drummer Simon Jeffrey.

Discography

Sources

Interviews and articles from publications, band's own website and fansite.

References

  • Audience at Allmusic
  • The New Musical Express Book of Rock, 1975, Star Books, ISBN 0 352 300744

External links

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