Front-runners of the short-lived UK progressive rock revival of the early 80s, Marillion survived unfavourable comparisons with Genesis to become a popular melodic rock band, notching up several successful UK singles plucked from their grandiose concept albums.
The band was formed in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, originally as Silmarillion, a name taken from the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien. The original line-up comprised Doug Irvine (bass), Mick Pointer (22 July 1956, England; drums), Steve Rothery (b. 25 November 1959, Brampton, South Yorkshire, England; guitar) and Brian Jellyman (keyboards). After recording the instrumental demo, The Web, the band recruited Fish (b. Derek William Dick, 25 April 1958, Dalkeith, Edinburgh, Scotland; vocals) and Diz Minnett (bass), and began building a strong following through almost continuous gigging. Before recording their debut, Market Square Heroes, Jellyman and Minnett were replaced by Mark Kelly (b. 9 April 1961, Dublin, Eire; keyboards) and Pete Trewavas (b. 15 January 1959, Middlesbrough, Cleveland, England; bass). Fish wrote all the lyrics for Script For A Jesters Tear and became the focal point of the band, often appearing on stage in garish make-up, echoing the style, both visually and vocally, of Genesis singer Peter Gabriel. In 1983, Pointer was sacked and replaced for brief stints by Andy Ward of Camel, then John Martyr and Jonathan Mover, before the arrival of Ian Mosley (b. 16 June 1953, London, England), a veteran of many progressive rock bands, including Curved Air and the Gordon Giltrap band. Marillions second album, Fugazi, embraced a more straightforward hard rock sound and yielded two hits, Assassing and Punch And Judy. The chart-topping Misplaced Childhood was the bands biggest-selling album - surprisingly so, as it featured an elaborate concept, being virtually one continuous piece of music based largely on Fishs childhood experiences. Kayleigh, a romantic ballad extracted from this mammoth work, reached number 2 in the UK charts, and Lavender followed it into the Top 5 four months later. Clutching At Straws was less successful and, by 1988, Fish was becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the bands musical development and left to pursue a solo career. The live double album The Thieving Magpie was his last recorded contribution, and provided a fitting overview of Marillions past successes.
The band acquired Steve Hogarth (b. 14 May 1959, Kendal, England), formerly of the Europeans, who made his debut on Seasons End, proving himself equal to the daunting task of fronting a well-established band. The 90s found Marillion as popular as ever, with the ghost of Fish receding into the background. With Hogarth fronting the band, consistent success continued, including Top 30 chart status for Sympathy, The Hollow Man and Beautiful. The best of their more recent albums is 1995s Afraid Of Sunlight, which tackled the subject of fame, with references to the recently deceased Nirvana vocalist, Kurt Cobain, John Lennon and O.J. Simpson, the former American footballer who at the time was on trial for murder.
Marillions first studio work of the new millennium, Anoraknophobia, was funded by fans who paid for the record a year before its release, a novel venture which raised a few eyebrows in the music industry.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.