Caravan Biography

Formed in Canterbury, England, in 1968, Caravan evolved from the Wilde Flowers, a seminal local attraction that had included Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Hugh Hopper, all later of the Soft Machine. Pye Hastings (21 January 1947, Tomnavoulin, Bamffshire, Scotland; guitar, vocals), Jimmy Hastings (flute), David Sinclair (b. 24 November 1947, Herne Bay, Kent, England; keyboards), Richard Sinclair (b. 6 June 1948, Canterbury, Kent, England; bass, vocals) and Richard Coughlan (b. 2 September 1947, Herne Bay, Kent, England; drums) forged the original Caravan line-up whose gift for melody and imaginative improvisation was made apparent on an excellent debut album. The haunting ‘A Place Of My Own’ and ‘Love Song With Flute’ were particularly impressive and set the tone for much of the quartet’s early work. If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You continued their blend of wistfulness and the avant garde, but it was not until In The Land Of Grey And Pink that the quartet achieved due commercial plaudits. Its extended title track contrasted the quirky economy of ‘Golf Girl’ and the set remains, for many, Caravan’s finest album.

David Sinclair then joined Matching Mole, but the unit was reshaped around Steve Miller (ex-Delivery), Phil Miller (guitar) and Lol Coxhill (saxophone), for Waterloo Lily. However, a period of frantic activity saw Richard Sinclair leave for Hatfield And The North, before the prodigal David returned to augment a line-up of the Hastings, Coughlan, John Perry (b. 19 January 1947, Auburn, New York, USA; guitar), Geoff Richardson (b. 15 July 1950, Hinckley, Leicestershire, England; viola, violin), and Rupert Hine (synthesiser). An ensuing rigorous touring schedule was punctuated by For Girls Who Go Plump In The Night and Caravan And The New Symphonia, but further personnel changes undermined the band’s early charm. Although Cunning Stunts provided a surprise US chart entry, Caravan were blighted by their concern for technical perfection. Although increasingly confined to a post-progressive rock backwater inhabited by fellow distinctly English acts National Health and Anthony Phillips, the irrepressible Hastings continued to lead the band into the 80s.

Pye Hastings, the Sinclairs and Coughlan reunited on 1982’s Back To Front, but this was followed by a long period of recording inactivity, with only occasional live appearances. A flurry of activity in 1991 saw Caravan performing once more, with the addition of Richard Sinclair’s amalgamation of former Caravan and Camel members undertaking a series of low-key London club performances under the name of Caravan Of Dreams. Recent recordings on the HTD Records label have found particular favour in Japan.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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