Hatfield & the North Biography

Formed in October 1972, Hatfield And The North was comprised of musicians active in England’s musically incestuous, experimental fringe. The original line-up - David Sinclair (24 November 1947, Herne Bay, Kent, England; keyboards), Phil Miller (b. 22 January 1949, Barnet, Hertfordshire, England; guitar), Richard Sinclair (b. 6 June 1948, Canterbury, Kent, England; bass/vocals) and Pip Pyle (b. 4 April 1950, Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, England, d. 28 August 2006, Paris, France; drums) - was drawn from ex-members of Caravan, Matching Mole and Delivery, but within months David Sinclair left to join Caravan and was replaced by Dave Stewart (b. 30 December 1950, Waterloo, London, England), previously in Egg and Khan. Taking their name from the first signpost out of London on the A1 trunk road, the band completed two albums with backing vocalists Amanda Parsons, Barbara Gaskin and Ann Rosenthal (the Northettes), influenced by Soft Machine and which adeptly combined skilled musicianship with quirky melodies. Their extended instrumental passages, particularly Stewart’s deft keyboard work, were highly impressive, while their obtuse song titles, including ‘Gigantic Land Crabs In Earth Takeover Bid’ and ‘(Big) John Wayne Socks Psychology On The Jaw’, emphasized an air of detached intellectualism. However, their chosen genre was losing its tenuous appeal and, unable to secure a sure commercial footing, the quartet split up in June 1975.

Stewart and Miller went on to form National Health, before the former launched a solo career with his partner Barbara Gaskin (Dave Stewart And Barbara Gaskin). Miller later formed In Cahoots, which also featured Pyle, who in the mean time had found plenty of work as a session drummer. Sinclair went on to play with Camel and various new incarnations of Caravan. Miller, Pyle and Sinclair briefly reunited in March 1990 for a televised performance with Sophia Domancich helping out on keyboards. The title of Hatfield And The North’s second album The Rotters’ Club was later appropriated by writer Jonathan Coe for his excellent novel. The television adaptation of this book prompted another reunion for Hatfield And The North at the start of 2005, with Miller, Pyle and Sinclair joined by keyboard player Alex Maguire.

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

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