Skyclad Biography

This innovative UK thrash/folk/rock crossover band was put together in 1990 by former Sabbat vocalist Martin Walkyier. Enlisting the services of Steve Ramsey (8 July 1964, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England; guitar, ex-Pariah), Graeme English (b. 4 November 1963, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England; bass, ex-Pariah) and Keith Baxter (b. 19 February 1971, Morecombe, Lancashire, England, d. 4 January 2008, England; drums), they were signed by European label Noise. By their second album, 1992’s A Burnt Offering For The Bone Idol, they were combining pagan lyrics, crashing power-chords and electric violin (courtesy of Fritha Jenkins) to startling effect. Press descriptions included citing them as the ‘heavy metal equivalent of Fairport Convention’, but they certainly offered a welcome alternative to run-of-the-mill trad-rock. Their fourth album, 1994’s Prince Of The Poverty Line, featured excellent work from violinist Catherine Howell. George Biddle (b. Georgina Biddle, 23 April 1970, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England; violin/keyboards) then replaced Howell on the following year’s The Silent Whales Of Lunar Sea, the band’s final album for Noise Records.

Both Baxter and guitarist Dave Pugh, who had played with the band since their second album, were ejected shortly afterwards. Pugh went on to form his own project, Load Stone, while Baxter joined 3 Colours Red. Skyclad moved on to Massacre Records, releasing a series of albums on which the folk influence was more pronounced than the band’s original metal leanings (the 1998 EP Outrageous Fortunes was entirely acoustic). Additional musicians on these recordings included percussionists Paul Smith and Paul Kinson, and multi-instrumentalist John Leonard. Drummer Jay Graham was recruited as a full-time member for 1999’s Vintage Whine, while the following year’s Folkémon featured their producer Kevin Ridley (b. 24 October 1957, Stannington, West Riding of Yorkshire, England; guitar/vocals). Founder member Walkyier left in 2001, frustrated by the band’s financial status. Ridley assumed the lead vocal role in his wake while Graham was replaced by Arron Walton later in the year. The new line-up made their studio debut in 2004 with A Semblance Of Normality, which was a markedly heavier sounding album than the preceding releases.

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

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