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The Canterbury Scene uncovered
By Robin Gibson
Mersey, Manchester, Motown - places beginning with M where M has stood for music. The history of rock is coloured by evocative and unique locations.
So is there a Canterbury tale?
Well, something remarkable DID happen here as rock music exploded on the 1960s generation of teenagers and the new freedoms they enjoyed. And it’s one of the cathedral city’s untold stories.
It all began with a small group of musicians who formed The Wilde Flowers playing around venues like The Beehive and The Westgate Hall. There was Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Kevin Ayers, Pye Hastings, the Sinclair cousins - Dave and Richard, Richard Coughlan and the Hopper brothers - Hugh and Brian.
The Wilde Flowers bloomed, withered and died but their music dropped psychedelic seeds into the hothouse of the emerging British Prog Rock scene.
The “originals” were joined by other personalities like Daevid Allen, Steve Hillage and Geoffrey Richardson. They peopled dozens of bands - Soft Machine, Caravan, Gong, Steve Hillage, Hatfield and The North, Matching Mole, Egg, National Health, Camel. There are many more.
Although there was never a defined Canterbury “sound”, the intricate style was discernable to the ear of their loyal fans.
It stretched from folk and jazz through to metal guitar. They majored in music rather than messages. Wit and whimsy playing on words and musical gags wrapped up in a jazzy psychedelic wrapper.
The style foundered in the post punk commercial market, but the Canterbury scene lives on.
last updated: 28/07/2009 at 15:16
Have Your Say
Were you part of the Canterbury Scene in the 1970s? Tell us your stories.
Steven George, Canterbury Scene Producer
philip gambrill - herne bay
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