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Canterbury Scene

You are in: Kent > Entertainment > Canterbury Scene > The Canterbury Scene uncovered

The Canterbury Scene uncovered

Mersey, Manchester, Motown - places beginning with M where M has stood for music. The history of rock is coloured by evocative and unique locations.

Progrock

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.

Prog Rock

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
created: 15/06/2009

Have Your Say

Were you part of the Canterbury Scene in the 1970s? Tell us your stories.

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Richard Sinclair
Great to see the BBC paying tribute to the old scene...it would have been good to have taken part in this feature, but we were busy relocating from the old City of my beginning... Some of us are still working, recording and performing. Yes I'm now living in Italy, and still touring, my website is being updated www.richardsinclair.net I am now a member of MIA (made in Apulia) and have been given the opportunity, by the local council to do a 3 day music workshop, here in Martina Franca, so if there are any musicians out there who want to come and meet up and visit the town here...in the land of the Trulli's - you are very welcome. Very Best, from Richard and Heather Sinclair.
Tue Aug 11 13:56:33 2009

Nicholas Sinclair
Richard currently lives in Italy, my dad Dave lives in Japan but Jo if you or BBC Kent would like to hear from either of them, please let me know and I can contact dad.Great site by the way, (although some of the video content is offline or dodgy) it's nice to see at least some recognition of the scene, which I find has been forgotten by the younger generation of Canterbury.
Sat Jul 4 15:22:40 2009

Adam Dawson
Please tell me that you've managed to track down Richard Sinclair..
Thu Jul 2 20:57:02 2009

Steven George, Canterbury Scene Producer
Thanks to everyone who's posted messages so far. We're very excited by the music of Canterbury.Just to let you know that we're planning a tribute to Hugh Hopper, as is only right and proper. If you'd like to know more, keep your eye on the website for a tribute page which will be up soon. Robin Gibson, Roger Day and Caravan's Geoffrey Richardson will be talking about the Canterbury Scene on BBC Radio Kent from 9-10pm.Our thoughts and best wishes are with Hugh's widow Christine and his family.
Tue Jun 23 10:53:41 2009

philip gambrill - herne bay
we were big camel fans, the snowgoose still sounds great.. what happened to the purple hipsters they should re-release "How's your sister since i kissed her"
Fri Jun 19 23:05:09 2009

merlin
I Had a recording studio in Canterbury Broad Street.Over twenty years ago, and still have the Attic Tapes by IMC (If Men Could...)Maybe I will bring the MP3s version and some DVD footage for the Canterbury Scene Legacy to the Festival on the 10th.Fancy dress??see you,hear youMerlin.
Fri Jun 19 19:44:58 2009

Pamela Mudge-Wood
It was an unexpected delight to hear Richard Sinclair's ever gorgeous voice wafting over your airwaves this afternoon (The Land of Grey and Pink, just before 2 pm) Unlike many of his contemporaries, Richard remained local to Canterbury until very recently, offering inspiration and encouragement to later generations of Canterbury musicians like myself. If you are going to pay tribute to the Canterbury Scene, you need to show particular respect for the recent, sad passing of Hugh Hopper, another Wilde Flower original who actually originated from Canterbury, remained locally based and who, like Sinclair, continued to offer support to local musicians and local charities, long after many of the Canterbury Scene musicians had left town.

Hi Pamela, it would great to chat to you some more about this if you would like to email us: kent@bbc.co.uk Also, we are planning a tribute page to Hugh Hopper. Best wishes Jo BBC Kent

Fri Jun 19 14:33:16 2009

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