Camel Biography

Camel was formed in late 1971 by three former members of Philip Goodhand-Tait’s backing band, Doug Ferguson (4 April 1947, Carlisle, Cumbria, England; bass), Andy Ward (b. 28 September 1952, Epsom, Surrey, England; drums) and Andy Latimer (b. 17 May 1947, Guildford, Surrey, England; guitar, flute, vocals), and Pete Bardens (b. Peter Bardens, 19 June 1945, Westminster, London, England, d. 22 January 2002, Los Angeles, California, USA; keyboards). Bardens, whose pedigree included stints with Them and Shotgun Express, dominated the band’s sound to the extent that they came to be known as Peter Bardens’ Camel, in deference to Peter Frampton’s Camel. As regular performers on the UK college circuit, it took an adaptation of the Paul Gallico children’s story, The Snow Goose, to put this foremost progressive band into the UK Top 30 in 1975. After the release of the following year’s Moonmadness, Ferguson departed, to be replaced by ex-Caravan member Richard Sinclair. With session saxophonist Mel Collins playing an increasingly important role, the band consolidated their position with the Top 30 albums Rain Dances (1977) and Breathless (1978). Although their success preceded the rise of the punk/new wave movement, the band’s image as outdated progressive rockers threatened their future. However, they survived, but not without some changes to the line-up and consequently, the style of music, which began to embrace more compact song structures. Bardens left the band in July 1978, and was replaced by keyboard players Jan Schelhaas (another ex-Caravan member) and Dave Sinclair. The two Sinclairs had left by the time Kit Watkins (keyboards) and Colin Bass (bass) were recruited to help record I Can See Your House From Here. Ward departed in 1982 after suffering a severe hand injury, leaving Latimer as the only remaining original member. He was joined on the band’s final studio album for Decca Records, 1985’s Pressure Points, by Bass, Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboards), Chris Rainbow (vocals) and Paul Burgess (drums).

After being dropped by Decca, Latimer then became involved in a lengthy legal battle with former manager Geoff Jukes. When judgement was passed in his favour, Latimer moved to California and founded his own label, Camel Productions. The first new Camel album in over five years, Dust And Dreams, was released in 1991. Never Let Go, recorded during the band’s 20th anniversary tour, saw Latimer joined by Bass, Burgess and Mickey Simmonds (keyboards). Subsequent albums have also appeared on the Camel Productions label. Original member Pete Bardens passed away in 2002.

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

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