>   ARTHUR BROWN                            
< Collaborator of V          

Arthur - the God of Hellfire
> The name Arthur Brown might not ring a bell immediately - but surely 99,9% of you would recognize him after the first few seconds of his one global mega-hit FIRE:
I am the God of hellfire and I bring you: FIRE

Arthur did the vocal part of the Gremlin on Calvert's Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters album.
Two wonderful poetic songs with a frenzy edge -
The Song of the Gremlin; part I & II - that he arranged in collaboration with Adrian Wagner.

THE GREMLIN is the kind of mythical gnome-figure that pilots and technicians hold responsible for all the problems and aeronoutic disasters they don't have a "reasonable" explanation for...
...a figure just perfect for Calvert's satirical rock-sketch comedy on the Starfighter affair.
- and so was Arthur Brown's unique voice & style for the role of the Gremlin...

Calvert: "Arthur Brown is definitely the bloke to play the Gremlin - that's the mythological thing that pilots talk about half jokingly as causing faults."

During this almost 'tribal gathering' of the psychedelic music scene at the time of the recordings, Arthur was one of many reknown Calvert collaborators.
Read his highly amusing anecdotes on Calvert - when he was introducing him to Vivian Stanshall of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band - another collaborator on Captain Lockheed...

As Robert Calvert and Hawkwind became extremly influential artists for countless musicians and bands to come so was / is Arthur Brown - though his influence is even more obvious - and more of the influenced artists are quite outspoken about it.

Arthur + the famous helmet Says Parliament / Funkadelic mastermind
George Clinton:

> Brown's 'Fire' was directly responsible for P-Funk's own stage circus.
He'd set fire to his fuckin' head!
That told me a lot.
I knew where I was heading from then on. <

SEE Arthur
in his full blown fiery glory.

Arthur Brown
came from Whitby on the Yorkshire coast, son of a pub piano player. His first musical experience was singing duets with his brother in church. Later on he learned to play banjo, guitar, and double bass and practiced classical voice exercises for six months.
The results should be heard later on in the unfamiliar terrain of rock-music. There was hardly any other vocalist with the mastery over a tonal range comparable to Brown's.

During / after some time at the university he started out as a singer for various blues-oriented bands, often touring the continent, gigging a lot and quite successfully in for a while in Paris.
"People like Salvador Dali and Ornette Coleman often went along to observe the scenes at the club, which eventually developed into a case of the upper class people going along to watch members of the middle class as they in turn watched the beatniks and freaks having fits and convulsions.
It was here that Arthur began developing a stage act to match and improve on the wild atmosphere of the club, including wearing make-up and crown with lit candles."

(from an article by Lee Broughton - see link at the bottom)

Arthur's mask Well, these were the earliest signs of the impressive and forceful show Arthur was going to develop about a year later or so, when he finally got The Crazy World of Arthur Brown together - accompanied by Vincent Crane and Carl Palmer - who were later on co- founders of Atomic Rooster and Emerson, Lake & Palmer

The band played various clubs - but their rise to fame really began when they got invited to play the famous UFO club, where Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd were beginning their own rise to stardom at the very same time.
Both bands appeared at the legendary 24 Hour Technicolor Dream event - held at the Alexandria Palace in April 1967.

The band was discovered by The Who's leading man Pete Townsend who convinced Track Records to sign them.
Though the first single release failed to chart the band became increasingly popular on the live circuit. The finally entered the studio again in late '67 to record their classic Crazy World of Arthur Brown album, including the soon to become legendary song Fire.

writes Lee Broughton:
Arthur on Fire "The album was co-produced by Pete Townsend who included strings and horns in an attempt to add dramatic effect usually provided by the light show and theatrics. The songs on side 1 form a short story about a spiraling journey into the Underworld. The music is very energetic and full of urgency and it must rate as one of the most exciting album sides ever recorded with vocals, bass, organ, drums and horns reaching a fever pitch at times. These songs were in fact just a small selection of songs taken from a full length opera that Arthur and Vincent had written called Tales from the Neurotic Nights of Hieronymous Anonymous in which the world spoke to Hieronymous and different gods visited him. Even though the songs fit into the concept, each song is more than strong enough to stand by itself as Fire later proved."

Fire stayed in the charts for 14 weeks, becoming number one after 3 weeks - and the album remained in the top ten for 8 weeks.

The God of Hellfire At this time Arthur had developed his outstanding stage-act - with the quite dangerous climax of setting fire to a huge helmet he wore. Several times he got burned....

The wild and passionate energy of the first album is hard to describe - hearing is believing. Vincent Crane is as much a virtuoso on his keyboards as is Brown with his voice. You'll hardly find another band that featured just drums, a guitar and keyboards delievering such an intensive, manic performance.

The interest and enthusiasm of the audiences were enormous. The Crazy World did a tour with The Who, Joe Cocker and other bands - after a while they were alternately co-heading with The Who!
Then up-coming acts like Genesis and David Bowie were their support acts - and obviously had a good look at Arthur's stage show. Peter Gabriel is quite open about it as well. He once told Brown before one of his gigs:
"You will see a lot of yourself in me tonight."

However, the huge success turned out to become one of the biggest problems for the band. Long and tiresome tours together with a silly release strategy of their company put so much pressure on the band that it disbanded after their second US tour in '69.
Especially the mental stress of Brown's intense performances lead to 'uncomfortable" results:

"For a while, I didn't necessarily believe I was the devil, but felt as if I was supposed to lay things open for people to see. Thank goodness that side of myself disappeared.
After a while you think: 'God, how could I believe this?'"

Kingdom Come - at work Back in England, Arthur formed Kingdom Come, featuring for a while the former Crazy World drummer Drachen Theaker - a man, obviously on the same lunatic level as Keith Moon...but that's another story...
Kingdom Come released 3 or 4 albums with Journey being the best and most successful of them.

The theatrical elements remained an integral, important part of the show - they can be witnessed also in the recent video-release of the Glastonbury '72 festival film, which featured Kingdom Come as one of the top-acts.

"Kingdom Come is a true multi-media experience - the band dressed as clowns, pirates, monks, whores, the Pope and a four-headed prisoner. Later the clown became a telephone, the Pope turned into a ship and the monk changed into a traffic light..."
The stage act also featured elements like 'Mr. Brain' - a small and lumpy grey matter severly dented by the education system, a giant test tube, backdrops, a gauze screen...

As SOUNDS magazine put it:
"Arthur remains one of the most perfect pieces of human mixed media in existence. His voice, with it's huge range, is as powerful as ever and his strange style of movements..."

Saint Arthur For a while they even staged a crucifixion scene:
"The crucifixion scene was originally meant to be a symbol of the persecution by the moguls of the record business but in the end, if just became a good way to start the act."

Kingdom Come was also one of the first bands to use a drum machine - in the studio AND on stage - which was quite adventurous in those day, with these machines being much more unreliable than today.
It is reported that at one gig at the Marquee club 'Ace Bentley' (the name of the machine) wouldn't stop to play it's programmed rhythm for one song - it just went on ...and on....and on...
The band was pushing every button, throwing cans at it...everything they had at hand...
But Ace kept the pace...for about 1 1/2 solid hours.
The band had to go with it.
"We managed to pull through, but it was one of the weirdest jams I've ever been in, and I've been in some weird ones."
For Kingdom Come the Machine-Age had already begun....

However, most of the time Ace was a reliable fellow and Arthur, who programmed the machine-member himself, was very satisfied with the results:
"The ordinary drum-kit is limited by what the hand and feet of the drummer can do, and also by the problem of amplifying it's sound. The 'Rhythm Ace', in that sense, is equivalent to 200 drum kits.
It frees the whole scope of rhythm and lets you get into patterns of rhythm that you just can't get with a drum kit.
On this one, for example, you can have a drum kit and a Latin-American section at the same time - there's no way you could do that otherwise. The Rhythm Ace gives you any rhythm that a drummer can play as well as rhythmic combinations that can't be played on anything but the machine.
But it is not so much a substitute for a drummer and a kit but a new direction for the rhythmic basis of rock music. The sounds it produces are like drum sounds, but they're not the same as drum sounds. They're percussion sounds.

I think that's what lies ahead in the future - we'll see people getting into percussion rather than drumming. There's definitely a new era of music coming."

...well, just think of the rhythm patterns of all the techno-tribal music. The man was absolutely right - and quite ahead of his time.

But of course, also Kingdom Come wasn't meant to last an eternal lunchtime and disbanded around 1974.

Arthur then travelled a lot - to Israel where he became (for the first time) a kind of musical therapist, playing to severly wounded Israelian soldiers in a hospital. Then he went to Turkey to settle for a while with one of the last tribes practising dervish dancing - a lot of other activities followed.

During the 70's he also collaborated with a lot of other musicians: He did some impressive vocals on Alan Parson's debut album Tales of Mystery and Imagination and two albums, Dune and Time Actor, with German synth-wizard Klaus Schulze, respectively 'Richard Wahnfried', Schulze's pseudonym on a side project.
He also acted the part of the furious priest in Ken Russel's / The Who's film Tommy - and did another album with his former Crazy World keyboarder Vincent Crane: Faster than the Speed of Light.

In 1978 Arthur moved to America and later settled in Austin, Texas. This is what he did since then, in his own brief words:
"Being with my family. I've been doing some music. I've done four albums now. I was also a house painter. I had a company with Jimmy Carl Black from The Mothers of Invention - we had a painting company called the The Gentlemen of Colour. We used this name because his name is Black and mine is Brown.
I also had council training, so I'm now a councillor working with drug and alcohol rehabilitation. And in that I use music, instead of talking I just had the guitar and made up stuff as I go along, and then I tape it and take it away. We've been going over to a friend's big studio and we'd record and play around."

This might all sound like quite a chequered mix of casual activities - but you couldn't be more wrong.
"I have spent years finding stability in my life and family, and now I'm back to being the irresponsible artist. I have a lot more experience now to put in the music. I'm 53, but it gives me a certain pedigree.
I can't dance like I could at 23, but I know more about it."

Arthur - live '93 The last years saw Arthur Brown on the road again, doing extensive tours and releasing a new live album, recorded at the Marquee in 1993: Order From Chaos, feat. a good mix of his CRAZY WORLD classics with new material. His voice is obviously still in fantastic shape - so is his performance style:
"I remember on the tour last year suddenly finding myself in mid-air, upside-down with my hand just about to hit the stage and saying to myself, 'How the fuck did I get here?' It was lovely, music just takes you away and your body responds.
My wish to make contact with people through music was reaffirmed. This form brought me face to face with my love of performing. It was like breathing again after being in a dusty room"

So, the FIRE is still burning - just a bit wiser and more experienced. Watch out for it, is my advice - like a lot of other artists still do. Just recently Arthur's songs have been covered by Pete Townshend, techno-star Prodigy and German crossover-meisters Die Krupps - who also asked him to perform the vocals on their version of Fire.

Arthur these days

Keep it burning, Arthur.

In the upper text I used excerpts of two comprehensive articles / interviews by Andy Langer and Lee Broughton - you'll find the complete versions linked below. The last interview snippets are taken from the "Psychedelic Guide to the Crazy World of Arthur Brown" by Trevor Hughes and Dave Roberts - to be obtained via:
Hawkfrendz, Zephyr, P.O. Box 6, Liscard, Wallasey, Merseyside L45 4SJ


> The newest of NEWS on ARTHUR BROWN - it's the <

- by LEE BROUGHTON (c) 1998

After the success of The Even Crazier World Of Arthur Brown's 1993 summer tour, the band hit the road and did it all over again in the summer of 1994.
Although these two tours did not feature Brown's trademark make-up and theatrics, they did prove that he was still a master showman, revealing a still commanding stage presence and voice and some incredible dance and mime moves.
Brown's love of improvisation and doggerel rhyme were also very much in evidence, along with some powerful new tunes. Unfortunately, the projected new studio album failed to surface but the band did record a fine version of 'The Green Manalishi' for the Peter Green tribute album 'Rattlesnake Guitar'.

Kingdom Come 1972 Renewed interest in Brown also resulted in the release of 'Jam', the original Kingdom Come audition tape. Brown returned to live performance in late 1995, when he went on the road with an act that consisted of himself, guitarist Randall Ward and various backing tapes.
Though less dynamic than the previous two outings, this informal act did provide more scope for messing about and interacting with the audience. In St. Petersburg, Arthur played one song to a crowd of 100,000 people when he turned up at the White Nights festival.

At some point in 1996, Brown signed a new management deal and a new Crazy World Of Arthur Brown was assembled. A homecoming performance in Whitby, as part of the town's Dracula Festival ('The Dracfest') in September 1997, revealed a return to the familiar make-up and theatre-rock shenanigans of yore, with the band reportedly being one of the highlights of the festival.

Arthur on VH1 - 1997 The band also reportedly made a big impression at The Recurring Technicolour Dream show that was held at the Institute Of Contemporary Arts in London. The band are said to have spent over two years in the studio, 'developing a vampire fixation' and preparing demos for an 'unidentified project' although Brown has escaped on at least two occasions to record a guest spot on the 1997 album 'Paradise Now' by Die Krupps and to contribute to Judge Smith's epic work in progress Curly's Airships.

Sadly, the much anticipated issue of an unreleased Vincent Crane (Atomic Rooster) project from the 70's, Taro Rota, which featured some vocals by Brown, has gone ahead with Brown's contributions missing due to 'contractual problems'.
Lee Broughton, May '98

Nov '03 - the latest Update...
And there are quite a lot of News to tell - as it seems that Arthur Brown is more active than ever!
As far as I know, a few years ago he returned to to live in the UK - at first he appeared at several festivals and shortly after he released a few new recordings - new material as "Tantric Lover" and also stuff from the archives, like another collaboration he did with Vincent Crane, the late mastermind of Atomic Rooster - entitled Taro-Rota.
He gigged with various backing bands - plugged and unplugged and also appears again with the reformed legendary Crazy World of Arthur Brown. And from all the reports I read so far, it seems he hasn't lost an ounce of his energy and his voice seems to be as impressive as ever.

However, the most interesting news in terms of the work of Robert Calvert is, that Arthur has become kind of a member - or at least a permanent guest-performer with HAWKWIND. He's singing a couple of their tracks like the "evergreen" Silver Machine and also a couple of his own tracks. An established part of the current set-list of Hawkwind are also such Calvert classics as The Song of the Gremlin, Ejection, The Right Stuff - and, with the introduction of Arthur Brown, one of the very best Calvert & Brock compositions re-appeared on-stage: STEPPENWOLF.
It seems that with Arthur's presence a lot of the Calvert-ian elements have returned to the live-set of Hawkwind, as he's re-introducing some theatrical elements into the show, wearing masks, costumes... - and songs like STEPPENWOLF certainly call for that.
One or two Hawkwind live-albums came out recently - unfortunately I haven't heard them - but they got rave-reviews all around - especially regarding those tracks feat. Arthur Brown.
So, indeed, he keeps that FIRE burning....

LINKS - More on Arthur Brown: