Gryphon (band)

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Origin London, England
Genres Progressive rock, medieval folk rock, symphonic rock
Years active Early 1970s-1977
reunion: 2009
Labels Transatlantic Records (1973-1975)
EMI/Harvest Records (1977)
Members Brian Gulland
Graeme Taylor
Dave Oberlé
Graham Preskett
Rory McFarlane
Keith Thompson
Past members Richard Harvey
Philip Nestor
Malcolm (Bennett) Markovich
Jonathan Davie
Bob Foster
Alex Baird

Gryphon are a British progressive rock band formed in the 1970s, best known for their unusual medieval and Renaissance sound and instrumentation. The band briefly flourished in the progressive rock heyday of the early 1970s, and then retired to other musical activities before reforming for a one-off reunion in 2009. Recently the band has confirmed further concerts in 2015, including new music.[1]



In the early 1970s, two fellow Royal College of Music graduates, multi-instrumentalist Richard Harvey and the woodwind player Brian Gulland began the group as an all-acoustic ensemble, mixing traditional English folk music with medieval and Renaissance influences. Shortly after this, the duo was joined by guitarist Graeme Taylor and drummer/percussionist Dave Oberlé.

1973-1977: band career and breakup[edit]

After their self-titled debut, they expanded their sound to include electric guitars and keyboards as well as wind instruments, such as bassoons and krumhorns, not previously used in rock music. Gryphon's music often sounded as much like rural English folk or renaissance chansons as it did rock, at least on their early recordings.

In 1974, the group's publicist Martin Lewis arranged for the band to be commissioned to write and record the music for a major stage production of Shakespeare's The Tempest at Britain's National Theatre, directed by Sir Peter Hall. It opened at the historic Old Vic Theatre in April 1974. The music the band wrote and recorded for the stage production inspired the 21-minute fantasia "Midnight Mushrumps" (named after a phrase mentioned in The Tempest) which became the title track of their second album. Following the successful premiere of the play and acclaim for its music, Lewis arranged for Gryphon to give a Sunday evening concert at the Old Vic in July 1974 - the first-ever and to date only rock concert held at Britain's National Theatre. At the concert, the band performed "Midnight Mushrumps". The concert was considered a major breakthrough for progressive rock music.

After their third album Red Queen to Gryphon Three and the subsequent tour as a supporting act for Yes, their instrumentation became more conventional and the use of non-standard instruments was reduced.

Graeme Taylor left the band in 1975, along with bass player Malcolm Bennett, after the US and UK tours supporting Yes ('74/'75) and the completion of the fourth album, Raindance. Bennett, previously a Royal College of Music student, had replaced Philip Nestor in 1974. Taylor and Bennett went on to form a rock band called Precious Little, playing in a Copenhagen nightclub during the summer of 1976 before that group's (temporary) dissolution.

In 1977, Richard Harvey and Jonathan Davie - under the names Rik Mansworth and John Thomas - were members of The Banned, supposedly a punk rock group, who had a hit in the UK pop charts with a version of "Little Girl", originally recorded in the 1960s by The Syndicate of Sound.[2]

Gryphon split up in 1977 after the release of their fifth and final album Treason (Harvest Records).

2007-present: on-going plans for a band reunion[edit]

Since 2007: working on a new album and planning a one-off London concert and a reunion tour[edit]

In September 2007, Gryphon announced on their website that they had finally decided to produce a new album after a silence of thirty-one years. Whilst there was no timescale planned, it was envisaged that it would be released in the Summer of 2008. Gryphon also suggested the possibility of a one-off live performance in London.

On 15 September 2008, Gryphon announced that they had been forced to postpone the reunion concert until the following year due to lack of venue availability for 2008. The band also announced that the album project was moving forward slowly, but has yet to materialise.

June 2009: one-off reunion concert in London[edit]

On Saturday 6 June 2009, thirty-two years after its last performance, Gryphon reformed for a reunion concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. The four original members - Richard Harvey, Brian Gulland, Graeme Taylor and Dave Oberlé - opened the evening with a selection of songs and instrumentals from the first album Gryphon. They were then joined by Jon Davie (the final bass player, who appeared on Treason) and a new member, the multi-instrumentalist and film/production music composer Graham Preskett for the rest of the evening.

2014-present: reunion[edit]

After the one-off sell-out concert in June 2009 at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, Gryphon announced a further reunion tour of clubs, arts centres and festivals, with the band due to perform new songs and old favourites. Subsequently this tour was postponed, with the band reporting logistical and technical factors, as well as difficulty in finding suitable venues. Early in 2015, a re-union tour was finally confirmed. The band played six dates in Spring 2015,[3] with further dates in 2016 including Fairport Convention's Cropredy Convention and a return to Union Chapel Hall.[4]

In the spring of 2016, it was announced that Richard Harvey was leaving the band due to a cramped schedule.[5] Shortly after, Gryphon gained two new members: Keith Thompson on woodwinds and Rory McFarlane on bass.[6]




Additional personnel[edit]

  • Ernest Hart – Organ (on Midnight Mushrumps and Red Queen to Gryphon Three) (It should be noted that this "credit" is spurious and actually refers to the fact that Ernest Hart of organmakers Copeman Hart made the electronic reed organ played by Richard Harvey on the albums.)
  • Peter Redding – Acoustic bass (on Red Queen to Gryphon Three)
  • Tim Sebastion – lyrics (on Treason)



All albums were released by Transatlantic Records, except Treason, which was released by EMI/Harvest Records.

Compilations and other releases[edit]

  • The Collection (1991)
  • The Collection II (1995)
  • About as Curious as It Can Be (2002) - 1974 & 1975 BBC Radio session performances
  • Glastonbury Carol (2003) - 1972 & 1974 BBC Radio session performances plus the title track, theme music for the Peter Neal film Glastonbury Fayre about the 1971 Glastonbury Festival
  • Crossing the Styles: The Transatlantic Anthology (2004)


  1. ^ "Gryphon band website". Gryphon (band website). Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  2. ^ The Banned
  3. ^ "Gryphon band website". Gryphon (band website). Retrieved 29 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Gryphon Setlist at Union Chapel, London". Retrieved 2016-11-21. 
  5. ^ "Gryphon facebook page". Facebook. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  6. ^ "Gryphon facebook page". Facebook. Retrieved 7 May 2016. 

External links[edit]