Omega (band)

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This article is about the musical group. For other uses, see Omega (disambiguation).
Omega
Omega (együttes).jpg
Background information
Origin Budapest, Hungary
Genres Psychedelic rock, hard rock, progressive rock, space rock
Years active 1962 – 1987, 1994 - present
Labels Qualiton, Pepita, Bacillus
Associated acts Locomotiv GT
Website www.omega.hu
Members László Benkő
János Kóbor
Tamás Mihály
György Molnár
Ferenc Debreczeni
Past members Győző Bánkúti
Tamás Künsztler
Péter Láng
Ferenc Tornóczky
István Varsányi
András Kovacsics
László Harmat
József Laux
Tamás Somló
Mária Wittek
Gábor Presser

Omega is one of the most successful Hungarian rock bands.

Biography[edit]

Omega was formed in Budapest in September 1962 by core members' keyboardist/flutist/trumpeter/vocalist László Benkő and vocalist János Kóbor; along with trombonist Győző Bánkúti, drummer/percussionist Tamás Künsztler, saxophonist Péter Láng, guitarist Ferenc Tornóczky, and bassist István Varsányi. The band's initial line-up did not last long, with co-founders Bánkúti and Tornóczky opting to leave within a couple of months of the band's formation; the latter being replaced by András Kovacsics whilst the former was not replaced. More changes ensued over the following couple of years; with Láng departing in 1963 to be replaced by László Harmat, who subsequently departed the following year along with Künsztler; leading to drummer József Laux, saxophonist Tamás Somló, and vocalist Mária Wittek being recruited to the band. This new septet provided the band with it's first stable line-up, one which would last until 1967.

In 1967, Omega's line-up was augmented by keyboardist/vocalist Gábor Presser, and thus the band started taking steps towards writing and recording their first album; however this had not come about without creating further instability in the band's line-up. Within a few months of Presser's recruitment, both Varsányi (who was by this point the only founding member in the band other than Benkő and Kóbor) and Wittek departed; the role of bassist falling to Tamás Mihály at this point. Later in the year, longstanding guitarist Kovacsics also opted to leave the band, and was replaced by György Molnár. The following year Somló departed the band, and the remaining sextet (Benkő-Kóbor-Laux-Mihály-Molnár-Presser) ultimately proved to be the line-up that ultimately ended up releasing the band's debut album (1968's Trombitás Frédi és a rettenetes emberek), as well as the following two (1969's 10 000 lépés and 1970's Éjszakai országút). These first albums were heavily influenced by the music of The Beatles and psychedelic rock, but they also looked forward to the band's future more hard rock, then progressive and space rock styles.

Following the acrimonious departure of Laux and Presser in Spring 1971 to form Locomotiv GT (of which former Omega saxophonist Tamás Somló would also later be a member); the remaining members of Omega recruited drummer/percussionist Ferenc Debreczeni, who had previously performed with Neoton Família, in August 1971, to create the current line-up, which has remained unchanged ever since - János "Mecky" Kóbor on lead and backing vocals; László "Laci" Benkő on keyboards, flute, trumpet, and lead and backing vocals; Tamás "Misi" Mihály on bass and lead and backing vocals; György "Elefánt" Molnár on guitars; and Ferenc "Ciki" Debreczeni on drums.

This band released ten more albums between 1972 and 1987. Many of these were released both in Hungarian and in English, in the hopes of generating wider interest in their music. However, the contents of the English albums often differed from their Hungarian counterparts, sometimes assembling tracks from several different albums and nearly always changing the song order. The band dissolved in 1987, but reformed again in 1994, with former member Gábor Presser joining them, following a thawing in relations between Omega and Locomotive GT, at concerts and contributing several tracks to 1995's Trans And Dance. Since the band's reformation the line-up has often been augmented by guitarist Tamás Szekeres, bassist Miklós Küronya, and keyboardist Zsolt Gömöry, as substitutes for Molnár, Mihály, and Benkő, respectively, on occasions where the official band members have been unable to commit to the band for personal reasons. The involvement of these musicians' has been principally for live purposes, but has sometimes extended to recording sessions; regardless of this, Benkő, Mihály, and Molnár all remain official members' of Omega.

Omega has achieved great international success through releases in multiple languages, and tours in England and Germany in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. Their 1969 song "Gyöngyhajú lány" became an international hit, and was later covered by Griva on their 1987 self-titled album, with the title "Devojka biserne kose", and by Scorpions on a 1995 live release, with new lyrics and the title "White Dove" (the Hungarian title officially was translated as "Pearls In Her Hair"), In 2013 Kanye West used the song in a sample for his track "New Slaves".

Omega’s 16th Hungarian studio release is 2006’s Égi jel: Omega ("Divine Sign: Omega"), and their latest English release is 1996’s Transcendent. In spring and summer of 2006, they performed their "EurOmega 2006" tour, including concerts in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Berlin and Basel.

As the first part of a trilogy the band released in autumn 2010 Omega Rhapsody.

On July 19, 2016, founding Omega bassist Tamás Somló died, aged 68, of cancer;[1] and the following month, on August 6, 2016, founding drummer József Laux also died, aged 73.[2]

Personnel[edit]

Members[edit]

Line-ups[edit]

1962 1962-1963 1963-1964 1964-1967
  • Győző Bánkúti - trombone
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Künsztler - drums, percussion
  • Péter Láng - saxophone
  • Ferenc Tornóczky - guitars
  • István Varsányi - bass
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Künsztler - drums, percussion
  • Péter Láng - saxophone
  • István Varsányi - bass
  • András Kovacsics - guitars
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Künsztler - drums, percussion
  • István Varsányi - bass
  • András Kovacsics - guitars
  • László Harmat - saxophone
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • István Varsányi - bass
  • András Kovacsics - guitars
  • József Laux - drums, percussion
  • Tamás Somló - saxophone
  • Mária Wittek - lead & backing vocals
1967 1967 1967-1968 1968-1971
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • István Varsányi - bass
  • András Kovacsics - guitars
  • József Laux - drums, percussion
  • Tamás Somló - saxophone
  • Mária Wittek - lead & backing vocals
  • Gábor Presser - keyboards, lead & backing vocals
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • András Kovacsics - guitars
  • József Laux - drums, percussion
  • Tamás Somló - saxophone
  • Gábor Presser - keyboards, lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Mihály - bass, cello, lead & backing vocals
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • József Laux - drums, percussion
  • Tamás Somló - saxophone
  • Gábor Presser - keyboards, lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Mihály - bass, cello, lead & backing vocals
  • György Molnár - guitars
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • József Laux - drums, percussion
  • Gábor Presser - keyboards, lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Mihály - bass, cello, lead & backing vocals
  • György Molnár - guitars
1971-1987 1987-1994 1994-present
  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Mihály - bass, cello, lead & backing vocals
  • György Molnár - guitars
  • Ferenc Debreczeni - drums, percussion

Disbanded

  • László Benkő - keyboards, flute, trumpet, lead & backing vocals
  • János Kóbor - lead & backing vocals
  • Tamás Mihály - bass, cello, lead & backing vocals
  • György Molnár - guitars
  • Ferenc Debreczeni - drums, percussion

Timeline[edit]

Discography[edit]

Omega has sold (2013) approximately more than 50 millions of records around the world.[3]

Studio albums[edit]

Hungarian language albums
  • Trombitás Frédi és a rettenetes emberek (1968), due to marketing schemes the band's name was changed to Omega Red Star on the album cover
  • 10 000 lépés (1969)
  • Éjszakai országút (1970)
  • 200 évvel az utolsó háború után (recorded in 1972, but not released until 1998 due to government censorship; Élő Omega, a fake "live" recording of the original studio material was released instead)
  • Omega 5 (1973) later remixed, remastered and released as Szvit
  • Omega 6: Nem tudom a neved (1975); later remixed, remastered and released as Tűzvihar - Stormy Fire
  • Omega 7: Időrabló (1977);
  • Omega 8: Csillagok útján (1978); later remixed, remastered and with its English-language version released as Csillagok útján - Skyrover
  • Gammapolis (1979); later remixed, remastered and with its English-language version released as Gammapolisz - Gammapolis
  • Omega X: Az arc (1981)
  • Omega XI (1982)
  • Omega 12: A föld árnyékos oldalán (1986)
  • Omega XIII: Babylon (1987)
  • Trans And Dance (1995); later remixed, remastered and released as Transcendent - Hungarian version
  • Omega XV: Egy életre szól (1998)
  • Omega XVI: Égi jel: Omega (2006)
  • Omega Rhapsody (2010)
English language albums
  • Omega Red Star From Hungary (1968) extremely rare vinyl recording, since October 2007 available on CD. Vocals by Mihály Tamás
  • Omega (1973)
  • 200 Years After The Last War (1974)
  • Omega III (1974)
  • The Hall Of Floaters In The Sky (1975)
  • Time Robber (1976)
  • Skyrover (1978)
  • Gammapolis (1979)
  • Working (1981)
  • Transcendent (1996)

Also, one German studio album was released:

  • Das Deutsche Album (1973)

Live albums[edit]

  • Élő Omega (1972, released instead of their 4th studio album, first LP with Debreceni on drums; on official band's site is included on the Studio Albums list)
  • Élő Omega Kisstadion 79 (1979; a 2-LP set)
  • Live At The Kisstadion 79 (1979; a 2-LP set, including some tracks dubbed with English vocals)
  • Kisstadion '80 (1981; 5 titles by Omega, and rest of the album by 2 other performers of joint show, Locomotiv GT and Beatrice)
  • Jubileumi Koncert (1983)
  • Népstadion 1994 Omegakoncert No. 1: Vizesblokk (1994)
  • Népstadion 1994 Omegakoncert No. 2: Szárazblokk (1994)
  • Az Omega összes koncertfelvétele 1. (1995, a 3-CD set of live recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, including the Kisstadion 1979 concert)
  • Az Omega összes koncertfelvétele 2. (1995, a 3-CD set of live recordings from the 1980s and 1990s)
  • Népstadion 1999 (1999, released as a 2-CD set and as a DVD)
  • Napot hoztam, csillagot (2004 limited edition CD; a DVD of this title was also released, with a different tracklist)
  • Greatest Performances (2012 edition on CD and DVD)

Compilation Albums[edit]

  • The Beaty Sixties (Trimedio Music, 2015)
  • The Spacey Seventies (Trimedio Music, 2015)
  • The Progressive Eighties (Trimedio Music, 2015)
  • The Heavy Nineties (Trimedio Music, 2015)
  • LP Anthology (Hungaroton, 2016, a 13 cd set of all the Hungarian language albums 1968-1987)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gyász! Meghalt Somló Tamás (Hungarian)
  2. ^ Meghalt Laux József (Hungarian)
  3. ^ http://www.ostmusik.de/omega_presse30.htm

External links[edit]