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|Origin||Stroud, Gloucestershire, England|
|Genres||Neo-progressive rock, progressive metal|
|Labels||Metal Mind, Toff Records, Inside Out, Snapper|
|Past members||John Barnfield|
Pendragon are an English neo-progressive rock band established in 1978 in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, as Zeus Pendragon by guitarist and vocalist Nick Barrett. The word Zeus was dropped before the band started recording, as the members decided it was too long to look good on a T-shirt. There were a few personnel changes in the early days, but since 1986 the lineup has remained relatively stable (with only the drummer changing several times since then) and the band were still active as of 2020.
The band were active in the progressive rock revival spearheaded by the likes of Marillion, Pallas, Solstice and Twelfth Night in the early 1980s, and indeed (like their peers IQ) often appeared as support acts to Marillion and other major neo-prog bands, both on tours and at the Marquee venue which hosted many regular prog evenings. After their debut album The Jewel, the band pursued a more commercial direction, documented in the Kowtow album and the Red Shoes and Saved By You EPs, but despite these efforts failed to break through to a mainstream audience. The group appeared at the 1983 Reading Festival and were signed to Elusive Records.
In 1991, the band established their own label, Toff Records, and released the archival release The Rest of Pendragon, a collection of EP tracks, and the studio album The World, in which they returned to a more progressive style that the band would continue to develop over their next three studio albums, The Window of Life, The Masquerade Overture, and Not Of This World.
From this point on their fortunes have improved, and while they are still relatively obscure in their home country they have a significant following in Europe; in particular, they have managed to develop a strong fanbase in Poland, and have both released at least one compilation specifically for the Polish market and recorded several live albums there.
In 2002, the band released Acoustically Challenged, documenting an "unplugged" session with a number of the band's songs retooled for acoustic instruments, which was originally broadcast on Radio 3 Warsaw. This was considered an unusual move for a progressive rock band, since progressive rock tends to focus a lot on the use of electronic synthesisers and electric guitars; however, the melodic qualities of the band's compositions proved to be well-suited to an acoustic context, and the album was reasonably successful. This heralded a new willingness to experiment on the part of the band, following a run of studio albums all broadly in the same vein as The World. On 2005's Believe they took their music in a somewhat darker direction, causing a certain amount of controversy amongst their fans. 2008's Pure, which featured elements of progressive metal, refined the style of Believe and was well received by the progressive rock fandom, being voted Album of the Year 2008 on DPRP. On the community website progarchives.com Pure enjoyed the current "most popular album" spot for a period in 2008, and remains in the site's top 10 prog releases of 2008 (as voted by site users).
On 21 April 2009, Pendragon released a live album and DVD, Concerto Maximo, shot in Katowice on 13 October 2008. It was filmed and edited by Metal Mind. It was released in several versions - a 2-CD release that features just the audio from the show, a DVD featuring the full show, and a DVD-and-2-CD special edition, which was limited to 1000 copies.
In October 2010, the band recorded the follow-up to Pure, the album Passion which was released in the spring of 2011. This was followed by Men Who Climb Mountains in 2014. Both albums continued the darker, heavier, more progressive metal-influenced direction of the band.
In April 2014, the band announced that they had parted ways with drummer Scott Higham for "personal reasons". He was then replaced by Craig Blundell. In June 2015, Blundell was replaced by Jan-Vincent Velazco.
In September 2019 the band released a 40th Anniversary boxed set containing five compact discs. The first three represent a complete live concert recording made in London during 2018. The remaining two discs are re-mixed and remastered versions of the albums The World and Men Who Climb Mountains. In February 2020, a new album called Love Over Fear was released.
- Current members
- Nick Barrett - guitars, vocals, keyboards (1978–present)
- Peter Gee - bass (1978–present)
- Clive Nolan - keyboards, vocals (1986–present)
- Jan-Vincent Velazco - drums (2015–present)
- Former members
- John Barnfield - keyboards (1978–1984)
- Rick Carter - keyboards (1984–1986)
- Alan Gyorffy - drums (1978)
- Nigel Harris - drums (1978–1984)
- Matt Anderson - drums (1984–1986)
- Fudge Smith - drums (1986–2006)
- Joe Crabtree - drums (2006–2008)
- Scott Higham - drums (2008–2014)
- Craig Blundell - drums (2014–2015)
- Fly High Fall Far EP (1984)
- The Jewel (1985)
- 9:15 Live (Live) (1986)
- Kowtow (1988)
- The World (1991)
- The Window of Life (1993)
- The Very Very Bootleg (Live) (1994)
- Utrecht... the Final Frontier (Live) (1995)
- The Masquerade Overture (1996)
- Live in Krakow (Live) (1996)
- Not Of This World (2001)
- Acoustically Challenged (Live) (2002)
- Believe (2005)
- Past and Presence (Live) (DVD, 2007)
- Pure (2008)
- Concerto Maximo (Live) (DVD, 2009)
- Passion (2011)
- Out of Order Comes Chaos (Live) (DVD, 2012)
- Men Who Climb Mountains (2014)
- Masquerade 20 (Live) (2017)
- The First 40 Years Box Set (Live + Re-recorded) (2019)
- Love Over Fear (2020)
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 942. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- "Biography". pendragon.mu. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- Alexis Petridis. "Go back to go forward: the resurgence of prog rock". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
- "DPRPoll 2008". dprp.net. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- "Breaking News". pendragon.mu. Retrieved 15 December 2014.
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