Third Ear Band

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Third Ear Band were a British musical group formed in London during the mid-1960s. Their line-up initially consisted of violin, cello, oboe and percussion. Most of their performances were instrumental and partly improvised. Nevertheless, their records for the Harvest label, Alchemy and Third Ear Band, achieved some popularity, after which they found some success creating sound-track music for films.


Members came from The Giant Sun Trolley and The People Band to create an improvised music drawing on Eastern raga forms, European folk, experimental and medieval influences. They recorded their first session in 1968 for Ron Geesin which was released under the pseudonym of The National-Balkan Ensemble on one side of a Standard Music Library disc.

Their first album, Alchemy, was released on the EMI Harvest label in 1969 and featured John Peel, the BBC disk jockey who did much to publicise the group, playing jaw harp on one track. This was followed by an eponymous second album containing four tracks, "Air", "Earth", "Fire" and "Water", which reached wider attention due to the inclusion of one track on the Harvest sampler "Picnic".

They recorded two soundtracks, the first in 1970 for an animated film by Herbert Fuchs of Abelard and Heloise (which first saw release as part of Luca Ferrari's Necromancers of the Drifting West Sonic Book in 1997) and then in 1971 for Roman Polanski's film of Macbeth. After various later incarnations and albums they finally disbanded in 1993 owing to leader and percussionist Glen Sweeney's ongoing health problems.

They also opened The Rolling Stones Free Concert at Hyde Park on 5 July 1969, and played at the Isle of Wight Festival the next month.

Collective band members[edit]


Studio albums[edit]


  • Radio Sessions (1988)


  • New Forecasts from the Third Ear Almanach (1989)
  • Live (1999)


  • The National-Balkan Ensemble (1968)
  • Experiences (1976)
  • Songs From The Hydrogen Jukebox (1998)
  • Hymn To The Sphynx (2001)

External links[edit]