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Celebrating the past, present and future of the legendary Welsh rock band MAN

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Evolution

The Evolution Of Man

"Very unusual are Man - they refuse to be goaded by any temptation to be stars. It's a family affair. Their friends, the whole pattern of what they are and what surrounds them has no eye for fame - just recognition when it's due."

Roy Hollingworth - Melody Maker - 28th July 1973.

It's a complicated and fascinating story.

In its simplest retelling, Man formed in 1968, and are still going strong today. There have been ups, there have been downs, and (as ever) there have been long and eventful journeys traversing the scenic routes of life. Man though are not an island, and the story can only be adequately told by including all the band's friends and relations. The roots, the offshoots, the joinings and the amicable (and not so amicable) partings. The fellow travellers, the supporters and the followers.

The history pages are unfinished, just as Man's history is unfinished. Long may it continue to be unfinished. In the meantime, click around the menu to get some insight into where it started, how it went, and just maybe where it's going.

The Roots of Man

As a glance at Man's 'Family Jungle' will quickly confirm, the South Wales music scene was thriving in the sixties and early seventies. Players frequently moved between groups, and while some tendrils quickly withered and died, a majority flourished to carry the evolution ever forward. The Manband were formed in the Autumn of 1968 and has its roots in a rich and fertile musical soil.

From Merthyr Tydfil's harmony vocal group The Bystanders came Micky Jones and Clive John, whose musical vision would shape the future development of Man. With Micky and Clive came Ray Williams and Jeff Jones, forming a powerful and sensitive engine room to drive the band forward. In Swansea, The Jets had built up a sizable local following for their brand of beat and soul. From them, via the more psychedelic Dream, came Deke Leonard, an outstanding songwriter and a guitar player with an uncanny ability to generate memorable lead lines. Within two years Dream would also furnish Man with a new engine room, Martin Ace and Terry Williams.

In nearby Neath the progressive rock scene was finding an outlet in the developing talents of the Eyes Of Blue, who would later provide Man with keyboard player Phil Ryan. From the Eyes Of Blue, but via a much more circuitous route would also come the band's longest serving drummer, John 'Pugwash' Weathers. Mixed into these stories are also such familiar bands as Piblokto!, The Neutrons and Gentle Giant. Neath was also home to Quicksand, from whom would come bassist Will Youatt who shared much of his musical career with Phil Ryan.

Help Yourself broaden the canvas considerably. Sharpening their musical skills in Help Yourself were Malcolm Morley and Ken Whaley, part of Man's flirtation with a brighter, lighter sound in the mid-seventies. Ken was also a founder member of pub rock legends Ducks Deluxe, although he never featured on their albums. Bassist John McKenzie who saw out the band's seventies incarnation came from another well known pub rock band, the Global Village Trucking Company.

In later years the Manband's lineup has remained relatively stable. Current drummer Bob Richards served his apprenticeship in The Wild Family and The Adrian Smith Band, before settling into life with the godfathers of acid rock.

Manband Family and Friends

People come and people go, and when they do go, they usually go on to continue producing great music. On these pages you'll find information tracking the career of members the Manband who have moved on to pastures anew. Often they've since come back to rejoin the band, and occasionally they've been in and out more often than you'd care to mention. The links on the left will lead you to more detailed articles, but here's a brief taster.

Deke Leonard's solo career (which one?) has borne tasty fruit in the shape of three albums and a series of singles. He notably joined forces with Help Yourself in the early seventies, helping them over over a lull caused by one of Malcolm Morley's periodic bouts of depression. Recorded evidence of deke in the Helps is sparse, but the two solo albums he created in this period, Iceberg and Kamikaze, have stood the test of time extremely well. After Man disbanded in 1976 Deke returned to his solo career and a further fine album, Before Your Very Eyes, was released. A brief sojourn in the US was ended when he was called back to the UK to link up with Ducks Deluxe's Sean Tyla in The Force who's only album is an interesting blend of styles.

Clive John's solo album You Always Know Where You Stand With A Buzzard never fails to live up to its wonderfully eccentric title. Clive remains active musically and is often seen perfroming around the Swansea pubs and clubs. Phil Ryan left Man to form The Neutrons with Will Youatt, and produced two exquisite album releases before the band fell slowly apart. Phil then started work on a solo album, Road Of Cobras, but this remained unfinished when he rejoined Man in 1975. Glimpses of the album were heard on Man's Welsh Connection release. After they disbanded in 1976 Phil left the UK to start a new life in Denmark, producing music for television and film. He returned to the fold in 1996, substituting for Deke while Deke was unable to travel following his series of strokes that year. Phil featured strongly on the 2000 album Endangered Species, before returning to Denmark again.

Meanwhile, after his stint in The Neutrons, Will Youatt joined up with his ex-Quicksand partner James Davies to found Alkatraz, a fabulous and all too short-lived band who we'd hoped would carry the welsh rock flag into the eighties. Their one release, Doing A Moonlight, is a really superb example of intelligent and well-executed guitar based rock.

After leaving Man bass player Ken Whaley worked as a journalist but during the nineties the siren call of the music lured him back. Together with his ex-Help Yourself colleague Richard Treece and his younger brother Simon, Ken formed the Archers, who were soon renamed The Green Ray. The Green Ray have released a short series of EPs (or perhaps mini-albums) and CDs which showcase perfectly the skills of these unique talents. Ken and Richard have also worked intermittently with US musician, DJ and record producer Ron Sanchez in Donovan's Brain, whose blend of garage, psych, pop and rock can be heard on a growing number of fine CD album collections. Ron has been a fan and friend of the Manband since the very early seventies. In 1995 he realised a long time ambition and produced their album, Call Down The Moon. In the meantime Donovan's Brain have pursued a similarly idiosyncratic path along the scenic route of life.

There are many, many stories to tell and the characters will gradually come to fore. Terry Williams had perhaps the most spectacularly successful career after Man's 1976 breakup, working with Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe and Billy Bremner in Rockpile, then working with Meatloaf before joining Dire Straits. Let's not forget John McKenzie's session work, Malcolm Morley's time with Deke in Iceberg (or was it Howard Hughes?) and Plummet Airlines. Jeff Jones, Man's original drummer who went on to a career with Wild Turkey, appearing briefly also in Sassafras.


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