This interview was first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 31 July. Co-founder and guitarist Graeme Taylor chats about the band and selects some of his favourite tracks – both from Gryphon and from those artists who have inspired/influenced his music over the years.
In 1973, the folk/rock band Gryphon were described in ‘Melody Maker’ as “The 13th Century Slade”. Influenced by the burgeoning early music scene, inspired by the late David Munrow, the band melded folk, medieval and rock influences.
Royal College Of Music graduates Richard Harvey and Brian Gulland, together with Graeme Taylor and one-time heavy metal drummer Dave Oberle, were equally at home playing in front of giggling schoolgirls at the V&A in London as they were in massive arenas (they toured in the USA with Yes in 1974/5).
The band’s debut album in 1973 featured a mix of medieval dances and original material. The follow-up ‘Midnight Mushrumps’ pushed them more in the direction of progressive although retaining the early instrumentation. By the time of 1974′s ‘Red Queen To Gryphon Three’ this approach was more fully developed.
After 1975′s ‘Raindance’ Taylor and bassist Malcolm Bennett left and the band soldiered on for one more album, 1977′s ‘Treason’ but they failed to recapture their earlier success.
A reunion had been mooted for some time and, finally, in June 2009 the original band performed at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London followed by a series of dates in spring 2015.
In 2016, ahead of a further set of dates, Richard Harvey announced that he was leaving the band to concentrate on his work, including touring, with film composer Hans Zimmer.
Gryphon reconstituted with Rory McFarlane (bass) who also works with Taylor in his other main musical interest, Home Service, and Keith Thompson (ex-City Waites) on woodwinds. Additional instrumentalist Graham Preskett worked with the band in 2009.
The band play several dates, including Cropredy, in August followed by a gig at Union Chapel, London on 16 September.
On Sunday 31 July at 18:00 GMT, Graeme Taylor chats about the band in a one-hour special on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio. The station’s David Randall was a big fan back in 1973/4 and confided to Graeme that around that time he and a friend had formed a medieval folk duo and were also not averse to dressing up in doublet and hose. The music, he hastened to add, wasn’t just an excuse to dress up in the gear!
Says David “I was heavily into the history of the period and inspired by the music and enthusiasm of the late David Munrow who in the early 1970s fronted The Early Music Consort of London. Gryphon appeared on the scene at just the right time and provided an irresistible and infectious concoction of crumhorns and cornamuse the like of which had scarcely been seen in a rock and roll context.”