The Skeletal Family Biography
Formed from the ashes of The Elements (Keighley, West Yorkshire, England). The Skeletal Family began life in December 1982.
The initial line-up consisted of: -
Anne-Marie Hurst (Vocals)
Stan Greenwood (Guitars)
Roger "Trotwood" Nowell (Bass)
Steve Crane (Drums)
Ian "Karl Heinz" Taylor (Keyboards)
Taking their name from a David Bowie track off the Diamond Dogs album, the band quickly gained a sizeable local following, encouraged by this produced a self funded single "Trees"/"Just A Friend" released through the Leeds based Luggage label.
The single quickly gained the attention of Radio One's John Peel, which through regular airings on his late night show saw the single breach the lower regions of the National independent charts.
Due to this radio airplay the band by-passed the usual route of playing the small pub circuit and made their London debut at the Fulham Greyhound to an enthusiastic audience, no doubt bolstered due to the current radio airplay. The gig also received an encouraging reaction from the now defunct national music paper "Sounds", which secured the band other prestigious support slots with Sex Gang Children and Play Dead.
By now with a Radio One session booked for March, the band recorded a second single "The Night"/"Waiting Here". For this release drummer Steve Crane was replaced by Manchester based Howard Daniels. Karl Heinz also departed (occasionally resurfacing on various future projects). Due to disappointing sales the single the single fails to make the impression expected, and the band set about recording their third single "She Cries Alone". Enlisting the services of the recently defunct Southern Death Cult guitarist Ian "Buzz" Burrows as co-producer and roadie, now turned drummer Martin Henderson replacing the increasingly unreliable Howard, "She Cries Alone" gave the band their first major mark in the independent charts, and armed with this success recorded the debut album "Burning Oil".
Around this period the band came close to extinction, whilst returning from a Belgium appearance, the tour van rolled over, and after crawling from the van it was discovered to be teetering on the edge of a 10 ft fall over the canal. Miraculously no one was hurt apart from one passenger who lost half his lower ear!!! Whilst recording the album the band learnt that Sisters Of Mercy front man Andrew Eldridge had specifically asked the band to support the Sisters on their Autumn Black October tour.
Now playing to much larger receptive audiences, the reaction ensured that when released "Burning Oil" reached the top of the UK indie charts, beating The Smiths & New Order in the process. With a now much larger profile and two more Radio One sessions the band played numerous dates around Britain and Europe and proved popular enough to sell out London's then prestigious Marquee club.
Despite previously enduring limited recording budgets, the bands success now enabled them to enlist the services of Cult/Gene Loves Jezebel producer John Brand, relocating to Highland studios Inverness and recording the bands second album "Futile Combat". Aided by Waterboys saxophonist Anthony Thistlewaite and Graham Pleeth on synths, the band achieved a more polished sound, a marked improvement on the previous offering.
Live favourite "Promised Land" was chosen as the first single off the album and on release reached the top three of the National Indie charts. The band topped the year with special guest appearances with Siouxsie & The Banshees at Brixton Academy plus Spear of Destiny London's Lyceum.
By this time tensions within the band were high which culminated in both Anne-Marie and Martin (who joined March Violets vocalist Simon to form The Batfish Boys) leaving.
With a nationwide tour still booked, Anne-Marie rejoined and the band enlisted ex Gene Loves Jezebel drummer Dik on drums. Relationships in the band were still strained and although then tour was a success, Anne-Marie once again departed to form Ghost Dance with Sisters Of Mercy founder Gary Marx, forcing the band to cancel what would have been the band's seventh Radio One session for John Peel.
At this point the band, who were at the height of their success decided to carry on. Additional musicians were drafted in, Kevin Hunter from Hull based band Cold Dance and local Keighley guitarist John Clarke joined the ranks while Trotwood and Stan sifted through numerous replies from a Melody Maker advert, intent on finding a replacement vocalist.
An initial rehearsal with Look Back In Anger vocalist Mitch Ebbling didn't work out, So the band plumped for ex Colourfield, Manchester vocalist Katrina Phillips.
Katrina, who had sang and appeared with Terry Hall (ex Specials lead singer) on The Colourfield single "Thinking Of You" had a different voice and character to Anne-Marie, but had the added advantage of writing her own tunes and lyrics.
A new manager was found in the form of Tony Perrin and the band set about recording the next single "Restless" at Bradford's newly formed Flexible Response studios. The single was originally intended for release on the Red Rhino label, but after shooting a video with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and Russell Senior directing decided, with the aid of the band's publishing company DJM to try for a major label release.
After offers from various companies the band decided to sign with Chrysalis Records, as they seemed to be the most enthusiastic regarding promoting the band. "Restless" was remixed and partially rerecorded in Island Studios London with Smiths producer Steven Street, who whilst giving a more professional mix, deviated it so much from the original master tapes that it was almost unrecognisable as the Skeletal Family sound.
Nonetheless the single was released in 7" & 12" format gaining plenty of airplay on Radio One's Janice Long's Evening show which resulted in a further two sessions for the station plus a double page feature in Melody Maker.
The second single for Chrysalis "Just a Minute" recaptured the classic Skeletal Family sound and gave the band their highest success in the National charts at the time.
The band completed a highly successful German tour before retuning to Britain to record demo's for their forthcoming album with seventies glam rock Sweet' guitarist Andy Scott at the helm. Again disruptions occurred within the ranks causing the band to split the day before the bands first pre recorded TV performance was aired.
Due to the popularity of the band through the burgening internet interest, in 2002 the band reformed with the line-up of Anne-Marie, Stan, Trotwood and Martin. As Anne-Marie regretably
had to pull out due to family commitments, the band drafted in Katrina,
who along with husband Dante flew over from New York to fullfull the Leeds Cockpit commitment.
Following the successful gig at on 5.12.02, the Skeletal Family reformed. but
logistic considerations meant Katrina, who lived 4000 miles away would
mean regular gigs would be impossible
Rehearsal with various new singers proved unfruitfull, but with 3 weeks to go to a handfull
of national dates, Martin "discovered" Claire through a recommendation and pub meeting
and immediately contacted the rest of the band enthusiastically announcing "She is the one!" Intense rehearsals followed which ensured the band fulfilled the ensuing dates.
The band then commenced the recording of the album "Sakura" which was promoted
to a favourable audience reaction at the WGT festival in Leipzig in 2005.
The band continued to play sporadic international gigs plus regular appearances at Londons Slimelight club.
Due to Trotwoods commitments to Paul Weller, a stand in bass player was found in the
shape of Stan's colleague from the Big Bang Steve "Captain Black" Wilson. Steve
was in the band for a few months but disagreements from certain band members
culminated in him leaving, but still assisting as required, following on from Steves
departure, the band spend months rehearsing already familar material but with
a new bass player.
Johnny Lorrimer from the Psyco Surgeons (a band Stan had played in in the late 90's) took
up the bass mantle and helped write material on the band 2009 album "Songs Of Love Hope & Despair"
In September 2009 Martin and Claire (partners since 2002) performed in an alternative wedding ceremony, and the next month, with the band premiered the new album at The Gasscienda, Keighley, Friday, 25 September 2009. Playing only tracks from the album sequentuially.
Unfortunatly a pressing plant error, which delayed the arrival of the cds till 5 days after
event somewhat negated any benerficial publicty the the event wouild have had!
Meanwhile Stan was preparing for playing new material at a forhcoming gig with Anne-Marie Hurst, the original singer with the Skeletals in the 1980s. A project he had already informed all other members about months earlier.
This separate band project was the cause of a row between certain Skeletal Family members minutes after album launch gig. The argument centred on Anne-Marie's and Stan's and plans to perform three of the bands 1980's singles at their reunion.
Stan said that following meetings between Skeletal Family members the situation was now stalemate.
According to quote in Keighley News he stated: "I'm still a member, but it remains to be seen if the band will perform/record again. "I have no intention of leaving a band of which I was a core founder member and have dedicated a large part of my life performing and promoting." Stan believed both bands could have continued to flourish as they played "completely different" material.
Martin Henderson said the reunion caused a split because of the "underhand" way
it was handled. "From the discussions that followed, several personal gripes
came to light, and Claire and I decided we could no longer work with certain
parties. "We are still shocked by what has happened, until a few weeks ago we
were looking forward to promoting Skeletal Family's finest album to date."
Keyboard player Karl Heinz was the first member to leave, followed by drummer Martin and singer Claire, who recently married.
Karl-Heinz said: "There was a lot of tension within the band but I'm not one to bear grudges. I don't wish anyone any ill will whatsoever."
Stan Greenwood added " I stress i have no qualms with the other members, Karl Heinz and Johnny, who as they still live locally have every intention of working and most likely performing with again in the future."
Following the September argument Stan and Anne-Marie recruited fellow founder Skeletal member Trotwood to perform at their reunion concert.
The new band will perform at the New Variety Club, Keighley, on December 28 2009
SKELETAL FAMILY WEBSITE http://www.skeletalfamily.co.uk/history.html
MICHAEL BARRIES BLOG Friday, 13 November 2009 http://avicusuk.blogspot.com/2009/11/dont-be-denied.html
Skeletal Family, Split Anne-Marie Hurst, Stan Greenwood, Roger "Trotwood" Nowell, Claire Bannister, Martin Henderson, Karl Heinz. Johnny Lorrimer Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Skeletal Family pair back together? Thursday 25th June 2009 2009http://www.keighleynews.co.uk/leisure/leisure_bands/4458189.Skeletal_Family_pair_back_together_/
My Space www.myspace.com/annemariehurst
Current members November 2009
Stan Greenwood Guitar
Johnny Lorimer Bass
My Space www.myspace.com/annemariehurst