Manfred Mann's Earth Band

Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Manfred Mann's Earth Band
Origin England
Genres progressive rock, jazz rock, hard rock, blues rock, jazz
Years active 1971–present
Labels Philips, Vertigo, Bronze, Warner Bros., Arista, Virgin, Kaz, Grapevine, Cohesion
Manfred Mann
Mick Rogers
Robert Hart
Jimmy Copley
Steve Kinch
Past members
See: Manfred Mann's Earth Band Personnel

Manfred Mann's Earth Band is a British progressive rock group formed in 1971 by Manfred Mann.




Having started in the 1960s with a British band that had such hits as "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" and "The Mighty Quinn", then moving on to Jazz Fusion with Manfred Mann's Chapter Three, Manfred's third band, "The Earth Band' is still alive and recording. In his 2003 biography, former member of Manfred Mann's earlier Manfred Mann Band and Beatles-associate Klaus Voormann alleged to have inspired Mann for the Earth Band's name by having besought Mann several times throughout the 1960s that Mann's soft pop style of those days had to become more "earthier" and rockier, not least of all because of the seemingly effeminate image of Mann's earlier band which had led to a number of close encounters with violence particularly in Ireland.[1]

The membership of the Earth Band was stable through their first six albums before becoming relatively informal; Mick Rogers originally performed lead guitar and lead vocal duties before being replaced by Chris Thompson on vocals and Dave Flett on guitar, who is currently working on his solo album Flying Blind. Drumming duties were fulfilled by Chris Slade, who was later to be a member of AC/DC and Asia. Bass player Colin Pattenden, after leaving the Earth Band, became a sound consultant, running his own company designing and installing sound systems. There was much about the Earth Band that was potentially successful, but the contrariness of the band's approach and Mann's perfectionism meant that albums frequently came out with different track listings in different territories, or in alternative versions.


The Earth Band combines the stylistic approach of progressive rock with Mann's jazz-influenced Moog synthesizer playing and keen ear for melody. Beside producing own material, a staple of the band's music and live performances from the beginning has been also relying on covers of songs by other modern pop/rock artists, notably Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, in MMEB's progressive rock style.

Mann's interest in English 20th century classical music saw him adapt Gustav Holst's Planets Suite, garnering an unlikely UK hit with a version of the "Jupiter" movement, with lyrics added, entitled Joybringer (included on the 1973 album Solar Fire). Another classical reference was Questions on the 1976 album The Roaring Silence that is based upon the main theme of Franz Schubert's Impromptu in G flat Major.

The title song to 1973's Messin', as well as most of the album The Good Earth tapped into ecological concerns, a recurring theme in Mann's music in later years, with The Good Earth giving away a free gift of a piece of land in Wales with each album sold. Like other progrock acts, beside treating environmental issues the band also issued concept albums on space and sci-fi themes (particularly Solar Fire, a minor resurgence of which was seen in the songs Launching place off The Good Earth, and Starbird, based upon Igor Stravinski's ballet The Firebird, on The Roaring Silence) and a number of their songs featured religious or biblical imagery (Prayer on the band's debut album, Buddah on Messin', Dylan's Father of day, father of night and In the beginning, darkness on Solar Fire, The road to Babylon and This side of paradise on The Roaring Silence, Resurrection on Angel Station).

Social criticism was tackled throughout the 1970s (Black and blue on Messin' dealt particularly with slavery, and Chicago institute on Watch with mental institutions and science as a mean of social control), a trend which grew throughout the 1980s, with songs such as Lies (through the 80s) on technological progress vs. social setbacks on Chance, and with Mann's growing involvement with the anti-apartheid movement which spawned the 1982 album Somewhere in Afrika. Mann's intention for acknowledgement of oppressed ethnics also influenced the 1992 album Plains Music working with traditional North-American natives material.


The US breakthrough for the band came in the third week of February, 1977 when they charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with Bruce Springsteen's Blinded by the Light from the 1976 album The Roaring Silence. While the Springsteen original from 1973's Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. album has a folky, acoustic sound, the Earth Band's version is driving rock, combining Mann's Moog synthesizer and organ work with Flett's guitar.

The counterpoint at the end of the song where Manfred can be heard opposite Thompson, was the feature that initially attracted him to the song. The band took advantage of the publicity and re-released another Springsteen song, "Spirit in the Night", which had been recorded the previous year on Nightingales and Bombers, originally with Rogers on vocals---although for some territories it was re-recorded with a vocal from Thompson.

The albums Nightingales and Bombers, The Roaring Silence, and Watch followed. Watch produced another hit single in "Davy's on the Road Again", and the albums were original despite the dependence on covers of other artists' songs. Nightingales and Bombers took its title from a World War II naturalist's recording of a nightingale singing in a garden as warplanes flew overhead; the recording appears in a track on the album. Roaring Silence featured a guest appearance by jazz saxophonist Barbara Thompson, and Watch included two stand-out recordings from the band's live performances of "Davy's on the Road Again" and "Mighty Quinn."

The 1980s

Flett left before 1979's Angel Station to be replaced by Steve Waller, sharing the vocal duties with Thompson who was also intent on pursuing a solo career. 1980's Chance showed a move towards a more electronic approach, and produced several cuts that were hits in the UK and/or saw significant airplay in both the US and UK. The songs "Lies (All Through The 80's)," "Stranded," and "For You" (another Springsteen song) still receive significant airplay over 25 years since their release. Trevor Rabin (also born in South Africa and at the time a session musician in London) guested on the album.

By the late '70s and early '80s Mann had become active in the international anti-apartheid movement and was banned from entering South Africa, the country in which he had been born. Undeterred, members of the band made journeys to South Africa to record African musicians for the album Somewhere in Afrika, pre-figuring Paul Simon's Graceland. The album included a cover of The Police's "Demolition Man" and a version of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," which remains in the band's set today.

Recent years

Manfred Mann's Earth Band has continued recording, covering tracks by artists as varied as Paul Weller, Robert Cray, Del Amitri, and The Lovin' Spoonful. Mann released a solo project, Plains Music, based on Native American music, and his album 2006 includes collaborations with the German rapper Thomas D and tracks featuring the music of, amongst others, the Super Furry Animals. The Earth Band remain active in live performances in Europe, with a line up that includes both Manfred Mann and Mick Rogers.

Most of the band's albums have been re-released in recent years and a 4-CD set (Odds & Sods - Mis-takes & Out-takes) featuring many previously unissued versions of tracks was released in August 2005. This includes material from the unreleased (and thought to be lost) Manfred Mann Chapter III Volume 3 album and the first Earth Band album, Stepping Sideways. The fourth CD in the package includes both unreleased studio material and live performances.

December 2006 saw the release of the best-of DVD Unearthed 1973-2005 The Best of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. This features twenty tracks ranging from three recorded in Sweden in 1973 ("Father of Day," "Captain Bobby Stout," and "Black & Blue"), to a 2005 performance of "Mighty Quinn." Also included are animations used during the band's live performances of the late 1970s and early 1980s and promo films including two tracks from the Plains Music album.

In 2007, two separate dance remixes of Bruce Springsteen songs as performed by Manfred Mann's Earth Band entered the Austrian Charts. The first was a remix of "Blinded by the Light", which was credited to Michael Mind featuring Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The second was a remix of "For You", credited to The Disco Boys featuring Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The 1983 Budapest concert, released at the time was made available in DVD format with footage from the show available for the first time - this includes tracks not previously available. 2008 saw the release of the 'Watch' DVD which includes as a bonus footage from a 1979 Austrian concert.

In 2009, vocalist Noel McCalla was replaced by Peter Cox previously best known for his work with Go West. Peter Cox left the band in 2011 due to his extensive commitments with his group Go West. He was replaced by Robert Hart.

Use of classical music themes

Mann trained as a classical musician, and his love of classical music surfaces in references within songs. The most obvious is the use of "Jupiter" from Holst's The Planets in Masque's "Joybringer". However there are other less well-known examples:


Current members

Former members


For a detailed listing see Manfred Mann's Earth Band discography.


  1. ^ Klaus Voormann, Warum spielst du Imagine nicht auf dem weißen Klavier, John? Erinnerungen an die Beatles und viele andere Freunde ("Why Don't You Play Imagine on the White Piano, John?: Memories of the Beatles and Many Other Friends"), Heyne 2003. ISBN 3-453-87313-0

External links

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