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Charlatans, The (UK)

The Charlatans came into existence after Jon Baker and Martin Blunt (ex-Makin’ Time) were crushed between Morrissey and Marr’s monitors at a Smiths gig in the 80s.

They discovered Tim Burgess rolling around a stage topless as the singer with a support band called The Electric Crayons.

Some Friendly (1990), their debut album of atmospheric, enigmatic Hammond organ-driven rock went gold only three days after it was released. The album produced the single, The Only One I Know.

To avoid confusion with the famed San Francisco band of the 60s, the group were officially known in the US and Canada as The Charlatans UK.

They also went to great lengths to distance themselves from the much-hyped Madchester scene which produced The Stone RosesHappy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets, among others.


Their actual home-base was Northwich, roughly equidistant between Manchester and Liverpool.

Whilst making their third album, Up To Our Hips, keyboardist Rob Collins was sent to prison for a four-month stretch for assisting an armed robbery in 1992. Upon his release, his bandmates found a changed man who was into hard drugs, guns and flipping personas.

Collins was killed on 23 July 1996 when he lost control of the BMW he was driving near Gwent, Wales, after celebrating a friend’s birthday with the rest of the band at a pub in Monmouth. The one passenger in the car – the band’s producer Ric Peet – escaped uninjured. Collins was only 33.

His tragic death came part-way through recording the band’s fifth album, and barely a week before their biggest ever gig supporting Oasis at Knebworth. The group were helicoptered into Knebworth with synth saviour Martin Duffy in tow and played the most passionate gig of their career.

Their defiant completion of the album Tellin’ Stories (1997) is captured emotionally in the 2013 film, Mountain Picnic Blues.

Dummer Jon Brookes died in August 2013 as a result of a brain tumour. He had suffered a seizure on tour with the band in 2010 and had been receiving treatment for the tumour. He was just 44.

Tim Burgess
Jon Baker
Martin Blunt
Robert Collins
Jon Brookes
Mark Collins
Martin Duffy
Tony Rogers