With a Tolkien-inspired name (they were originally called Silmarillion) and a theatrical singer – Derek W Dick (known professionally as Fish) – Marillion developed into the best prog band of the 1980s.
The signature guitar playing of Steve Rothery lent the band a distinctive sound, and Fish was a charismatic and eccentric front-man.
Voted Best New Band by the readers of Sounds in 1983, Marillion broke into the singles and albums charts in the same year. Script For A Jester’s Tears featured lyrics all written by Fish and was a Top Ten album.
The band had a fondness for lengthy, wordy, complex songs, such as Grendel – which they had the balls to open with at the Reading Festival in 1983. But just two years later Marillion had a pop hit of their own with Kayleigh.
By 1987, Marillion were headlining at Wembley Arena, but after the album Clutching At Straws, Marillion and Fish went their separate ways. Mr Dick ventured into a solo career where he could explore his Scottish identity and penchant for pretentious titles to his heart’s content.
Marillion, meanwhile, entered a second phase – less commercial but interesting in a different way, with new vocalist Steve Hogarth and the accessible albums Season’s End and Holidays In Eden.
Many of the die-hard fans jumped ship when they heard the first Hogarth single, the chuggingly radio-friendly rock-out Hooks In You.
But concept album, Brave (1994), showed that they had not lost touch with their experimental roots.
Marillion are still recording and performing today, and get together for annual gatherings with their fans at holiday camps.
Fish (Derek W Dick)
Doug ‘Rastus’ Irvine