One of the most intense and extreme groups of the 70s Prog Rock era, Van Der Graaf Generator were ever on the verge of collapse. Constant tensions were caused by trying to steer what drummer Guy Evans cheerfully calls the “impossible, unstable entity” into a marketable situation.
Formed at Manchester University in 1967, VDGG used jazz, classical influences and heavy rock riffing to terrorise their listeners, while Peter Hammill’s lyrics of occult dread scared early bassist Nic Potter into quitting.
With floating personnel which changed from album to album, and “sound paintings” that varied from heavy-handed to sombre, Van Der Graaf Generator was cited by some British punk bands as a seminal influence.
They were one of the few groups of their era to be praised when punk broke (notably by John Lydon of The Sex Pistols).
Whereas much Prog Rock eventually turned showbiz, VDGG were notoriously unpredictable and uncompromising.
After making dangerous, divisive albums and getting big in Italy, the band split up, re-formed to make more dangerous, divisive albums and finally bowed out in 1978.
Endorsements from celebrity fans like Julian Cope, film director Anthony Minghella and John Frusciante of Red Hot Chili Peppers prompted VDGG to re-form again in 2005.
Fans from 27 countries bought tickets for their concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall, which sold out on word of mouth before it was even advertised.
VDGG have continued recording and performing live – since 2005 as a trio of Peter Hammill, Hugh Banton and Guy Evans.
Keyboards, guitars, vocals
Bass, keyboards, guitar
Keyboards, wind instruments