Marillion are a very British band with a very British sound and were a product of the prog-rock revival of the early 80’s. They often drew comparisons with the like of prog rockers Genesis, for the most part because of the similarity in vocal style, between lead singer Fish and Peter Gabriel. However this never stopped Marillion from attaining success both sides of the pond, with 6 top ten albums in the U.K album chart, 7 UK top 10 hits singles and an enthusiastic cult fan base in the U.S.
Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire is the town that has become synonymous Marillion. The hit songs 'Market Square Heroes' and 'Lavender' make autobiographical references to the area of the town the band first performed together in 1981. The height of Marillion’s success came in the mid- eighties with the early line up of Derek. W. Dick AKA Fish (Vocals), Steve Rothery (guitars), Mick Pointer (drums) replaced by Ian Mosley after the debut album (Script for a Jesters Tears), Mark Kelly (Keyboards) and Pete Trewavas (bass).
In 1988 after what can only be described as a successful career up until that point, lead singer Fish left the group for pastures new and in particular a solo career. This left Marillion without a lead singer, but before long they had found their man in Steve ‘H’ Hogarth.
From 1988 onwards Marillion have maintained the attention of their fans by creating their own image and identity, the introduction of Steve Hogarth gave the band a new texture and direction without alienating the core fan base. The enthusiasm shown by Marillion fans was demonstrated in 1997 when the band announced that they would not be touring the U.S. due to lack of funds. As a result fans collected online donations to the tune of $60,000, which ultimately allowed the band to tour in America.
This made the band realize two things; real fans will put their money where their mouth is and the Internet would be the avenue by which they could utilize that fact. Marillion would demonstrate Internet savvy long before Radiohead by asking fans on the web via email to pay for the album ‘Anoraknophobia’ prior to its release. 12,000 fans responded, with that kind of reaction twenty years down the line, Marillion’s future is in good hands.
Segun Murray Ogunsheye.
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