Camel have never achieved the mass popularity that reflected their talent for composition and musical skills. Andrew Latimer has remained the leader of the band from the beginning. Camel was created when Andrew Latimer (guitars/flutes/vocals) Andy Ward (drums), and Doug Ferguson (bass) met keyboardist Peter Bardens (ex-Them), in Hampstead (North London), on 20th September 1971. Camel's first public appearance took place at the Waltham Forest Technical College, supporting Wishbone Ash, in December 4th, 1971. The band has no recollection why the name of Camel was adopted. By the end of 1973, the group signed with MCA and released their debut album aptly named `Camel.' In 1974, the band switched record labels, signing with Decca's Gama subsidiary, and released `Mirage.' In 1975, Camel released their breakthrough album `The Snow Goose,' which climbed into the British Top 30 and eventually went gold. The band's English audience declined with 1976's `Moonmadness', but the album reached # 118 in America (the highest chart position the band ever attained in the U.S).
Following the release of `Moonmadness', Ferguson left the band (Ward and Latimer wanted to move the band in a jazzier direction, Ferguson didn't). Ferguson was replaced by Richard Sinclair (ex-Caravan); and master saxophonist Mel Collins was added as well.
1977's `Rain Dances,' showcased a jazzier fusion side of the band. Tensions between Latimer and Bardens were beginning to develop.
`Breathless,' was recorded in 1978 and had a poppier sound. After the album was completed, Bardens left the band. Andrew Latimer explains: Peter and I always get on well when creating, but the problems started when we came to the actual execution of the ideas. In the studio, Peter and I were just stifling each other. I wouldn't let him get any of his ideas out and he wouldn't let me get any of mine out, so it became pretty heavy going. We mutually agreed to part company on the creative level. Richard and Andy wanted to stay with me, so Peter went. I think it was a very good move for both of us."
Camel replaced Bardens with two keyboardists -- Kit Watkins (Happy the Man) and Jim Schelhaas (Caravan) and as Sinclair left, Colin Bass filled in at bass/vocals.
Punk music put progressive music in the back seat, thus Camel's 1979 album, `I Can See Your House From Here,' was released with little fanfare and decreased sales. Undaunted, Latimer returned to writing concept albums with 1981's excellent album- `Nude.' Since `Nude' and onward, Susan Hoover has provided concept and lyrics for Camel's album. Susan married Andrew Latimer and they live today in Mountain View, California.
In 1982, drummer Andy Ward, fighting bouts of alcoholism, tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrists... though recovered, he would never return to the group again.
Camel's 1982 album, `The Single Factor,' was a popish album having an Allen Parson's Project semblance, had a slew of guest musicians including Francis Monkman (Curved Air, Sky), Anthony Phillips (Genesis) and even Peter Bardens performing on the killer instrumental `Sasquatch.'
Latimer returned to the concept album- `Stationary Traveler,' about both sides of the Berlin Wall(1984). The band toured extensively, producing the wonderful live album, `Pressure Points,' and a laser disk conceptual concert of the same name.
In 1985, Decca dropped Camel from its roster. Latimer wasn't able to find a new label because he was embroiled in a difficult legal battle with Camel's former manager Geoff Jukes. Susan Hoover had by then discovered that royalties from Camel's back catalog were not being paid to Camel, and Latimer had to go to court again, this time against Gama Records. Latimer won both cases but received no financial gain.
`Dust and Dreams' was conceived by the end of 1985, but Latimer wasn't able to persuade any company to produce it. In 1988, Latimer sold his home in England and moved to California, where he and wife Susan Hoover founded the independent label. `Dust and Dreams' finally released in April 1991 was virtually recorded in England, California and Holland (where Ton Scherpenzeel lives).
By the early '90s, the band was, for most intents and purposes, simply Andrew Latimer and a handful of session musicians.
In 1993, PolyGram released a double-disc Camel retrospective, `Echoes.' A slew of live albums including `Camel on the Road 1972,' and `Never Let Go,' were released during this time.
In 1996 Harbour of Tears, was relesed to solid sales. 'The Hour Candle (A song for my father)' was inspired by a hymn sung at Latimer's fathers funeral. A loose concept album, tours ensued and a stereo video-`Coming Of Age,' captured the sounds of the live 1997 tour. Camel's last studio album is `Rajaz,' which sported a Middle-eastern feel. The music was inspired by the rhythm of the camels footsteps to help the weary travelers reach their destination. Latimer composed chiefly on the guitar. Awaiting the next Camel album, the band surprised fans with a '73-'75 Gods Of Light, a live album- a single CD official bootleg. Camel toured South America during March-April 2001. In May, Pete Bardens (who has done some very good and interesting solo material), had a tumor successfully removed from his brain. He bounced back from this surgery very well. But recently, Pete was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in Los Angeles, California, on 22nd January 2002. Peter will be always be remembered for the wealth of music he created in his short lifetime. He is survived by a daughter, Tallulah, and sons Ben and Sam.
On October 18, 2001, a new live album- `The Paris Collection,' recorded at The Batalcan in Paris, France on September 30, this live CD contains ten tracks, 71 plus minutes of music.
In 2002, Camel released `A Nod and a Wink,' which received good reviews. The `Coming of Age.' video was also released on DVD with some bonus rehersal footage.
1/20/2003- Camel has been signed to healine the Nearfest progressive music festival for 2003, the first time Camel will visit the east coast of the United States in 28 years.
After thirty years in the music business, Camel Productions has informed the public that the 2003 Camel tour will be their last and the farewell tour of this melodic progressive band.
Keyboardist- Guy LeBlanc had to quit Camel because of his wife having an unfortunate heart attack, and he has to take care of her... the European tour was postponed till October. Tom Brislin, who filled in for Rick Wakeman on the YES Symphonic tour and has also played with Meat Loaf since 1998 will fill in on keyboards on the bands farewell USA tour, while . Ton Scherpenzeel will join Camel for the European portion of this Farewell Tour. Camel played an emotional and brilliant set at 2003's Nearfest. Beginning two hours late (due to other bands), they played past 1am and dazzled the appreciative prog audience with their power, musicianship and emotion. They recently released a DVD- 'Curriculum Vitae', History of Camel complete with Peter Barden footage but because of copyrights, could not show huge bits of old shows.
Problems continued to plague Camel's farewell tour- the Mexican tour dates were cancelled when the promoter failed to meet a crucial deadline for contract obligations. Things got worse- just before boarding their flight to Atlanta for their last US gig, drummer Denis Clement complained of not feeling well. Seconds later, Denis collapsed on the floor, unconscious. Doctors think that Denis he may have suffered a severe allergic reaction called 'anaphylaxis'. Layered on top of being unconscious, at the hospital, Denis had a seizure which stopped his heart. After an operation to reduce the life-threatening possabilities of his condition.
On another slightly less sad note, Camel's acoustic (unplugged) project has been shelved. But all isn't glum- the fareware DVD is still in the works and in late 2004, Camel Productions released a DVD or old footage from the 70's and 80's called: Camel Footage. There site warns about a sound glitch, but it's minimal... a nice archive of classic Camel fotage... it would have been nice if it contain more of the Pressure Points outtakes and an Andy Latimer commentary, but I guess I should be happy it ws released at all. Cheers CP! In October 2006 Latimer completed a move back to the UK with intentions of recording and releasing future Camel albums from his home country and completing a project started in 2003 with Andy Ward and Doug Ferguson. In May 2007, Susan Hoover announced through the Camel Productions website and newsletter that Andrew Latimer has suffered from a progressive blood disorder polycythaemia vera since 1992 which has progressed to myelofibrosis. This was part of the reason why Camel ceased extensive touring. Latimer underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant in November 2007. He responded well to treatment, but has suffered from fatigue and cycles of severe joint pain. In the September 2008 newsletter, she reported that Latimer was gradually regaining strength and they are adopting a positive frame of mind that Camel will eventually be able to play a mini-tour and release a new studio album.
Latimer's recovery progressed and he contributed guitar solos and vocal tracks to David Minasian's album Random Acts of Beauty (August 2010). In September 2010, Camel Productions announced that Latimer and Denis Clement had started writing material for a new Camel album. Camel Productions announced in January 2013 the possibility of a 'Retirement Sucks Tour' for September/October 2013 and in March this was confirmed with the announcement of a concert at the Barbican Arts Centre, London on 28th October, where Camel would perform The Snow Goose "in its entirety for the first time since the Royal Albert Hall concert in 1975" In addition to the shows, the band released a new and extended re-recording of The Snow Goose album on 4 November 2013. Shortly after the 2013 tour, Camel announced a further 14 dates for March 2014 in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK, Spain, Portugal and Italy. In February 2014, Guy LeBlanc announced that he would not be able to take part in the tour due to ill health. Ton Scherpenzeel has been selected to replace him.
Latimer was presented with a Lifetime Achievement at Orange Amplification's 2014 Progressive Music Awards and the 2013/14 Snow Goose tour was nominated in the category of Live Event.
Camel completed a 14 date European Tour in July 2015 (England, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands and Poland) which included several headline festival appearances.
No date has been set for a new album, although Latimer has said he has written enough material for five albums.
Camel played four concerts in Japan 18–22 May 2016 with Pete Jones (keyboards, vocals) replacing Ton Scherpenzeel. A live DVD of one of the Tokyo shows was released in January 2017.
Andrew Latimer – guitar, vocals, flute, recorder, keyboards, bass guitar (1971–present)
Colin Bass – bass guitar, vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar (1979–1981, 1984–present)
Denis Clement – drums, percussion, fretless bass, recorder (2000–present)
Pete Jones – keyboards, vocals (touring 2016–present)
Mirage (1974) (US Billboard No.149; 13 weeks on chart)
The Snow Goose (1975) (UK No.22; 13 weeks on chart); Certified Silver
Moonmadness (1976) (UK No.15; 6 weeks on chart); Certified Silver
Rain Dances (1977) (UK No.20; 8 weeks on chart; US Billboard No. 136)
Breathless (1978) (UK No.26; 1 week on chart; US Billboard No. 134)
I Can See Your House from Here (1979) (UK No.45; 3 weeks on chart; US Billboard No. 208)
Nude (1981) (UK No.34; 7 weeks on chart)
The Single Factor (1982) (UK No.57; 5 weeks on chart)
Stationary Traveller (1984) (UK No.57; 4 weeks on chart)
Dust and Dreams (1991)
Harbour of Tears (1996)
A Nod and a Wink (2002)
The Snow Goose (2013) extended re-recording of 1975 album
Greasy Truckers Live at Dingwalls Dance Hall (1974) (Camel + Various Artists. Includes 19 minute version of Camel's 'God of Light Revisited')
A Live Record (1978) (live, various venues 1974, 1975, 1977)
Pressure Points: Live in Concert (1984) (live, 11 May 1984, Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)
On the Road 1972 (1992) (live, venue unspecified)
Never Let Go (1993) (live, 5 September 1992, Enschede, NL)
On the Road 1982 (1994) (live, Dutch radio, 13 June 1982, Congresgebouw, Den Haag, NL)
On the Road 1981 (1997) (live, BBC radio, 2 April 1981, Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)
Coming of Age (1998) (live, 13 March 1997, Billboard, Los Angeles, USA)
Gods of Light '73-'75 (2000) (live, various venues)
The Paris Collection (2001) (live, 30 September 2000, Bataclan-Club, Paris, France). Note: CD wrongly states concert as 30 October.
Chameleon - The Best Of Camel (1981)
The Collection (1985)
A Compact Compilation (1986)
Echoes: The Retrospective (1993)
Camel – Master Series (25th Anniversary Compilation) (1997)
Lunar Sea (2001)
Rainbow's End: An Anthology 1973-1985 (2010)
"Never Let Go" / "Curiosity" (1973)
"Flight of the Snow Goose" / "Rhayader" (1975)
"The Snow Goose" / "Freefall" (1975)
"Another Night" / "Lunar Sea" (Live) (1976)
"Highways of the Sun" / "Tell Me" (1977)
"Breathless (Sin Respiracion)" / "Rainbows End" (1978) (Spanish)
"Your Love is Stranger Then Mine" / "Neon Magic" (1979)
"Remote Romance" / "Rainbows End" / "Tell Me" (1979)
"Lies" / "Changing Places" (1981) (Dutch)
"No Easy Answer" / "Heroes" (1982) (Canadian)
"Selva" (Dutch) (1982)
"Long Goodbyes" / "Metrognome" (1984) (German)
"Cloak And Dagger Man" / "Pressure Points" (1984)
"Berlin Occidental" (1984) (West Berlin) Stereo Version / Mono Version (Mexican)
Coming Of Age (2002) (live, 13 March 1997, Billboard, Los Angeles, USA)
Pressure Points (2003) (live, 11 May 1984, Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK)
Curriculum Vitae (2003)
Footage II (2005)
Total Pressure (2007) (full version of Pressure Points concert)
Moondances (2007) (live, 14 April 1976, Hammersmith Odeon, London, UK and 22 September 1977, Hippodrome, Golders Green, London, UK)
The Opening Farewell (2010) (live, 26 June 2003, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, USA)
In from the Cold (2014) (live, 28 October 2013, Barbican Centre, London, UK)
Ichigo Ichie (2017) (live, May 2016, Ex Theater, Tokyo, Japan)