Though The Enid has been called: `fascists,' `leftist,' and `anarchists, this band gives the real meaning to the word cult band. Their music is symphonic, classically-based, sometimes powerful, sometimes melodically enchanting always emotional. The band was formed in 1974 by keyboard player Robert John Godfrey- talented classically trained pianist, Godfrey decided to steer away from a career as a concert pianist, when he met and joined a young Barclay James Harvest, living and working with them over a three-year period in a farmhouse on the Yorkshire Moors. Godfrey, created the the Barclay James Harvest Symphony Orchestra and was responsible for co-writing and developing most of their large-scale pieces. Desiring to express his own musicality, Godfrey left BJH in 1971. A year later, he recorded a solo album, `The Fall of Hyperion,' for Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label. The spiritual home of the band was named- Finchden Manor- a weird experimental school for gifted but problematical children, which Godfrey and his fellow founder-members, guitarists Stephen Stewart and Francis Lickerish, had attended. The Enid was created.
At the time, punk music was beginning to catch on, while the Enid were composing and performing large-scale, wholly instrumental pieces with rich canvases of emotions and atmospheres. They survived and thrived, gaining a strong cult (and diverse), audience buoyed by their live shows.
The band signed first to BUK records, a tiny label then a part of EMI, and in 1976 released their first recording- concept album- `In the Region of the Summer Stars,' (originally entitled- The Voyage Of The Acolyte), With the help of: drummer Dave Storey (although Robbie Dobson actually has the album credit), second keyboardist Glen Tollet and bassist Neil Kavanagh. The album was based on the Tarot sequence and on the writings of Charles Williams.
In 1978, they recorded their second album, `Aerie Faerie Nonsense,' another concept album, which told the story of Roland, the young knight aspirant questing his way across the world.
On the strength of these albums and their live reputation - The Enid were signed by Pye Records - one of the most expensive signings the company had ever made. Pye provided The Enid with their own studio in which to record their 1979 album, `Touch Me-' a lively, uplifting album with a surprisingly hard edge. The band- now a seven-piece were regularly playing larger venues such as the Hammersmith Odeon, and major success seemed just around the corner.
Lord Lew Grade created a huge budget mega-flop movie called `Raise the Titanic;' Grade's empire was sinking, and Pye Records was beginning to sink as deep at Grade's finances. Pye hastefully released a slew of singles, among them The Enid's classic "Dambuster's' March"/"Land of Hope and Glory." Rushed not properly promoted, none of the singles charted.
The last album for Pye, `Six Pieces,' released in 1980, The Enid's most personal albums, recorded knowing that it would receive little or no promotion. The album is full of quirky energy, including use of parody and jazz-rock.
Soon after, Francis Lickerish and keyboard player Willie Gilmour left the band. Then drummer Chris North and bassist Martin Russell followed.
Godfrey and Stephen Stewart bought a farmhouse in Suffolk and became proprietors of The Lodge recording studio, working largely in the pop field.
Radio One DJ- Tommy Vance, found live Enid recordings that Pye left unused, and in 1982 he played "Fand," a twenty-minute piece originally recorded on Aerie Faerie Nonsense, on Radio One's Friday Rock Show. He said, on the air, "Robert John Godfrey is to my mind one of the greatest composers this country has ever had..."
Suddenly Godfrey and Stewart were hot again. Godfrey and Stewart recorded their most successful album to date, `Something Wicked This Way Comes,' and followed it up with a 156-date British tour in 1983. The Enid was alive in duo form. `Something Wicked This Way Comes,' was the first Enid album to feature vocals (Godfrey), and it's theme was the prospect of nuclear war. The album was released on their own "Enid" label as they took direct control of all aspects of their career, from recording to mastering, artwork to distribution.
During this frame time, Godfrey spent much of fighting to re-acquire the rights to their deleted back catalogue. They released the 1979 live recordings as the two-volume `Live at Hammersmith,' set. To get around EMI Records, Godfrey remixed `Aerie Faerie Nonsense,' changing it's title tracks and released it in 1983. `In the Region of the Summer Stars,' was given the same camouflage treatment in 1984.
The Stand was formed, with the aim of supporting and publicizing The Enid and other selected acts. Godfrey and Stewart gave the Stand membership unprecedented access to the band, and their own record label, which would feature "specialist" limited-edition Enid albums and recordings by other selected artists. The first album issued from the Stand was a live recording of The Enid performing at Manchester's tiny Band-on-the-Wall Club, featuring the best of old and new Enid material, and their classic encore "Wild Thing." The second Stand release was a collection of old, by now unavailable singles, out-takes from earlier albums, pieces from Godfrey's now-distant `Fall of Hyperion,' and other rarities.
The band spent the remainder of 1984 recording `The Spell,' their sixth studio album, and, due to the demands of the music, a double album playing at 45 rpm. The album was released in 1985, and the first Enid album to appear on CD, it's based on the seasons of the year, the life and death of man and the life cycle of the cosmos. It was followed by a re-recorded, extended version of the mega-epic "Fand."
A year later, `Salome,' a musical interpretation of the John the Baptist story which managed to "offend both feminists and the God squad," was released. The album was The Enid's most challenging to date.
To pay the bills, Stephen Stewart was beginning to concentrate more on working in the studio, recording acts such as Katrina and the Waves, New Model Army and The Specials' Terry Hall. Robert Godfrey was working on his solo ' album- `Reverberations, for Matthew Manning's Cloud Nine Music. The album is typical Godfrey fused with an almost East-European air.
Stewart and Godfrey joined to create- `Joined by the Heart,' each composer featured one side of music. Stephen Stewart's side is intense, while Godfrey's side is more ethereal.
By 1988 The Enid name was becoming tired to both Stewart and Godfrey. As Godfrey says "We didn't want to become one of those tired old bands, treading the boards year after year simply for the sake of it."
The album `The Seed and the Sower,' was released under the name Godfrey and Stewart, it was based on the book by Laurens Van Der Post, and his experiences in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in WWII. The music's emotion is powerful (as were the performances). The last Enid album, `Final Noise,' was released shortly after..
With Stewart concentrating on his work as a recording engineer and producer, and Robert John Godfrey began working with young musicians, assembling a number of short-lived bands, one of which took the name "Enid". A lot of Enid fans didn't like it. Enid tee-shirts were burned at several of the gigs. Two years of silence followed before thoughts of resurrecting The band. In 1995 the Enid's touring line-up of: Godfrey on keyboards, Nick May on guitar, Steve Hughes on drums and Alex Tsentides on bass. The entire back catalogue has been re-released on Newt Records, and two new albums have been produced - `Tripping the Light Fantastic,' and `Sundialer.' The new music fuses Godfrey's classically-trained composing style with a grater contemporary feel and even dance music. 1998, gave us `White Goddess,' an ecological parable loosely based on the legendary work of Robert Graves.' The album received good reviews. In 1999, `Tears of the Sun,' a celebration of 25 years of The Enid includes 13 unique and diverse tracks including- "In The Region Of The Summer Stars", composed specially for the release. To help alleviate real The Enid out of their chronic financial problems, Godfrey in 1999 released a `Legend for Piano and Orchestra,' - a romantic piano concerto, showing his skills are classical composition and virtuosity on the piano. The year 2000 brought sad tidings as Godfrey's mom died in February. Godfrey, now in his fifties, began to fall prey to ill-health- which included diabetes.. he began rethinking his life. With touring impossible and ringing with self-doubt- Godfrey started a cafe' which starred the Enid leader's capable culinary skills. This brief business took even a harsher toll of Godfrey than touring! So talking sound advice, from his neighbor, he refitted his recording studio and began composing. With the help of Max Read (bass and vocals (and single-handedly provided the 'choir' on White Goddess)), Steve Hughes on drums, singer Grant Jamieson as well as Jason Ducker on guitars, `Far Out' was released in early 2003. Like `Something Wicked this Way Comes, the album continues the synthesis between instrumentals and vocals but in a more complex and sophisticated way. There are songs once more, but they are set within an over-arching orchestral piece which spans the whole album. Godfrey is currently penning a massive instrumental piece that promises to be progressively different than FarOut uniqeness- entitled Virtuoso, the album is supposed to be much more complex and test the musicians' skills. Duncan Rayson has been signed on as a second keyboardist.
On a very sad note, Duncan Rayson recently died of heart failure at his parents home in Yorkshire. His health had been poor for some time and his death.
On a brighter note, The Enid are working on a new album and will tour extensively in 2005. Venues will be Arts Centres and
medium sized theatres. In the end of 2004, the band released a DVD featuring two concert performances of The Enid - both from 1984 taken from a gig given for their fanclub at Claret Hall Farm (their recording studio), as well as at the final Stonehenge Festival.
In 2006, Robert John Godfrey announced a remarkable message:
"During the course of the coming months, I shall be making the whole of The Enid catalogue freely downloadable on high quality MP3.
The purpose of this is to make sure that The Enid's music reaches as many people as possible and does not entirely disappear when I am dead. The Enid represents my life's work and I want it and what it contains to live on in those who warm to it. Having taken this decision it may well influence the way I think about The Enid and may drive me to do some more."
People will still be able to purchase CD's from Inner Sanctum if they so wish.
In 2009, Godfrey announced that te Enid will pereform live. They performed at Nearfest in Bethehem Pennsylvannia. in June 2010..
artly re-recorded tracks from previous albums plus one preview of a Journey's End track.
In December 2012, the band's thirteenth album Invicta was voted 9th in The Guardian's "Readers' albums of 2012" poll, with "The One and the Many" placed 6th in the "Readers' tracks of 2012" category.
Keyboardist William Gilmour founded a new band, Craft, after leaving The Enid, along with Grant McKay Gilmour and Martin Russell of Afro Celt Sound System. The band produced a self-titled mini-album in 1984 featuring Enid-style instrumentals based on six signs of the zodiac: "Aries", "Taurus", "Gemini", "Cancer", "Leo", and "Virgo". The album was released on CD on the American label Kinetic Discs in 1992. The CD added two short bonus tracks, "Branislana" and "And So to Sleep", which were, if anything, even more heavily influenced by The Enid.
In March 2016 Godfrey revealed that he would be retiring from touring, with keyboardist Zach Bullock and vocalist Joe Payne covering all aspects of Godfrey's performance; with the line-up for the following tour consisting of Bullock, Payne, guitarists Jason Ducker and Max Read, drummer Dave Storey, and new bassist Josh Judd. It was revealed the following month that Godfrey was in fact permanently retiring from the band in an official capacity.
On September 5, 2016 it was announced that Payne had departed the band after five years as frontman; and three days later it was revealed that guitarist Read and Storey had also decided to leave The Enid, and that the band now consisted of Bullock, Ducker, and returning drummer Dominic Tofield.
On August 6th, 2017, fans flocked from around the world to celebrate the 70th birthday of The Enid’s legendary founder, Robert John Godfrey, held in Union Chapel, one of London’s most famous and hallowed live venues.
The Enid Discography:
In the Region of the Summer Stars 1976
Aerie Fairie Nonsense 1977
Touch Me 1978
Six Pieces 1979
Live at Hammersmith (Vols I & II) 1983
Something Wicked this way Comes 1979
The Spell 1985
Salome 1986 The Seed and the Sower (Under the name of "Godfrey & Stewart") 1988
Final Noise (Live concert from The Dominion Theatre, Totenham Court Rd, London) 1989
Tripping the Light Fantastic 1994
Anarchy on 45)
Members one of Another 1996A double CD featuring all the Enid's singles (and B-sides) 1996
Healing Hearts (compilation) 1996 a( special collection of music from the works of Robert John Godfrey, chosen by Britains leading healer Matthew Manning)
The White Goddess 1998
Tears of the Sun 1999
Far Out 2003
Journey's End (2010)
First Light (2014)
The Bridge (2015)
Special Fan Club recordings:
The Stand 1984
The Stand 1985
Joined By The Heart (Godfrey & Stewart) 1986
The Music of William Arkle 1986
Inner Pieces 1987
Inner Visions 1988
The Enid at Hammersmith 17th October 1986 (Official bootleg 1986 recording)
The Enid at Hammersmith 30th October 1987 (Official bootleg 1986 recording)