Arthur Brown

Arthur Brown is an English rock musician best known for his flamboyant, theatrical style, wide ranging operatic vocal style and significant influence on Alice Cooper, Peter Gabriel, Marilyn Manson, George Clinton, Kiss, King Diamond, and Bruce Dickinson, among others, and for his number one hit in the UK Singles Chart and Canada, "Fire" in 1968. 


After attending Roundhay Grammar School in Leeds, Brown attended the University of London and the University of Reading and studied philosophy and law, but he gravitated to music instead, forming his first band, Blues and Brown, while at Reading. After a spell fronting a number of bands in London, Brown then moved to Paris in 1966, where he worked on his theatrical skills. During this period he recorded two songs for the Roger Vadim film of the Emile Zola novel La Curée. Returning to London around the turn of 1966 to 1967, he was a temporary member of a London-based R&B/Soul/Ska group The Ramong Sound that would soon become the hit making soul group The Foundations.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

By the time the Foundations had been signed to Pye Records, Brown had left the group to form his own band, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, in 1967. The band included Vincent Crane later of Atomic Rooster (keyboards), Drachen Theaker (drums), and Nick Greenwood (bass). Arthur Brown quickly earned a reputation for outlandish theatrical performances, which included the use of a burning metal helmet, that led to occasional mishaps. He was also notable for the extreme make-up he wore onstage, which would later be reflected in the stage acts of Alice Cooper, Kiss and Marilyn Manson. By 1968, the debut album, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Produced by The Who's manager Kit Lambert, and executive-produced by Pete Townshend on Track Records, the label begun by Lambert and Chris Stamp, it spun off an equally surprising hit single, "Fire", and contained a version of "I Put a Spell on You" by Screaming Jay Hawkins, a similarly bizarre showman. "Fire" was one of the one-hit wonders in the UK and US in the 1960s, sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The song has since seen its opening line "I am the God of Hellfire" sampled in numerous other places, most notably in The Prodigy's 1992 rave anthem "Fire".


Rest cure


Theaker was replaced because of his aviophobia in 1968 by drummer Carl Palmer, later of Atomic Rooster and Emerson, Lake & Palmer for the band's second American tour in 1969, on which keyboardist Vincent Crane also left, although he soon returned. However, Crane and Palmer eventually left in June 1969 to form Atomic Rooster, spelling the end for The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Greenwood (known as Sean Nicholas during his stay in CWOAB) went on to Khan (as Nick Greenwood), Theaker to Love and then Rustic Hinge. The band re-formed in 2000 and released the album Tantric Lover.

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come

Though Brown never released another recording as commercially successful as "Fire", he did release three albums with his new band Kingdom Come in the early 1970s. Among the musicians who would make up Kingdom Come there was guitarist Andy Dalby, who was the only consistent member after Brown himself. Apart from Brown and Dalby, the band included (at one time or another) Victor Peraino (keyboards), Julian Paul Brown (no relation, keyboards), Michael Harris (keyboards), Phil Shutt (bass, later known as Phil Curtis), Desmond Fisher (bass), and Martin Steer (drums). Brown stated in an interview with an English music magazine that the three albums were intended to present a thematic progression. The first  (Galactic Zoo Dossier, 1971) focused on the state of humankind in the present, the second (Kingdom Come, 1972) on the human animal itself and the dichotomy between the body and mind, and the third  (Journey, 1973) focused on cosmic and spiritual matters. Kingdom Come were one of the first bands to use synthesizers, notably the VCS3, an early British synth used by Pink Floyd and Brian Eno among others at the time. The Mellotron and Theremin also figured prominently in the group's repertoire, especially after the addition of Victor Peraino in the band's line-up. The Kingdom Come albums featured a wild mix of psychedelic, progressive rock and demented theatrics, and the accompanying live shows caused some controversy. The third and final Kingdom Come album, Journey, recorded in November 1972 and released in 1973, is noteworthy for being the first rock album on which a drum machine produced all the percussion. Ace Bentley, credited with drums on this album, was actually the Bentley Rhythm Ace, an early drum machine manufactured by the Ace Tone company of Japan (Ace Tone later evolved into the Roland Corporation). There was no drummer either on the record or on tour; all the drum sounds were from the Bentley Rhythm Ace, operated either by Victor Peraino or by Brown himself. A number of factors contributed to the end of Kingdom Come, including mediocre album sales, critical disdain, the revolving door membership of the band, and Brown's frustration with the music business in general. The band dissolved rather than officially breaking up, with Brown citing a desire to play simpler music and opt for a simpler lifestyle in general in later interviews.

Gypsy escape

Superficial roadblocks

Later career 

In later years, Brown released several solo albums and also contributed vocals to the song "The Tell-Tale Heart" on the Poe-based concept album Tales of Mystery and Imagination by The Alan Parsons Project. In 1975 he had a small but meaningful part in The Who's rock opera movie Tommy as "The Priest". During 1977 he toured with ex-Tangerine Dream synthesizer player Klaus Schulze, (as can be heard on the live-album ...Live...), while in 1979 Brown provided the vocals for on Schulze's album Dune. In the 1980s, Brown moved to Austin, Texas, and obtained a master's degree in counseling. On 17 January 1987, Brown performed "Fire" on the "Flashback" segment of the television program, Solid Gold. Together with former Frank Zappa's and Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black, released an album, Brown, Black & Blue, in 1988. He also became a painter and carpenter for some years, and  during the mid-1990s Brown and fellow counselor Jim Maxwell co-founded Healing Songs Therapy, a unique service that culminates in Brown creating a song for each client about their emotional issues. Brown returned to England in 1996. In 1997, he re-recorded "Fire" with German band Die Krupps, while in 1998, he provided a spoken-word performance on Bruce Dickinson's The Chemical Wedding album, reading a portion of three poems by William Blake, and appeared as Satan in Dickinson's music video for "Killing Floor". He also appeared on TV, guesting on Kula Shaker track "Mystical Machine Gun" several times during 1999. A further change of musical direction occurred, when he formed an acoustic band and went on tour with Tim Rose in 1999. This band then added Stan Adler (cello and bass) and Malcolm Mortimore (percussion) and produced the Tantric Lover (2000) album. However, the line-up did not last, and Brown put a new band together with guitarist Rikki Patten and multi-instrumentalist Nick Pynn. In 2002 Brown was asked to support Robert Plant on his Dreamland Tour. By now Patten had been replaced by guitarist Chris Bryant. Brown was getting some more media exposure now. His band was briefly called the Giant Pocket Orchestra, and also Instant Flight. In the middle of this, in 2003, Brown released Vampire Suite (2003), an album with Josh Philips and Mark Brzezicki of the band Big Country, released on Ian Grant's Track Records. Also around this time, Brown's back catalogue was re-released by Sanctuary Records. Brown reunited the surviving members of Kingdom Come (except Des Fisher) in 2005, for a one-off concert at The Astoria in London, performing material from Kingdom Come's album Galactic Zoo Dossier, with an encore of "Spirit Of Joy". This show won Brown the 'Showman Of The Year' award from Classic Rock magazine. In 2007, Brown and Pynn released Voice Of Love on the Côte Basque record label, featuring a number of original recordings. He appeared as a priest in the video for The Darkness song, "Is It Just Me?" In 2009, a roll-out re-release of Brown's back catalogue was commenced by Cherry Red Records' subsidiary Lemon Recordings and continued from 2010 onwards on their sister label Esoteric Recordings. In 2010, Brown played a set at the Glastonbury Festival in the Glade, and he also played at Lounge On The Farm (with Lucie Rejchrtova on keyboards). On 10 June 2011, days before his 69th birthday, he played at the Ray Davies Meltdown Festival at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London where he invited Z-Star to duet with him. Six weeks later, again in London, he played the High Voltage Festival; the gig was recorded and released (on vinyl only) as The Crazy World of Arthur Brown Live At High Voltage. In 2012, Brown and Rick Patten released The Magic Hat alongside a comic of the same title by Matt Howarth, a curious, cross-dimensional adventure facilitated by a flaming helmet.

Hawkwind association 

Brown has had a number of associations with Hawkwind. In 1973, he was one of the performers on sometimes Hawkwind vocalist Robert Calvert's album Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, together with a number of other Hawkwind members. In 2001 and 2002, Brown made several guest appearances at live Hawkwind concerts, subsequently touring with them as a guest vocalist. On their December 2002 tour, Hawkwind played several songs by Brown from the Kingdom Come era, along with "Song of the Gremlin", which Brown had sung on Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters; this was documented on the Hawkwind DVD Out of the Shadows. Brown also provided vocals on two of the tracks on Hawkwind's studio album Take Me to Your Leader, released in 2005. One is the spoken-word "A Letter to Robert", where Brown recalls a conversation with Robert Calvert. Brown continues his association with Hawkwind, touring with a support set for them on their 40th anniversary tour in the UK in 2009.

Hawkwind's Silver Machine with Arthur Brown

Studio Albums

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968)
Strangelands (1988, recorded in 1969)
Tantric Lover (2000)
Vampire Suite (2003)

The Amazing World of Arthur Brown
Voice of Love (2007)

Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come

Galactic Zoo Dossier (1971)
Kingdom Come (1972)
Journey (1973)

Solo albums

Dance (1975)
Chisholm in My Bosom (1977)
Faster Than the Speed of Light (1979, with Vincent Crane)
Speak No Tech (1981, re-released by Craig Leon in 1984 as The Complete Tapes of Atoya)
Requiem (1982)
Brown, Black & Blue (1988, with Jimmy Carl Black)
The Voice of Love (2007)
The Magic Hat (2012, with Rick Patten)