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Arthur Brown (born Arthur Wilton, 24 June 1942, Whitbymarker, Yorkshiremarker) is an Englishmarker rock and roll singer best known for his flamboyant, theatrical style and significant influence on Alice Cooper, Kiss and Bruce Dickinson, and for his number one hit in the UK Singles Chart and Canada, "Fire" in 1968.


Brown attended the University of London and the University of Reading and studied philosophy and law, but he gravitated to music instead. Around the turn of late 1966 to early 1967 he was a temporary member of a Londonmarker-based R&B/Soul/Ska group that was in the process of changing its name from The Ramong Sound and would soon morph into the hit making soul group The Foundations. At this time the group had two lead singers. Arthur Brown and Clem Curtis who sang lead on the Foundations 1967 hit "Baby, Now That I've Found You". Brown was only member of the band for about six weeks. By the time the Foundations had been signed to Pye Records Brown had left the group to form his own band.


Brown earned a fast reputation for outlandish and often macabre performances, which included the use of a burning metal helmet that led to occasional mishaps, such as a Windsor, England show in which the methanol fueling of the helmet crown poured over his head by accident and caught fire; two bystanders doused the flames by pouring beer on Brown’s head, preventing any serious injury. He was also reputed to have stripped naked while performing shows, notably in Italy (for which he was arrested).

By 1968, the debut album, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown by the band with the same name, became a surprise hit on both sides of the Atlantic. Produced by The Who's manager Kit Lambert, and executive-produced by Pete Townshend (the album was issued on Track Records, the label begun by Lambert and Chris Stamp, in the UK), it spun off an equally surprising hit single, "Fire," a song whose infamous opening line "I am the God of Hellfire" would be sampled in numerous other places, most notably in The Prodigy's 1992 rave anthem "Fire." The album also included a macabre cover of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins oldie "I Put a Spell on You." The band included Vincent Crane on Hammond organ, Drachen Theaker on drums, and Nick Greenwood on bass. Theaker was replaced by Carl Palmer, later of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, during the band's second American tour. Crane and Palmer eventually left to form Atomic Rooster.

American tours

Brown's incendiary stage act sometimes caused trouble, such as getting him kicked off a tour with Jimi Hendrix. On one tour, Brown waited until sunset when his band was playing, and then he had a winch lower him onto the middle of the stage from above, wearing a suit and helmet welded from sheet metal. Parts of the suit were completely alit in lighter fluid and sparklers. In due course, Brown created a perception that he was always on the verge of setting fire to the stage, leading some concert organizers to demand he post a bond with them if he could not show he was adequately insured against uncontrollable fire and fire damages.

Retreating to Britain

Though Brown never managed to release another recording as commercially successful as "Fire," he did release three noteworthy albums with his new band Kingdom Come in the early 1970s (Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come should not be confused with the hard-rock/glam band of the same name from the 1980s). Kingdom Come albums featured a wild mix of progressive rock and demented theatrics, including Brown's simulated crucifixion. Kingdom Come often performed in full costume with makeup, and photos of Brown from this period clearly show him sporting a distinctive eye-makeup scheme. The third and final Kingdom Come album, Journey, is noteworthy for being one of the first (if not the first) rock albums to feature a drum machine.

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, Arthur Brown also had a small but meaningful part in The Who's rock opera movie Tommy as "The Priest". In the 1980s, Brown moved to Austin, Texasmarker, and obtained a master's degree in counseling.

In 1979, Brown provided the vocals for German synth musician Klaus Schulze on the album Dune, and he toured with Schulze in 1977 (as can be heard on the live-album ...Live...).

Later career

Brown returned to England in 1996. In 1997, he rerecorded "Fire" with German band Die Krupps.

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.

Brown appeared on TV, guesting on Kula Shaker track 'Mystical Machine Gun' several times during 1999.

Brown then went on another musical journey of performing with an acoustic band, initially with Rick Patten on guitar and Stuart ? on guitar, and went on tour with Tim Rose in 1999. This band then added Stan Adler (cello and bass) and Malcolm Mortimer (percussion) and produced the Tantric Lover album.

This lineup did not last, and Patten and Brown put a new band together with multi-instrumentalist Nick Pynn. Straightaway they started doing festivals and international tours, and in 2002 Brown was asked to support Robert Plant on his Dreamland Tour. By now Patten had been replaced by Chris Bryant.

Brown was getting much more media exposure now as well as playing many gigs all over the world, mostly with his 'Giant Pocket Orchestra' but also with new band Instant Flight, who perform in the same style as the original band in the 1960s. In the middle of this, Brown released Vampire Suite, 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 rereleased 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 Londonmarker, 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.

In August 2007, during a concert in Lewesmarker, Sussex, Brown once again set fire to his own hair. While trying to extinguish the flames, Phil Rhodes, a member of the band also caught fire. Brown carried on after the fire was put out, he had however lost a few chunks of hair.

He appeared as a priest in the video for The Darkness song, "Is It Just Me?"

Hawkwind association

The music of Kingdom Come has often been compared to Hawkwind. Brown has had a number of associations with Hawkwind. In 1973, he was one of the performers on Robert Calvert's album Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, together with most other Hawkwind members of the time. In 2001 and 2002, Brown made several guest appearances at live Hawkwind concerts, subsequently touring with them, though usually billed as a 'guest vocalist.'

In their tour of December 2002, Hawkwind played several songs by Brown from the Kingdom Come era, along with "Song Of The Gremlin" which Brown had sung on Captain Lockheed; this was documented on the Hawkwind DVD Out Of The Shadows.

Brown provided vocals on two of the tracks on Hawkwind's studio album Take Me to Your Leader, which was released in 2005. One is the spoken-word "A Letter To Robert," where Brown recalls a conversation with Robert Calvert.

Selected discography


  • 1966 - The Game is Over Film soundtrack (Arthur Brown Set)
  • 1968 – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  • 1969 - Strangelands (Released in 1989)
  • 1970 - Backtrack 12
  • 1970 - Jam with Kingdom Come (Released in 1994)
  • 1971 – Galactic Zoo Dossier with Kingdom Come
  • 1973 – Kingdom Come with Kingdom Come
  • 1973 – Journey with Kingdom Come
  • 1974 - Tales of Mystery and Imagination with the Alan Parsons Project
  • 1974 – Dance
  • 1976 – Lost Ears
  • 1976 – Chisholm in My Bosom
  • 1979 - Dune with Klaus Schulze
  • 1979 - Time Actor - Richard Wahnfried
  • 1980 - Klaus Schulze Live with Klaus Schulze
  • 1981 - The Intergalactic Touring Band
  • 1979 – Faster Than the Speed of Light with Vincent Crane
  • 1980 - Brown Black And Blue with Jimmy Carl Black
  • 1980 – The Complete Tapes of Atoya with Craig Leon
  • 1982 – Speak No Tech
  • 1982 – Requiem
  • 1993 - Order From Chaos
  • 2000 - Curly's Airships - Judge Smith
  • 2000 - Tantric Lover
  • 2002 - Legboot - Arthur Brown on Tour
  • 2003 - Vampire Suite
  • 2003 - Fire - The Anthology
  • 2007 - Fifteen Years After by All Living Fear (Arthur Lead Vocals on 'The Widow's Blame')
  • 2007 - Voice of Love

See also


  1. No.1 song in UK, "Fire"
  2. Alan Warner Website - THE FOUNDATIONS
  3. Sussex Express

External links

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