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The Charlatans (known in the United Statesmarker as The Charlatans UK) are a Britishmarker alternative rock band. The band's line-up is comprised by Tim Burgess (vocals), Mark Collins (guitar), Martin Blunt (bass), Tony Rogers (keyboards) and Jon Brookes (drums and percussion).

Former members of the band include guitarist John Baker (1989-1991), vocalist Baz Ketley (1989) and keyboardist Rob Collins (1989-1996), who died in a car accident during recording of their fifth album.

The band are credited for their expansive sound, ambiguous lyrics of frontman Tim Burgess and for their participation in the Britpop movement, when their most acclaimed albums were released.


Formation (1988-1989)

The band originally formed in the West Midlands by bassist Martin Blunt, who recruited fellow West Midlanders; Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Brookes (drums), John Baker (guitar) plus vocalist Baz Ketley, who was almost immediately replaced by Tim Burgess.

Although the name The Charlatans was used when original members of the band were located in the West Midlands, many sources state that they formed in Northwichmarker, Cheshiremarker. This is because the band relocated to the home town of new lead singer Tim Burgess (who lived in Northwich) before the release of The Charlatans' debut single "Indian Rope" in 1990 on the band's own Dead Dead Good Records label. This means that, based on the definition of the hometown used by Guinness World Records, the band formed in Northwich and consequently Northwich is recorded as their home town in "Guinness World Records: British Hit Singles and Albums."

Early years (1990-1993)

The debut single, "Indian Rope" proved an indie hit and the group soon found a major label, Beggars Banquet off-shoot Situation Two, in time for the release of "The Only One I Know" which reached the Top 10 in the UK singles chart and is still regarded as an indie classic.
The Charlatans during their early days Photo: Masao Nakagami

A further single, "Then", and debut album Some Friendly, were released later that year. Around this time The Charlatans were forced to add UK to their name for an American tour due to competing claims by a 1960s rock band also known as The Charlatans.

Baker left the band after 1991's "Over Rising" single to be replaced by Mark Collins (no relation to Rob), and the band brought in producer Flood for their second album Between 10th and 11th (named after the address of the New Yorkmarker Marque, site of the group's first U.S.marker gig). Released in early 1992, the album failed to reach the top twenty in the UKmarker. However, the top 20 success of the lead single "Weirdo" and a double weekend of gigs ('Daytripper') in Blackpoolmarker and Brightonmarker with Ride kept them in the public eye [38648].

Later that year, the band suffered a major setback when Rob Collins was charged with armed robbery after his friend had robbed an off licence while he was waiting in the car outside. Collins claimed to have no foreknowledge of the robbery until he heard a gunshot inside the shop and his friend exited, although he later admitted that he should not have picked his friend up after he realised what he had done. At court, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of "assisting an offender after an offence" and served four months in prison.

Mid-nineties resurgence (1994-1997)

The follow-up album, Up To Our Hips (1994) reached number 8 in the UK albums chart.

In 1995 the band's self-titled fourth album saw them become major UK stars again, topping the UK albums chart and spawning the top 20 single "Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over".

But, just as things seemed to be going well for the band, keyboard player Rob Collins was killed in a car crash during the recording of fifth album Tellin' Stories on July 22, 1996. The Charlatans decided to continue and Primal Scream and former Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy was drafted in for The Charlatans high-profile support slot with Oasis at their Knebworth gigs in summer 1996 until a permanent replacement for Collins could be found.

Tellin' Stories was released in 1997 featuring contributions from both Rob Collins and Duffy and in the singles "One to Another", "North Country Boy" and "How High" the group had their biggest UK hits to date.

New record label/new keyboard player (1998-2004)

After releasing the career-spanning compilation Melting Pot the band's contract with Beggars Banquet was up, and they signed to Universal Records with Burgess stating that, although he and the band had enjoyed their time on the independent record label they had made next to no money in the eight years since their first release. Relations with 'Beggars' remained strong however, and the band helped put together the b-sides collection Songs From The Other Side and DVD Just Lookin' 1990 - 1997 showcasing all their promo videos and a selection of live recordings from that era.

Us And Us Only saw the start of a new era for The Charlatans. Their first release for Universal saw new keyboard player Tony Rogers make his Charlatan's album debut (he had previously toured in support of Tellin' Stories and contributed to b-sides "Keep It to Yourself" and "Clean Up Kid" from the "How High" single) and the band took on a slightly country sound, heavily influenced by Burgess's love of Bob Dylan. The soul influenced Wonderland followed in 2001 before the more traditionally 'Charlatans' sounding Up At The Lake was released in 2004.

The Sanctuary years (2005-2007)

The band released their ninth full-length album on April 10, 2006, their first for new label Sanctuary Records. Titled Simpatico, the reggae and dub tinged album featured tracks like the fan favourite "NYC (There's No Need to Stop)", first single "Blackened Blue Eyes", and was produced by Jim Lowe.[38649] The single charted at number 28. The album reached the top 10 in its first week of release, but dropped out of the charts shortly after.

Their follow-up to Simpatico was the career-spanning singles compilation entitled Forever: The Singles which was released on CD and DVD on November 13, 2006. It was preceded by the re-recorded (remixed by Youth) song "You're So Pretty We're So Pretty" which appeared originally on their 2001 album Wonderland. The band seem in a good place now, happy with their level of success and keen to record their next album in 2007, as they told STV in this interview in November 2006. In an interview for their Simpatico album, the band mentioned lack of shower facilities and bad bus drivers as the worst aspects of touring. "[Bus drivers] get so bloody moody. They don't want you on the bus, yet you're paying them a fortune to drive you. They'd rather drive around the whole of the country with nobody in the back."

The band played a number of high-profile supporting gigs during the summer of 2007, including for The Who and The Rolling Stones, at venues including Wembley Stadiummarker and Twickenham Stadiummarker in London, as well as the Bingley Music Live event, Nass festival 2007, and at Delamere Forest in Cheshire. A recording of Live At Delamere Forest was released as a download only via the official website in five parts for a very limited time only.

On an independent label (2008-present)

In an October 2007 issue of the NME, the band contributed the song "Blank Heart, Blank Mind" to the magazine's free Love Music, Hate Racism compilation CD. Later the same month, the new single "You Cross My Path" was released as a free download exclusively through the XFM website. On the 3 March 2008, The Charlatans teamed up with Xfm again to become the first UK band to release an album completely free to download via a radio station. This was preceded a week earlier by the second single from the album, "Oh! Vanity". The album, titled You Cross My Path, is The Charlatans tenth studio album and received a physical CD/LP release on 19 May 2008 on the Cooking Vinyl label, coinciding with a full UK tour.



  • Willis, D. The Charlatans : the authorised history, Virgin Books, 1999. ISBN 0-7535-0194-5

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