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Incredible String Band resources on the Web

[intentionally ghosted foursome]
Robin, Mike, Likky, Rose
[pic source- detail of I Looked Up cover]; [more pix]

New: antho CD w/Elektra memoir

Current tour dates: http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/town/square/ac455/dates.htm

Robin in Durham NC May 19

NEW MP3: Peter Case cover of a Robin tune

Subsections below:

Robin Williamson timeline

1943: born 24 November in Edinburgh, Scotland "a Scottish-Irish mongrel"
childhood: Home Counties (west of London) and France
1954: meets mad girl in forest (cf "Me and the Mad Girl")
1958: compulsory military training in Ireland (cf "Lough Foyle")
admires English folkies Jeannie Robertson, Joe Heaney and Jimmy McBeath
1960: became pro musician in Scotland (house-painting and landscape gardening on the side)
winter, early 1960s: folk circuit in London w/Bert Jansch
1965: duo with Clive Palmer

1966-74: see ISB timeline # below
1966: Robin to Morocco
1971: anecdote
1972: book "Home Thoughts From Abroad" (poetry); solo LP "Myrrh" [lyrics], fan fiction

RW on the 60s: "I'm not stuck in the 60s, but the psychedelic thing meant so much more than drugs. To me, it tapped into the world in a very specific way. A lot of good came out of that period: ecology, human rights, the notion that we are caretakers of the earth and guardians of one another. The trappings may have fallen by the wayside but the ideas are still good, as important as ever."

1975: moved to Los Angeles with 1st wife Janet
1976: book "Fiddle Tunes: English, Welsh, Scots and Irish"
1977: book "The Penny Whistle Book"
1977: book "Mirrorman's Sequences" (fictional autobio)
1977: book "The Glory Trap" (spy novel w/Dan Sherman)
Robin Williamson and His Merry Band
1977: LP "Journey's Edge" with the Merry Band; "Words and Music 1977"
1978: LP "American Stonehenge" [lyrics]
1979: LP "A Glint at the Kindling" [lyrics]
December, 1979, the Merry Band split up
1979: book "Five Denials on Merlin's Grave" (poetry) [illustration]

1980s: solo world tour
mid-80s: moved to Cardiff, Wales
1982: book "Song of Mabon" (poetry w/flexidisk)
1983: "The Mabinogi" multimedia theatre piece
1984: book "Selected Writings 1980-83" (poetry w/tape)
1981-85: nine spoken word cassettes
1984-86: "The Legacy of the Scottish Harpers, Vols. 1 and 2"
1986: "Winter's Turning" [lyrics]
1987: "Songs for Children of All Ages" [lyrics]
1988: "Ten of Songs"
1989: Buffalo concert [review]

spoken word tapes; "The Gruagach's Tales"
LP "Songs of Love and Parting"
tv soundtracks
Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Caledon Forest Project

1989: August, married Punjabi-born Bina (now his manager) (daughter Vashti)
1990: tape "Music for the Newly Born"
1989: book "The Craneskin Bag" (US: "The Wise and Foolish Tongue")
1996: Songs for the Calendarium
1997: Live at McCabe's Merry Band Farewell Concert
1997: CDs: Mirrorman's Sequences (spoken word); Celtic Harp Airs and Dance Tunes; Dream Journals, 1966-1976 (spoken word); Memories/Erinnerungern
1997: reunion concert with Mike
1998: CDs: Gems of Celtic Story; Ring Dance; A Job of Journey Work
1998: concert review; anecdote
1999: CDs: The Island of the Strong Door; Pigs Whisker Music Sampler; The Old Fangled Tone; Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer: At The Pure Fountain [review] blurb & pic
1999: concert review
1999: October tour w/Clive dates, ditto, review

Sources: bio [mirror], bio; 1985 interview, interview; short bio, solo history; discography, discography, 1997 update; review, overview, ditto, debate; gigs

recent CD Interview with publisher of solo works; buy; videos; eBay; Amazon

samples (wav, RealAudio)

Mike Heron timeline

1942: born 12 December in Glasgow, Scotland (father a science teacher)
piano lessons, "not a brilliant success at school... not good at sports"
inspired to learn ukelele after scout camp in Perthshire (Fats Domino songs)
intended profession of being a chartered accountant

1966-74: see ISB timeline # below
1966: Bob Dylan plays Edinburgh
1967: with Robin and Clive gone, plays in Rock Bottom and the Deadbeats
1971: Smiling Men with Bad Reputations (w/The Who) [info]; lyrics

1974: Mike Heron's Reputation [info]
1976: Diamond of Dreams
1979: Manfred Mann have a success with his 'Don't Kill it Carol' [lyrics]
1979: The Voiceprint Radio Sessions: The Glenrow Tapes [info]
1983: breaks with Scientology
?: worked with composer/programmer Tony Cox on an abortive "robot music" project

1993: Incredible Acoustic Band: Official Bootleg
1993? girlfriend in Newcastle
1996: Where the Mystics Swim [info]
1996: London concert [review]; Edinburgh concert [review]
1998: Live at Bloomsbury 1997 [info]
1998: Conflict of Emotions [info]; lyrics

Best source: 1993 interview

early years; discography; solo history; review of solo work, ditto; gigs

Interview with publisher of solo works; buy; eBay; Amazon

Incredible String Band timeline

1965: formed by Robin, Mike, and Clive Palmer (named after Clive's Incredible Folk Club in Glasgow)
rejected name: Fruit Jar Drinkers
frequent source: Uncle Dave Macon songs
1966: IFC closed, ISB moves to Glasgow Folk Centre
1966: signed by Elektra via Joe Boyd [detailed interview and part two]
1966: Robin to Morocco, Clive to Afghanistan

Joe Boyd: "They were both friends of Clive's - they weren't friends of each other, so when he disappeared it left these two people who weren't quite sure about each other, locked in this group which they'd each joined really because of Clive - and so there was a bit of wariness or uncertainty... Robin and Mike had no great fondness for each other, while the girls had a barely-concealed mutual contempt..."

1967: Newport Folk Festival (USA)
influenced Led Zeppelin [background]
1968: Mother's Day concert [review]; poster
1968: convert to Scientology [detailed history] [Joe Boyd's version]
1968: met Malcolm and Stone Monkey at Chelsea Hotel, NYC?
1969: flopped at Woodstock [detailed account]; orig program page

Woodstock setlist:

- Sleepers Awaken
- Catty Come
- This Moment Is Different
- When You Find Out Who You Are

1969: the ISB and members of Stone Monkey moved to Glen Row, a country estate near Peebles in Southern Scotland [background]
1969: Judy Collins covers "First Boy I Loved"
1971: movie 'Taking Off' uses "Air"
1971: Rose quits
1974: last concert May 9 'A Tribute to L. Ron Hubbard'

1994: fan convention [reports]
1995: fan convention w/Clive and Malcolm [info]
1997: Robin and Mike reunion concert [info], reviews; review; preview; review
1999: soundtrack of Hideous Kinky

Dirty Linen history, good history, good history; history; ditto, short history, ditto, RoughGuide, UBL, AMG, fan review; rarities; gigs; places

BBC sessions; Catchup FAQ

mailing list; searchable archives; Lordly Nightshade fanzine; BBS

blurb for booklength bio, Gently Tender; review, ditto; other books

MPEGs; CD Universe samples; chords; Rykodisc, more


The Incredible String Band (1966)

Robin: October Song, Womankind, Dandelion Blues, Smoke Shovelling Song, Good As Gone
Mike: Maybe Someday, When the Music Starts To Play, The Tree, Oh Lord How Happy I Am, Can't Keep Me Here, Footsteps of the Heron, Everything's Fine Right Now
Clive: Empty Pocket Blues
Traditionals: Schaeffer's Jig, Whistle Tune, Niggertown

tracks; lyrics

cover (138k jpg)

Amazon; Rykodisc, ditto

"October Song" was cited by Bob Dylan in an issue of Sing Out as one of his favorite songs that year.

5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (1967)

Robin: No Sleep Blues, The Mad Hatter's Song, The Eyes of Fate, Blues for the Muse, First Girl I Loved, My Name is Death, Way Back in the 1960s
Mike: Chinese White, Painting Box, Little Cloud, The Hedgehog's Song, You Know What You Could Be, Gently Tender

tracks; lyrics

cover (186k jpg)

Amazon; Rykodisc

title speculation; fanpage

Paul McCartney's fave album of 1967 [cite]

The Hangmans Beautiful Daughter (1968)

Robin: Koeeoaddi There, The Minotaur's Song, Witches Hat, Waltz of the New Moon, The Water Song, Three is a Green Crown, Nightfall
Mike: A Very Cellular Song, Mercy I Cry City, Swift as the Wind

tracks; lyrics; review; fan raves

cover (235k jpg)

Amazon; Ryko? page

source of title

source of lyric

lyric inspires web design

Wee Tam & the Big Huge (1968, separated into two in USA)

Robin: Job's Tears, The Yellow Snake, The Half-Remarkable Question, Ducks on a Pond, Maya, The Son of Noah's Brother, Lordly Nightshade, The Mountain of God, The Iron Stone, The Circle is Unbroken, The Head
Mike: Puppies, Beyond The Sea, Log Cabin Home in the Sky, You Get Brighter, Air, Greatest Friend, Cousin Caterpillar, Douglas Traherne Harding

tracks; lyrics1, lyrics2

original cover (131k jpg) (shot in Frank Zappa's garden-- but they never met him!?)

revised cover (175k jpg)

cover2 (97k jpg) (shot in Frank Zappa's garden)

double cover (91k jpg)


first album after joining Scientology

title speculation

Robin: "We knew somebody called Wee Tam in Edinburgh. It seemed it was a good idea, like one person looking up at the stars -- Wee Tam and the Big Huge." [cite]

background on Douglas Traherne Harding

Changing Horses (1969)

Robin: Big Ted, Mr & Mrs, Creation
Mike: White Bird, Sleepers Awake!
Both: Dust be Diamonds

tracks; lyrics

cover (103k jpg)

Amazon; Rykodisc, ditto

title speculation

I Looked Up (1970)

Robin: Pictures in a mirror, When you find out who you are
Mike: Black Jack Davy, The Letter, This moment, Fair as you

tracks; lyrics

cover (109k jpg)

Rykodisc (out of print), ditto

title speculation

U (1970)

"Conceived with the dance/mime troupe Stone Monkey (which included Williamson's future first wife, Janet Shankman). It played 10 days in London and New York and received generally good reviews, though the "dancing" was universally condemned..." [source]

Robin: The juggler's song, Time, Queen of love, Astral plane theme, Invocation, Robot blues, Puppet song, Cutting the strings
Mike: El wool suite, Partial belated overtime, Light in time of darkness/Glad to see you, Walking along with you, Hirem Pawnitof/Fairies' hornpipe, Bridge theme, Bridge song, Rainbow
Likky: I know you
Janet Shankman: Bad Sadie Lee

tracks; lyrics

cover (48k jpg)

Dead connection

title speculation

Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending (1970 soundtrack)

Soundtrack for their John Marshall-directed film

Robin: Come with me, Vishangro, Waiting for you
Mike: All writ down, See all the people
Both: Be glad for the song has no ending

tracks; lyrics

cover (126k jpg)

Amazon, (import)

Relics (1971 compilation)

Robin: October song, First girl I loved, Way back in the 1960s, No sleep blues, Koeeoaddi there, My name is death, The minotaur's song, Job's tears, Maya, Big Ted
Mike: Everything's fine right now, Painting box, The hedgehog's song, A very cellular song, Air, Cousin caterpillar, Log cabin home in the sky, The letter, This moment


UK cover (86k jpg)

US cover (95k jpg)

Liquid Acrobat As Regards The Air (1971)

missing: Rose

Robin: Talking of the End, Dear Old Battlefield, Evolution Rag, Adam & Eve, Here Till Here is There, Jigs & Reels: i) Eyes Like Leaves, Darling Belle
Mike: Worlds They Rise and Fall, Painted Chariot, Red Hair, Tree
Mike and Likky: Cosmic Boy
Traditionals: Jigs & Reels: ii) Sunday is my Wedding Day, iii) Drops of Whisky, iv) Grumbling Old Men

tracks; lyrics

cover (94k jpg)

Earthspan (1972)

added: Malcolm Le Maistre

Robin: Restless Night, Banks of Sweet Italy, Moon Hang Low
Mike: Antoine, Black Jack David, Seagull
Robin and Malcolm: The Actor
Mike and Likky: Sunday Song
Malcolm: My Father was a Lighthouse Keeper, Sailor and the Dancer

tracks; lyrics; reviews

cover pics (149k jpg)


No Ruinous Feud (1973)

added: Gerard Dott

Robin: Saturday Maybe, Old Buccaneer, Circus Girl, Weather the Storm
Mike: Explorer, Turquoise Blue, Little Girl
Malcolm: Down Before Cathay, At the Lighthouse Dance
Traditional: Jigs
Covers: My Blue Tears (Dolly Parton), Second Fiddle (Duke Reid)

tracks; lyrics; reviews

cover (115k jpg)


Hard Rope & Silken Twine (1973)

Robin: Cold February, Dreams of No Return
Mike: Maker of Islands, Dumb Kate, Ithkos
Malcolm et al: Glancing Love

tracks; lyrics; reviews

cover (115k jpg)


Seasons They Change (1976 compilation)


cover (75k jpg)

On Air (1991 live)


BBC Radio 1 Live In Concert (1992 live)

tracks; reviews

The Chelsea Sessions 1967 (1997 live)

Demos that were recorded slightly before 5,000 Spirits

tracks; lyrics; review, review


First Girl I Loved (1998 live)

Toronto from 24 October 1972

tracks; reviews


Robin Williamson & Mike Heron- Live at Bloomsbury 1997 (1998 live)



Other members:

Clive Palmer (b. Glasgow, Scotland).

Palmer left after the first LP

Worked with guitarist Wizz Jones and a jug band in Wales with Mike Bennett
C.O.B. (Clive's Original Band) with Bennett and John Bidwell
Occasionally opened for Robin Williamson and his Merry Band in Britain
1987: recorded a cassette of jazz standards and Yiddish folk tunes with the Charlie Cool Quartet.

now lives in Brittany


Licorice 'Likky' McKechnie (harp/violin/percussion)

real name? Christina [cite]
Robin's girlfriend

Joe Boyd: "Licorice was quite a powerful personality in her own quiet way and I don't think Robin was prepared at that point to risk her wrath."

moved to Los Angeles in the '70s (waitress and coatroom attendant?)

1977: appeared briefly on Williamson's first Merry Band album Journey Edge

boyfriend David Zimian
in a band called 'U-Boat'
c1980: California; marries guitarist Brian Lambert

In a 1989 issue of Q magazine "a former String Band associate" reports she was behaving oddly and was "last seen setting out on a journey across the Arizona desert."

Likky rumors

Rose Simpson (bass/violin/percussion)

Mike's girlfriend, brought into the band by Mike to balance Licorice
Woodstock pic (PG-13)
affairs with David Crosby and Joe Boyd [cite]

works for a theatre company on the production side
elected mayor of Aberystwyth, Wales [map]; castle

Malcolm Le Maistre


1996 update


Joe Boyd



Tons o' stuff for sale

Amazon page; eBay; 2ndhand copies; UK CDs cheap; collectibles; various sources

fan tales

Tribute CD; fantasy tribute album

Tape trader, ditto, list

fan covers

Related 'spin-off' band: Dr Strangely Strange; more; Hangman's Beautiful Daughter

Melanie connection; 1974 interview

links; links

fanpage in Spanish


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