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Echo & The Bunnymen

Band from Liverpool
Echo &  The Bunnymen

Echo & The Bunnymen Biography

Echo & the Bunnymen are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson. By 1980, Pete de Freitas joined as the band's drummer.History Early years Ian McCulloch began his career in 1977, as one third of the Crucial Three, a bedroom band which also featured Julian Cope and Pete Wylie. When Wylie left, McCulloch and Cope formed the short-lived A Shallow Madness with drummer Dave Pickett and organist Paul Simpson, during which time such songs as "Read It in Books", "Robert Mitchum", "You Think It's Love" and "Spacehopper" were written by the pair. When Cope fired McCulloch from the ban...
Echo & the Bunnymen are an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1978. The original line-up consisted of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bassist Les Pattinson. By 1980, Pete de Freitas joined as the band's drummer.


Early years

Ian McCulloch began his career in 1977, as one third of the Crucial Three, a bedroom band which also featured Julian Cope and Pete Wylie. When Wylie left, McCulloch and Cope formed the short-lived A Shallow Madness with drummer Dave Pickett and organist Paul Simpson, during which time such songs as "Read It in Books", "Robert Mitchum", "You Think It's Love" and "Spacehopper" were written by the pair. When Cope fired McCulloch from the band, A Shallow Madness changed their name to The Teardrop Explodes, and McCulloch joined forces with guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson to form Echo & the Bunnymen. This early incarnation of the band featured a drum machine, assumed by many to be "Echo", though this has been denied by the band. In the 1982 book Liverpool Explodes!, Will Sergeant explained the origin of the band's name:

We had this mate who kept suggesting all these names like The Daz Men or Glisserol and the Fan Extractors. Echo and the Bunnymen was one of them. I thought it was just as stupid as the rest.

In November 1978, Echo & the Bunnymen made their debut at Liverpool's Eric's Club, appearing as the opening act for The Teardrop Explodes. The band played one song, a 20-minute version of "Monkeys" which was entitled "I Bagsy Yours" at the time.

Echo & the Bunnymen's debut single "The Pictures on My Wall" was released on Bill Drummond & David Balfe's Zoo Records in May 1979, the B-side being the McCulloch/Cope collaboration "Read It in Books" (also recorded by The Teardrop Explodes approximately six months later as the B-side of their final Zoo Records single "Treason"). McCulloch has denied, on more than one occasion, that Cope had any involvement with the writing of this song.

With the group now gaining wider attention, they were invited to record a four-song set for the BBC'S John Peel Show on August 22, at which time they were still using a drum machine. This was the first of six live sets they would cut for the Peel show between 1979 and 1983.

By the time of their debut album, 1980's Crocodiles (July 1980), the drum machine had been replaced by Trinidad-born Pete de Freitas. Unlike the other band members, who were from working class Liverpool families, de Freitas was considered "posh" - he came from an affluent background, grew up in the south of England, and attended an elite private school, but his affable and outgoing manner was a welcome addition for his famously fractious bandmates.

De Freitas met the trio at their September 15, 1979 gig at Eric's in Liverpool and immediately joined the band, but his October 12 live debut with them at London's Electric Ballroom was less than auspicious. Supporting hugely popular ska bands Madness and Bad Manners, the Bunnymen proved an uncomfortable fit, and they were booed off after just two songs.

"Rescue" (produced by Ian Broudie), the lead single from the album, reached No. 62 on the UK singles chart but the album (co-produced by manager Bill Drummond and his business partner David Balfe (The Teardrop Explodes) broke into the Top 20, reaching No. 17, and garnered wide critical acclaim.

Eschewing the traditional "pin-up" cover shot, Crocodiles featured an atmospheric cover image, which showed the band posed in a mysterious woodland setting, lit by hidden coloured lights. Designed by Martyn Atkins and photographed by Brian Griffin, it became the first in a coordinated series of elemental-themed album covers by Atkins and Griffin, which spanned their first four LPs, each depicting the band posed at some distance from the camera, in a visually striking natural setting -- a forest (Crocodiles), a beach at sunset (Heaven Up Here), a frozen waterfall in Iceland (Porcupine) and a subterranean river (Ocean Rain). It would not be until their fifth, self-titled album that the band employed a traditional group portrait.

Shine So Hard

The band embarked on their first major concert tour between September and December 1980 to promote Crocodiles, supported by London band The Sound, during which they performed their first European concerts in France, The Netherlands and Germany. The end of the Camo tour was followed by a four-month break, mainly dedicated to the preparation and recording of their second LP.

However, manager Bill Drummond (later of KLF) and lighting director Bill Butt launched plans for a one-off promotional concert event as the final date of the Camo tour, which would be professionally filmed and recorded. It was primarily intended to provide material for the group's first music video, but Drummond and Butt's vision went well beyond the conventional three-minute pop-rock promotional clip, and it reflected their desire to capture Echo & The Bunnymen's live performance during this crucial breakthrough phase of their career.

Butt was slated to direct, but British film union regulations at the time meant that the film would not be distributed commercially unless it was directed by a union member. Butt took over as producer, and on the recommendation of their mutual friend, Patrick Duval, Butt engaged novice filmmaker John Smith, who had earned a union ticket for a film he had directed while at university.

After extensive consultation with their clients, Smith and Duval were "embedded" in Buxton with the band in the week leading up to the concert, and they were given a completely free hand to structure, shoot and edit the project. Smith and Duval shaped the first part of the film around the differing characters of the four band members, filming both the town and the musicians, but using unusual shooting angles and perspectives. This material was then assembled into an impressionistic sequence of seemingly disconnected images, which are gradually revealed to be a montage of the activities of the band members as they prepare for and head to the show.

The concert was staged on January 17, 1981, in the striking Victorian-era glass concert hall in the Buxton Pavilion Gardens in Derbyshire before a specially invited audience. Before the show, advertisements had been placed in the music press, and 500 lucky fans who responded were given free passes and a map directing them to the secret location (called "Gomorrah" in the advertisement), which also advised "BE PREPARED: THIS IS AN ATLAS ADVENTURE". For an additional fee of £5, coach transport was provided for fans from London, Liverpool and other cities.

Although inclement winter weather complicated the rehearsals, causing transport headaches for the band, as well as for their fans, the concert went ahead as planned, with the band taking the stage 30 minutes after the scheduled start time. The performance was filmed by Smith, Duval and cameraman Mike Tomlinson, with multitrack audio recorded on the Manor Mobile studio by Peter Woods. The footage captures the band at the height of their early success, and documents both their musical prowess as a live act and the impressive staging and lighting designed by Bill Butt. The set list was drawn mainly from Crocodiles, plus previews of several tracks from the upcoming second album.

The finished 33-minute short film combined Smith and Duval's opening montage with dynamic footage of four songs from the show. Titled Shine So Hard: An Atlas Adventure, it was given a limited UK cinema release, but Warner executives were reportedly dismayed by its avant-garde structure and the fact that the band don't even appear clearly until partway through the film. The audio recordings of the four songs featured in the film were also released on the "Shine So Hard" EP, which reached #37 on the UK singles chart, thus becoming the group's first British hit single. In 1982, the film was released as a limited edition of 500 VHS cassettes, redeemable only with a voucher given out to those who had attended the concert, and copies found their way onto the second-hand market.

Heaven Up Here

Beginning in April 1981, the band commenced another round of touring to promote the forthcoming album. This included their first American dates in New York, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. After another round of shows in the UK and Europe mid-year, they returned to America for more shows during October, and in November they made their only visit to Australia, including a show on November 11 at the Manly Vale Hotel on Sydney's northern beaches. This was recorded, and four tracks from that concert were subsequently included as bonus tracks on the 2003 CD reissue of the second album.

Heaven Up Here was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales during March, and was released in May 1981. Produced by the band and Hugh Jones, it proved a very positive and enjoyable recording experience for the band, and became an even bigger critical and commercial success, reaching the UK Top Ten (No. 10), although "A Promise", the sole single lifted from the album, only reached UK No. 49. The cover image continued the elemental theme of Crocodiles, and depicted the group standing on a beach, with their backs to the camera, looking out to sea, silhouetted against a bank of storm clouds at sunset, with a flock of seagulls flying across sky in front of them. The photograph was taken on the beach at Porthcawl in South Wales on a day off from recording. According to photographer Brian Griffin, they had to use buckets of fish offal to entice the seagulls to fly through the shot. Manager Bill Drummond and Korova label head Rob Dickins reportedly hated the image and Atkins, Griffin and the band had to fight to have it accepted as the cover shot.

Porcupine and mainstream success

After another break over the winter, the band played three UK dates in April 1982. In June, they scored their first top 20 UK hit single with "The Back of Love" (No. 19). In July, they began a short round of festival appearances and headlining concerts in Britain and Europe, including an appearance at the first WOMAD festival, where they were joined onstage for the song "All My Colours (Zimbo)" by The Drummers of Burundi. Their only American date that year was a one-off show at New York's Peppermint Lounge on August 24, and their 1982 touring schedule concluded with four UK dates in December.

Much of 1982 was taken with the difficult and protracted process of recording of their highly anticipated third album Porcupine, which reunited them with Crocodiles producer Ian Broudie (who was also Sergeant's housemate at the time). Several members also undertook outside projects during the year. Pete de Freitas produced and played drums on Liverpool band The Wild Swans' debut single "Revolutionary Spirit", and lead guitarist Will Sergeant recorded a solo album of instrumental music titled Themes for 'Grind' (1982).

The original version of Porcupine was rejected by Warner Bros as "too uncommercial", so (over Sergeant's objections) the band agreed to re-record the entire LP, and Drummond brought in noted Indian violinist and composer Shankar to add strings. During this period, tensions within the band had increased dramatically. Bassist Les Pattinson was openly expressing his weariness with the industry, and personal relations among the four deteriorated to the point that they either refused to speak to each other or argued when they did. McCulloch later described the band's mood at this time as "horrible", and de Freitas stated that, in stark contrast to the quick and confident making of Heaven Up Here, he felt that "we had to drag it out of ourselves" with Porcupine. Despite these impediments, the re-recording went relatively smoothly, and the sessions ultimately produced their UK chart breakthrough.

Released in early 1983, the more radio-friendly "The Cutter", became their first top 10 single, climbing to No. 8, while the parent album Porcupine (Feb. 1983), hit No. 2 in the album chart. Now firmly established as a chart act, further hits followed with a one-off single, the dance-oriented "Never Stop" (No. 15), and the epic "The Killing Moon", a preview from the new album featuring a dramatic McCulloch vocal, which became the band's second UK top 10 single at No. 9.

Ocean Rain

The band kicked off a hectic year of touring in 1984 with their first dates in Japan, in January, followed by a month-long round of dates in the United States beginning in March. April-May saw them playing concerts in Europe and the UK, followed by the second and more extensive leg of their U.S. tour during August-September, concluding with a show at the famed Greek Theater in Los Angeles on September 9. The band then immediately undertook an intensive two month UK tour, beginning in Dublin on September 15 and concluding at London's Brixton Academy on October 24 (their last concert of 1984).

Following a PR campaign that proclaimed it "the greatest album ever made" according to McCulloch, 1984's Ocean Rain reached No. 4, and today is widely regarded as the band's landmark album. Single extracts "Silver" (UK No. 30) and "Seven Seas" (UK No. 16) consolidated the album's continued commercial success. In the same year, McCulloch had a minor solo hit with his cover version of the Kurt Weill standard "September Song".

After the release of Ocean Rain, manager Bill Drummond announced that the band was taking a year off to write material for the next album, but at the end of 1984 they replaced him, reportedly because they were unhappy that the band wasn't making enough money. Drummond was succeeded by Duran Duran tour manager Mick Hancock.

Echo & the Bunnymen resumed work with a tour of Scandinavia in April 1985, performing cover versions of songs from Television, the Rolling Stones, Talking Heads and The Doors. Recordings from the tour emerged as the semi-bootleg On Strike. On 21 June they performed a headlining set at that year's Glastonbury Festival, where they premiered two new songs from their next album.


Echo and the Bunnymen at Paradiso, Amsterdam, in 2006
Ian McCulloch at the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim 2016

In 1994, McCulloch and Sergeant began working together again under the name Electrafixion; in 1997 Pattinson rejoined the duo, meaning the three surviving members of the original Bunnymen line-up were now working together again. Rather than continue as Electrafixion, the trio resurrected the Echo & the Bunnymen name and released the album Evergreen (1997), which reached the UK Top 10.

Immediately before the release of the band's next album What Are You Going to Do with Your Life? (1999), Les Pattinson quit to take care of his mother. McCulloch and Sergeant have continued to tour and record as Echo & the Bunnymen, touring repeatedly and releasing the albums Flowers (2001), Siberia (2005), The Fountain (2009) and Meteorites (2014). The Siberia band line up was Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant, Paul Fleming (keyboards), Simon Finley (drums) and Pete Wilkinson (bass), Hugh Jones produced Siberia after previously engineering early Bunnymen albums. Since August 2009 the group's touring incarnation has comprised McCulloch and Sergeant along with Stephen Brannan (bass), Gordy Goudie (guitar), Nicholas Kilroe (drums) and Jez Wing (keyboards).

In 2002, the group received the Q Inspiration award. The award is for inspiring "new generations of musicians, songs and music lovers in general." The band were said to be worthy winners as they have done much to promote the Mersey music scene. In a later interview for Magnet magazine, McCulloch said "It validates everything that we've tried to achieve—cool, great timeless music. It's not like an inspiration award affecting the past, it's affecting the current music."

On 11 September 2006, Echo & the Bunnymen released an updated version of their 1985 Songs to Learn and Sing compilation. Now re-titled More Songs to Learn and Sing, this compilation was issued in two versions, a 17-track single CD and a 20-track version with a DVD featuring eight videos from their career.

In March 2007, the Bunnymen announced that they had re-signed to Warner and were working on a new album. The band were said to be planning a live DVD, titled Dancing Horses, which contained interviews with the band. This was released in May 2007 on Snapper/SPV. The live line up was Ian McCulloch, Will Sergeant, Simon Finley (drums), Paul Fleming (keyboards), Gordy Goudie (guitar) and Steve Brannan (bass).

On 11 January 2008, McCulloch was interviewed on BBC Breakfast at the start of Liverpool 08. He was asked about new Bunnymen material and he revealed that a new album would coincide with their gig at the Royal Albert Hall in September. He went on to say that the album was "The best one we've made, apart from Ocean Rain."

In a 20 April 2008 interview with the Sunday Mail, Ian McCulloch announced The Fountain as the title of the new Echo & the Bunnymen album with producers John McLaughlin and Simon Perry, which was originally due to be released in 2008 but was finally released on 12 October 2009. "Think I Need It Too", the first single from the album, was released on 28 September 2009.

On 1 September 2009, former keyboard player Jake Brockman died on the Isle of Man when his motorbike collided with a converted ambulance. Brockman had played keyboards for the band during the 1980s.

In December 2010, Echo & the Bunnymen went on tour playing their first two albums Crocodiles and Heaven Up Here in their entirety.

Echo & the Bunnymen's most recent album of new material, titled Meteorites, was released on 26 May 2014 in the UK, and on 3 June 2014 in the US via 429 Records. The album was released on the website. It was produced and mixed by Youth, who also co-wrote three of the tracks and played some bass. It was the band's first UK Top 40 album entry since 1999.

In 2018, Echo & the Bunnymen announced and released an album of reworked orchestral versions of older material and two new songs, titled The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon, to mixed reception.



  • Ian McCulloch – vocals, guitar (1978–1988, 1996–present)
  • Will Sergeant – guitars, programming (1978–1993, 1996–present)


  • Les Pattinson – bass (1978–1993, 1996–1998)
  • Pete de Freitas – drums (1979–1989; died 1989)
  • Noel Burke – vocals, guitar (1988–1993)
  • Damon Reece – drums (1989–1993)
  • Jake Brockman – keyboards (1989–1993; died 2009)


  • Jez Wing – keyboards (2009–present)
  • Kelley Stoltz – guitar (2016–present)
  • Stephen Brannan – bass (2005–present)

Former touring

  • Jeremy Stacey – drums (1999–2001)
  • Vinny Jamieson - drums (2001-2003)
  • Guy Pratt – bass (1998–2000)
  • Alex Germains – bass (2000–2003)
  • Michael Lee – drums (1996–2001; died 2008)
  • Vinny Jameson – drums (2001–2003)
  • Pete Wilkinson – bass (2003–2005)
  • Simon Finley – drums (2003–2005)
  • Paul Fleming – keyboards (2003–2009)
  • Ged Malley – guitar (2003)
  • Gordy Goudie – guitar (2004–2017)
  • Nicholas Kilroe – drums (2007–2017)
  • Gillian Grant - violin (2018)
  • Kirsty Main - violin (2018)
  • Annemarie McGahon - viola (2018)
  • Heather Lynn - cello (2018)
  • Pete Reilly - guitar (2018)
  • Alan Watts – guitar (2019–2020)



  • Adams, Chris. Turquoise Days: The Weird World of Echo & the Bunnymen. NY: Soft Skull Press, 2002.
  • Reynolds, Simon. Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984. London: Penguin, 2005.
  • Fletcher, Tony. Never Stop: The Echo & the Bunnymen Story. London: Omnibus Press, 1987.

Source : Wikipedia
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Echo & The Bunnymen Discography

  • 1980AlbumCrocodiles
  • 1981AlbumHeaven Up Here
  • 1983AlbumPorcupine (Expanded Version)
  • 1984AlbumOcean Rain
  • 1985AlbumSongs to Learn and Sing
  • 1987AlbumEcho & the Bunnymen (Bonus Tracks Edition) [2004 Remaster]
  • 1990AlbumReverberation
  • 1991AlbumLive In Concert
  • 1997SingleDon't Let It Get You Down
  • 1997AlbumEvergreen (Expanded)
  • 1999AlbumWhat Are You Going To Do With Your Life?
  • 2001AlbumFlowers
  • 2002AlbumLive in Liverpool
  • 2005SingleIn the Margins
  • 2005AlbumSiberia
  • 2005SingleStormy Weather
  • 2005SingleStormy Weather – Live Hmv Session
  • 2006AlbumMe, I'm All Smiles
  • 2006SingleScissors in the Sand
  • 2007AlbumB-Sides and Live (2001 - 2005)
  • 2009AlbumEcho & The Bunnymen - Live At the Royal Albert Hall
  • 2009AlbumOcean Rain Live 2008
  • 2009AlbumThe Fountain
  • 2009AlbumThink I Need It Too
  • 2011AlbumDo It Clean : Crocodiles/Heaven Up Here (Live)
  • 2014SingleHoly Moses
  • 2014AlbumLive in London 2014
  • 2014AlbumMeteorites
  • 2016AlbumNothing Lasts Forever
  • 2017AlbumGreatest Hits Live In London (Live)
  • 2017AlbumIt's All Live Now
  • 2018SingleThe Killing Moon (Symphonic Version)
  • 2018AlbumThe Stars, The Oceans & the Moon
  • 2019AlbumThe John Peel Sessions 1979-1983
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