The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Grey Lady Down

bandIn 1992, vocalist Martin Wilson, keyboard player Louis David, and guitarist Julian Hunt were in a band called Shadowland. When bass player Sean Speer, and drummer Mark Robotham joined, they realized there was another band using the Shadowland name. Not wanting to run into this problem again, they chose to name themselves after an obscure 1978 movie, starring Charlton Heston, and a pre-Superman Christopher Reeve. Thus Grey Lady Down was born.

They became well known around Oxford, and even distributed large numbers of demo tapes to far corners of the world. This led to them Phoenix Studios in 1993. The seven songs that were recorded would become the makeup of their debut album. A rigorous tour, and a performance at the Marquee Club, resulted in signing a two-album deal with Griffin/Cyclops. The Phoenix recordings were released as “The Crime” in early 1994. The supporting tour had Grey Lady Down opening for such acts as Jadis, and The Enid. The live shows were very well received, and the year ended with The Classic Rock Society awarding them with the “Best New Band” title, and “The Crime” taking third place in the “Best New Album” category.

With new material having been written during the previous year, the band entered The Warehouse studio in 1995. “Forces,” produced by Tim Turan, was released in June. Many critics were pleased with the sophomore effort as well. Wonderous Stories even awarded it a 6 out of 6. More accolades followed. Grey Lady Down came in fourth for ‘Best Band,’ and second for ‘Best Album,’ in the Classic Rock Society rankings. They were also Cyclops’ best selling act. The performance at The Marquee club was also one of the most successful by a non-mainstream band. This led to a Christmas show at the Astoria Theatre. Unfortunately, this was also Louis David’s last appearance.

Mark Westworth was brought in to fill the keyboard slot, and the band prepared to tour Europe, and the U.S. in 1996. Before hitting the States, Julian Hunt had to leave due to personal issues. Sphere’s Steve Anderson was brought in as a temporary replacement, but it ended up a permanent assignment. This would be the lineup for 1997’s “Fear,” again produced by Tim Turan. Technically, their contract with Cyclops had already been fulfilled. However, they were Cyclops’ biggest seller, so keeping them on the label was a no-brainer. The reviews for “Fear” were again positive, and the supporting tour had them playing with Mastermind, and Ars Nova. After a break, they hit the road again. This time, sharing the stage with Timothy Pure, and Saga.

All was going very well, but this is a story about a band. In 1998, Steve Anderson had to quit because of an ear problem. Julian Hunt briefly returned, but the other band members were now succumbing to pressures. By March, Grey Lady Down had decided to hang it up. They did one last big show at the Astoria in July. It was recorded, and released as “The Time of Our Lives.”

As in most band stories, after the breakup, there is always the chance of reunion. Mark and Julian ran into each other, and talked about putting a band together. They inevitably involved Sean Speer and Martin Wilson. Oddly, they were initially calling themselves Trinity (it was the same band after all). Obviously, the music was sounding like Grey Lady Down, so they went back to the original name. Phil Millichamp was brought in as the new drummer, and in 2001 “Star-Crossed” was released. This was the last thing released by the band, but there is no reason to assume that the story has ended.

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