Steve Hillage

Steve Hillage

Infobox musical artist
Name = Steve Hillage

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Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = Stephen Simpson Hillage
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Born = 2 August 1951 Chingford, London
Died =
Origin =
Instrument = guitar
Genre = Rock, Electronica
Occupation =
Years_active = 1967 – present
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Associated_acts = Uriel, Khan, Gong, System 7
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Steve Hillage is a British musician, best known as a guitarist. He is associated with the Canterbury scene and has worked in experimental domains since the late 1960s. Besides his solo recordings he has been a member of Gong, Khan and System 7.


Early career

Hillage was born Stephen Simpson Hillage in Chingford, London, England on 2 August 1951. While still at school, he joined his first band, a blues rock band called Uriel, with Dave Stewart, Mont Campbell and Clive Brooks. The band split up in 1968 with the other members going on to form Egg, but they briefly re-united under assumed names to record the album Arzachel in 1969. Hillage also guested on Egg's 1974 album "The Civil Surface".

In 1969, Hillage began studies at Kent University in Canterbury, befriending local bands Caravan and Spirogyra and occasionally jamming with them. Meanwhile he wrote songs and, by late 1970, had accumulated enough material for an album. Caravan put him in touch with their manager Terry King, who got Hillage signed with Deram on the basis of a demo of his material recorded with the help of Egg (band). In early 1971, Hillage formed Khan with bassist/vocalist Nick Greenwood, formerly of Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. Although future Gong and Hatfield and the North drummer Pip Pyle was involved in the early stages, the line-up finally settled with the inclusion of organist Dick Henningham and drummer Eric Peachey (ex-Dr K's Blues Band), both of whom had recently collaborated on Greenwood's solo project "Cold Cuts", recorded in California in 1970 but belatedly released in 1972.

Following a series of concerts throughout 1971, several of them supporting labelmates Caravan, Khan began recording their debut album in November, by which time Henningham had left, forcing Hillage to bring in his former bandmate Dave Stewart to play the keyboard parts. By the time "Space Shanty" came out in May 1972, Canadian Val Stevens (formerly of Toronto's popular soul-rock band Grant Smith & The Power) had filled the vacancy, making his debut on a short European tour (including a televised appearance at the Montreux Festival) and continuing with a UK tour supporting Caravan in June.

By then, musical disagreements between Hillage and Greenwood culminated with the latter's departure. Hillage decided to form a new line-up with a slightly different direction, retaining the services of Peachey and asking Stewart back (Egg having recently broken up), and adding Nigel Griggs (later of Split Enz) on bass. New compositions by Hillage and Stewart were added to the repertoire, including "I Love Its Holy Mystery", which would form the basis of Hillage's later epic "Solar Musick Suite". Unfortunately, neither manager Terry King nor label Decca showed much faith in the new music, leaving Hillage with no choice but to break up the band in October 1972.

Hillage promptly joined Kevin Ayers' new live band Decadence, participating in Ayers' 1973 album "Bananamour" (Harvest, May 1973) (his solo on "Shouting In A Bucket Blues" was particularly memorable) and touring the UK and France for two months. Having in the meantime become a fan of Gong, Hillage stayed in France after the tour to join the band. In January 1973 he took part in the sessions for "Flying Teapot", the first instalment of the "Radio Gnome" trilogy, and soon after graduated to full-time membership. The 'classic' line-up of Gong was now in place, with Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, Didier Malherbe, Tim Blake, Mike Howlett and Pierre Moerlen, and recorded two further albums, "Angels Egg" and "You", before disintegrating in 1975.

When Allen, the band's founder and mastermind, left in April 1975, Hillage took over leadership but found this position increasingly uncomfortable, and by the year's end had jumped ship to launch his solo career, his motivation to do so fuelled by the success of his solo album "Fish Rising", recorded while still in Gong and featuring most of his bandmates. His next effort "L" album was recorded in the USA using musicians from Todd Rundgren's Utopia, and on its release Hillage formed a touring band which toured to critical and public acclaim in late 1976. During the latter half of the 1970s, Hillage made a name for himself as a guitarist and prog-rock / fusion composer and performer in the post Hendrix / pre-punk scene. 1977's "Motivation Radio", with its shorter tracks, marked a departure from the long instrumental workouts of previous efforts, but 1978's "Green", co-produced by Pink Floyd's Nick Mason, was something of a return to his earlier, spacier work.

These 1970s works (tacitly in collaboration with his longtime girlfriend Miquette Giraudy) blended complex studio production techniques with dreamscape anthems and hooky, progressive passages of new world lydian electric fusion. With lyrics about "electric Gypsies", Hillage was seen as something of a hippie figure, and his sales took a fall with the arrival of Punk rock. Hillage himself was somewhat enthusiastic about the energy and freedom of Punk rock and the CD version of his 1979 album "Open" includes the unambiguously punky "1988 Aktivator" (which originally appeared on the fourth studio side of the live album ["Live Herald"), whilst other songs on "Open" (such as "Getting In Tune", and "Don't Dither Do It") have an identifiable, if diluted, punk flavor. Hillage spent time in the Ladbroke Grove area of London, home of the UK Underground and worked with Nik Turner founder member of Hawkwind (one of the original "Underground Community Bands").

Later career

During the 1980s, Hillage worked as a record producer, working for artists such as It Bites, Simple Minds, Cock Robin and Robyn Hitchcock. He returned to producing in the 90s, working on The Charlatans self-titled disc in 1995.

After hearing the likes of The Orb playing his 1979 ambient record "Rainbow Dome Musick", Hillage teamed up with Giraudy again in the early 1990s to form their own ambient dance act: System 7. They soon became part of the underground dance scene in London. Hillage also produced in the 1990s a raï musical show called '1, 2, 3 Soleils', featuring Algerian singers Faudel, Rachid Taha and Khaled he also arranged many songs of Latifa.

Since the mid-1990s, Hillage has been an important contributor to Rachid Taha's music, as guitarist and producer.

In November 2006, he made a surprise return to the Gong fold when he and Giraudy performed at the Gong Unconvention in Amsterdam, as the "Steve Hillage Band" (playing material from the 70's albums - mainly from Fish Rising, which was itself essentially Hillage using most of the rest of the Gong band as his own), as System 7, Hillage and Giraudy's current set up, and also as members of Gong. At the Unconvention, Hillage also contributed to the "Glissando Orchestra", a one hour plus performance where a number of guitarists (ten or more at some stages, including Hillage and Gong lead man Daevid Allen) all played mostly continuous drone notes with some gentle melodic lines overlaid.

This participation in the Gong band was reprised in a small number of concerts held by Gong in London in June 2008, where Hillage and Giraudy were among the line up which also included Daevid Allen, Gilli Smyth, and Mike Howlett. At those concerts, Hillage also played one track from his own solo repertoire: "Light in the Sky" from Motivation Radio.

In January 2007, four of his albums - "Fish Rising", "L", "Motivation Radio" and "Rainbow Dome Musick" - were released in the UK remastered on CD, each, except the latter, with previously unreleased bonus tracks.

In February 2007, "Green", "Live Herald", "Open" and "For To Next/And Not Or" followed, similarly remastered with bonus content.

"Light in the Sky", from his 1977 album "Motivation Radio", is used as the theme for "The Sunday Night Project" on Channel 4.


* (1975) "Fish Rising"
* (1976) "L
* (1977) "Motivation Radio"
* (1978) "Green"
* (1979) "Live Herald"
* (1979) "Rainbow Dome Musick"
* (1979) "Open"
* (1983) "For To Next / And Not Or"
* (1994) "BBC Radio 1 Live"
* (2003) "Light in the Sky"
* (2004) "Live at Deeply Vale Festival 1978'
* (2008) "Evan Marc & Steve Hillage - Dreamtime Submersible (Somnia Records)

External links

* [ Calyx website's Steve Hillage (1970s) chronology]
* [ Live in England 1979 DVD]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Steve Hillage — (* 2. August 1951 in Chingford, London, als Stephen Simpson Hillage) ist ein britischer Musiker und Produzent. Neben anderen Bands war er in den frühen 1970er Jahren insbesondere als Gitarrist bei der Band Gong erfolgreich. 1975 verließ er Gong… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Steve Hillage — ( Londres , 02 de agosto de 1951 ) es un guitarrista de rock inglés, asociado con la escena de Canterbury , que participa en bandas como Arzachel, Gong, Uriel y Khan . Actualmente participa en la banda de rock como System 7. Stephen Steve Simpson …   Wikipedia Español

  • Steve Hillage — (Hyde Park, 1974) Steve Hillage est un musicien anglais né à Londres le 2 août 1951. Sommaire 1 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Steve Hillage — Стив Хиллидж Полное имя Стивен Симпсон Хиллидж Дата рождения 2 августа 1951 Место рождения Чингфорд, Лондон …   Википедия

  • L (Steve Hillage album) — Infobox Album Name = L Type = Album Artist = Steve Hillage Released = 1976 Recorded = May June 1976 Genre = Progressive rock Length = Label = Virgin Cat no. = V2066 Producer = Todd Rundgren Last album = Fish Rising (1975) This album = L (1976)… …   Wikipedia

  • Green (Steve Hillage album) — Infobox Album Name = Green Type = Album Artist = Steve Hillage Released = 1978 Recorded = December 1977, Surrey, overdubs and mixing in London January and February 1978 Genre = Progressive rock Length = 46:09 Label = Virgin Producer = Nick Mason …   Wikipedia

  • Hillage — Steve Hillage (* 2. August 1951 in Chingford, London, als Stephen Simpson Hillage) ist ein britischer Musiker und Produzent. Neben anderen Bands war er in den frühen 1970er Jahren insbesondere als Gitarrist bei der Band Gong erfolgreich. 1975… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gong (band) — Gong Gong live in Tel Aviv, 31 October 2009 Steve Hillage, Gilli Smyth, Chris Taylor, Dave Sturt, Daevid Allen (from left to right) Background information Origin …   Wikipedia

  • Motivation Radio — Studio album by Steve Hillage Released 1977 …   Wikipedia

  • Miquette Giraudy — playing keyboards, 2008 Miquette Giraudy is a keyboard player and vocalist, best known for her work in Gong and with her partner Steve Hillage. She and Hillage currently form the core of the ambient band System 7. Contents …   Wikipedia

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