National Health

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National Health
Origin Canterbury, England
Genres Progressive rock, Canterbury scene, jazz fusion, psychedelic rock, experimental rock
Years active1975–1981
Associated acts Hatfield and the North, Caravan, The Wilde Flowers, Soft Machine, Bill Bruford
Past members Dave Stewart
Alan Gowen
Amanda Parsons
Phil Miller
Phil Lee
Mont Campbell
Bill Bruford
Steve Hillage
John Mitchell
Neil Murray
Pip Pyle
John Greaves
Georgie Born
Lindsay Cooper

National Health were an English progressive rock band associated with the Canterbury scene. Founded in 1975, the band featured members of keyboardist Dave Stewart's band Hatfield and the North and Alan Gowen's band Gilgamesh, including guitarists Phil Miller and Phil Lee and bassist Mont Campbell as original members. The band was named after Stewart's National Health glasses. Bill Bruford (previously of Yes and King Crimson) was the initial drummer but was soon replaced by Pip Pyle. Campbell was replaced by Neil Murray and then John Greaves. Alan Gowen stopped performing with the group after their first album, but returned for their final tours replacing Dave Stewart who resigned after their second album. Guitarist Phil Miller was National Health's only constant member.

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening, not dancing.

The Canterbury scene is a subgenre of, or sibling to, progressive rock. The term describes a loosely defined style of music created by a number of improvisational musicians, some of whom were based in the city of Canterbury, Kent, England during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Dave Stewart is an English keyboardist and composer who has worked with singer Barbara Gaskin since 1981. He played in the progressive rock bands Uriel, Egg, Khan, Hatfield and the North, National Health, and Bruford. Stewart is the author of two books on music theory and wrote a music column for Keyboard magazine (USA) for 13 years. He has also composed music for TV, film and radio, much of it for Victor Lewis-Smith's ARTV production company.


A frequently changing line-up, they toured extensively and released their first album, National Health in 1978. Although it was created during the rise of punk rock, the album is characterized by lengthy, mostly instrumental compositions. Their second record Of Queues and Cures , which included Peter Blegvad (recitation on "Squarer For Maud") and Georgie Born (cello), is held as one of the best records ever on the Gnosis website. [1] After the May 1981 death of Gowen, Stewart rejoined the remaining members to record the album D.S. Al Coda, a set of compositions by Gowen, most previously unrecorded. The original albums and additional archival material have subsequently been released on CD.

<i>National Health</i> (album) 1978 studio album by National Health

National Health is the first album recorded by the progressive rock and jazz fusion group National Health, one of the last representatives of the artistically prolific Canterbury scene. Although it was created during the rise of punk, the album is characterized by lengthy, elaborate and mostly instrumental compositions that combine prog and jazz elements.

Punk rock is a rock music genre that emerged in the mid-1970s in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in 1960s garage rock and other forms of what is now known as "proto-punk" music, punk rock bands rejected perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock. They typically produced short, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies and singing styles, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics. Punk embraces a DIY ethic; many bands self-produce recordings and distribute them through independent record labels and other informal channels.

<i>Of Queues and Cures</i> 1978 studio album by National Health

Of Queues and Cures is the second album recorded by the progressive rock and jazz fusion group National Health, one of the last representatives of the artistically prolific Canterbury scene.

The intro of National Health's 'Binoculars' was used as a sample on American rock band Deftones' Black Moon.

Deftones American alternative metal band

Deftones is an American alternative metal band from Sacramento, California. It was formed in 1988 by Chino Moreno, Stephen Carpenter, Abe Cunningham (drums) and Dominic Garcia (bass). During their first five years, the band's lineup changed several times, but stabilized in 1993 when Cunningham rejoined after his departure in 1990; by this time, Chi Cheng was bassist. The lineup remained stable for fifteen years, with the exception of keyboardist and turntablist Frank Delgado being added in 1999. The band is known as one of the most experimental groups to have come from the alternative metal scene, and are sometimes dubbed by critics as "the Radiohead of metal".


Studio albums

D.S. Al Coda is the third and final album by the progressive rock and jazz fusion group National Health. It is a tribute to former member Alan Gowen, who died of leukaemia in May 1981, and consists solely of compositions written by him. Most of these had not been recorded in the studio before, although "TNTFX" and "Arriving Twice" both appeared earlier on albums by Gowen's other band Gilgamesh.

Other releases


Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales (2015) is the third in a series of feature-length documentaries about Progressive rock written and directed by Adele Schmidt and José Zegarra Holder. This one focuses on the music of the Canterbury scene.

Related Research Articles

Steve Hillage British guitarist

Stephen Simpson Hillage is an English 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.

Matching Mole were an English progressive rock band associated with the Canterbury scene. Robert Wyatt formed the band in October 1971 after he left Soft Machine and recorded his first solo album The End of an Ear. He continued his role on vocals and drums and was joined by David Sinclair of Caravan on organ and piano, Dave MacRae on electric piano, Phil Miller of Delivery on guitar and Bill MacCormick of Quiet Sun, on bass. The name is a pun on Machine Molle, the French translation of the name of Wyatt's previous group Soft Machine.

Hugh Hopper English bass guitarist

Hugh Colin Hopper was a British progressive rock and jazz fusion bass guitarist. He was a prominent member of the Canterbury scene, as a member of Soft Machine and various other related bands.

Barbara Gaskin British singer

Barbara Gaskin is a British singer formerly associated with the UK Canterbury scene.

<i>One of a Kind</i> (Bruford album) album by Bruford

One of a Kind is an album by the British band Bruford. It was released in 1979 and is a collection of progressive melodies with much jazz exploration, in style that can be defined within the limits of jazz fusion. The group led by drummer Bill Bruford features guitarist Allan Holdsworth, bassist Jeff Berlin and keyboardist Dave Stewart. Some of the material was originally performed live by U.K. on its 1978 tour, but taken for use on this album when Holdsworth and Bruford exited that band. Stewart's "Hell's Bells" used a fragment penned by his former National Health colleague Alan Gowen.

Hatfield and the North were an experimental Canterbury scene rock band that lasted from October 1972 to June 1975, with some reunions thereafter.

Egg were an English progressive rock band formed in January 1969.

Phillip "Pip" Pyle was an English-born drummer from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, who later resided in France. He is best known for his work in the progressive rock Canterbury scene bands Gong, Hatfield and the North and National Health.

Richard Sinclair British bassist

Richard Stephen Sinclair is an English progressive rock bassist, guitarist, and vocalist who has been a member of several bands of the Canterbury scene.

Dirk Campbell is a British multi-instrumental musician, composer and energy company executive.

Delivery was a British blues/progressive rock musical group, formed in the late 1960s. The band was one of the wellsprings of the progressive rock Canterbury scene.

Gilgamesh were a British jazz fusion band in the 1970s led by keyboardist Alan Gowen, part of the Canterbury scene.

Alan Gowen was a fusion/progressive rock keyboardist, best known for his work in Gilgamesh and National Health.

Soft Heap was a Canterbury scene supergroup founded in January 1978.

In Cahoots was a Canterbury scene band led by guitarist Phil Miller, their main composer.


  1. ranked #10 as of 2012/09/13, the Gnosis search facility