|Born||29 October 1933|
|Died|| (aged 53)|
|Known for||Charisma Records, The Koobas, The Nice, Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Monty Python|
Tony Stratton-Smith (29 October 1933 – 19 March 1987)was an English rock music manager, and entrepreneur. He founded the London-based record label Charisma Records in 1969 and managed rock groups such as the Nice, Van der Graaf Generator and Genesis.
Stratton-Smith was born in Birmingham.He started his career as a sports journalist, mainly reporting on football for the Daily Sketch and the Daily Express , and while at the Express including being assigned to cover the Manchester United v Red Star Belgrade European Cup match in Yugoslavia. However their chief soccer correspondent Henry Rose pulled rank and decided to go instead. The aircraft bringing back the team, officials and press crashed in what became known as the Munich Air Disaster and Rose was one of the fatalities.
Later on he began being influenced by The Beatles, in particular their manager Brian Epstein and decided to enter the music business. One of the earliest bands he managed were the Liverpool-based The Koobas, taking over from Epstein.He subsequently took over management of The Nice in 1968 from Andrew Loog Oldham and, frustrated with the workings of Oldham's Immediate Records label, decided to form his own.
Later signings included the Bonzo Dog Band and Van der Graaf Generator. In 1969 he signed the progressive rock band Genesis onto his record and management companies, and released Trespass (1970), the band's second album. Genesis became the label's most commercially successful group. Stratton-Smith released many records by Monty Python and helped to finance the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). He also recorded former Bonzo frontman Vivian Stanshall and financed Stanshall's film Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980), as well as being credited as its producer. Other important artists Stratton-Smith was closely associated with include Atomic Rooster, Audience, Brand X, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Steve Hackett, Peter Hammill, Lindisfarne, Julian Lennon, Robert John Godfrey, String Driven Thing and Rare Bird. According to Hackett, Stratton-Smith missed an opportunity to sign Queen, whose demos had been brought in to Charisma.Gail Colson worked with him at Charisma, as label manager and joint managing director. She left to form her own company in the late 1970s and would manage the solo careers of Gabriel and Hammill, among others.
In the United States, Charisma Records recordings were often licensed to other labels such as ABC Records (including subsidiary labels Dunhill Records & Probe Records), Elektra Records, Buddah Records, Atlantic Records, Mercury Records and Arista Records. The label was eventually sold to Virgin Records in 1983. Virgin re-activated the Charisma name with a new logo for a short time during the late 1980s. The vast majority of the Charisma catalogue is now owned by EMI.
"Strat" as he was known to his friends was known for his sense of humour and flair for promotion. His sense of humour was often reflected in promotional materials and record label art. With an ear for unusual and creative talent he made Charisma successful, especially in its early years. Though usually known as "Charisma Records", the company also promoted itself as "The Famous Charisma Label".
Stratton-Smith, who was a gay man,died of pancreatic cancer on 19 March 1987 aged 53. A memorial service was held for him at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.
Marillion's album Clutching at Straws (released shortly after his death in 1987) was dedicated to him in the sleeve credits. The song "Time to Burn" by Peter Hammill (1988) is "something of a goodbye to Tony Stratton-Smith",and 3, the 1988 band of Keith Emerson, Carl Palmer and Robert Berry, dedicates the closing track, "On My Way Home", of their only album To the Power of Three (1988), to Stratton-Smith.
Peter Joseph Andrew Hammill is an English singer-songwriter. He is a founder member of the progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Best known as a singer/songwriter, he also plays guitar and piano and acts as a record producer for his own recordings and occasionally for other artists. In 2012, he was recognised with the Visionary award at the first Progressive Music Awards.
Charisma Records was a British record label founded in 1969 by former journalist Tony Stratton-Smith. He had previously acted as manager for rock bands such as The Nice, the Bonzo Dog Band and Van der Graaf Generator. Gail Colson was label manager and joint managing director.
Pawn Hearts is the fourth album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator, released in October 1971 on Charisma Records. The original album features just three tracks, including the side-long suite "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers". The album was not commercially successful in the UK, but reached number one in Italy. It has since seen retrospective critical praise and was reissued on CD in 2005 with extra material.
H to He, Who Am the Only One is the third album by the British progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. It was released in 1970 on Charisma Records.
The Silent Corner and the Empty Stage is the third album by British singer-songwriter Peter Hammill. It was released on Charisma Records in 1974, during a hiatus in the activities of Hammill's progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Other ex-members of Van der Graaf Generator also perform on the recording.
The Least We Can Do Is Wave to Each Other is the second album by the British progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator, released in February 1970 on Charisma Records. It was the group's first album to be released in the UK and the only one to chart in the top 50 in that country.
Paul Whitehead is a British painter and graphic artist known for his surrealistic album covers for artists on the Charisma Records label in the 1970s, such as Genesis and Van der Graaf Generator.
Christopher John Judge Smith, is an English songwriter, author, composer and performer, and a founder member of progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Initially working under the name Chris Judge Smith, he has been known simply as Judge Smith since 1994. After Van der Graaf Generator, he has written songs, stage musicals and operas, and from the early 1990s on he has released a number of solo CDs, including three "Songstories".
The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome is the eighth album by British progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. Released in 1977, it was their last studio album before their 2005 reunion. The album features a more energetic, new wave sound than its three immediate predecessors, anticipating singer and songwriter Peter Hammill's late 1970s solo work.
Vital: Van der Graaf Live is the first live album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. It was recorded 16 January 1978 at the Marquee Club in London and was released in July, one month after the band's 1978 break-up. The album was credited under the abbreviated name Van der Graaf, like the previous year's The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome (1977), and featured the same line-up plus newcomer cellist/keyboardist Charles Dickie, who had officially joined the band in August 1977, and original saxophonist and flautist David Jackson, who re-joined the band for this recording.
Hugh Robert Banton is a British organist and electronic organ builder, most widely known for his work with the group Van der Graaf Generator.
The Aerosol Grey Machine is the debut studio album by English progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. It was first released in the United States in 1969 by Mercury Records.
World Record is the seventh studio album by the British progressive rock group Van der Graaf Generator, originally released in 1976 on Charisma Records. Bonus tracks were added for the 2005 rerelease.
Chameleon in the Shadow of the Night is the second solo album by British singer-songwriter Peter Hammill. It followed in the aftermath of the breakup of Hammill's band Van der Graaf Generator, and other ex-members of Van der Graaf Generator perform on the album.
Fool's Mate is the debut solo album by Peter Hammill of progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator. The title is both a chess and tarot reference. It was produced by Trident Studios' in-house producer John Anthony. The album was recorded in 1971, in the midst of one of Van der Graaf Generator's most prolific periods. Hammill used the album to record a backlog of songs which were much shorter and simpler than his Van der Graaf Generator material, and declared on the original album sleeve: "This isn't intended to be any kind of statement of my present musical position, but at the same time, it is an album which involves a great deal of me, the person, basically a return to the roots."
Van der Graaf Generator are an English progressive rock band, formed in 1967 in Manchester by singer-songwriters Peter Hammill and Chris Judge Smith and the first act signed by Charisma Records. They did not experience much commercial success in the UK, but became popular in Italy during the 1970s. In 2005 the band reformed, and are still musically active with a line-up of Hammill, organist Hugh Banton and drummer Guy Evans.
Keith Ian Ellis, was an English bass player. He was born in Matlock, Derbyshire. He is known for his associations with The Koobas, The Misunderstood and Juicy Lucy. He was also a member of Van der Graaf Generator from 1968 to 1969. Ellis worked with Mike Patto and Ollie Halsall's band Boxer from 1975 until late 1976 when the original line-up split.
John Anthony is an English music producer. He has worked with Van der Graaf Generator, Genesis, Queen, Roxy Music and Peter Hammill.
"A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" is a song by the English rock band Van der Graaf Generator, from their fourth album Pawn Hearts (1971). It is a concept piece over 23 minutes long, which comprises the whole B-side of the album. "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" evolved in the studio, recorded in small sections and pieced together during mixing. The song has many changes in time signature and key signature, and even incorporates some musique concrète.
Luxford House is a 16th-century Grade II listed building near Crowborough, East Sussex. It is near the 11.5-acre (4.7 ha) Luxford Farm. It was used by several rock musicians in the 1970s under the guidance of Tony Stratton Smith.