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CANTERBURY SANS FRONTIÈRES:
Episode Twenty Seven
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Hugh Hopper Biography
Hugh Hopper started his musical career in 1963 as the bass player with the Daevid Allen Trio alongside drummer Robert Wyatt. There can be few other free jazz bands of the era with such a stellar line-up. Unlike other legendary ensembles such as The Crucial Three (a Liverpool band from 1977, which featured three musicians who were to go on to enormous success), the Daevid Allen Trio actually played gigs and made recordings.
All three members ended up in Soft Machine, which together with Pink Floyd was the ‘house band’ of the burgeoning ‘underground’ movement that tried so hard to turn British cultural mores upside down for a few years in the latter half of the 1960s. (Hopper and Wyatt had also been in another legendary Canterbury band called The Wilde Flowers). Hopper stayed with Soft Machine (for whom he was initially the road manager) until 1973 playing at least one session with Syd Barrett along the way.
During his tenure the band developed from a psychedelic pop group to an instrumental jazz rock fusion band, all the time driven by the lyrical bass playing of Hugh Hopper. After leaving the band he worked with many pillars of the jazz rock fusion scene such as: Isotope, Gilgamesh, Stomu Yamashta and Carla Bley. He also formed some co-operative bands with Elton Dean who had also been in Soft Machine. Previously Dean had been in a band called Bluesology, whose keyboard player Reginald Dwight had come to the conclusion that his was not a name that had much commercial potential, so he pinched Dean’s Christian name and as a surname chose part of the name of Bluesology’s lead singer, Long John Baldry.