Curved Air

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Curved Air
Curved Air promotional photo, circa 1975 - 1976
Background information
Origin: United Kingdom
Years active: 1969 - 2008
Associated acts: MASK, The Police
Website: The Official Curved Air Web Site
Francis Monkman
Darryl Way
Sonja Kristina
Florian Pilkington-Miksa
Rob Martin
Former members
Ian Eyre
Mike Wedgwood
Eddie Jobson
Kirby Gregory
Jim Russell
Phil Kohn
Mick Jacques
Stewart Copeland
Tony Reeves
Alex Richman

Band history

The genesis for Curved Air came in 1968, when original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and his friend, bassist Rob Martin, were introduced to guitarist/keybardist Francis Monkman. They began playing cover tunes together at parties, with the idea of forming a "classic-rock" band (as in classical music), until Francis met fellow Royal College of Music student Darryl Way. Darryl introduced Francis to pianist Nick Simon, and together they formed the group Sisyphus. Simon soon left, Francis took up playing keyboards and guitar, and decided it was time to rename the band. Francis suggested a shortened version of Terry Riley's composition "A Rainbow in Curved Air," hence the band's final name was decided upon.

At the same time, folksinger Sonja Kristina was featured in the London production of "Hair." The producer, Galt McDermott, had a second play, "Who the Murderer Was," running concurrently in Notting Hill Gate, where the pit band was none other than Curved Air. Curved Air's original manager, Mark Hanau, suggested that they try adding a female singer to the band, and Sonja seemed to fit their needs perfectly. Their sound evolved rapidly and the group became the first British act signed by Warner Brothers. Their first tour was in support of Black Sabbath.

Mark Hanau wound be involved in other decisions related to the band which would have a large impact on their early years' success. The band's first album, "Airconditioning," was notable as the first rock picture disc, which had been Hanau's idea. Their sound was a unique blend of progressive rock, accoustic folk, electronica and jazz fusion and the album reached number 8 in the British charts. They also were one of the first rock bands to feature a violin as a regular part of their sound and line-up. Curved Air was also credited with the first ever music video (distinct from a promotional film) by Record Retailer magazine and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

In April of 1970, Rob Martin left and was replaced by Ian Eyre. "Second Album" was recorded with this lineup and it featured the Top 5 hit, "Back Street Luv", the band's biggest single release. Ian Eyre left and was replaced by Mike Wedgwood. "Phantasmagoria," the band's third Top 20 album, came out in 1972. The album was toured through the United States and United Kingdom, and afterwards Florian, Darryl and Francis departed the band, leaving only Sonja and Mike behind.

Kirby Gregory, Eddie Jobson and Jim Russell were recruited by Curved Air for the "Air Cut" album in 1973. They toured the UK and Italy successfully, but then Eddie left to replace Brian Eno in Roxy Music.

Meanwhile, Darryl Way had attempted to form a new band, Wolf, which had not had any success. By mid-1974 he was looking to form a new band, with the assistance of his current manager, Miles Copeland III. Miles recommended his brother Stewart Copeland as drummer for the gig, and their band played several gigs as Stark Naked And The Car Thieves.

Soon after, however, a financial crisis emerged for the original band members of Curved Air. They owed significant back taxes and were being sued by Chrysalis, their record company of the time, for defaulting on their contract. In order to cover these debts, Darryl, Francis and Florian, along with new member, American bassist Phil Kohn, reunited for a UK tour in December of 1974. Stewart briefly became their tour manager during this time, but found it more difficult to work with Darryl in a business situation versus a creative one. Even so, it was during this time that Stewart's relationship with Sonja evolved and soon they were living together in the first of a series of flats throughout London.

The critically acclaimed Curved Air "Live" album was recorded during this later 1974 tour. With financial debts settled, Francis and Florian departed again, while Sonja and Darryl decided to continue working together again and brought in guitarist Mick Jacques (who had previously been involved with Stewart in the band Cat Iron), Stewart back on the drums, and bassist Phil Kohn. The new line-up toured extensively throughout 1975, beginning to redevelop their sound and following, and recorded the album Midnight Wire (without Phil Kohn). In 1976 the new line-up with bassist Tony Reeves recorded Airborne, but both albums and their recordings were plagued with difficulties with producers that ended up costing them large sums of money putting them back in debt to their record company. Their popularity as a live band could only keep them going for so long, especially as punk rock was beginning to dominate the music scene and interest flagged in progressive acts.

It was on 1976-09-25, while in Newcastle, that Stewart and Sonja would meet up with Phil Sutcliffe, a reporter who wanted them to see a favorite local act, Last Exit. Stewart saw the band's bassist and singer, Sting, as just the person he needed to launch a new band capitalizing on the punk phenomenon. Curved Air, for the time, soon officially disbanded.

The band did regroup in 1990 and released a live recording, "Alive, 1990," featuring the line-up of Sonja, Francis, Florian, Darryl and Rob Martin. In 2008 they once again made plans to reunite for a number of summer UK gigs and festivals.

Band members


Main article: Discography (Curved Air)

Studio albums

Awards & Honors

Summarize major awards here in list format, as well as awards received not specific to a particular album, song, film or other release.

Quotations and Trivia

This section needs more information.

See also

External links