Classic Rock Wiki

The Charlatans (known in the United States as The Charlatans UK) are an English indie rock band. The band's line-up currently comprises lead vocalist Tim Burgess, guitarist Mark Collins, bassist Martin Blunt, and keyboardist Tony Rogers.[1]

Former members of the band include vocalist Baz Ketley (1989); guitarist Jon Day (Jonathan Baker) (1989–1991); keyboardist Rob Collins (1989–1996), who died in acar accident during recording of their fifth album; and drummer Jon Brookes (1989-2013), who died after being diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010.

In the UK, all of the band's eleven studio albums have charted in the Top 40 in the UK Albums Chart, three of them being number ones. They have also achieved seventeen Top 30 singles, and four Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart.



  • 1 History
    • 1.1 Formation (1988–1989)
    • 1.2 Early years (1990–1993)
    • 1.3 Mid-nineties fame (1994–1997)
    • 1.4 Line-up and label changes (1997–2004)
    • 1.5 The Sanctuary years (2005–2007)
    • 1.6 On an independent label (2008–2012)
    • 1.7 Death of Jon Brookes and new album (2013–present)
  • 2 Discography
  • 3 Band members
  • 4 References
  • 5 Bibliography
  • 6 External links


Formation (1988–1989)[edit][]

The band originally formed in the West Midlands by bassist Martin Blunt, who recruited fellow West Midlanders; Rob Collins (keyboards), Jon Brookes (drums), plus singer/guitarist Baz Ketley, who left the band to be replaced by Tim Burgess and Jon Day (Jonathan Baker) (guitar).

Although the Charlatans would later become popularly associated with the Madchester scene, the band's early demos recorded in Birmingham and Dudley in 1988 were already recognisable for the sound the band would feature at the height of their fame, dominated by Collins' Hammond organ but underpinned by the driving rhythm section of Blunt's powerful running bass and Brookes's drumming.[2] With their sound – fusing 1960s soul, R&B and garage rock – inherited from Blunt's earlier 1982 band Making Time, the band saw themselves firmly in the West Midlands tradition of hard-edged soul and R&B that included Birmingham bandsThe Spencer Davis Group and early Dexys Midnight Runners.[3]

Although the name The Charlatans was used when original members of the band were located in the West Midlands, many sources state that they formed in Northwich, Cheshire.[4] This is because the band relocated to the home town of new lead singer Tim Burgess (who was born in Salford, but lived in Northwich from an early age) before the 1990 release of The Charlatans' debut single "Indian Rope", on the band's own Dead Dead Good Records label. This means that, based on the definition of the hometown used by Guinness World Records, the band formed in Northwich and consequently, Northwich is recorded as their home town in such publications as British Hit Singles & Albums.

Early years (1990–1993)[edit][]

The Charlatans during their early days

The debut single, "Indian Rope" proved an indie hit and the group soon found a major label, Beggars Banquet off-shoot Situation Two, in time for the release of "The Only One I Know" which reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.[5] A further single, "Then", and debut album Some Friendly, were released later that year. Around this time The Charlatans were forced to add UK to their name for an American tour due to competing claims by a 1960s rock band also known as The Charlatans.[1]

Baker left the band after 1991's "Over Rising" single to be replaced by Mark Collins (no relation to Rob), and the band brought in producer Flood for their second albumBetween 10th and 11th (named after the address of the New York Marque, site of the group's first US concert). Released in early 1992, the album failed to reach the Top 20 in the UK Albums Chart.[5] However, the Top 20 success of the lead single "Weirdo" and a double weekend of gigs ('Daytripper') in Blackpool and Brighton with Ride kept them in the public eye.[5][6]

Later that year, the band suffered a major setback when Rob Collins was charged with armed robbery after his friend had robbed an off licence while he was waiting in the car outside.[1] Collins claimed to have no foreknowledge of the robbery until he heard a gunshot inside the shop and his friend exited, although he later admitted that he should not have picked his friend up after he realised what he had done. At court, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of "assisting an offender after an offence" and served four months in prison.[1]

Mid-nineties fame (1994–1997)[edit][]

The follow-up album, Up To Our Hips (1994) reached number 8 in the UK Albums Chart.[5]

In 1995 the band's self-titled fourth album saw them become major UK stars again, topping the UK albums chart and spawning the Top 20 single "Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over".[5]

Keyboard player Rob Collins was killed in a car crash during the recording of fifth album Tellin' Stories on 22 July 1996. The Charlatans decided to continue, and the Primal Scream and former Felt keyboardist Martin Duffy was drafted in, particularly for The Charlatans support slot with Oasis at their Knebworth concerts in mid-1996, until a permanent replacement for Collins could be found.

Tellin' Stories was released in 1997 featuring contributions from both Rob Collins and Duffy and in the singles "One to Another", "North Country Boy" and "How High" the group had their biggest UK hits to date.[5]

Line-up and label changes (1997–2004)[edit][]

After releasing the career-spanning compilation Melting Pot the band's contract with Beggars Banquet was up, and they signed to Universal Records.[1] Relations with 'Beggars' remained strong however, and the band helped put together the B-sides collection Songs From The Other Side and DVD Just Lookin' 1990 - 1997, showcasing all their promotional videos, and a selection of live recordings from that era.

Us And Us Only saw the start of a new era for The Charlatans. Their first release for Universal saw new keyboard player Tony Rogers make his Charlatan's album debut[1] (he had previously toured in support ofTellin' Stories and contributed to b-sides "Keep It to Yourself" and "Clean Up Kid" from the "How High" single) and the band took on a slightly country sound, heavily influenced by Burgess's love of Bob Dylan. Thesoul influenced Wonderland followed in 2001, beforeUp At The Lake was released in 2004.

The Sanctuary years (2005–2007)[edit][]

The band released their ninth full-length album on 10 April 2006, their first for new label Sanctuary Records. Titled Simpatico, the reggae and dub tinged album featured tracks like the fan favourite "NYC (There's No Need to Stop)", first single "Blackened Blue Eyes", and was produced by Jim Lowe.[7] The single charted at number 28. The album reached the top 10 in its first week of release, but dropped out of the charts shortly after.[5]

Their follow-up to Simpatico was the career-spanning singles compilation entitled Forever: The Singles which was released on CD and DVD on 13 November 2006. It was preceded by the re-recorded (remixed byYouth) song "You're So Pretty We're So Pretty" which appeared originally on their 2001 album Wonderland. In an interview for their Simpatico album, the band mentioned lack of shower facilities and bad bus drivers as the worst aspects of touring. "[Bus drivers] get so bloody moody. They don't want you on the bus, yet you're paying them a fortune to drive you. They'd rather drive around the whole of the country with nobody in the back".[8]

The band played a number of high-profile supporting gigs in mid-2007, including for The Who and The Rolling Stones, at venues including Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stadium in London, as well as theBingley Music Live event, Nass festival 2007, and at Delamere Forest in Cheshire. A recording of Live At Delamere Forest was released as a download only via the official website in five parts for a limited time only.

On an independent label (2008–2012)[edit][]

In an October 2007 issue of the NME, the band contributed the song "Blank Heart, Blank Mind" to the magazine's free Love Music, Hate Racism compilation CD. Later the same month, the new single "You Cross My Path" was released as a free download exclusively through the XFM website. On 3 March 2008, The Charlatans teamed up with Xfm again to become the first UK band to release an album completely free to download via a radio station. This was preceded a week earlier by the second single from the album, "Oh! Vanity". The album, titled You Cross My Path, is The Charlatans' tenth studio album and received a physical CD/LP release on 19 May 2008 on the Cooking Vinyl label, coinciding with a full UK tour.

2010 also coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the band's debut album, Some Friendly which they played live at Primavera Sound Festival2010.[9]

Their eleventh studio album, Who We Touch, was released on 6 September 2010 on Cooking Vinyl Records. The first single release was "Love Is Ending". The album charted at No. 21 in the UK Albums Chart. On 15 September 2010, Brookes collapsed during a performance in Philadelphia. The remaining US tour dates were postponed as Brookes was diagnosed with a brain tumour.[10] He was flown back to the UK for an operation and series of radiation and chemotherapy treatment. The Verve's Peter Salisbury acted as a stand-in drummer for the remainder of the Charlatans UK dates. Brookes returned to the stage for the band's Christmas and New Year Eve's gigs in 2010.

On 28 March 2011 Universal Music re-released a deluxe edition of the band's Us & Us Only album, originally released in 1999, featuring a collection of bonus tracks including B-sides, live recordings, radio sessions and rare remixes. In March/April 2011 Tim Burgess and Mark Collins played an acoustic tour of the UK. To coincide with the acoustic tour the band released Warm Sounds EP. Featuring six stripped-down and reworked versions of Charlatans tracks including "North Country Boy", "The Only One I Know" and "Smash The System". In December 2011 the band announced they will be performing Tellin' Stories in its entirety at London HMV Hammersmith Apollo and Glasgow Barrowland in June 2012.

Death of Jon Brookes and new album (2013–present)[edit][]

2013 saw the band return to their Big Mushroom studio to begin working on demos for a new album. In May 2013, Mountain Picnic Blues was released on DVD, a documentary about the LP Tellin' Stories. On 13 August 2013 the band's drummer Jon Brookes succumbed to brain cancer after having been diagnosed earlier in 2010 and having undergone several operations and treatment for the condition.[11] He was paid tribute by the band themselves with Pete Salisbury playing in his place. The drummer and his work in The Charlatans were commemorated also by bands such as Beady Eye, The Vaccines and Manic Street Preachers. Proceeds from the night went to The Brain Tumour Charity, of which The Charlatans are now patrons. The charity have set up The Jon Brookes Fund as a lasting tribute to the drummer.[12] Recently Tim Burgess confirmed that Brookes' recordings will appear on the band's next album, set to be released sometime in 2014.[13]

On 6 May 2013, they released a documentary and live DVD "Mountain Picnic Blues" about The Charlatans’ 1997 LP Tellin' Stories, from its creation in 1997 to the 15th anniversary of the album.

The Charlatans announced details of their 12th studio album entitled Modern Nature, due for release on the 26th January 2015 on their new label BMG.

Featuring eleven new tracks, including the recent limited edition 7” Talking In Tones, Modern Nature was produced by The Charlatans and Jim Spencer and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead). The album features contributions from the band’s three temporary drummers - Peter Salisbury of The Verve, Stephen Morris of New Order and Gabriel Gurnsey of Factory Floor - to Kate Bush's backing singer Melanie Marshall and Sandra Marvin, strings by Sean O'Hagan and brass courtesy of Jim Paterson from Dexys Midnight Runners.


Main article: The Charlatans discography

Studio albums
  • Some Friendly (1990)
  • Between 10th and 11th (1992)
  • Up to Our Hips (1994)
  • The Charlatans (1995)
  • Tellin' Stories (1997)
  • Us and Us Only (1999)
  • Wonderland (2001)
  • Up at the Lake (2004)
  • Simpatico (2006)
  • You Cross My Path (2008)
  • Who We Touch (2010)
  • Modern Nature (2015)

Band members[edit][]

Current members
  • Martin Blunt – bass (1989–present)
  • Tim Burgess – lead vocals, harmonica (1989–present)
  • Mark Collins – guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals (1991–present)
  • Tony Rogers – keyboards, piano, organ, hammond organ, backing vocals (1997–present)
Former members
  • Jon Brookes – drums and percussion (1989–2013; died 2013)
  • Rob Collins – keyboards, piano, organ, hammond organ, backing vocals (1989–1996; died 1996)
  • Baz Ketley – lead vocals, guitar (1989)
  • Jon Day (b. Jonathan Baker) – guitar (1989–1991)
Session and touring members
  • Martin Duffy – keyboards (1996-1997)
  • Peter Salisbury – drums and percussion (2010; 2013)