Barclay James Harvest
Barclay James Harvest began in the Swinging ‘60s in Oldham in Manchester. Originally the band started as a two piece with John Lees and Stuart “Woolly” Wolstenholme, and by 1967 the band had evolved into a four-piece with the name randomly chosen out of a hat.
After securing a contract with EMI’s Parlophone, Barclay James Harvest had a recording session with the legendary John peel which led on to their highly popular second release, “Brother Thrush” in June 1969.
In the ‘70s Barclay James Harvest (BJH) began to experiment with more instruments, using woodwind, strings, brass and a Mellotron to the mix. After releasing their eponymous debut album, the band went on some short orchestral tours but was financially unstable and parted ways with their label.
Signed to new record label Polydor in 1974, led Barclay James Harvest to a more fruitful venture. They released Everyone Is Everybody Else, which was followed later that year by Barclay James Harvest Live, (a doubled CD which charted). Time Honoured Ghosts (1975) and Octoberon (1976) also did well and BJH went on tour more in Europe.
A shake-up of band members with Woolly retiring from music moved the band in a new musical direction. The remaining trio of carried on where they left off and had stupendous results in Germany. Eyes Of The Universe sold 500,000 copies and went Platinum.
The band achieved momentous fame when they played a free show for nearly 200,000 people at the Reichstag at the then divided Berlin and toured extensively across Europe. Barclay James Harvest achieved #1 in Germany for Berlin - A Concert For The People and in the UK reached #15.
After the release of Ring Of Changes and Victims Of Circumstance followed a long hiatus. In 1986 Barclay James Harvest returned with a bang with another massive concert in 1987 to the delight of 170,000 in East Berlin.
In the 1990s Barclay James Harvest moved to Saddleworth and worked on new material. The result was Welcome To The Show (1990) and a fresher, newer sound. In 1992 BJH embarked on their 25th Anniversary Tour of Britain and brought out a best of compilation which reached Gold in Germany.
Bad times besieged the band in the ‘90s. Polydor dropped them and a lengthy court case followed on, leaving the band members to pursue solo projects.
Mel Pritchard, the original drummer in the band died in 2004 and resulted in the band changing name to John Lees' Barclay James Harvest in 2006. John and Woolly decided to set out on a full UK tour for the first time since the band had began. I
n 2009-2010 the remaining band-members toured all over Europe and the US and decided to keep Woolly legacy going on indefinitely.