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Omega Biography

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Omega In-depth Biography

The most successful Hungarian rock} band in history, Omega} was formed in 1962 in Budapest by a group of friends. The lineup changed several times during Omega}'s early years and there was no consistent music style to speak of. Like with many other rock} groups of the early '60s, the band's repertory largely consisted of songs by popular British bands of the period. Only in 1967, when they were joined by Gábor Presser} (keyboards, vocals), did they began recording their own songs and issue a few singles. Presser}'s mixture of rock} with elements of jazz} and folk} proved to be a winning formula. In 1968, John Martin}, the manager of the Spencer Davis Group}, invited them for a tour in Great Britain, where they recorded the album Omega: Red Star From Hungary} for the Decca} label. Later that year, they issued their first Hungarian LP Trombitás Frédi és a Rettenetes Emberek} (Trumpeter Freddy and the Terrible People) that became their first golden album. The band sealed their success with two subsequent LPs: 10,000 Lépés} (10,000 Steps) (1969) and Éjszakai Országút} (On the Highway at Night) (1970). Their 1969 song "Gyöngyhajú lány"} (The Girl With Pearls in Her Hair) became their first international hit and it was reworked by the Scorpions} into "White Dove"} in the mid-'90s.

In 1971, keyboardist Gábor Presser} and drummer József Laux} left the band to form another group, Locomotiv GT}. Presser} was an especially sensible loss since he authored most Omega} compositions at the time. Also, lyricist Anna Adamis} followed her husband Laux} to his new band. The breakup issue was later reflected in Omega}'s 1971 song "Hütlen Barátok"} (Unfaithful Friends). With László Benkö}, who was the band's original keyboardist and then played trumpet and flute, reassuming his initial position and Ferenc Debreceni} becoming the new drummer, Omega} reached its final lineup: János Kóbor} (vocals), Tamás Mihály} (bass, vocals), Ferenc Debreceni} (drums), György Molnár} (guitars), and László Benkö} (keyboards, vocals). While under Presser}, the band's sound tended to be somewhat psychedelic} and fuzzy; with the new leadership, Benkö}'s classically influenced keyboards and Molnár}'s guitar assumed a much greater focus.

Omega}'s fourth album, 200 évvel Az Utolsó Háború Után} (200 Years After the Last War) (1972), was not released due to censorship problems. However, the band featured some songs from that forbidden album on Elö Omega}, an LP recorded with some very basic equipment during a concert tour. The group became a frequent guest in East Germany and even recorded some songs in German. In 1973, producer Peter Hauke} arranged a three-year contract for them with the West German label Bacillus}. To expand its potential audience, Omega} began to produce albums in two separate versions: English and Hungarian. Beginning with Time Robber} (1976) and its Hungarian counterpart, Idörabló}, released a year later, the band shifted toward progressive rock}, with lengthy instrumental interludes, surging organ solos, and various electronic} "space sounds." More albums in the similar style followed: Skyrover} (and its Hungarian version Csillagok útján} [1978]), Gammapolis}/Gammapolisz} (separate English and Hungarian versions, 1979), and Working} (1980) (released in Hungary as Az Arc} [The Face] [1981]). However, the band's 1980s albums began to show the obvious signs of creative stagnation. Soon after its 13th album, Babylon} (1987), and a great concert on the occasion of the group's 25th anniversary, Omega} disbanded.

The early '90s saw the resurgence of interest in Omega}. All of its albums and even previously unreleased recordings were issued on CD. In 1994, the band reunited for a big concert at the Budapest Népstadion} with ex-Omega} members Gábor Presser} and Tamás Somló}, as well as Rudolf Schenker} and Klaus Meine} from the Scorpions} performing as guest stars. The concert was tremendously successful despite the pouring rain and it was later released on two CDs as Omegakoncert -- Népstadion 1994}. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception, the musicians went on to produce a new album in 1995, Trans and Dance}, and its shortened English version Transcendent} (1996). The record that marked a return to Omega}'s hard rock} roots featured contributions from Gábor Presser} and guitarist Tamás Szekeres}. In 1998, Omega} recorded another album, Egy életre Szól}. The same year, the bandmembers were distinguished with the Hungarian National Award. On September 4, 1999, Omega} gave another big concert at the Népstadion} that was issued on the double CD Omega Koncert Népstadion 1999}. ~ Yuri German, All Music Guide

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