Gygafo was an English symphonic-folk rock band that recorded an album in 1973 that was ultimately released by archivists Holyground in 1990. The band’s sole release during their own lifetime was a single on small-press Look Records in 1975.

Members: John Atkinson (vocals, guitar, mandolin, flute, glockenspiel), Paul Kent (bass), Pete Nickson (drums, percussion), Charlie Speed (guitar, vocals), Eddie Stringer (keyboards, vocals), Graham Schofield (vocals, 1974)


The band formed in Leeds circa 1972 when singer and multi-instrumentalist John Atkinson teamed with guitarist Charlie “Speed” Staniforth, keyboardist Eddie Stringer, bassist Paul Kent, and drummer Pete Nickson. They auditioned for a major label, where an indignant rep purportedly shouted “Get your gear and f**k off!” — hence the name Gygafo.

Holyground, a small label in Wakefield that supported up-and-coming talent on the Yorkshire post-psych scene (A to Austr, Blue Epitaph, Jumble Lane, Thundermother), recorded the band at its namesake facility. Gygafo laid seven tracks over multiple wine-fueled nights with producer, engineer, and label-founder Mike Levon.

Gygafo gigged steadily and attracted local press. Despite this, their album sat in the vaults until late 1989 when Holyground prepared it for a first-time vinyl release.

Legend of the Kingfisher

Gygafo’s only album, Legend of the Kingfisher, was released on Holyground in 1990, 17 years after its time of recording. It features six songs, three per side, including two short numbers (“Solid Man Song,” “And a Time to Think”), two in the five-minute range (“A Room With a View,” “Today I Am”), and two length epics: the near 10-minute title track and the 12-minute, three-part suite “Waiting for the Rain” / “Entertaining Winds of Long Ago” / “Season’s Weather (Coming Home).”

Despite the album’s 1990 release date, the labels only list the year of recording (1973). The songs are credited to Atkinson, Speed, Stringer, and Nickson.

On the back cover, lyrics are interspersed with a story about a multi-limbed creature with fifty toes from the “inner-city solar system of Strapfo Sdeel.” The creature — referred to constantly as “it-them” with a different name for various parts, indicating polycephaly — writhes about for an answer to its question, or the realization of its quest, which turns out to be the pursuit of fame.

Most copies of the 1990 LP, a limited-edition issue, are signed by Levon and business partner Dave Wood.

Legend of the Kingfisher appeared again in 1992, this time as a CD on Background, an archival label responsible for some of the earliest reissues of albums by Raw Material, Ithaca, Forever Amber, and Pussy. This version of Kingfisher includes two additional tracks: the 8:49 Stringer composition “What You Don’t Know (Won’t Hurt You)” and Speed’s “Nineteen Eighty Four,” both recorded in early 1974. By then, Gygafo had a sixth member, vocalist Graham Schofield.

Later Activity

During their existence, Gygafo only managed one release: the 1975 single “Wino” (b/w “Broken Smiles”), released on Huddersfield small-press Look Records. “Wino” also appears as the b-side of “Motorway,” an acetate with no label or date info.

Speed resurfaced in the late-’80s rock band Slow Down Zone, which released The Working Fields on EGS Records. He then reteamed with Stringer for a pair of 1992 electro-pop singles as Oo La La. As an electric blues guitarist, Speed released two CDs on his own Sugar Free Records label.

Legend of the Kingfisher was reissued a third time in 2003 on Kissing Spell as part of the label’s “Holyground: The Works” series. This version repeats the contents of the 1992 release with a ninth Gygafo track, the Stringer-composed Kingfisher outtake “Retrospect.” The disc also includes a tenth track, “Sunrise,” by a band called Ark that recorded at Holyground around the same time as Gygafo.


  • Legend of the Kingfisher (1990, recorded 1973)
  • “Wino” / “Broken Smiles” (1975)


1 thought on “Gygafo

  1. No wine was consumed during the recordings, which took place in the evenings after work. However we did adjourn to the Harewood Arms across the road from Cass Yard for a regular late night lock-in.

    Pete – Drummer

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