Hugh Hopper

Hugh Hopper (April 29, 1945 — June 7, 2009) was an English bassist from Whitstable, Kent, that gained global renown with jazz-rockers Soft Machine, premiering his signature fuzz-bass sound on 1969’s Volume Two and appearing on the band’s subsequent four albums.

In 1973, he released the experimental solo album 1984 on CBS and also appeared on Freedom Is Frightening, the first of two albums by Stomu Yamashta‘s East Wind, which also included guitarist Gary Boyle. The following year, Hopper played on the first two albums by Boyle’s spin-off combo Isotope.

In 1977, Hopper cut his second solo album for Compendium Records and collaborated on several recordings with saxist Elton Dean and keyboardist Alan Gowen. When joined in 1979 by drummer Pip Pyle (Delivery, Hatfield and the North, National Health), they became Soft Heap; “Heap” being an acronym of the four member’s first names.

During the subsequent three decades, Hopper kept busy with numerous solo and collaborative projects, including a late-1980s stint with In Cahoots, the jazz-rock supergroup led by guitarist Phil Miller (Delivery, Matching Mole, Hatfield, Nat. Health). In 1995, Hopper partnered with Seattle–Portland musician Fred Chalenor (Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore) for the avant jazz-rock project Hughscore.


Background

He was born Hugh Colin Hopper on April 29, 1945, in Canterbury, Kent, and took up bass while his older brother (born January 3, 1943) played guitar and saxophone. In 1963, Hugh joined The Daevid Allen Trio, a free-jazz combo with Bristol-born drummer Robert Wyatt and Australian expat guitarist Daevid Allen.


The Wilde Flowers

In 1964, Hugh, Brian, and Robert joined The Wilde Flowers, a Canterbury R&B band with singer Kevin Ayers and rhythm guitarist Richard Sinclair. The unsigned band performed a mix of covers (“Parchman Farm”)” and originals by Brian (“Those Words They Say,” “Don’t Try to Change Me”) and Hugh (“Impotence,” “Memories,” “No Game When You Lose,” “It’s What I Feel (A Certain Kind)”).

Ayers left early and linked with Allen in Paris, where they summoned Wyatt for a new band, Soft Machine, with organist Mike Ratledge. The Hoppers continued with a new Wilde Flowers lineup that welcomed drummer Richard Coughlan and guitarist Pye Hastings. Hugh left in 1967 to serve as Soft Machine’s road manager. Brian led the final Flowers lineup with keyboardist Dave Sinclair. In early 1968, Coughlan, Hastings, and the Sinclairs formed Caravan.


Soft Machine

Meanwhile, Soft Machine prepared an album that wound up vaulted after a 1967 European tour when Allen, who’d overstayed his UK visa, was denied reentry and forced to settle in Paris, where he formed Gong. (The vaulted album surfaced in 1972 as Jet Propelled Photographs with a version of Hugh’s Wilde Flowers ballad “Memories,” which Allen had since covered on his 1971 solo album Bananamoon.) The trio of Ayers, Ratledge, and Wyatt recorded their first official album, The Soft Machine, in early 1968 and toured the states with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. By the time the album hit shelves that autumn, Ayers departed for a solo career.

Hugh joined Soft Machine for their 1969 second album Volume Two, recorded by the trio lineup of Wyatt, Ratledge, and Hopper, whose fuzz bass filled the absence of guitar.


1984 

Hugh Hopper released his debut solo album, 1984, in 1973 on CBS (UK, Italy, Netherlands).

1. “Miniluv” (14:37)
2. “Minipax I” (3:16)
3. “Minipax II” (3:09)

4. “Minitrue” (1:23)
5. “Miniplenty” (18:14)
6. “Minitrue Reprise” (3:22)

Recorded at – Advision Studios
Producer, Written By – Hugh Hopper
Engineer – Gary Martin

Bass Guitar, Percussion, Mellophone, Piano, Bells [Handbells], Voice, Soprano Saxophone – Hugh Hopper

Drums, Percussion – John Marshall (2–6)
Guitar – Pye Hastings (2)
Soprano Saxophone – Lol Coxhill (2)
Tenor Saxophone – Gary Windo (2–4)
Trombone – Malcolm Griffiths (2–4), Nick Evans (2–4)

Liner Notes – John Esam


Hopper Tunity Box

Hugh Hopper released his second solo album, Hopper Tunity Box, in 1977 on Compendium Records. The 41-minute disco contains eight instrumental pieces that Hugh developed over a three-year period. Side Two features an arrangement of Ornette Coleman‘s “Lonely Woman.”

1. “Hopper Tunity Box” (3:35)
2. “Miniluv” (3:34)
3. “Gnat Prong” (7:58)
4. “The Lonely Sea and the Sky” (6:39)

5. “Crumble” (3:54)
6. “Lonely Woman” (3:22)
7. “Mobile Mobile” (5:03)
8. “Spanish Knee” (3:50)
9. “Oyster Perpetual” (3:10)

Recorded May–July 1976
Studio Mobile Mobile Studios, London
Producer Mike Dunne, Hugh Hopper

Hugh Hopper – bass, guitar, recorders, soprano sax, percussion
Richard Brunton – guitar (A2, B1)
Marc Charig – cornet, tenor horn (A4, B2, B4)
Elton Dean – alto sax, saxello (A4, B2, B4)
Nigel Morris – drums (B3)
Frank Roberts – electric piano (A4, B1, B4)
Dave Stewart – organ, pianet, oscillators (A1, B3)
Mike Travis – drums (A1, A2, A3, A4, B1, B4)
Gary Windo – bass clarinet, saxes (A1, A2, B1, B2)


Cruel but Fair (1977 • Hopper / Dean / Tippett / Gallivan)


Monster Band (1979)


Two Rainbows Daily (1980 • Hugh Hopper & Alan Gowen)


Mercy Dash (1985 • Hopper / Dean / Tippett / Gallivan)


Discography:

  • 1984 (1973)
  • Hopper Tunity Box (1977)
  • Cruel but Fair (1977 • Hopper / Dean / Tippett / Gallivan)
  • Monster Band (1979)
  • Two Rainbows Daily (1980 • Hugh Hopper & Alan Gowen)
  • Mercy Dash (1985 • Hopper / Dean / Tippett / Gallivan)
  • A Remark Hugh Made (1994 • Hugh Hopper & Kramer)
  • Hooligan Romantics (1994)
  • Adreamor (1995 • Hugh Hopper / Mark Hewins)
  • Carousel (1995 • Hugh Hopper Band)
  • Bracknell-Bresse Improvisations [archival] (1996 • Alan Gowen & Hugh Hopper With Nigel Morris)
  • Somewhere in France [archival] (1996 • Hugh Hopper & Richard Sinclair)
  • Huge (1997 • Hopper / Kramer)
  • Different (1998 • Hopper / S. Klossner)
  • Cryptids (2000 • Hopper S.Klossner)
  • The Swimmer (2000 • Jan Ponsford, Frances Knight, Hugh Hopper & Vince Clarke)
  • Flight’n Shade (2002 • Hugh Hopper & Micaël Gidon)
  • In a Dubious Manner (2003 • Hugh Hopper & Julian Whitfield)
  • Jazzloops (2003)
  • The Stolen Hour (2004 • Hugh Hopper & Matt Howarth)
  • Numero d’vol (2007 • Hugh Hopper, Simon Picard, Steve Franklin & Charles Hayward)

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