Early History

Written by Max Read. Posted in About The Enid


The music press once described them as "Britain's best kept secret" .

Radio One dubbed them "The biggest cult band in Europe". Not because they were, but because the main radio station in the UK assumed they must be! Record companies feared them; Glastonbury banned them. The band was even investigated by MI5. Everybody in the UK has heard of The Enid; and the amount of misinformation which surrounds them is staggering. They've been called "fascists" (by people who had been told of, but obviously had never actually experienced at first hand, their sacrilegious on-stage renditions of "Land of Hope and Glory"), "leftists" (because of RJG's vociferous insistence that "all people are interdependent whether they know it or not and that individuality has no fundamental meaning"), and "anarchists" (some truth in that). Many people assumed that they were some sort of insane punk band. That particular assumption could scarcely have been further from the mark. In fact they are probably the most enigmatic and intellectually challenging of any band to have emerged in the UK.


The Enid were formed in 1974 by keyboard player Robert John Godfrey. A possible career as a concert pianist had been thrown out of the window in the late sixties in favour of London's rapidly flowering hippie music scene. He had stopped hanging about the Royal Festival Hall and started hanging about the Roundhouse, where he met and joined the young Barclay James Harvest, living and working with them over a three-year period in a farmhouse on the Yorkshire Moors. These three years saw the release of the debut BJH album and the follow-up, "Once Again". It was Godfrey who, at the head of (believe it or not) the Barclay James Harvest Symphony Orchestra, was responsible for co-writing and developing most of their large-scale pieces - When the World was Woken, Dark Now My Sky, Mockingbird etc.

Godfrey left the band in 1971, already looking for a more custom-made vehicle for his own rapidly crystallising musical ideas. The following year he recorded a solo album, The Fall of Hyperion, for Tony Stratton-Smith's Charisma label. Long-deleted now, this album was really the first flexing of Godfrey's own musical muscles, and formed something of a blueprint for his approach to future projects.

From the outset The Enid always promised to be different. The spiritual home of the band was a weird experimental school for gifted but problematical children, which Godfrey and his fellow founder-members, guitarists Stephen Stewart and Francis Lickerish, had attended. Other pupils included Alexis Korner, Tom Robinson. The school, Finchden Manor, fell apart in 1973 and over the next few years various casualties crawled from the wreckage to join the already-established Godfrey. The result was The Enid.

Given the climate of the times they should never have lasted. At a time when punk rock was exploding all around them, The Enid were writing and performing large-scale, wholly instrumental pieces which took as their inspiration myth and fantasy, and which eschewed the simplicity and cynicism of punk in favour of a broad, almost orchestral dynamic range and a rich canvas of emotions and atmospheres. Yet such was the power of their live performances and recorded work that they rapidly gained a large, fanatically dedicated following that have stayed with them throughout their career and that took in the most unlikely bedfellows - everyone from hippies to bikers to - you guessed it - punks.


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