Chris Thompson (Vocals and Guitar)
Chris was born in England, but grew up in New Zealand, qualifying as a teacher before joining the band Hilberry Walker. In 1975, a year after returning to England, he joined Earth band. The following year, the band had a worldwide hit single with Blinded By The Light, along with the hit album, The Roaring Silence. Chris also found time to sing on the classic rock album War Of The Worlds. He continued to tour and record with Manfred until the end of the Angel Station tour in 1979, when he quit to work with his own band Night, a development of the pub rock band Filthy McNasty. They produced two albums and a hit record. Chris however still found time to record three songs for the next MMEB album Chance and was to continue touring and recording with the band up until the 1986 Criminal Tango album and tour. At the same time he was busy developing his solo career with a number of sessions for many other artists, including Elton John, Brain May, Mike Oldfield, Alan Parsons and Comic Relief. Chris also co-wrote John Farnham’s You’re The Voice. After an absence of ten years, Chris returned to the Earth Band in 1996, recording tracks for the Soft vengeance album and then touring extensively throughout Europe with the band. He also went on to tour with The Alan Parsons Project, which resulted in an album. Chris is also an important part of Spike Edney’s All Stars Band, more commonly known as the SAS Band, where he sings alongside other well known artists such as Fish and Tony Hadley. Chris continues to tour Europe with Mads Eriksen playing his own material as well as many familiar MMEB tracks.
Noel McCalla (Vocals)
On leaving school, Noel joined the band Moon who were signed to Epic. After Moon split, Noel remained at Epic releasing the album Night Emotions. Trevor Rabin produced and played on the album, whilst Chris Thompson provided backing vocals. Around this time, Noel also sang on Mike Rutherford’s Small Creeps Day and went on to work with many other bands including Mezzaforte, Morrisey Mullen and Sniff and the Tears. In 1987 Noel achieved a life long ambition of forming his own band, Contact, who became popular on the London circuit. In 1993 the band changed its name to McCalla and released a 14 track CD Push and Pull which was received with enormous critical acclaim.
His first involvement with Manfred was as vocalist on the Plains Music album. Noel joined the reformed MMEB as lead singer in 1991. Chris Thompson’s return in 1996 saw the pair share the vocals with Mick Rogers (an incredible line-up). Noel continued to be the voice of MMEB till he left in September 2009, making guest appearances in 2010 while Pete Cox fulfilled previous commitments.
Colin Pattenden (Bass Guitar)
Colin was self-taught on the bass. He was in a band called Roy and The Aztecs, later known as Tekneek, formed with his cousin Graham White of Capability Brown. He had worked with Chris Slade on sessions, which was how he came to be introduced to Manfred. A year after leaving MMEB in 1976, he formed the band Terra Nova (New Earth) with Chris Slade and future Earth Band member Peter Cox. He then joined Beggars Opera. In recent times as well as running a very successful business. Colin has played the London pub circuit with The Nashville Teens, Mungo Jerry and Skelton Crewe.
Chris Slade (Drums)
Chris spent seven years in Tom Jones’ backing group The Squires, and went on to become a much respected session musician, playing drums in a band called Tomorrow, backing Olivia Newton John, and playing on the unreleased Chapter III album which led to him joining MMEB. His last album with the band was Watch. He also played on such hits as Joybringer, Blinded and Davy. After Earth Band, Chris worked with, amongst others, legendary rockers Uriah Heep, Frankie Miller, Gary Numan, Denny Laine, Dave Gilmour, Jimmy Page and AC/DC. Chris has recently formed his own band, Chris Slade's Timeline playing a wide range of music including some Earth Band tracks.
Dave Flett (Guitar)
Dave started out working in local bands in Aberdeen such as Cat Squirrel, Once Upon A Time and Tinto. He then moved south to London where he joined a band called Jock. He joined MMEB in late 1975 just before a US tour, remaining with Manfred for two albums, Roaring Silence and Watch and the subsequent tours. Dave went on to tour with Thin Lizzy and Matt Irving, as well as undertaking television and session work before quitting then industry to go and live in the States.
Pat King (Bass)
Pat learned to play the bass whilst still at school. He toured Germany with a band called The McKinley Sisters, was a member of Lulu’s former backing group The Luvvers and later on did session work for Lulu and Cat Stevens. He then joined a band called Shanghai, who toured Europe supporting Status Quo.
Pat joined up with Manfred to record the Watch album and stayed up until the early 80’s also appearing on Angel Station and Chance. Pat is a keen photographer and he recorded much of the band’s history from 1976 onwards. For many years Pat has toured with the band as a member of the road crew, he retired at the end of 2011.
Jimmy Copley (Drums)
Jimmy, born in London in 1953, who worked with Jeff Beck, Graham Parker, Upp, Paul Young, Magnum, Roger Glover, Ian Gillan and Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Go West, Killing Joke, Tears for Fears, Seal, Tony Iommi and Paul Rodgers.
Jimmy joined Earth Band in 2007 and played with them until 2015 at which time he was forced to retire from the band. According to University Hospital Bristol, Copley had been diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. Jimmy relapsed following a bone marrow transplant. He opted to discontinue chemotherapy. Jimmy passed away in 2017.
In his final days, his hospital room was transformed into a temporary recording studio so that he and friends could record an EP to benefit the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre and Royal
United Hospital, in Bristol. An interview with the BBC from his final days can be viewed here.
In 2008, Copley released his first solo album Slap My Hand. The album featured performances by a huge array of artists, including Beck. He was known as the master of the open-handed drumming technique, which involves not crossing hands when playing the high hat and snare drum simultaneously.
An interview with Jimmy can be seen below.
Steve Waller (Guitar and Vocals)
Perhaps one of the most entertaining members of MMEB, Steve spent many years fighting alcoholism. Born and raised in London, his family had a strong musical background. Steve was a self taught guitarist, his greatest influence being BB King. Steve was with the band Gonzales before joining Manfred and appearing on Angel Station, Chance, Somewhere in Afrika and Budapest. Up to his untimely death in 2000 he was a popular figure on the London pub and club circuit. He is much missed, and I’m sure that his many fans will tell you that it’s almost impossible to think of Steve without smiling.
Matt Irving (Bass)
Matt played keyboards for the Dream Police, The Crocodiles, Longdancer and The Babies. As MMEB already had a keyboard player, Matt took on the role of bass player. In the 70’s, Matt spent much of his time touring Europe with American artists such as Ann Peebles and Eddie Holmand. Later he formed the band Special Branch with Dave Flett. He played with Manfred on the Somewhere in Afrika album and tour. Since leaving MMEB, Matt has worked with Paul Young, Chris Rea, Squeeze and Roger Waters (with John Lingwood).
Clive Bunker (Drums)
Clive started music at school trying guitar before moving onto drums. In the early sixties, he toured the north of England and Germany as a drummer – as well as fixing commercial vehicles. In the mid sixties, he joined Jethro Tull where he stayed until 1971. He played on many Tull albums, including the classics Stand Up and Aqualung and is on the most famous progressive hit single aired on Top Of The Pops – Living In The Past! Clive went on to do work for Generation X and Demis Roussos before forming the band Aviator with Mick Rogers. In recent times Clive has worked regularly with ex-Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams. Clive joined MMEB when the band re-formed in 1991 and played with them until 1994.
John Trotter (Drums)
Originally from Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, John began playing the drums aged 11, turning professional on leaving school at 16. After playing many cabaret clubs, cruises and summer seasons, he moved to London in 1985. He became a respected member of the 'session community' covering all aspects of the music industry, accompanying artists such as Robbie Williams, Cliff Richard, Neil Sedaka, Georgie Fame, The Corrs, Hot Chocolate and "Pop Idol" Gareth Gates.
John joined MMEB in 1996 for the Soft Vengeance Tour. After nearly 5 years he left the band in the spring of 2000. He also toured with Peter Green's Splinter Group, The Moody Marsden Band (Whitesnake), Robert Hart (Bad Company) and Dave Greenslade. John now lives in Western Australia.
Richard Marcangelo (Drums)
Raised in Fishguard, South Wales, where is father worked for the secret police amid rising political chaos, Richard fled to London to pursue a career in modern popular music. Since finding peace and tranquillity in North London he has worked with David George's Cinerama, Wilko Johnson, Desmond Dekker, Robert Plant, Mica Paris, Eddie Reader, Sniff 'n the Tears, Allison Limerick, Chris DeBurgh, Gilbert O'Sullivan and Bradford Marsalis. Richards first connection with the band was in 1990 when he worked on the remix programme, Medicine Song and Sikelele. He was also involved in some tracks on Soft Vengence. When John Trotter left the band in 2000 Richard took over the drummers seat until himself leaving the band in 2001.
Geoff Dunn (Drums)
Geoff began playing drums at an early age, in his teens he first started to make a name playing with Incognito, then on to play with many of the Brit Funk bands of the time, such as: Junior, Central Line, Morrissey/Mullen, and US Souls acts: Shalamar, Jermaine Stewart. Jazz acts: Spyro Gyra, Georgie Fame. Rock acts included Jimmy Paige and Eric Burden.
The 80's saw him working with Feargal Sharkey and Dave Stewart, Andrew Roachford, Kim Wilde, Terence Trent D'arby with whom he recorded and toured. In the early 90's he joined Van Morrisson stepping in at a days notice, recording four CDs and numerous other tracks with the man, being a major contributor to his music.
Geoff joined Earth Band in 2002 and played with the band regularly until 2007. In late 2007 he joined Procul Harum and was replaced by Jimmy Copley, making guest appearances with MMEB in June 2008 while Jimmy fulfilled previous commitments.
Pete May (Drums)
After a few years playing the London pub and club circuit in the late seventies, Pete was introduced to Bassist Herbie Flowers who was producing some tracks at Abbey Road Studios. Asked to join him on a forthcoming David Essex album (Be Bop The Future) in 1981 and Pete continued to record and tour with Essex until 1989.
In 1988 he joined Cliff Richard, recording many albums and touring the world with him. Pete joined Earth Band in 2001. In August 2002 Pete left the band to tour again with Cliff Richard.
Peter Cox (Vocals)
Peter Cox was born in Kingston, Surrey on November 17, 1955; joining his school choir at age 12. He formed his first band at 18, dubbing the group Bodie after the song by Free, whose sound they most closely approximated. While playing the local club circuit Cox befriended Richard Drummie, with whom he began writing songs. Following the brief period with Terra Nova , the duo signed a publishing deal in 1982, later securing studio time to record demo versions of their songs "We Close Our Eyes" and "Call Me." Adopting the name Go West, the duo signed to Chrysalis in 1984, enjoying moderate success throughout the decade before reaching their commercial peak in 1990 with the single "The King of Wishful Thinking," a cut from the soundtrack to Pretty Woman.
In 1993 Cox relocated to Los Angeles to begin a solo career, debuting in mid-1997 with the single "Ain't Gonna Cry Again;" his self-titled debut LP followed soon after. 2003 saw Pete move back to the UK following the TV show 'Reborn in the USA' and the re-formation of Go West. Pete joined MMEB in 2009 and appeared with the band until early 2011. At the time of writing Pete continues to tour as both a solo artist and as a member of Go West.
Shona Laing (Vocals)
Shona Laing first came to prominence in 1972 as a 17-year-old schoolgirl, winning the television talent show "New Faces" with her song 1905. In 1975 she travelled to Britain and was based there for the next seven years, where in 1982, she was a vocalist for Manfred Mann's Earth Band alongside fellow New Zealander, Chris Thompson on the Somewhere in Afrika album. Manfred could not see how Shona would work with the live band and she left before the accompanying tour.
Currently she resides in New Zealand and occasionally plays live shows, enjoying a small but devoted fan base.
Other musicians who over the years have made important contributions to MMEB:
Barbara Thompson, Dave Millman, Stevie Lange, Doreen and Irene Chanter, Geoff Britton, Jimmy O’Neill, Dyane Birch, Anthony Moore, Trevor Rabin, Geoff Whitehorn, Robbie McIntosh, Willy Finlayson, Peter Marsh, Chief Dawethi, Rufus Sefolhume, Fats Mothya, Jabu Mbalu, Zanty Makau, Durban Belancourt-Laverde, John Giblin, Maggie Ryder, Denny Newman, Frank Mead, Byron Byrd, David Farmer, Richard Jams Burgess, Andy Pask, Tony Patler, Gary Farmer, Clem Clempson, Mitch Dalton, Peter Sklair, Ian Hermann, Smiler Makana, Kelly Petlane, Doren Thobeki, Walter Sanza.
To all the above Musicians who have kept Manfred Mann’s Earth band going over the past 40+ years, a big thank you.