Gordon Haskell (born Gordon Hionidies, 27 April 1946, in Bournemouth, Dorset, England) was the bassist and vocalist in the transitional King Crimson line-up of 1970. He appeared on the album Lizard, but quit the group during rehearsals for live work. A school friend of Robert Fripp, they previously worked together in an earlier version of League of Gentlemen. Haskell's more folk oriented interests were in conflict with Crimson's sound, so he elected to leave.
Then, after getting into some debt, he decamped to Denmark where he played six nights a week playing in bars. His voice became a lot stronger, and he paid off his debt.
In the 1990s he continued to record, and released some singles. The "Almost Certainly" single, released in 1990, went to number one in South Africa. An album called Hambledon Hill followed. It did well on airplay with BBC Radio 1's DJ, Bob Harris saying "he loved it". A single of the same name was planned but the distributor went bankrupt, and the deal fell through.
Even before its commercial release in the UK in late 2001, Gordon Haskell’s eloquent, jazz-tinged ballad "How Wonderful You Are" surpassed the Beatles’ "Hey Jude" and Frank Sinatra’s "My Way" to become the single most-requested song on BBC Radio 2. The song, which was recorded live in the studio, enchanted listeners with its powerful message and sparse, dynamic production. "Lyrically," says Haskell, "it's about the hidden potential of every human being on the planet." Musically, the song is distinguished by the elegant, understated backdrop of guitar, bass, brushed drums, and sax supporting Haskell’s resonant, soulful vocals.
As "How Wonderful You Are" scaled the UK charts, the British press gravitated towards the beguiling story of its unsung creator. Since the late 1960s, Gordon Haskell has been on the fringes of the English music scene. He shared a flat with Jimi Hendrix, played bass in the cult psychedelic faves the Fleur De Lys, and eventually found himself as the lead singer in childhood friend Robert Fripp's King Crimson for two albums. Unfortunately, Haskell’s love for classic Nat King Cole and Ray Charles sides soon found him unhappy and frustrated in Fripp’s prog-rock confines. He auditioned for Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegün, which led to Ertegün producing Haskell’s 1972 solo album It Is and It Wasn’t. While not a commercial success, the album remains a sought-after collectable to die-hard British pop fans.
The seventies progressed, and Haskell found himself playing supporting stints with Cliff Richards and Tim Hardin. Haskell arrived at the doorstep of the 1980s deeply in debt and dissatisfied with the music business. He left for Denmark in 1984, playing "seven nights a week to drunks in bars." His debt eventually eliminated, he returned to England and continued playing solo and small-band gigs in tiny pubs and clubs. "I was trapped," Haskell recalls, "but the time wasn't wasted. I was practicing. I was in the wilderness for a long time. But I met a lot of really interesting characters in bars, and that's where my songs tend to come from. I was self-contained, self-supporting, and I didn't really have anything to do with the recording industry."
Eventually, Haskell was approached by manager Ian Brown about possible recording opportunities. Haskell accepted, but with a key reservation. He wanted to make his record the old-fashioned way: live, no overdubs, and grounded in solid songwriting and classically styled performances. His refreshingly honest attitude, coupled with the worn grace of his voice and the poignancy of his songs made "How Wonderful You Are" a surprise Christmas-time hit throughout the United Kingdom. As a result, Haskell was offered a multi-million dollar recording contract from the UK label East/West Records.
Gordon Haskell’s interprets his recent, hard-won success with the measured credence of an old pro. "Suddenly, after all these years, there's all this attention. But I've been living on skid row for so long that if I make a million now, it's back pay." Instead of fretting about fortune and chasing celebrity, Haskell is still more concerned with perfecting his craft as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. "Look at someone like James Taylor, who just continues to get better and better," he says. "If I keep on practicing for the next 20 years, I'm going to be fantastic."
Warner Bros. signed Gordon for a long-term album deal, and Harry's Bar was released under the East West record label on 7 January 2002. It also crashed into number 2 in the UK Albums Chart, making Haskell's comeback a great success. European audiences also embraced Harry's Bar and it became more successful.
Later on that year Shadows On The Wall was released, but only made Number 44 in the UK Albums Chart.
Then Haskell decided to write his autobiography with David Nobbs author of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. His next album reached Number 14 in the Polish album charts. Called The Lady Wants To Know it covers eleven tracks, was produced by Hamish Stuart and featured Tony O'Malley and Robbie McIntosh.
A DVD came out in 2005 called "The Road To Harry's Bar", the same name as his forthcoming autobiography. His next album will be out soon, with accompanying single.
Solo Albums Edit
- Sail In My Boat (1969)
- It Is And It Isn't (1971)
- Serve At Room Temperature (1979)
- Hambledon Hill (1990)
- It's Just A Plot To Drive You Crazy (1992)
- Butterfly In China (1997)
- All In The Scheme Of Things (2000)
- Look Out (2001)
- Harry's Bar (2002)
- Shadows On The Wall (2002)
- The Lady Wants To Know (2004)
Solo Compilations Edit
Solo Singles Edit
Solo Videos/DVDs Edit
- The Road To Harry's Bar (2005)