Hatfield and the North – A Great English Progressive Rock Band

Hatfield and the North were a great English progressive rock and experimental rock band from the Canterbury scene. The band was initially active between 1972 and 1975 before disbanding and then briefly re-united many years after, once in 1990, and then the second and final time between 2005 and 2006. Aside from progressive rock and experimental rock, the band also incorporated jazz fusion and psychedelic rock into its overall sound.

Hatfield and the North during the 1970s. Image source: www.zapniles.com

The band was formed in mid 1972 by members who were previously part of Delivery, a blues-based band. The initial members of the band were the following ones:

  • Phil Miller (guitar);
  • Pip Pyle (drums);
  • Steve Miller (Wurlitzer electric piano);
  • Roy Babbington (bass).

Subsequently, Babbington was replaced by ex-Caravan member Richard Sinclair. The new line-up with Richard Sinclair on bass drifted away from the blues sound and style of Delivery and leaned towards a progressive musical outlook, more specifically one pertaining to the Canterbury scene characterized by odd time signatures and lengthy, complex melodies.

Between July and September of 1972, the band played several live shows before successfully reaching an agreement with Virgin Records for their first studio album. At around that time, pianist Steve Miller was replaced by keyboardist Dave Sinclair on Hammond organ. Afterwards, the band firmly established its new name as Hatfield and the North. Dave Sinclair was eventually replaced by ex-Egg band member Dave Stewart before the first studio recordings of the group in early 1973.

Hatfield and the North managed to record only two studio albums, namely ‘Hatfield and the North’ (the eponymous debut studio album which was released in 1974) and The Rotters’ Club (which was released in 1975). On both studio albums, backing vocals were provided by guest musicians from the group The Northettes, that is Amanda Parsons, Barbara Gaskin, and Ann Rosenthal.

The band disbanded in 1975 but its members still played together in other musical projects and re-united many years later, firstly in 1990 in order to record a performance for a TV show, and then once more between 2005 and 2006. The band’s name was inspired by a road sign found north of London on the main A1 road on which it stood written ‘A1 Hatfield & the North’. Many years later, the respective road sign was changed and that inscription was replaced by the variant: ‘The NORTH, Hatfield’.

Overall, the band’s discography consists of two studio albums, three compilations, and one live album released in 1993. The entire discography of the band is as follows:

  • Hatfield and the North (studio album initially released in 1974 and then re-released in 1990);
  • Let’s Eat (Real Soon)/Fitter Stoke Has a Bath (single, released in 1974);
  • The Rotters’ Club (studio album initially released in 1975 then re-released in 1990, it even reached No. 43 on the British charts);
  • Live 1990 (live album released in 1990);
  • Hatwise Choice: Archive Recordings 1973–1975, Volume 1 (compilation released in 2005);
  • Hattitude: Archive Recordings 1973–1975, Volume 2 (compilation released in 2006).

The band was also featured in the 2015 documentary film ‘Romantic Warriors III: Canterbury Tales‘ which revolves around the Canterbury progressive rock scene from England.

My all time most favourite song from their discography is ‘Shaving is Boring’ from their first studio album because, indeed, as the title pretty much sums it up, it’s quite boring, but it has to be done… and in good musical company there are higher chances for smooth gliding, heh.

Hereby my personal selection of their most finest songs. I truly hope you’ll like them. Enjoy, all the best, and thank you very much for your readership!

Documentation source:

  1.  Hatfield and the North on www.wikipedia.org (in English)

P.S.: You can purchase the band’s studio albums on Amazon.

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