1,000 Violins to end the working week. A short-lived band (only together from 1985-1989), 1,000 Violins (or One Thousand Violins, depending on where you’re looking) released a goodly chunk of single, three albums and managed to squeeze in two John Peel sessions, as well as make it to the Festive 50 for 1986.
The band was formed in 1985 by Darren Swindells (bass), Colin Gregory (guitar), John Wood (vocals), David Walmsley (keyboards/guitar), and Peter Day (drums). Gregory and Walmsley had previously played together in The Page Boys. Their first single, “Halcyon Days” was released in 1985. The B-side, “Like One Thousand Violins” was voted into that year’s Festive 50 by listeners to John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 show, the band having recorded a session for the show earlier that year. 1986 saw a second Peel session, and the band breaking into the indie chart with “Please Don’t Sandblast My House”, which reached number 11. In 1987, Day was replaced by Ian Addey, and the indie hits continued with “Ungrateful Bastard”, “Locked Out of The Love-In”, and “If I Were a Bullet”. The following year the band’s debut album, Hey Man That’s Beautiful was released, and Wood departed, to be replaced by ex-Hays Office singer Vince Keenan.With the band troubled by financial problems and ‘mind differences’, they split in 1989.
Colin Gregory went on to form The Dylans. Keenan went on to join Splendid Fellows and later SPIGGOTT. Walmsley died from cancer in 1992. Following his departure, original vocalist John Wood formed The Chrysalids with Yves Altana and a retrospective was released in 2012 entitled Neither Love Nor Money.
While the band’s success during their lifetime was limited, the internet and the interest in this era of indie pop saw interest in the band increase. Vinyl Japan issued a collection of the band’s work in 2000, Like One Thousand Violins. A new compilation, Halcyon Days – Complete Recordings 1985-1987, covering the years with John Wood on vocals and featuring rare tracks, was released by Cherry Red Records on 26 May 2014.