Bill MacCormick
Bass & Vocals

Born : April 15th, 1951 - London (England)
Past Bands : Pooh & The Ostrich Feathers (1968-69), Quiet Sun (1970-71, 1975), Matching Mole (1971-73), Phil Manzanera's 801 (1976-77), Random Hold (1978-80)

A Short Bio:

Bill MacCormick was born in London in 1951, the son of an airline pilot and a school teacher. As a teenager, MacCormick became acquainted with Robert Wyatt thanks to his mother who knew hers (they were both teaching assistants at Dulwich College Preparatory School). With his brother Ian (later [1972-75] a well-known rock critic at the NME under the alias Ian McDonald), he attended early Soft Machine rehearsals at the band's headquarters in West Dulwich, in suburbian London.

It was partly under the Softs' influence that MacCormick formed a school band in late 1967 with Phil Manzanera (guitar) and Charles Hayward (drums). In the beginning, he was actually the band's singer, but eventually moved to bass when they dropped covers (by Cream, Jefferson Airplane and other assorted psychedelic bands) and recruited Dave Monagham (sax) - who left shortly thereafter - and Dave Jarrett (keyboards). From then on (1970) they became known as Quiet Sun. Warner Bros paid for demo sessions at one of their studios in Dorset, but eventually didn't sign the band.

Quiet Sun soldiered on for about a year, rehearsing and playing a few gigs, notably opening for Steamhammer and Symbiosis, the band led by saxophone player Gary Windo. This was where MacCormick's talents as a bass player were spotted by Robert Wyatt, who was playing drums in Symbiosis during his free time from Soft Machine, and wasn't actually aware that MacCormick had turned into such an comptent bass player in such a short timespan. A few months later, having left the Softs, Wyatt called MacCormick to ask him if he would join his new band venture, Matching Mole.

Matching Mole lasted for a little less than a year, during which two albums were recorded. The eponymous debut was quite experimental and centered on Wyatt's compositions and improvisations. On the second, MacCormick penned a few tracks himself. Matching Mole was quite popular on the continent, especially France and Holland where Wyatt was a popular figure from his Soft Machine days. This is how MacCormick apparently missed an opportunity to join his old friend Phil Manzanera in Roxy Music, being away from England on tour with the Mole...

It was Wyatt's decision to split up Matching Mole in October 1972, and it came as a disappointment to the other members, including MacCormick. Through Wyatt, he got in touch with Gong who were looking for a bass player and spent a few days rehearsing with them at their home base in France. But that particular combination didn't work out, due in part to language problems, so MacCormick went back to England. He was not to be heard of until the following Spring, when it was announced in the press that a new Matching Mole was in the process of being formed. This was indeed the case, with Francis Monkman and Gary Windo completing the line-up, but a premature end was put to any such plans when Robert Wyatt had his back accident in June 1973. MacCormick himself had to be taken to hospital the very next day, suffering from appendicitis.

The next eighteen months were spent away from music. MacCormick frequently visited Wyatt at his hospital, and started getting involved with politics, joining the Liberal Party in December 1973 and taking part in the general elections of February 1974. His musical activities were only resumed later that year when he was asked by Phil Manzanera to play on his Diamond Head album and, simultaneously, record the long lost Quiet Sun album with the reformed band. In the following 3-4 years, MacCormick mainly worked with Manzanera, playing on his first four solo albums and with the band 801 (which released the albums 801 Live and Listen Now in 1976 and 1977 respectively). He also played on Wyatt's Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard (1975), and had a brief foray into journalism, writing a few articles for the NME.

The final chapter in MacCormick's musical career was his stint with Random Hold, a band that was sort of crossover between prog and a more modern, song-oriented form. Also in the band were David Rhodes (guitar) and David Ferguson (keyboards), and ex-801 frontman Simon Ainley (vocals and guitar). Random Hold released an eponymous EP in 1979 and two albums, The View From Here (1980) and Avalanche (1981). Following an American tour supporting Peter Gabriel, MacCormick left due to a major personality clash with Ferguson, who eventually carried on the band on his own, Rhodes having left to join Gabriel's backing band.

This was the end of Bill MacCormick's musical career. "Since then, I've gotten further into politics. I worked for the Liberal Party organising elections. I left in 1989 and I'm now a director of a market research company (!?) that, amongst other things does all the Liberal Democrats research. I'm a local councillor (in South London), daddy, balding, fat(ish), blah, blah!".