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A Short Bio:
It is somehow logical that Mel Collins' path crossed the Canterbury scene, as it would be almost impossible to find one 70's band or solo artist who hasn't called upon his talents on saxophones, clarinets and flutes for a record or a gig. Mel Collins played on albums by Camel and Caravan, as well as with Canterbury-related musicians like Keith Tippett, Nick Evans and Mark Charig during his stint with King Crimson.
Melvyn Desmond Collins was born in 1947. His first band of note was the Stormsville Shakers, a local Guildford outfit which eventually changed names to Circus and recorded an album in 1970. It was during this period that Mel became acquainted with Andrew Latimer, his later Camel colleague. In the Spring of 1970, he replaced Ian MacDonald in King Crimson. Because of constant personnel changes, he almost quit several times before the line-up stabilised in 1971 with Boz Burrell (bass/vocals) and Ian Wallace (drums) supplementing Robert Fripp (guitar/mellotron), Peter Sinfield (words) and Collins (sax/flute). Collins was featured on In The Wake Of Poseidon (1970), Lizard (1970), which featured a hot jam between KC and members of the Keith Tippett Group, and Islands (1971). The band broke-up in the Spring of 1972 after an American tour which was documented on Earthbound (1972).
After backing Alexis Korner and Snape, Mel Collins joined Kokomo, an r'n'b outfit which also backed singers like Joe Cocker, toured with Alvin Lee, and guested on King Crimson's final album, Red (1974). At that point, his name was becoming well-known in the session world. Collins' name would eventually appear on litterally hundreds of albums. Yet, in 1976 he accepted Andrew Latimer's offer to join Camel. He lent his talents to the band for several tours and two studio albums, Rain Dances (1977) and Breathless (1978). Although he left Camel in 1979, he later guested on I Can See Your House From Here (1979), Nude (1981) and Stationary Traveler (1984).
After his departure from Camel, Mel Collins worked as backing musician for Roger Chapman, Dire Straits and Roger Waters among others. In 1981, he guested on Caravan's Back To Front album. And in 1984 appeared as guest at Camel's London concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, documented on the Pressure Points live album and video. Since then, he's kept busy as a session player, albeit with less public impact, although his recent appearances with Clannad retained the critics' attention.
In 2002, Collins finally came back in the spotlight as a member of the 21st Century Schizoid Band, a congregation of former King Crimson members fronted by Jakko Jakszyk and including Ian McDonald, Peter Giles and Ian Wallace (who replaced Mike Giles). Sadly this would be a shortlived venture, with Wallace's death in 2006 precluding further activity.