Jan Schelhaas

Born : Liverpool (England), March 11th 1948
Past Bands : The Buzz Band, Mike Hart Band, Scaffold (1968-69), National Head Band (1969-71), Gary Moore Band (1972-74), Caravan (1975-78, 1983-84, 2002-), Camel (1978-81), Banzai (1978-80)

A Short Bio:

Jan Russell Schelhaas earned fame among Canterbury music lovers during his three-year stint with Caravan between 1975 and 1978 (he later returned to the band for one-off gigs in 1983/84). Born in Liverpool to a Dutch father and English mother, Schelhaas was originally a bass player, playing with various local bands between 1963 and 1965. In 1968 he joined soul band The Buzz Band, with whom he cut two singles. The following year, he helped form Business, a progressive rock band whose main activity was backing singers and vocal groups such as Scaffold and Mike Hart (with whom they recorded the album "Mike Hart Bleeds").

Having moved to keyboards while with Scaffold, and now feeling confident in his talents on this new instrument, he formed the National Head Band, which included other ex-Business members, in 1970, enjoying a minor success in the soft-rock slot of the newly-born late-afternoon 'Sounds Of The 70s' radio program. The band released one album produced by Eddie Offord, "Albert One", on Warner Bros in 1971. It featured original compositions by Schelhaas. With the album not exactly setting the charts on fire, drummer Lee Kerslake decided to join Uriah Heep and the band broke up in November 1971.

Schelhaas's next career move was to join then-emerging guitarist Gary Moore's band. He played on Moore's debut album, "Grinding Stone" (1973), then left to concentrate on mostly anonymous session work during most of 1974-75, until one day (in July 1975) he was offered the job of keyboard player in Caravan, following the departure of David Sinclair.

Schelhaas toured the world recorded two studio albums with Caravan : "Blind Dog At St. Dunstan's" (1976) and "Better By Far" (1977). He is also featured on the "Cool Water" CD, recorded (but not released until 1994) during the same period. Although this period of time admittedly wasn't the musical highlight of Caravan's career, Jan contributed his keyboard skills to great effect on these releases, even contributing a composition, "The Last Unicorn", to "Better By Far".

By April 1978, however, Caravan had ground to a halt and Schelhaas was happy to accept an offer to join Camel for the world tour promoting the "Breathless" album. At the time, Camel also included the Sinclair cousins, Richard and David. Schelhaas had already played with the latter during a short promotional tour following the release of the Caravan anthology, "Canterbury Tales", in late 1976, which saw Dave appearing with the band as 'special guest'.

Schelhaas worked regularly with Camel until 1981, playing on I Can See Your House From Here (1979) only guesting on one track of the follow-up album, Nude (1981), but taking part in all the band's tours during that period, sharing keyboard duties with new recruit Kit Watkins, from American progressive band Happy The Man.

Unfortunately, Jan Schelhaas' musical career ends here. After briefly reuniting with Caravan for the Marquee shows in July 1983, he subsequently moved on to production and various occupations which have kept him away from his instruments. Since the collapse of his studio and production outlet in the early Nineties, Schelhaas had been an instructor or examiner at the British School of Motoring, but had repeatedly mentions plans to return to music.

Still it came as a surprise and something of a shock to hear that Schelhaas, after guesting with Caravan at the Canterbury Festival in 2001, fully returned to the band following musical disagreements between Pye Hastings and Dave Sinclair during the recording of a new studio album. Once again Schelhaas has agreed to fill the spot, and 'debuted' with Caravan with British and Dutch dates in November 2002. He has since appeared on the band's latest album, The Unauthorised Breakfast Item. In 2008 he released his debut solo CD.