Early history |
The band formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1969. The founding members were Englishmen Roye Albrighton on guitars and vocals, Allan "Taff" Freeman on keyboards, Derek "Mo" Moore on bass, Ron Howden on drums, and Mick Brockett and Keith Walters on lights and special effects. Though the concept of a non-performing bandmember was not unprecedented, fully a third of Nektar's lineup had no role in either performing or writing their music. Throughout their early existence the band's songwriting was credited as a group effort on the album sleeves, but BMI records show that all of the songs were written solely by the four instrumental members, i.e. Albrighton, Freeman, Moore, and Howden. (Post-reformation most of the band's songwriting has been credited to Albrighton.)
The band's debut album, Journey to the Centre of the Eye (1971), was a dense progressive rock work, consisting of a single song running over 40 minutes, with the last 100 seconds of the first side repeated at the beginning of the second side to maintain the continuity of the piece. It was a concept album, with lyrics following an astronaut who is given overwhelming knowledge and wisdom by extraterrestrials, and sonic textures and effects reminiscent of psychedelic rock. The follow-up, A Tab in the Ocean (1972), drew on more conventional progressive rock and blues influences. Walters had left by the time of their third album, the heavily improvised live-in-the-studio double album ...Sounds Like This (1973). The band would continue to use his art in their shows and album designs for a time. Each album increased a cult following for the band, based largely on word of mouth.
Nektar's U.S. release, Remember the Future (1973), propelled the band briefly into mass popularity. A concept album, it revisited Journey to the Centre of the Eye's theme of extraterrestrials granting a human enlightenment, but with a blind boy as the protagonist. It demonstrated a much more melodic sound than on previous albums. It shot into the Top 20 album charts in the U.S. The follow-up album, Down to Earth (1974), was another concept album with a circus theme; it also sold well, breaking into the Top 40 album charts and included Nektar's only song to chart on the Billboard singles charts, "Astral Man". The next album, Recycled (1975), was stylistically close to bands like Gentle Giant and carried on the band's close connection with progressive rock.
Albrighton left the band in December 1976, just prior to the studio sessions for Nektar's first major-label release, Magic Is a Child (1977). The remaining members were joined by guitarist/vocalist Dave Nelson at this point. The album was more eclectic, although with shorter songs and fairly straightforward rhythms. Lyrically the album covered a wide range of subjects from Norse mythology and magic to more down to earth subjects like railroads and truck drivers. In 1978 the band dissolved; however in 1979 Albrighton and Freeman reformed the band with bassist Carmine Rojas and drummer Dave Prater and released a new album, Man in the Moon (1980), before the band dissolved once again in 1982.
Nektar regrouped in 2000 with a line-up consisting of Albrighton, Freeman, and drummer Ray Hardwick; and released a new album titled The Prodigal Son. The following year they headlined NEARfest (opposite Steve Hackett) with a full line-up including Moore returning on bass and Larry Fast (who had guested on Recycled) on synthesisers. In 2003 Hardwick, Moore, and Fast departed the band and were replaced by a returning Howden and new bassist Randy Dembo. Nektar cut one more album, Evolution, before Freeman was replaced by Tom Hughes. Dembo and Hughes left in August 2006, citing communication problems, money issues, personality issues and trust in the management issues. Dembo was briefly replaced by a returning Carmine Rojas, before the band settled on a line-up that consisted of Albrighton, Howden, guitarist Steve Adams, bassist Desha Dunnahoe, and keyboardist Steve Mattern.
Later in 2006, the band found new management in Roy Clay to replace The Eclectic Records staff, playing "Prog fests" around the globe on a part-time basis, and occasionally appearing in some of their old haunts in the New Jersey/New York area. Clay was subsequently released from management duties early 2007 after a dispute over financial matters. The band made an official complaint which exposed further fraudulent acts. Clay was ultimately convicted for fraud, lying and forgery, and was jailed for 2 years and 11 months.
In mid-2007, a solo tour was undertaken by Albrighton. A full band tour of Europe (primarily Germany) was scheduled by a European-based promoter, but they had to postpone as extra funds were needed to complete the new album, Book of Days, which was not released until the following year, by which time Adams, Dunnahoe, and Mattern had departed the band. Book of Days featured more of Roye Albrighton's guitar work than previous Nektar albums.
In late 2007, the band embarked on a tour for which they performed Remember the Future in its entirety, the line-up now including Klaus Henatsch on keyboards and Peter Pichl on bass.
In mid 2011, Lux Vibratus joined the band on bass for the Cleopatra records 'Space Rock Invasion Tour' in the U.S. By the time the band came to record the covers album A Spoonful of Time (2012), bass duties were shared by session musician Jürgen Engler, Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan, and Yes member Billy Sherwood, who also served as the album's producer. The Albrighton-Howden-Henatsch-Sherwood line-up recorded and released the album Time Machine. A special post-recording show was put together at the Coach House in South Orange County, California. Returning to Nektar in 2013, Lux Vibratus was on bass for the Cruise To The Edge event, followed by The Virada Cultural Festival in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In June, this line-up went on the road again for a U.S. tour billed as the 'U.K. Legends of Classic Rock'.
On 26 July 2016, Roye Albrighton died after an unspecified illness, at the age of 67.
Studio albums on the site, download: