Where's Dave??? L-R - Terry, Bob, Bic and Laurence

Levitation Line-up:

Terry Bickers - Vocals, guitar

Christian (Bic) Hayes - Guitar, vocals

David Francolini - Drums

Laurence O' Keefe - Bass

Bob White - Keyboards

Now sadly deceased, Levitation were one of the most exciting British bands to emerge over the last decade. Critically acclaimed in the UK and having begun to gain international recognition, they split up in 1994 in a blaze of acrimony after Bickers walked out of what would become their final gig, having announced infamously to the audience, "We've lost it, haven't we? We've really lost it" before storming from the stage. But for the three years that they existed, they produced some of the most glorious and influential recordings and extreme, infamous live experiences seen on these shores.

Formed in 1991 by Bickers after his first acrimonious and well-publicised walkout from a band, namely the House of Love (different versions of the reason abounded - some said that Bickers left after an incident involving a tourbus, and others that he was sacked for general reasons of insanity), he drew together musicians from many different backgrounds (Bic from Cardiacs, Ring, Panixphere et al, David from Something Pretty Beautiful, Laurence from Jazz Butcher, and Bob from Ring) to form Levitation.

The band signed to the indie label Ultimate in early 1991, and released their first record, the Coppelia EP, to instant critical acclaim. An extraordinary, energising, skewed slab of psychedelia and warped prog-rock, Coppelia delivered on what was already promised by their first live outings. They had already gained a reputation for their ferocious shows, which included, in one instance in particular, Bickers freaking out and throwing his guitar around the stage so violently that it bounced back and hit him across the forehead, thankfully causing no lasting damage to either head or guitar.

Coppelia was almost instantly followed up by a second astonishing EP, After Ever. By now, Ultimate were seriously considering the ramifications of introducing America to Levitation, and indeed the band released a third EP in late 1992, on both Ultimate and its American sister-label, Coterie. Going from strength to strength in both the material and the critical and public recognition, the band went on to tour internationally for the first time, across Europe initially and then to the States. However, before they were due to play a gig in New York, an unforeseen event occurred which would finally end the band's short-lived career, namely that they were caught in crossfire between the New York police and rival gangs. Bickers was so shaken by the experience that he refused to ever tour again in America, something which would later fuel the band's demise.

After having released a fourth EP, World Around produced by Mike Dignam and Bic's former colleague Tim Smith from Cardiacs, the band toured the UK co-headlining with Cardiacs to promote their debut album, Need For Not.

Reputed to have cost Ultimate a small fortune for the 'ambisonic' final mix (although no-one can really detect anything unusual about it), Need For Not was released in 1993. However, growing tensions in the band had led to outbreaks of arguing, and the album itself was received rather disappointingly, not charting particularly highly. However, it is still a remarkable album, and well worth owning, although in this instance Levitation's live 'sturm und drang' did not really translate its power into the studio version.

It was at this time that Ultimate were seriously considering dropping the band entirely due to much argument between Bickers and the other band members, and Bickers and the record company itself, over his refusal to return to America. However, the band landed a major deal with Chrysalis in late 1993, and released a single, Even When Your Eyes Are Open, which initially charted very well, reaching the top 20 in England. Work had almost finished on the second LP, Meanwhile Gardens (named after an actual park in North London), and the band played a short tour of the UK to promote their new material. But by the end of the tour, tensions had accumulated to breaking point, culminating in backstage fighting to near-violent levels, and then Bickers walked out of the band during the last gig they ever played, leaving the rest of the members to play out the set without him. Meanwhile Gardens was eventually released posthumously in 1994 in Australia, but remains very difficult to find (I only have a copy myself thanks to the generosity of a guy called Almar).

Since the end of Levitation, Bic, David and Laurence have gone on to various other projects, including working with Heather Nova and Mice (Bic), Octopus (David) and various solo offerings from Bob's project The Milk And Honey Band. Terry formed a new band almost instantly after the split, Cradle, which released a single and an album in 1995, Baba Yaga. However, it would appear that they have also split, as the singer, Caroline Tree, left the band under a cloud to pursue other interests after having been described as 'the worst singer in the world' in an infamous article in the NME.

In 1999, Bic, David and Laurence met up again and decided to work together, forming Dark Star. Signed to EMI, the band enjoyed a great deal of success in the UK, having released three EP's - Graceadelica, I Am The Sun/About 3am and the Gracedelica remixes, reaching the top 20 following an appearance in January 2000 on Top of the Pops - and an album, Twenty Twenty Sound. Drawing on all the old Levitation values, and adding in triphop/dub influences, David described Dark Star's music as, "Levitation, with all the chrome stripped off and painted matt black".

Dark Star split in late 2001, which was not officially announced but which was confirmed by David Francolini in an email to his friends. Bic participated in a short UK tour in March 2002 with the Pet Shop Boys, and his solo album under the pseudonym Mikrokosmos is almost completed and ready to hit the shops: check The Organ's site for updates.

There is currently no news about Laurence, although I have received news from David Francolini: he has a new band called Dragons, on their own label Ohm Recordings, and they are working very very hard on their debut album. Bob White is still recording and playing with The Milk and Honey Band: for more information, visit http://www.themilkandhoneyband.co.uk/.For any available news about the ex-members of Dark Star and their individual doings, plus great photos and cool stuff, visit Ben's 100% unofficial Dark Star site; another great Dark Star site is at http://www.stimulus.freeserve.co.uk/darkstar/, with an interview and loads of top-quality live photos...

....and for more information on Levitation, there is still a website (no longer updated) at http://www.anyware.co.uk/levitation .

For those of you who like to trade, we've got a couple of live recordings here.

We've now got 6 gallery pages full of live and archive photos, articles and reviews:
[Page 1] [Page 2] [Page 3] [Page 4] [Page 5]
[Page 6]

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