Hailing From Birmingham, Magnum are an English Prog Band of similar ilk to Rush and Iron Maiden. The core of the band is Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley who have remained throughout the band’s 42 year music career. Their illustrious 42 year history spans 2 separate stints between 1972-1995 and 2001-present. Magnum have been incredibly prolific during this time, releasing a total of 37 albums. During their career, Magnum’s most notable success came in an 8 year period between 1982 and 1990. Featuring Chase The Dragon, On A Storyteller’s Night, Wings Of Heaven, and Goodnight L.A., they earned tremendous critical and chart reception.
Magnum was created in 1972 by lead songwriter Tony Clarkin, and singer Bob Catley. Soon after, the duo were joined by Kex Gorin (drums) and Bob Doyle (bass). The band initially became the house band for Birmingham’s famous night club, Rum Runner, honing their craft and playing covers before writing and recording their own music.
Magnum’s debut album, Kingdom of Madness, was released on Jet Records at the end of 1978. Impressively, it reached #58 in the UK Chart, earning critical praise and their first 5 star review. Leo Lyons, formerly bassist with Ten Years After, produced the follow-up album Magnum II. It was released in 1979, but failed to chart. Shortly after the support tour for Magnum II finished, Bailey departed the band. He was replaced, temporarily, by Grenville Harding during Magnum’s support of Def Leppard’s On Through the Night UK tour in March. For the second leg in April, permanent replacement Mark Stanway took over keyboard duties.
In 1982 came Magnum’s first successful album, Chase the Dragon, produced Jeff Glixman. Impressively, it reached #17 in the UK, and included several songs that would be mainstays of the band’s live set: “Soldier of the Line”, “Sacred Hour” and “The Spirit”. Another positive from the album, was the artwork, by fantasy artist Rodney Matthews. It became a staple characteristic of future Magnum releases. For the supporting tour, the band supported Ozzy Osbourne for their only tour appearance in the United States before returning to the UK in July for their own headlining tour.
Unfortunately, budgetary constraints at Jet made their next release, The Eleventh Hour (1983), a relatively disappointing one. It only reached UK #38, and led to the band parting ways with Jet, in favour of FM Revolver.
Thankfully, this proved a prosperous move for the band, as Magnum’s next album, On A Storyteller’s Night, in 1984, was their first taste of real success. The album propelled the band into the UK mainstream for the first time, reaching #24, and becoming certified Gold.
From the success of On a Storyteller’s Night, Keith was able to negotiate the band a major label deal with Polydor Records. They also embarked on the most commercially successful period of their career, with following albums going silver and enjoying more chart success.