Black Knight (1981-1986): a Power Metal band from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
riginally consisting of Chris Hopkinson (vocals), Stuart Duffy (drums), Gary Quaye (guitar), Mick Dianno (guitar) and Glenn Hoffmann (bass/vocals), Black Knight, however, started as a 3-piece seeking a vocalist until Dianno stepped in to take the guitar position to allow Hopkinson (with whom he had played with earlier) to assume the role. The common musical grounds for the lot was their love of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Iron Maiden. Eventually, searing double lead solos became a signature of the act with their style becoming a hybrid of some of the earlier double lead approaches taken by Wishbone Ash. But choosing their style was only one problem, a name is a whole new story and after rejecting names like Valhalla, Thor, Black Angel, Belzebub and Blue Warrior they chose to name themselves Black Knight after the Deep Purple track of the same name, a name chosen for its medieval imagery, evil, battles and wizardry.
Six months after Black Knight formed they played their first gig at Charles Tupper High School, a school that Duffy, Quayle and Hoffmann had all gone to a few years earlier. To make themselves look more like rock gods they built 24 'dummy' 4 X 12 Marshall type cabinets and a huge drum riser when really they were using a much simpler affair, barely able to afford the truck rental to ship the real gear. Oh, but this wasn't all - then there was Hoffmann with his pyrotechnics and dry ice; he had a real talent for explosives, making his own special mixtures to create different colors and patterns. He would use his own DIY detonators that allowed him to set off the explosions from the stage while they played. According to the band, "It looked like a medieval graveyard on stage and with our colorful warrior like stage clothes, the image was fantastic. The gig went over like a big time concert and there was a huge buzz around town about this new metal band that played all their own music."
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They started off early writing their own material at a time that the Vancouver scene dictated otherwise, and by early 1982, the first band member change occurred as a result of a knee problem Duffy received from a hockey injury. Unfortunately, the decisions he had on the menu was either quit the drums or risk being in a wheel chair a few years down the road, so Duffy remained good friends with the band and helped recruit Ken Beckthold (ex-Anvil Hawk) from a local metal cover band to take his place.
When opening for Nazareth a few years later, Black Knight played a near perfect set without any monitors. But in 1983, the band was developing their own hybrid gothic metal sound. With dozens of original songs, even making demo recordings, their first serious attempt at writing a heavy metal balled, and future released tracks of Battlefield and an early version called Victim.
Chris Hopkinson, however, was having trouble keeping up with singers like Bruce Dickenson (Iron Maiden) setting new standards leading to feedback from record companies that they had to find a new singer. Black Knight went on to audition about 20 or 30 singers and eventually found Lori Wilde to release their debut EP Master Of Disaster in 1985. But female vocals were not popular with record executives and as the 80's moved on, Black Knight simply got left behind. It was getting more and more difficult to get record companies to listen to their music, compounded by the huge wave of signing new metal bands was over. With a lack of cash, support and a unified direction, the band finally called it quits somewhere around 1985-86.
Hoffmann and Dianno went on to work in a number of other projects and even did an early 90's USA tour with a band that played some of the Black Knight classics. Their EP has since been re-issued along with a self-titled compilation in 2005.
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