tarting originally under the name Silmarillion in 1978, a project of Mick Pointer (drums) and Doug Irvine (bass), they shortened their J.R. Tolkein novel inspired name to just Marillion the following year. The all-instrumental operation then added Steve Rothery (guitar) and Brian Jelliman (keyboards) and "Fish" (Real Name: Derek William Dick; vocals) and Diz Minnit briefly. Irvine would leave in 1980 and be replaced with Pete Trewavas, while Jelliman was replaced with Mark Kelly.
By the time 'EMI' came calling with a major contract they had been gigging around for some 4 years. Market Square Heroes would be their 7" debut in 1982, a track that dented the UK 60 marker and got them voted the best newcomer in Sounds Magazine early in 1983. He Knows You Know, was another top 40 single that same year which preceded their debut album Script For A Jester's Tear (1983) that made 7 on the UK charts and featured one of their best loved tracks, Garden Party, that on its own made 16. Marillion were a band who showcased ornate lyrical concepts of 70's mannerisms over a keyboard backing; a sort of update to the more commercial effort of Peter Gabriel's Genesis operation, as if punk rock had never happened. The follow-up album Fugazi (1984) with Andy Ward (ex-Camel) stepping in on drums (only to be quickly replaced with Ian Mosley (ex-Steve Hackett/ex-Curved Air)), however, was a harder edge affair and gained them new fans who were looking for an alternative to the American AOR; the album topped out at 5 UK.
After their mini-set, the live Real To Reel (1984) they wooed the world with the love song Kayleigh that on its own made 2 UK and became the highlight of the follow-up album Misplaced Childhood (1985), an album that got them a 1 UK and their first US spot at 47.
1987's Clutching At Straws was a huge seller and topped out at 2 UK but it's title had more truth than the band cared to admit and speculation over Fish's drinking problems eventually caused riffs in the membership causing the big guy would leave after their live follow-up effort The Thieving Magpie (1988). He would continue on with a solo career with Steve Hogarth (ex-Now We Live/ex-Europeans/ex-Last Call) took over the vocal duties.
With Season's End (1989) making UK 7 it was clear the Hogarth had won over the crowd with his smooth and strikingly different vocal style taking the act into unknown territory. Holidays In Eden (1991) fared equally as well, and their "best of..." compilation A Singles Collection 1982-1992 (1992) made a respectable 27 position. But after 1994's Brave topping out at 30, Marillion found it difficult to match their halcyon days, never again to see a top 10. But to their credit they refused to sit around and churn out tried and true music that would interest only their fans by continuing to experiment well into the next century with Afraid Of Sunlight (1995), Made Again (live; 1996), This Strange Engine (1997; now on the 'Raw Power' label), Radiation (1998), Marillion.com (1999) and Anoraknophobia (2001), each making under the top 60 with the aforementioned Afraid Of Sunlight charting at 16.
Marillion would also be one of the pioneers in self-distribution with their albums being sold directly through the internet long before most others conceived of the idea and advertising almost exclusively to their fans vie e-mail and web technology.
The success of Anoraknophobia allowed the band to start recording their next album, and decided to leverage their fan base once again to help raise money towards marketing and promotion of a new album. The band put up the album for pre-order in mid-production, the pre-orders exceeded 18,000 copies of Marbles (2004). As a thanks to the fans, every one of their names were mentioned in the liner notes. Somewhere Else (2007) followed; their first album in 10 years to make the UK chart toppers at 30.
Happiness Is the Road (2008), again featured a pre-order "deluxe edition" with a list of the fans who bought in advance. The album was a another double CD feature with one disc based on a concept and the second containing non-related tracks.
October 2009) saw the release of an acoustic album titled Less is Mopre featuring new arrangements of previously released tracks (except one new track, It's Not Your Fault.
Provisionally titled M18 and later confirmed as Fuck Everyone and Run (F E A R) would be released in 2016. As with several of their previous releases, the recording of the album was to be funded by fan pre-orders, this time through direct-to-fan website PledgeMusic, and later in hard copy. The platter would be followed by With Friends from the Orchestra (2019).
Footnote: Do not confuse this Marillion with the Sylmarillion name used by a Canadian Alternative rock band.
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