Bill McCormick

About Bill McCormick

Bill MacCormick led a varied career as a bass player in many Canterbury scene and English progressive bands in the early 70s, adding a keen sense of melody along with a jazz fan's urge to improvise. Though never part of a group that wasn't some sort of other musician's side project, MacCormick's work appears on many classics of the progressive rock genre. Born in London in 1951, both his father and mother were former members of the RAF; his father a pilot. MacCormick got into music in 1966 when introduced to Robert Wyatt, his mother's friend's son. Wyatt was premiering as drummer and vocalist for Soft Machine at the time, and MacCormick began to hang out at the Wyatt residence in West Dulwich where he educated himself on a diet of jazz records in between watching Soft Machine rehearsals. While at college, MacCormick teamed up with classmates Phil Manzanera (later of Roxy Music) and Charlie Hayward, forming the core of what would become Quiet Sun. Initially a vocalist, MacCormick tried his hand doubling drums with Hayward when the group shifted from straightforward psychedelic rock to more progressive instrumental pieces. Lacking a bass player at the time, MacCormick filled in temporarily and found he liked the instrument very much. He would stick with it from then on. The group recorded for Warner Brothers but were not signed and temporarily disbanded. In 1971, a disgruntled Robert Wyatt left Soft Machine and formed Matching Mole, featuring MacCormick on bass, Dave Sinclair from Caravan, and guitarist Phil Miller from Hatfield and the north. The mostly improvisational group released Matching ole in 1971, followed by Matching Mole's Little Red Record in 1972. When Wyatt abruptly broke the band up, MacCormick sat in with French progressive group Gong for a few sessions. In 1973 MacCormick briefly flirted with politics, joining the Liberal Party and standing for council elections in May of 1974. It would not be his last time. Meanwhile, Phil Manzanera reformed Quiet Sun to give the group a proper chance at an LP release, recording Mainstream at the same time as Manzanera's Diamond Head album on which MacCormick also played and sang. Session work continued in 1975 with Robert Wyatt's Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard. In 1976, Manzanera formed yet another group, 801, with MacCormick once again on bass. The group recorded two studio albums (Listen Now and K-Scope) and one live (801 Live) before disbanding. In 1978, MacCormick joined Random Hold, a project with two old Dunwich college classmates, David Ferguson and David Rhodes. An EP and an album followed, but due to artistic tension and label indifference, the group split and MacCormick quit the music business, returning to politics, which had interested him since the early '70s. He is now a director for a market research firm and a Liberal Democrat Councilor in South London. ~ Ted Mills