When was National Healthformed? When did it split up?

National Health was formed in the Summer of 1975. It split up in March 1980. It briefly re-formed during 1981 to perform at the Alan Gowen memorial concert in June, then record the "D.S. Al Coda" album the following Autumn, and in the Summer of 1983 to play two final concerts in Edinburgh.

What were the main line-upchanges in the band's history?

The band's original line-up consisted of Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen on keyboards, Phil Miller and PhilLee on guitars, Amanda Parsons on vocals and MontCampbell on bass. A fulltime drummer, Bill Bruford, wasn'tfound until a couple of months later. In the meantime, Pip Pylehelped out, until finally replacing Bruford in 1977. The finalregular line-up included original members Phil Miller andAlan Gowen, with John Greaves on bass and vocals andPip Pyle on drums. When the band briefly re-formed in 1981 and1983, the late Gowen was replaced by the returning Dave Stewart.

How did the original membersmeet? Had they worked together previously?

National Health was founded by keyboard players DaveStewart and Alan Gowen (who was an old acquaintance of PhilMiller's), following the split of their respective bands, Hatfieldand the North and Gilgamesh. Both bands had played double quartetgigs in November 1973 - the resulting 8-piece band then included noless than six future National Health members : Stewart, Gowen,Phil Miller, Phil Lee, Neil Murray and Pip Pyle; Gowen had guested onthree Hatfield gigs with an augmented line-up in April/May 1974;Stewart later co-produced the first (eponymous) Gilgamesh album, onwhich yet another future NH member, Amanda Parsons, guested,and played one gig with the band, doubling on keyboards with Gowen,in September 1975, while National Health was startingrehearsals.

Why did they choose this bandname ?

Dave Stewart : "I remember clearly that the band was named aftermy spectacles (cheap 'National Health' round frames, now wildlypopular in Japan for some reason) in that cheery way musicians haveof celebrating physical defects. God knows what the band would havebeen called if I'd had a hernia or worn an artificial limb...".
[Note : The National Health Service is the name of the socialsecurity system in Britain]

How many albums did the bandrelease? On which labels?

National Health released three studio albums : NationalHealth (1978), Of Queues And Cures (1979) and D.S. AlCoda (1982).

Demos and radio sessions from the early years of the band(1975-76) were compiled to form a fourth album, Missing Pieces(released in 1996), which also included snippets from 1979 liveperformances and a new recording of a previously unreleased NH composition, "Starlight On Seaweed" (by Mont Campbell).

Live recordings from 1979 by the final gigging line-up of National Health (Phil Miller, Alan Gowen, John Greaves and PipPyle), were released in 2001 as the CD Play Time, on theCuneiform label.

Have these albums been reissuedon CD? On which labels?

In 1990, all three albums were reissued by American label EastSide Digital as a superb 2-CD package named The Complete NationalHealth. It included two additional tracks, an excerpt from "Paracelsus" (recorded in 1976, now available in its entirety on"Missing Pieces") and a new version of "The Collapso" from OfQueues And Cures, entitled "The Apocalypso" and recorded in 1990by original members Phil Miller and Dave Stewart.

The albums have also been reissued separately : NationalHealth and Of Queues And Cures were reissued byDecal/Charly Records, and more recently by Spalax (in digipakpackaging). D.S. Al Coda was re-released by Voiceprint in1996.

Why were particular titleschosen for albums and compositions?

Songs :

Albums :

Who were the band's maincomposers ?

The original plan for National Health was for it to be thevehicle for Dave Stewart and Alan Gowen's compositions. When MontCampbell, a prolific writer, was recruited on bass, he became a majorcontributor, as exemplified by the Missing Pieces CD. AfterGowen's departure in 1977, it was decided that the writing would besplit equally between members; the result being Of Queues AndCures which contains one track each by Phil Miller, John Greavesand Pip Pyle. This policy was carried on after Stewart's departureand replacement with the returning Gowen. When National Healthre-formed in 1981 to record D.S. Al Coda, the aim was torecord unreleased compositions by the late Alan Gowen; as a result,the album includes only material written by him.

How much, and where, did theband tour ?

A chronology of National Health's tours is available on this site.
Gigs were even harder to find for National Health thanHatfield, although the band still had a following on the continentand toured quite regularly in France and Northern Europe. A shortAmerican tour was undertaken in November 1979, thanks to contactsprovided by Dave Stewart from his tour there with Bruford theprevious summer. National Health's last gigs were in 1983, atthe Edinburgh Festival, performing the compositions by the late AlanGowen from the D.S. Al Coda album.

The booklet in "The CompleteNational Health" mentions many compositions not on the three studioalbums. Are they available elsewhere?

What were the reasons formembers departing?

Where are they now?

Last updated : October 2008