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Peter Bardens | Spirit of the Water

Peter Bardens

June 19, 1945 / Westminster, London


Peter Skiving Bardens (19 June 1945 – 22 January 2002) was a keyboardist and a founding member of the British progressive rock group Camel. He played organ, piano, synthesizers and mellotron and wrote songs with Andrew Latimer. Bardens worked alongside Rod Stewart, Mick Fleetwood and Van Morrison and recorded solo albums.


Bardens was born in Westminster, London. In 1965, he spent a brief spell as the keyboard player with Them after leaving The Cheynes. He moved on and formed Peter B’s Looners who eventually morphed into Shotgun Express, a band who played soul music and featured Rod Stewart, Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood.

In 1970 he formed The Village and recorded The Answer (1970), an album featured Peter Green and Andy Gee. Bardens recorded an eponymous album in 1971 which was released in United States as Write My Name in the Dust before forming Camel in 1972. During this period Bardens began exploring electronica and released albums such as Heart to Heart (1979). He left Camel in 1978 to join Them band-mate Van Morrison’s band, recorded Wavelength (1978) and appeared on the album’s promotional tour.

He co-wrote “Looking For A Good Time” with Bobby Tench, which featured as the B side of the single “Chain Gang” (1982), which Tench had recorded as a tribute to Sam Cooke. In 1984 he became a member of Keats. Bardens released a number of solo electronic albums including Seen One Earth(1987), which found success in the United States.

His first single from this album, “In Dreams”, was surprisingly, thoroughly commercial. The song enjoyed heavy airplay on FM rock stations in the U.S. and Australia, where Brisbane rock station FM104, the most popular radio station in the country at the time, added it to their playlist. In 1988 he followed this with Speed of Light (1988), which featured Mick Fleetwood. “Gold” was released in the U.S. as a single, also enjoying some success on MTV.

Bardens released Water colours(1991) and formed Pete Bardens’ Mirage in 1994. This album featured his former Camel bandmate Andy Ward and Caravan’s David Sinclair. His last concert, subsequent to being diagnosed with a brain tumour, was in Los Angeles in the summer of 2001. Other performers who joined him at his concert included, John Mayall, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Sheila E and Ben Harper. Bardens died from lung cancer in Malibu January 2002, at the age of 56. A double CD Write My Name in the Dust was released after his death and covered tracks recorded throughout his career. He is interred in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, CA’.

US Singles

  • In Dreams 1987 – US Billboard Album Rock Charts #41
  • Gold 1988 – US Billboard Album Rock Charts #49


  • Seen One Earth 1987 US Billboard #148

Australian Singles

  • In Dreams 1988 – Aria chart #99


  • 1970 – The Answer

Peter Bardens: Organ, Piano, Vocals Andy Gee: Guitar Bruce Thomas: Bass (Courtesy of Head Records) Reg Isadore: Drums Rocky: Congas Alan Marshall: Vocals & Percussion Davis Wooley: Vocals & Antiques Linda Lewis: Vocals Steve Ellis: Vocals (Courtesy of CBC Records)

Recorded at Sounds Techniques, London Engineer: Gerry Boys Produced By: Peter Berdens Production Co-ordinator: John Whitehead Photography by Keits Morris Sleeve Design by Rainbow Birds by Annie Walker Mastering by George Peckham

  • 1971 – Write My Name in the Dust
  • 1973 – Camel (with Camel)
  • 1974 – Mirage (with Camel)
  • 1975 – The Snow Goose (with Camel)
  • 1976 – Moonmadness (with Camel)
  • 1976 – Vintage 69 (reissue of The Answer)
  • 1977 – Rain Dances (with Camel)
  • 1977 – A Live Record (with Camel)
  • 1978 – Breathless (with Camel)
  • 1978 – Wavelength (with Van Morrison)
  • 1979 – Heart to Heart
  • 1984 – Keats (with Keats)
  • 1987 – Seen One Earth
  • 1988 – Speed of Light
  • 1989 – Pete Bardens (reissue of Write My Name in the Dust)
  • 1989 – White Magic Soundtrack (to film by Warren Miller)
  • 1991 – Water Colors
  • 1993 – Further Than You Know
  • 1995 – Big Sky
  • 1995 – Mirage: Live 14.12.94
  • 2000 – Speed of Light: Live (as Pete Bardens’ Mirage)
  • 2002 – The Art of Levitation
  • 2002 – Live: Germany 1996
  • 2005 – Write My Name in the Dust: Anthology
  • 2008 – Wavelength with Van Morrison re-mastered + bonus tracks from promo album Live at the Roxy
Peter Bardens, Beryl Marsden, Rod Stewart...and some guns

Peter Bardens, Beryl Marsden, Rod Stewart…and some guns – photo from the Liverpool Echo


Adam Sweeting
The Guardian, Sunday 7 April 2002 21.23 EDT

In 1972, keyboard player Pete Bardens, who has died aged 56 of lung cancer, got together with members of Philip Goodhand Tait’s backing band – Andy Latimer, Doug Ferguson and Andy Ward – to form the London-based group Camel. A stalwart of British progressive rock, Bardens stayed with Camel until 1978.

Born in London, a journalist’s son, he was educated at St Marylebone grammar school and the Byam Shaw school of art. In the early 1960s, he played alongside future Kinks frontman Ray Davies in the Blues Messengers, then with Mick Fleetwood and blues guitarist Peter Green in the Cheynes. After playing in Shotgun Express with Rod Stewart, Bardens was recruited as keyboard player in Them with Van Morrison.

After their first couple of albums, Camel scored a hit in 1975 with their concept album The Snow Goose, based on Paul Gallico’s children’s story. Gallico was less enthusiastic, and sued them for copyright infringement. None the less, Camel had won their prog-rock spurs, even playing at the Royal Albert Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra, and sustained their success in the 1970s with Moonmadness, Raindances and Breathless. After Barden’s departure, Latimer led Camel into the 1980s.

Before releasing his solo album, Heart To Heart (1979), Bardens rejoined Van Morrison for his 1978 Wavelength album and world tour. The early 1980s found him producing, composing and doing sessions.

Bardens enjoyed some success with Seen On Earth (1987). He continued to compose, produce and record throughout the 1990s, and toured with his band Mirage. He is survived by his daughter and two sons.

Terry Monaghan writes: In the school playground one early 1960s evening, Peter Bardens and I collapsed with laughter at the sound of the awful school orchestra at practice. So for inspiration, we turned to Thelonious Monk and Ray Charles.

Peter was the pianist in our fifth-form rock band. It had been formed at the suggestion of his father, wishing to encourage a neighbour’s relative, Mick Fleetwood, to play his drums elsewhere.

In the 70s, Peter played me a tape of Moondance, taken off the sound desk during a Van Morrison concert. It was distinctly superior to the hit version – the difference was made by Peter’s playing.

Peter Bardens, musician, born June 19 1945; died January 22 2002

Them (Peter Bardens, Alan Henderson, Van Morrison, Billy Harrison, Pat McAuley) by Tony Frank

Them (Peter Bardens, Alan Henderson, Van Morrison, Billy Harrison, Pat McAuley) by Tony Frank

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Spirit of the Water Website by Steve Marsden.
Thanks to Ben Bardens, Wikipedia, Ofir Zwebner, Shane Carlson, numerous other fans and of course the Band itself!