Hugh Hopper  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hugh Colin Hopper (born 29 April 1945 - 7 June 2009) was a progressive rock and jazz fusion bass guitarist. He was a prominent member of the Canterbury scene, as a member of Soft Machine and various other related bands.



Early career

Starting in 1963 as bassist with The Daevid Allen Trio, alongside drummer Robert Wyatt, he alternated between free jazz and rhythm and blues. In 1965 with his brother Brian, Robert Wyatt, Kevin Ayers and Richard Sinclair he formed The Wilde Flowers, a pop music group that never released any records during its existence, but spun off into two other influential Canterbury scene groups, Soft Machine and Caravan.

With Soft Machine (1968-1972)

Hopper's role with Soft Machine was initially as the group's road manager, but he already composed for their first album The Soft Machine and played bass on one of its tracks. In 1969 he was recruited to be the group's bassist for their second album, Volume Two and, with Mike Ratledge and Robert Wyatt, he took part in a recording session for a solo album of Syd Barrett's (formerly of Pink Floyd, with whom the early Soft Machine had regularly gigged ). Hopper continued with the Softs, playing bass and contributing numerous compositions, until 1973. During his tenure the group evolved from a psychedelic pop group to an instrumental jazz-rock fusion band. In 1972, shortly before leaving Soft Machine, he recorded the first record under his own name, 1984 (named after George Orwell's novel). This was a decidedly non-commercial record featuring lengthy solo pieces using tape loops as well as shorter pieces with a group.

1973 until present

After leaving Soft Machine, through the end of the 1970s, he worked with such groups as Stomu Yamashta's East Wind, Isotope, Gilgamesh, and the Carla Bley Band. He also played in a couple of cooperative bands alongside former Soft Machine saxophonist Elton Dean: Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan (with pianist Keith Tippett and drummer Joe Gallivan) and Soft Heap (with keyboard-player Alan Gowen and drummer Pip Pyle).

In the early 1980s Hopper gave up playing music for a couple years, but by the mid-1980s he was actively working with several bands, including Pip Pyle's Equipe Out and Phil Miller's In Cahoots. He also began playing with a group of Dutch musicians in a band initially called Hopper Goes Dutch. After French guitarist Patrice Meyer joined, this group became known as the Hugh Hopper Franglo-Dutch Band.

After many years working primarily in instrumental, jazz-oriented groups including Short Wave, in the mid-1990s Hopper began occasionally working again in more rock-oriented vocal contexts, including several collaborations with the band Caveman Shoestore (using the name Hughscore) and with singer Lisa S. Klossner. He also returned to his early tape loop experiments, but now using computer technology, in recordings such as Jazzloops (2002).

In 2002, Hopper and three other former Soft Machine members (Elton Dean, drummer John Marshall, and guitarist Allan Holdsworth) toured and recorded under the name Soft Works. With another former Soft Machine member, guitarist John Etheridge, replacing Holdsworth, they have since toured and recorded as Soft Machine Legacy, playing some pieces from the original Soft Machine repertoire as well as new works. Three albums of theirs have been released until 2006: Live in Zaandam (CD, rec. 2005/05/10), New Morning - The Paris Concert (DVD, rec. 2005/12/12) and the studio album Soft Machine Legacy (CD, 2006, rec. 2005). On their tour in summer 2006, Theo Travis [1] has replaced Elton Dean who died in February 2006. Hopper also appeared on the 2004 debut solo album by No-Man singer Tim Bowness (My Hotel Year, on One Little Indian Records.

Other occasional projects are Soft Bounds (with French musicians Sophia Domancich and Simon Goubert, first with Elton Dean and then Simon Picard), also Clear Frame, an improvising group with Charles Hayward, Lol Coxhill and Orphy Robinson (augmented for their first release by Robert Wyatt on cornet).

Hopper has recently recorded two solo albums for, and established an online shop via, the highly regarded UK-based internet label, Burning Shed [2].

Hopper has worked with Japanese musician and composer Yumi Hara Cawkwell as a duo called HUMI. They had a tour of Japan planned for early 2008, which did not happen due to Hopper's health.

Hopper was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2008 and has been undergoing chemotherapy. As a result of his illness and the treatment, he has had to cancel all his concert appearances. A Hugh Hopper benefit concert took place in December 2008 at the 100 Club in London and featured In Cahoots, members of Soft Machine Legacy, Delta Sax Quartet, Sophia Domancich and Simon Louberg, Yumi Hara Calkwell, and Alex Mcguire Quartet.


  • Soft Machine: Volume Two (1969)
  • Soft Machine: Third (1970)
  • Soft Machine: Fourth (1971)
  • Soft Machine: Five (1972)
  • Soft Machine: Six (1973)
  • Hugh Hopper: 1984 (1973)
  • Stomu Yamashta's East Wind: Freedom is Frightening (1973)
  • Robert Wyatt: Rock Bottom (1974)
  • Isotope: Illusion (1975)
  • Hugh Hopper: Hopper Tunity Box (1977, re-released 2007)
  • Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan: Cruel But Fair (1977)
  • Carla Bley Band: European Tour 1977 (1978)
  • Gilgamesh: Another Fine Tune You've Got Me Into (1978)
  • Soft Heap (1978)
  • Hugh Hopper/Alan Gowen: Two Rainbows Daily (1980)
  • Hopper/Dean/Tippett/Gallivan: Mercy Dash (1985)(1996)
  • Pip Pyle's Equipe Out (1987)
  • Phil Miller: Cutting Both Ways (1987)
  • Hugh Hopper Band: Alive (1989)
  • Hugh Hopper Band: Meccano Pelorus (1991)
  • Lindsay Cooper: Oh Moscow (1991)
  • Hugh Hopper & Kramer: A Remark Hugh Made (1994)
  • The Wilde Flowers (1965-1969 recordings) (1994)
  • Hugh Hopper: Hooligan Romantics (1994)
  • Hugh Hopper Band: Carousel (1995)
  • Hugh Hopper/Mark Hewins: Adreamor (1995)
  • Hugh Hopper/ Richard Sinclair Somewhere In France (1996)
  • Hughscore: Highspot Paradox (1997)
  • Hugh Hopper/Lisa S. Klossner Different (1998)
  • Hughscore: Delta Flora (1999)
  • Hugh Hopper/Lisa S. Klossner: Cryptids (2000)
  • Glass Cage: Glass Cage Paratactile (2001)
  • Hugh Hopper: Jazzloops (2002)
  • Soft Works: Abracadabra (2003)
  • Polysoft: Tribute to Soft Machine (2003)
  • Hugh Hopper/Julian Whitfield: In a Dubious Manner (2004)
  • Hugh Hopper/Matt Howarth: The Stolen Hour (2004)
  • NDIO Airback (2005)
  • Soft Machine Legacy: Live in Zaandam (2005)
  • Soft Machine Legacy: Soft Machine Legacy (2006)
  • Hugh Hopper/Elton Dean/Hoppy Kamiyama/Yoshida Tatsuya: Soft Mountain (2006)
  • Hugh Hopper with Simon Picard, Steve Franklin, Charles Hayward: Numero D'Vol (2007)
  • Soft Machine Legacy: Steam (2007)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hugh Hopper" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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