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Pete Bardens

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Pete Bardens (Peter Bardens), keyboard player and singer: born London 19 June 1945, died Malibu, California 22 January 2002.
The name of Peter Bardens is best known from the success of Camel, the progressive rock group he led in the early 1970s.

The keyboard player’s greatest influence on the British music scene, however, took place in the previous decade, when he was a formative member of London’s art school R&B scene and a figure of irrepressible spirit and energy. The son of Dennis Bardens, a writer of mystery novels and biographies, he was born in London in 1945, was brought up in the then Bohemian district of Notting Hill and attended the local Byam Shaw art school, where he studied Fine Art.

Fired by the burgeoning blues movement in west London, Bardens recruited an apprentice drummer called Mick Fleetwood whom he had heard rehearsing in the garage of a house three doors away from where he lived. With the intention of joining a group, Fleetwood had moved to London in 1964 to stay with his sister: “There was a knock on the door. ‘I’ve been hearing you play: would you like a gig?’ He literally kickstarted me into the music business.”

Bardens and Fleetwood formed the Cheynes, playing pop R&B of the type popularised by Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry, securing a residency at the Mandrake club off Wardour Street in Soho, and releasing a couple of singles. The group split up when Bardens was offered the job of keyboard player with the Irish R&B group Them, which featured the vocalist Van Morrison.

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