Henry Cow

Henry Cow was a British jazz and art-rock group that played 1968-1979 in various occupations.


As part of the so-called Canterbury scene Henry Cow in 1968 by Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson was founded in Cambridge. The band's name has been variously attributed to the avant-garde composer Henry Cowell, the band members have but always denied. After some changes drummer Chris Cutler and bassist John Greaves stabilized the band. In place of the saxophonist Geoff Leigh joined in 1974 Lindsay Cooper, who played the bassoon in addition, other wind instruments. 1973 Henry Cow wrote a contract with the then new and independent label Virgin Records. This collaboration accordance with the wishes of the musicians after complete control over their plates and appeared with the debut album Legend ( also Leg End) first commercially satisfactory. During the experimentation, the group became increasingly clear, waned interest of the British public, performances were organized less frequently and by the band itself again. Successful they were still in continental Europe. 1974 and 1975 appeared two plates, taken together with the trio Slapp Happy: Desperate Straights and In Praise Of Learning. 1975 came the German singer Dagmar Krause to Henry Cow.

After the appearance of Concerts of the record contract was terminated in 1976 with Virgin, as this only led to indebtedness of the band due to the contractually fixed production costs. The band started producing their own albums and achieved economic viability. With the establishment of the two follow-up groups and Feminist Improvising Group Art Bears, the band was dissolved. The last record of Henry Cow, Western Culture, was recorded and released in 1979. In her several musicians already play the Feminist Improvising Group ( Irène Schweizer, Georgie Born and Annemarie Roelofs ).


Henry Cow, a decidedly politically leftist, sometimes organized as a collective formation, reveals diverse influences: In addition to general traits of progressive rock in particular, which was acquired from the jazz free improvisation plays an important role. On the other hand, the avant-garde of new music were received, about Olivier Messiaen, as well as Kurt Weill. The music of Henry Cow exceeded in this Amalgierungsprozess aware and typically very playful the limits of tonality and enriched the songs here also with parodic episodes. In addition to complex time signatures Mixdown or receptive technical manipulations played a major role.

Especially on some British bands Henry Cow had great influence. " Concerts" was included in the list Wire The Wire 's " 100 Records That Set The World On Fire (While No One Was Listening ) ".


  • Legend ( 1973)
  • Unrest (1974 )
  • Desperate Straights (1975 )
  • In Praise Of Learning ( 1975)
  • Concerts ( 1976) ( with Robert Wyatt )
  • Western Culture (1978 )
  • Stockholm & Gothenburg (2008, recorded in 1975 and 1977)
  • 40th Anniversary Box ( 1971-1978 )


  • Art- rock band
  • Progressive rock band
  • British band
  • Ensemble ( New Music Improvisation )
  • Canterbury band