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Renaissance (Rock)

The history of Renaissance is essentially the history of two separate groups, rather similar to the two phases of the Moody Blues or the Drifters. The original group was founded in 1969 by ex-Yardbirds members Keith Relf and Jim McCarty as a sort of progressive folk-rock band, who recorded two albums (of which only the first, self-titled LP came out in America, on Elektra Records) but never quite made it, despite some success on England's campus circuit.

The band went through several membership changes, with Relf and his sister Jane (who later fronted the very Renaissance-like Illusion) exiting and McCarty all but gone after 1971. The new lineup formed around the core of bassist Jon Camp, keyboard player John Tout, and Terry Sullivan on drums, with Annie Haslam, an aspiring singer with operatic training and a three-octave range.

Their first album in this incarnation, Prologue, released in 1972, was considerably more ambitious than the original band's work, with extended instrumental passages and soaring vocals by Haslam. Their breakthrough came with their next record, Ashes Are Burning, issued in 1973, which introduced guitarist Michael Dunford to the lineup and featured some searing electric licks by guest axeman Andy Powell. Their next record, Turn of the Cards, released by Sire Records, had a much more ornate songwriting style and was awash in lyrics that alternated between the topical and the mystical.

The group's ambitions, by now, were growing faster than its audience, which was concentrated on America's East Coast, especially in New York and Philadelphia -- Scheherazade (1975) was built around a 20-minute extended suite for rock group and orchestra that dazzled the fans but made no new converts. A live album recorded at a New York concert date reprised their earlier material, including the "Scheherazade" suite, but covered little new ground and showed the group in a somewhat lethargic manner. The band's next two albums, Novella and A Song for All Seasons, failed to find new listeners, and as the 1970s closed out, the group was running headlong into the punk and new wave booms that made them seem increasingly anachronistic and doomed to cult status.

Their '80s albums were released with less than global or even national fanfare, and the group split up in the early '80s amid reported personality conflicts between members. During 1995, however, both Haslam and Dunford made attempts to revive the Renaissance name in different incarnations, and Jane Relf and the other surviving members of the original band were reportedly planning to launch their own Renaissance revival which, if nothing else, may keep the courts and some trademark attorneys busy for a little while. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography


Something on music TV reminded me of Scheherezade and I wiki'd through the memory bank to find Renaissance and the album Live at Carnegie Hall (1976). What a great album. Just ordered the CD online; can't wait!
I seen them mid '70s at a small theater in Buffalo NY, same place i seen the Tubes and the Strawbs
Saw them four times back in the '70's in New Jersey. Amazing shows. I hadn't realized Michael Dunford had passed away, very sad news. I also met them, very nice people.
Saw them at Toad's Place in New Haven. Never saw so much mary jane being passed around as I did that night. Was a short set as Annie was sick but very memorable. What a beautiful voice.
Thank u pandora.purc h a s e d their dvd. Terrific.ann i e has one of the best voices I ever heard. Live at Carnegie hall is a classic
Saw them several times in the NYC area back in the 70s. They still sound good and I can't believe I still remember most of the words. RIP Michael.
Have see them many times, a couple album jackets signed. Last was just before M.Dunford passed. Great band.
We saw them in Jersey last October, was wonderful. They still got it!
Wow, I can't believe I am listening to Renaissance! I haven't heard this since the early 70's, what a treat!
Had the pleasure of being the person who booked them in the old rec hall at Penn State. One of my favorite backstage moments.

Paco 78
thank you Pandora for bringing me back to my early childhood. one of my vocal muses for certain.
I love this music, nothing like it. Had the honor of seeing them once.
Amazing vocals...... . . . .
Just saw Renaissance last week in St. Petersburg. Closed my eyes and I felt like I was in 1977. Annie's still got it - RIP Michael, you were missed...
just had the pleasure of seeing Renaissance two weeks ago at the Queen /world Cafe live in wilmington delaware, Annie Haslem still has the voice that send chills up and down your spine..
just saw Renaissance at Tupelo Music Hall in WRJ, VT....they were great. Annie still has the voice. They played 2 hour long sets. Annie's back was obviously bothering her. I guess we are all getting old. Great show, see them if you can on tour this year and buy their new album on their web site http://renai s s a n c e t o u r i n g . c o m /
It still amazes me the bands who stay in my head year after year. Nothing like the late 60's early 70's. Forever young.
Just sw the post about Michael's passing. Met him after the bands show in Atlantic City in 2010. Shook his hand and chatted. I made a joke that it had been 30 years since we had last got together, (last time was in Philly in 1978.) Said we should do it more often. He had a good laugh and agreed. We are all getting old. Enjoy life while you can.
i have been huge fan since the early 70's. great music
Saw them 3 times in early 80s once at a place called the the Tallho in newark del was so close I coul have reached out and touched Annie. amazing night
saw renaissance sometime when they were featuring 'turn of the cards'.memor y was foggy at best back then of the actual event but I was impressed with the blending of piano and Ms Haslems voice. If I remeber,the crowd was waiting for a 'rockin' number and were ill prepared for thier more classical approach.our seats were such that we coule see that Annie was performing sans shoes and could hear the music ok if we just concentrated a little but the crowd was wanting more rock.
saw renaissance at penns landing in 77, Haslam's voice is incredible!
Annie Haslem Wow mesmerizing voice
Annie Hassan come back to US
Loved listening to them in bed late at night owl Dj Alison steel
I was introduced to them in the early 70's by my older brother to Ashes are burning and carpet of the sun and Annie ( I fell in love with that voice)
BTW - for those that don't know: R.I.P. Michael Dunford. Tragic loss to music and art. http://ultim a t e c l a s s i c r o c k . c o m / m i c h a e l - d u n f o r d - o f - r e n a i s s a n c e - d i e s /
tune that is on...Mother Russia....wa s on their Turn of The Cards LP...o please correct me if i am wrong......
seen them myself in 70s...always loved the softer side of 'classical' inspired progressive either EASTOWN or GRANDE venues which were pld retired buildings made of block and cement with great acoustics compared to large halls or outside venues.
I was fortunate to see the band in 2011 in Milwaukee as the opening act for Steve Hackett. What a bill! Both acts were awesome. Renaissance played a rather long new song from a new EP called Winter Witch or something like that. I really wish I would have purchased the EP that night because the song was incredible. The venue was really cool, an intimate civic center theatre in which attendees could meet and talk with members of both bands in the lobby. I also saw Renaissance around 1979, which I
They played my college gym - Stockton St. - in South Jersey 1976 ....blew us away ... Was hooked ever since
What a terrible biography of the group. What about Carpet of the Sun, Mother Russia and Live at Carnegie Hall? This group, if given a chance, rivals Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and Procul Harum in musicianship , orchestral arrangement and lyrical content. Give them their due.
also saw them live at Penn State in the 70's at Rec Hall. I still recall their finale - sent chills over me - what a powerful sound. Annie held her hand over her one ear the whole time. Talk about the VOICE!
I don't Novella favorite Renaissance album
Saw Renaissance at the Palladium in New York City with a good portion of our radio station (WWPT FM) crew out of Connecticut. A night of total mesmerized fans !! That voice !!We had several die hard Renaissance fans who included their songs on weekly play lists.. My kids later grew up with me blasting Renaissance .... pass Annies' voice onto the next generation !
Thank you ken for reminding me. At the Academy of Music show 1977 Annie was not wearing shoes.
I've been a fan since Prolouge. I saw them 2 of the 3 nights as Carnegie Hall, saw them at the wonderful NY Academy of Music, and I was lucky enough to have met Annie at a WNEW-FM Christmas Concert at Radio City Music Hall, as i was a winner of a pair of tickets. Am thankful for Pandora enabling me to hear them again...and no, Annie wasn't wearing shoes when I met her.
Saw them twice in the 70's.Once at the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia , and once at the Tower Theater. The Tower shows were the ones recorded for Dreams And Omens. Both of these shows were Renaissance in their prime at two of the best venues for sound and view you could ask for. Recently saw the reconstructe d Renaissance in Atlantic City in 2010 and 2011 and at the Kestwick Theater in 2011. Annie hasn't lost any of her voice and the new band is as true to the sound as the classics.
Have seen them live twice in the last two years..Annie and Michael leading the way....just awesome
I never got to see them in the 70's. My mom didn't let me go them until I was 15 and they were gone by then. Annie voice has always appealed to me.
Yes Allan ,You really owe Brad!! I saw at PSU about the same Time. Curt Marean , Thanks for introducing them to me. I owe you one.
Saw them while I was at Penn state at the old Rec Hall, which only held 5,000 peoeple. What a show !!! Live show was like hearing the album.Hope they are still on the road.
In 1979 my best friend was the concert committe chairman at Fort Schyler, the Mercent Marine Accademy under the Throgs Neck Bridge NY. He asked me if I wanted to see Renaissance at his school. Did I. Trouble was, not all of Queens even knew who they were. The advertising was done locally and there was a very small turnout. The result, a personal concert by Annie Haslem who came out and talked to everyone after the concert. I owe you Brad.
the ones who got away never seen them wish i did had many opportunitie s including club bene remember that place in jersey what ya want the chicken or da fish hahahaha
Saw them in the 70's in Utica with they opened for Genesis a night of pure delight!
What a beautiful voice!
Wow reading back over the posts really brings back memories. I saw them first at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. It must have been 1973 or so. They blew me away with Annie's voice and the signature Rickenbacher bass runs. I saw them again in about 77 at State College, Pa. Their live album was one you just put on, lay back and lose yourself in... except for those darn album flips every 20 minutes... those were the days... ; )
I saw them many times in the 70s and again just last year. They are PHENOMINAL every time
just saw them in Va. Still awesome, and she has a 5 octave range (the commentary above is wrong!)
Ah, I do wish they would come enlighten the vast wasteland of Texas with their music!
Had the pleasure to catch the most current version of Annie and the boys in NYC last saturday night .The ensemble played the albums turning of the cards and tales of a 1001 nights to shear perfection. They got standing ovations on just about every tune and were truly inspired by the audience that was simply craving every bit of the performance! For true devotees, this was a real treat!
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