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Phoenix Rising


Phoenix Rising Mk II LogoPhoenix Rising ia a heavy rock band formed initially in 1980 by Pete Bangert (guitar), Jack Bunker (vocals), Chris Hamilton (bass) and Danny Spencer (drums). The formation of the band coincided with an underground resurgence of heavy rock which became known to pundits and journalists as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM).

However, that trend was not apparent until later and that was not the reason that Phoenix Rising was formed. Like a number of other musicians at that time, the guys were fed up with the commercialised  punk, new wave and romantic music that was all-pervasive. They were just a group of musicians who wanted to get back to the roots of British Rock and make their own contribution to the legacy.

They were experienced musicians from disparate but professional backgrounds, who merged their styles ending up with a brand of original melodic heavy rock which had a nodding acquaintance to the legacies of Led Zeppelin, Free and Jethro Tull. They gigged the northern pub circuit, won the rock section of the ‘Rock and Pop’ awards and then went on to gig the larger national rock venues.


They performed live frequently on commercial radio and then produced a 12” EP entitled ‘Phoenix Rising’ on the Rising Records label. The featured track ‘Understanding’ charted number one in the Kerrang independent rock charts. The band supported numerous major rock acts such as Bernie Torme, Marillion, Doctor Feelgood, Wilco, Jason Bonham’s Air Race amongst others. They were quickly picked up on by the A&R teams from WEA, EMI,  Virgin and Island, but just as things were going to go ballistic the group were forced to split for a time due to commercial problems.

This initial line-up produced a number of recordings on vinyl, tape and video, some of which were later recaptured onto CD. They continued gigging until late in 1985.

Pete, Danny and Chris went on to other separate musical enterprises, with Pete and Danny collaborating in the very promising band, ToshRollo, towards the end of the eighties. Jack went into a virtual musical retirement with just the occasional ‘one-off’ live appearance for special gigs, generally associated with the club venue he was then running.

Danny’s untimely death from Leukaemia on the last day of 1990 triggered the reformation of the band, with the express purpose of raising money for the Leukaemia Research Fund. More detail of the story behind the reformation can be found on Pete's Website.

The initial reformation morphed quickly into a new line up due to the external commitments of Chris and Jack. So following a couple of shakedown gigs a new ’Mark II’ line-up settled down as Pete Bangert (guitar and synth), Mel Day (vocals), Gordon Henderson (drums) and Nick Parfrey (bass). Pete had added a guitar synth to his equipment by this time, which gave a whole new dimension to the sound and capabilities of the band. They produced a tape of five numbers for sale at gigs to raise funds for the Leukaemia Research Fund. The tape content is still available on request see the Leuakaemia Research Benefit Tape page for details.

Following the initial fund raising period, the band continued to gig regularly and they became regulars on the northern pub rock and crick club scene. A typical review from the South Yorkshire press of their set at the ‘Night of the Guitars’ said that “... Phoenix Rising played an exemplary set, most of which was their own material. One of Sheffield’s most popular rock bands, they have a refreshingly different sound helped by a first class front man, Mel Day, and the superb guitar work of Pete Bangert who uses a guitar synthesiser to full effect... ”.

The band raised a significant amount of money for Leukaemia Research, produced a number of other recordings and videos and the original material from the band remained as strong as ever. The live CD ‘The Live Session - Re-mastered’ is worth checking out. The band stopped gigging as a unit in the late 90’s.

Nick worked on with a Punk/Rock band touring Germany before returning back to the west country and working in UK based bands.

Mel went on to work in a local Council-run studio giving kids a new start and successfully collaborating with a musical writing partner on commercial material. He later joined Pete in Pig’n’aif to produce some of his finest work on the recording of the ‘Pig’n’aif Blue’ album. Unfortunately, Mel became ill before he could gig the album with Pete.

Gordon went on to work with a number of local bands before joining Pete in ChinWig for a time. He subsequently joined the live band version of Pig’n’aif (put together expressly for the purpose of performing the ‘Pig’n’aif Blue album).

Pete continues with Pig’n’aif,  Phoenix Rising, Rising Records, multiple collaborations and more song writing and recording.

Pete, Chris and Jack are now back together in the studio to complete an album which has been lurking on the tapes since the early ‘80’s. That can only be good news!

Visit the Phoenix Rising Website

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