Judge Smith – The Climber (songstory)
(b. July 1st 1948 in Corkickle, Cumbria – England)
First performance, May 9th 2009 at USF Verftet, Bergen
The Fløyen Voices and Leif Olaf Korsnes (double bass) conducted by Petter Høiaas
Chris Judge Smith (known simply as Judge Smith for the past four odd decades) was a founding member of the British underground band Van der Graaf Generator together with Peter Hammill in 1967. It was in fact he who provided the band with a name. His tenure with the group, however, was relatively short. In 1969 he formed Heebalob, whose line-up included Van der Graaf’s future saxophonist David Jackson.
Without any formal training in music, Judge Smith has forged a unique musical path combined with his earnest research of the spiritual aspects of human existence. This interest has often permeated his musical work. As a performer he began playing drums and percussion for Van der Graaf Generator. Otherwise he is best known as a singer of his own music. He plays the euphonium in some early demo recordings, but it is not quite clear where and how he learned to play the instrument. There is also an early picture of him playing the trumpet. His uncle was a trumpet player.
In the 1970s and 80s he wrote a number of stage musicals in cooperation with Maxwell Hutchinson and Lene Lovich as well as a chamber opera. In 1974 he directed a short film called “The Brass Band”, which received several prizes. Smith has also written librettos for classical composers Michael Brand and Joseph Horovitz as well as for Peter Hammill’s opera “The Fall of the House of Usher” based on the E. A. Poe short story. In 2007 he wrote the text for David Jackson’s large-scale children’s musical “Twinkle”. Some of his songs were featured in the highly successful comedy program “Not the Nine O’Clock News”. …
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