(born 27 April 1946, in Verwood, England) is a Pop, Rock & Blues music vocalist, songwriter, and bassist. He first gained recognition as a member of the British band Les Fleur de Lys. He sang on one of the songs of King Crimson's second album, then played bass and sang on their third album. After departing from King Crimson, he continued his musical career as a solo musician & gained international recognition in 2001 with his hit song How Wonderful You Are
.A school friend of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, the two first worked together in an amateur version of Fripp's group the League of Gentlemen in the mid-1960s. Since that time Gordon Haskell has been on the fringes of the English music scene. For a brief period he shared a London flat with Jimi Hendrix. While playing bass in the psychedelic pop band the Fleur De Lys he recorded a few singles with the group to minimal success. Haskell's debut solo album Sail in My Boat
was recorded for the U.K. division of CBS Records in 1969. The album did not chart and today remains a rare collectible.
Haskell was asked to be the bassist and vocalist in the transitional King Crimson line-up of 1970. He appeared on the albums In the Wake of Poseidon
, but quit the group during rehearsals for live work. Haskell’s preference for Nat King Cole and Ray Charles songs led to frustration in Fripp’s band. Haskell's folk oriented interests were in conflict with Crimson's more complicated progressive rock musical style.He auditioned for Atlantic Records head Ahmet Ertegün, which led to Arif Mardin producing Haskell’s 1971 solo album It Is and It Isn’t
. The album has guest appearances from top session musicians, notably John Wetton, who would join King Crimson in late 1972. Again, the album was not a commercial success. As the 1970s progressed, Haskell found himself playing supporting stints with Cliff Richard and Tim Hardin. For a short time in 1974 he rehearsed with the group Stackridge. Though Haskell decided not to join the group, Stackridge did record a song from It Is and It Isn’t
. Originally called "Worms", the version on the 1975 album Extravaganza
was re-titled, "No One's More Important Than the Earthworm".
The 1980s and 1990s
Haskell arrived at the doorstep of the 1980s deeply in debt and dissatisfied with the music business. He left for Denmark in 1984, playing "seven nights a week to drunks in bars." During this time his voice became a lot stronger. His debt eventually eliminated, he returned to England and continued playing solo and small-band gigs in tiny pubs and clubs. "I was trapped," Haskell recalls, "but the time wasn't wasted. I was practising. I was in the wilderness for a long time. But I met a lot of really interesting characters in bars, and that's where my songs tend to come from. I was self-contained, self-supporting, and I didn't really have anything to do with the recording industry."His single "Almost Certainly" reached number one in South Africa in 1990. An album called Hambledon Hill
followed. It did well on airplay with BBC Radio 1's DJ, Bob Harris saying "he loved it". A single of the same name was planned but the distributor went bankrupt and the deal fell through. However in 1994 the Voiceprint record label re-issued the album.
contained a jazz-tinged ballad entitled "How Wonderful You Are". This was given to Johnnie Walker of BBC Radio 2 the day before 9/11. Even before its release as a single in late 2001, Haskell’s song surpassed the Beatles’ "Hey Jude" and Frank Sinatra’s "My Way" to become the most-requested song on BBC Radio 2. Despite limited promotion, it charted as the Christmas number two in the UK Singles Chart, selling 400,000 copies.As "How Wonderful You Are" scaled the UK pop charts, the British press began to pay attention towards the story of its unsung creator. Haskell was quoted saying, "Suddenly, after all these years, there's all this attention. But I've been living on skid row for so long that if I make a million now, it's back pay." He was approached by manager Ian Brown about recording opportunities. Haskell accepted, but specified that he wanted to make his record the old-fashioned way: live, no overdubs, and grounded in solid songwriting and classically styled performances.As a result of the success of the single Haskell was offered a multi-million dollar recording contract from the UK label East West Records, distributed by Warner Bros. Records. The album Harry's Bar
was released on 7 January 2002. It peaked at number 2 in the UK Albums Chart, and found similar success in Europe. Later on that year Shadows on the Wall
was released, but only made Number 44 in the UK Albums Chart.His next album reached Number 14 in the Polish album charts. Called The Lady Wants To Know
it contained eleven tracks, was produced by Hamish Stuart and featured Tony O'Malley and Robbie McIntosh. A DVD came out in 2005 called "The Road To Harry's Bar." Most recently Haskell has been writing his autobiography with David Nobbs.