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On this site, you can find out all you want to know about 1-2-3 and CLOUDS
 Records, reviews, present activities etc.
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'......of such importance that without their influence, seventies Rock could not have happened as it did'

- from 'The Illustrated History of Rock'
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'......a definitive precursor to the Progressive Rock movement' 

- from 'The Encyclopedia of Popular Music'
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‘….Progressive Rock’s True Genesis’ 

- from Sky Arts TV 2016

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  • David Bowie Record Mirror 1967

    “These three thistle-and-haggis-voiced bairns had the audacity to face a mob of self-opinionated hippies with a brand of unique pop music, which, because of its intolerance of mediocrity, floated as would a Hogarth cartoon in Beano.”

  • David Bowie Mojo Magazine1994

    “I was taken aback when I heard the song...it was so radically altered, but still retained its heart and soul….Billy was an unrecognised genius”

  • ''Clouds were very important in those early years…..I remember them performing Paul Simon’s America…..Yes eventually performed the song, I still do today in my solo concert….those far off days were very open and exciting..''

    Jon Anderson

    "They were the greatest Scottish band…and the most influential we've produced, ever"

    Aidan Smith 'Scotland on Sunday' 2012

  • What the restless and occasionally violent audiences were witnessing was a virtuoso trio unleashing a new musical form in front of their very eyes – a form of music which featured all the ingredients that would later identify progressive rock – complex time signatures, and a deconstruction of the verse-chorus pop song format into dramatic movements lasting up to ten or twenty minutes, with classical overtones and informed improvisation, more like film soundtracks than songs. None of those prog bands would exist if it hadn’t been for Clouds. It really is that simple.

    Bruce Thomas - Elvis Costello & The Attractions 2013

  • 'See the transition from 1960’s pop to progressive rock happening before your very ears!'

    From 'Kinesiscd.com' 2013

    'They had a seismic influence on the development of British progressive rock.'

    David Wells 2012

    One of the earliest practitioners of prog-rock, CLOUDS paved the way for Yes and King Crimson.

    Record Collector 2012

  • It remains a complete mystery why the group never achieved the recognition it deserved at the time, but in retrospect they are as good as any of the other artists that were successful.

    Adam Baruch ‘The Soundtrack of my Life’ 2012

    Hearing this album anew nearly 40 years on, it's even more difficult to understand how this trio didn't find more success than they did

    Bruce Eder ‘AllMusicGuide/Rovi’ 2004

icon of musical note
 It would be foolish to highlight Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman without acknowledging British keyboardist Billy Ritchie. 

He became the first keyboard player to take a leading role in rock and literally stand up at the keyboard. 

His band 1-2-3 (which later became Clouds) is credited for laying the blueprint for prog-rock, and they did it sans guitarist. Even Bowie himself called the man a genius.

Vinyl Revinyl (USA) 2012
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The influence of Clouds could be heard later in Emerson, Lake & Palmer, the organ-heavy sounds of The Nice, and other followers. Up Above Our Heads is another chapter of what may be one of the oldest stories in the rock and roll book: why wasn’t this band huge? 

Clouds’ strength lies in their almost Beatlesque level of varied sounds and successful experiments with different styles. Riding a number of stylistic waves so well, it’s a mystery why Clouds never really made it to the shore.

Fred Thomas 
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I listed in my notebook artists or records I wanted to hear: Marvin Gaye, 1-2-3, Mingus Revisited, Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Smith’s organ grinder’s swing, In Crowd, Nina in concert [Nina Simone], Charlie Christian, Billie Holiday, Ella, Ray Charles, Thelonius Monk' " 'Round Midnight".

Who I am by Pete Townshend 
(page 89)
Our Biography


' In 1965, Brian Epstein, manager of The Beatles and former Rada student, leased the Saville Cinema to use it as a theatre and music venue. Pink Floyd, Fairport Convention and The Who were among the rock hopefuls he booked for Sunday night concerts. On May 7, 1967, Bowie was one of the 1,200 gathered for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. David went backstage to chat to his musician friend, Billy Ritchie, who was sharing a dressing room with Hendrix.'
From the Bowie exhibition at the V & A 2013
and London Evening Standard March 2013 

' The trio that should have been as big as ELP.'
Record Collector Aug 2013

Q: What other Chrysalis acts did you manage apart from Tull in the early years?
A: I managed a Scottish band called Clouds: Ian Ellis on bass, Harry Hughes on drums and Billy Ritchie on Hammond organ. They were musically brilliant and Billy was a great songwriter.'
Interview with Terry Ellis on The Jethro Tull Forum 2013.

'Really fascinating piece in today's Scotland on Sunday about late-1960s Scottish band called Clouds and their influence on prog rock.'
Creator of REBUS
‘Meet the Father of Progressive Rock – Billy Ritchie’
Brian Eno 2016
clouds band in present
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