Barbara Gaskin

Barbara Gaskin (born 5 June 1950) is a British singer formerly associated with the UK Canterbury scene.

Barbara Gaskin
Barbara Gaskin at Kent University, singing with the band Spirogyra
Background information
Born (1950-06-05) 5 June 1950
Hatfield, Hertfordshire
OriginHatfield, Hertfordshire, England
GenresPop rock, folk, synthpop
Years active1969–present
LabelsBroken Records
Associated actsDave Stewart, Spirogyra, Hatfield and the North
WebsiteDave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin website

Gaskin was lead vocalist in British folk-prog band Spirogyra (1969–1974). From 1973 to 1976 she sang backing vocals with Dave Stewart's band Hatfield and the North, as one third of 'The Northettes'[1] (with Ann Rosenthal and Amanda Parsons, both since retired from music). In 1981 she and Stewart formed a duo and in September of that year, they had a number one single in the UK with a cover version of the song "It's My Party". Subsequent singles "Busy Doing Nothing" (1983), and "The Locomotion" (1986) also entered the UK Singles Chart, without reaching the heights of their debut release. Seven albums followed, released on the duo's own Broken Records label. Gaskin and Stewart continue to work together and occasionally play live concerts with Andy Reynolds (guitar, 1990-2009), Beren Matthews (guitar, 2018 onwards) and drummer Gavin Harrison (Tokyo 2001 and London 2018 concerts). Gaskin has also sung with Egg (The Civil Surface), National Health, Peter Blegvad (The Naked Shakespeare), Phil Miller, Nigel Planer (Neil's Heavy Concept Album),[2] Jane Wiedlin (Tangled), Rick Biddulph and Mont Campbell (Music from a Round Tower).


Barbara Gaskin was born and grew up in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. She had formal training in piano and cello from the age of 10. In her early teens she taught herself very basic acoustic guitar (Lesson 1: The strings face outwards) and performed in local folk clubs.

In 1969 she moved from Hatfield to Canterbury to study for a degree in Philosophy and Literature at University of Kent at Canterbury, but immediately became involved in the Canterbury music scene, joining folk rock group Spirogyra as vocalist.[3] Spirogyra quickly procured a recording contract and subsequently made 3 albums, namely:- 'St Radigunds' B & C Records (CAS 1042), 'Old Boot Wine' Pegasus Records (PEG 13), and 'Bells, Boots, & Shambles' Polydor (2310 246), while gigging extensively on the UK college circuit, as well as completing numerous successful tours of Europe. During the same period, Gaskin met guitarist Steve Hillage (also a student at Kent University) and via Hillage, the members of Canterbury band Caravan, and Hillage's old friend and musical colleague Dave Stewart. Gaskin guested both live and on record with Stewart's band 'Hatfield & The North',[4][5] and was a member of the 'Ottawa Music Company', brainchild of Dave Stewart and `Henry Cow' drummer Chris Cutler. The intricate, largely instrumental music of bands such as Egg, Hatfield & The North and Henry Cow, and by contrast, the more spontaneous, lyrically driven approach of Spirogyra, were both powerful formative musical influences on Gaskin during the six years she lived in Canterbury.

When Spirogyra split up, Gaskin left England to travel in Asia for nearly three years, following her interest in Eastern philosophy and culture while earning money by teaching English. She continued to sing - in Japan, professionally - and while living in Java and Bali became very interested in gamelan music. She also lived in India for a total of 18 months.

On returning to England, Gaskin was invited by drummer Germaine Dolan to play keyboards and sing in the all female band Red Roll On. Based in Canterbury, the band played in clubs and art colleges in the London area. But Gaskin also renewed her musical association with Dave Stewart by contributing vocals to his compositions on Bill Bruford's "Gradually Going Tornado" album.[6] In 1981 Gaskin and Stewart joined forces and recorded the hit single "It's My Party".[7] The collaboration has continued to this day with a series of singles and albums on their own Broken Records label and Rykodisc Records.[8][9]


With Spirogyra

  • St. Radigunds (B&C, 1971)
  • Old Boot Wine (B&C, 1972)
  • Bells, Boots and Shambles (B&C, 1973)
  • Burn The Bridges (Repertoire, 2000)

With Hatfield and the North

With Egg

With National Health

With Bill Bruford

With Peter Blegvad

  • The Naked Shakespeare (Virgin, 1983)

With Nigel Planer

With Phil Miller

  • Cutting Both Ways (Cuneiform, 1989)

With Jane Wiedlin

With Rick Biddulph

  • Second Nature (Voiceprint, 1994)

With Dirk Mont Campbell

  • Music from a Round Tower (Resurgence, 1996)
  • Music from a Walled Garden (MFA, 2009)

Singles / EPs with Dave Stewart

  • "It's My Party" (Broken, 1981)[10]
  • "Johnny Rocco" (Broken, 1982)
  • "Siamese Cat Song" (Broken, 1983)
  • "Busy Doing Nothing" (Broken, 1983)
  • "Leipzig" (Broken, 1983)
  • "I'm In a Different World" (Broken, 1984)
  • "The Locomotion" (Broken, 1986)
  • "Walking the Dog" (Line (Germany) 1992)
  • Hour Moon (EP) (Broken, 2009)

Albums with Dave Stewart

  • Up From The Dark (compilation), Rykodisc (USA) RCD 10011 (1986)
  • Broken Records - The Singles, MIDI Records (Japan) (1987)
  • As Far As Dreams Can Go, MIDI Records (Japan) (1988)
  • The Big Idea, Rykodisc RCD 20172 / MIDI Records (1989)
  • Spin, Rykodisc RCD 20213 / MIDI Records (1991)
  • Selected Tracks (compilation), Musidisc (France) / Disky (Holland) (1993)
  • Green and Blue, Broken Records BRCDLP-05 (March 2009)
  • The TLG Collection, Broken Records BRCDLP-06 (October 2009)
  • Broken Records – The Singles (Special Edition), Broken Records BRCDLP-01 (November 2010)
  • As Far As Dreams Can Go (Special Edition), Broken Records BRCDLP-02 (November 2010)
  • The Big Idea (Special Edition), Broken Records BRCDLP-03 (December 2011)
  • Spin (Special Edition), Broken Records BRCDLP-04 (December 2011)
  • Star Clocks, Broken Records BRCDLP-07 (September 2018)


  1. "Julian Cope presents Head Heritage | Unsung | Reviews | Hatfield and the North - The Rotters' Club". Julian Cope presents Head Heritage. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  2. "Neil's Heavy Concept Album - Neil, Nigel Planer | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  3. "Spirogyra | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  4. Kelman, John (6 April 2008). "Uriel / Arzachel / Egg: Uriel and Egg: The Road to Hatfield and Beyond". All About Jazz. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  5. 1961-, Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the classics : English progressive rock and the counterculture. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195098889. OCLC 33947509.
  6. Kelman, John (15 October 2015). "Bill Bruford: The Bruford Tapes & Gradually Going Tornado". All About Jazz. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  7. "Barbara Gaskin | Biography & History | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  8. "Dave Stewart Barbara Gaskin Interview 1988". World News. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  9. Etheridge, Dave. "Busy Doing Nothing? (SOS May 86)". Retrieved 19 August 2017.
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