Roland Gould (Level 42)

Roland Gould, English Guitarist with English pop rock and jazz-funk band Level 42 was Born March 4 1955. The band had a number of worldwide and UK hits during the 1980s and 1990s & gained fame for their high-calibre musicianship—in particular that of Mark King, whose percussive slap-bass guitar technique provided the driving groove of many of the band’s hits. The band are also known for the combination of King’s lead vocals and keyboard player Mike Lindup’s falsetto backing vocals and were formed after Mark King and the Gould brothers (Phil and Roland) played together in various bands during their teenage years.

Phil Gould went on to study at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he met keyboard player Mike Lindup in a percussion course. Both musicians found that they shared musical heroes: Miles Davis, John McLaughlin, Keith Jarrett and Jan Hammer. Boon Gould also playing bass guitar and saxophone and Lindup doubling on keyboards and drums. Mark King was primarily a drummer, but also played guitar. The developing band (at this point, entirely an instrumental act) took the name Level 42 and settled on a working line-up of King (bass guitar, percussion), Lindup (keyboards, percussion), Boon Gould (guitar, saxophone) and Phil Gould (drums).In 1981 they released their first single, “Love Games”, which became a Top 40 hit. then cut their critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album, which was an immediate success throughout Europe. The band quickly established themselves as concert favourites, taking advantage of the high performance skills of all four members. Polydor capitalised on the band’s success by releasing a second album, The Early Tapes later in the same year.

This was a compilation of material and is also known by an alternate name, Strategy. In 1982 Level 42 released their third album The Pursuit of Accidents. This was a further development of the Level 42 formula, maintaining their instrumental jazz-funk skills and styling but also experimenting further with pop songs, singles from the album were “Weave Your Spell” and “The Chinese Way”. A fourth album, Standing in the Light, was released in 1983 It was less experimental and jazzy than previous releases & provided them with their first UK Top Ten hit The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up). The 1984 album True Colours veered stylistically between funk, power pop, mid-tempo rock and moody ballads & yielded the singles “The Chant Has Begun” and “Hot Water”.

During the same year, Mark King released his first solo album Influences on which he played the majority of the instruments (with a guest appearance by Aswad’s Drummie Zeb, and with Lindup guesting on additional keyboards).The next studio album, World Machine, was released in 1985 gaining positive reviews from critics. By this time, the band had moved on from their original pure jazz-funk sound towards a much more mainstream pop/R’n’B sound, with King’s bass and Lindup and Badarou’s chugging keyboards serving as templates for smart pop songs such as “Something About You” and “Leaving Me Now”. The “Lessons in Love” single arrived in early 1986—a song that would soon appear on 1987′s Running in the Family album. The song was a massive international hit and became the band’s biggest seller.Keeping up the momentum, the band played at the Prince’s Trust concert in July 1987, with Eric Clapton standing in on lead guitar for a performance of Running in the Family.

During 1987, both Phil Gould and Roland Gould left Level 42. The next album Staring at the Sun was released in 1988. Sadly During 1989, Alan Murphy contracted pneumonia, which was complicated by the fact that he was already suffering from AIDS. His decline was rapid, and he died on 19 October 1989. This was a huge shock to the band, who had not known of Murphy’s condition and who had grown so fond of him that they stated at the time that they “could not replace Alan.”Devastated, Level 42 took a year off to regroup and rethink. In 1990 they released their next album, Guaranteed which was well received by American music critics, who appreciated the group’s musicianship and regarded it as Level 42′s most musically sophisticated work to date. In early 1993, Gary Husband left Level 42 and in 1994 it was announced that Level 42 would be disbanding permanently following their concert commitments. Having been a very successful live and studio band in the 1980s, they disbanded in 1994. However the band reformed in 2001. Their most successful single was “Lessons in Love”, which reached number three on the UK Singles Chart, and number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, upon its release in 1986.

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