Saturday, June 12, 2021

Fish: Artist Profile

Fish:

Artist Profile


Born: Derek William Dick
Date: April 25, 1958
Where: Edinburgh, Scotland


Known As:

neo-progressive rock singer/songwriter

Significant Bands:

Awards:

The Studio Albums:

Hover over an album for the name and year of release. Click to see its DMDB page.


See the DMDB list of the top 20 Fish/Marillion albums here.


Compilations:

Tracks featured on the above compilations are noted on this page with the following codes:


Live Albums:


Archives:


Key Tracks with Marillion:

  • Market Square Heroes (1982)
  • Script for a Jester’s Tear (1983)
  • He Knows, You Know (1983)
  • Garden Party (1983)
  • Punch and Judy (1984)
  • Assassing (1984)
  • Kayleigh (1985)
  • Lavender (1985)
  • Heart of Lothian (1985)
  • Incommunicado (1987)
  • Sugar Mice (1987)
  • Warm Wet Circles (1987)

Key Tracks as a Solo Artist:

  • Shortcut to Somewhere (with Tony Banks, 1986)
  • Big Wedge (1989)
  • A Gentleman’s Excuse Me (1989)
  • Cliché (1989)
  • Credo (1991)
  • Just Good Friends (1991)
  • Fortunes of War (1994)
  • Goldfish & Clowns (1997)
  • Plague of Ghosts (1999)
  • Long Cold Day (2001)
  • Moving Targets (2004)
  • Arc of the Curve (2007)
  • Blind to the Beautiful (2013)
  • Man with a Stick (2018)
  • Garden of Remembrance (2020)


See the DMDB list of the top 50 Fish/Marillion songs here.

The Marillion Years (1981-1988):

Derek Dick, aka “Fish,” was best known for his work in the ‘80s with British neo-prog rock group Marillion. His nickname dated back to his pre-Marillion days when he was a forestry worker. He “stayed in the bathtub for hours” PF and his landlady became upset, “allowing him to take only one bath per week; threatening him with charging twenty pence for every extra bath. Fish thus stayed roughly two hours in the bathtub every time and brought beer, sweets, a book, and other leisurely objects with him!” PF

Marillion initially formed in 1979 as an instrumental band consisting of guitarist Steve Rothery, bassist Doug Irvine, keyboardist Brian Jelliman, and drummer Mick Pointer. Irvine started singing on the some of the group’s first demos in 1980, but then the band invited Fish to join as vocalist in 1981. JB

They released their debut album, Script for a Jester’s Tear, in 1983. Fish’s vocals and stage persona invited comparisons to Peter Gabriel and early Genesis. The band, however, carved out their own neo-progressive sound and grew their following over the next couple of albums, 1984’s Fugazi and 1985’s Misplaced Childhood. The latter gave Marillion a #1 album in the UK, fueled by the top-5 singles Kayleigh and Lavender.


Script for a Jester’s Tear (1983):


Fugazi (1984):


Misplaced Childhood (1985):

The band followed up with Clutching at Straws in 1987. It hit #2 in the UK, led by the #6 hit Incommunicado and a pair of singles that stalled at #22. That same year, Fish married Tamara Nowy, a German model who appeared in the videos for “Kayleigh” and “Lady Nina.”

Musical differences and Fish’s difficulty in coping with the band’s success led to his departure in 1988 after the band released the live album The Thieving Magpie. Steve Hogarth stepped in on vocal duties for Fish and Fish launched a solo career.


Clutching at Straws (1987):

Best of Both Worlds

Marillion


Released: February 1997


Recorded: 1982-1996


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: neo-progressive rock


Best of Both Worlds, Disc 1 (1982-1988): (1) Script for a Jester’s Tear (2) Market Square Heroes (3) He Knows You Know (4) Forgotten Sons (5) Garden Party (6) Assassing (7) Punch and Judy (8) Kayleigh (9) Lavender (10) Heart of Lothian (11) Incommunicado (12) Warm Wet Circles (13) That Time of the Night (14) Sugar Mice

Rating:

3.752 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Best of Both Worlds:

The double-disc compilation featured one disc covering Fish-era Marillion (1982-1988) and another disc focused on Steve Hogarth-era Marillion (1989-1996). Only the Fish material is covered here.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Market Square Heroes BW1

Vigil (1988-90):

In 1990, Fish’s first solo album, Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors, was released in January 1990 by EMI Records. It generated three top-40 singles in the UK. It “continued the theatrical flair of Marillion’s quasi-concept albums.” JB

A contractual dispute with EMI took Fish out of the spotlight. He couldn’t record music or tour. It prompted him to build his own studio, which as he said, “proved an invaluable asset and is now my residence as well as my place of work.” CO


Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors (1990):

  • State of Mind (10/16/89, 32 UK) KF
  • Big Wedge (12/27/89, 25 UK) KF, BB
  • A Gentleman’s Excuse Me (3/5/90, 30 UK) KF, BB
  • Cliché BB
  • The Company BB

Polydor Records and a Covers Album (1991-93):

The studio was completed in 1991 and Fish signed to Polydor Records in time to record his second album with producer Chris Kimsey, who’d worked on Fish’s last two albums with Marillion. “Equipment was still being wired in as the tapes started to roll.” CO The resulting album, Internal Exile, was released in May 1991, but didn’t have the hoped impact. “The myriad of styles on Exile led to some confusion as to which direction he should follow.” CO

In his personal life, Fish and his wife Tamara had a baby girl, Tara Rowena, on January 1, 1991.


Internal Exile (1991):

  • Internal Exile (9/9/91, 37 UK) KF
  • Credo (12/2/91, 38 UK) KF, BB
  • Something in the Air (6/22/92, 51 UK)
  • Just Good Friends (Close) (8/15/95, 63 UK) KF, BB
  • Lucky KF

As a result, Fish’s next project was a covers’ album. As he said, “I needed to rediscover the magic that had pulled me into music in the first place. I needed to get rid of the cynicism and bitterness that had taken over my music during the last couple of years and opted to purge myself by recording an album of songs that were favourites of mine when ‘Fish’ was a dream and Derek William Dick was a teenager, songs I’d performed with a broom handle doubling for a mike stand in front of a large wardrobe mirror in the upstairs of my old family home in Dalkeith. Songs that had previously inspired me in some way or another.’” CO


Songs from the Mirror (1993):

  • Hold Your Head Up (12/12/92, --)
  • Solo BB

Dick Brothers Record Company (1993-97):

Neither fans nor the record label were enamored with a covers’ album from Fish. He was, once again, without a record label. However, thanks to a successful tour, Fish opted to start his own label, the Dick Brothers Record Company. He released Sushi, a double live album of the tour as the first of a series of “official” bootlegs. Fish “was one of the first artists to promote the idea of ‘official bootlegs.’” CO

They “enabled him to finance Suits, his first independent solo release.” COSuits proved the big man…could still write and repaired some of the damage done by the covers project.” CO It also gave him a #1 independent single with Lady Let it Lie. CO


Suits (1994):

  • Lady Let It Lie (4/5/94, 46 UK) KF, BB
  • Fortunes of War (9/19/94, 67 UK) KF, BB
  • Raw Meat BB

After the Suits album, Fish released Yin and Yang, a two-album “compilation of re-recordings and previously released material from both his solo and Marillion eras.” CO This allowed the touring to continue as far as South East Asia and South America but at the same time created an awareness of the limitations of being an artist and a record company.” CO The subsequent “tour would leave an impression that would light the fuse on what many fans would regard as the resurgence of Fish’s solo career.” CO

He released another studio album, Sunsets on Empire, on the Dick Brothers label in 1997. Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree served as producer and co-writer on the album. He “pulled him in a creative direction he had ignored for a long time and, with engineer Elliot Ness, they produced an album that defied his critics and signalled to the fans that he was back…Fish’s reputation as one of the great rock lyricists…was greatly enhanced as he welded his worldly experience with his strong sense of social justice and political awareness.” CO

The supporting tour took Fish to the United States and Canada for the first time in a decade, but it took a toll on his private life. As he said, “I returned home from tour in Christmas ‘97…I had practically lost my house, had distanced myself from my family but I had changed out there on the road. I would have made the same decision again given the chance as that experience on the Sunsets tour woke me up to life. The big problem was that I was now back in the eyes of the fans, but broke and in need of a major re-evaluation.” CO


Sunsets on Empire (1997):

  • Brother 52 (4/28/97, --) KF, BB
  • Change of Heart (8/11/97, --)
  • Goldfish and Clowns (8/11/97, --) KF, BB
  • The Perception of Johnny Punter BB
  • Tara BB

Kettle of Fish

Fish


Released: October 28, 1998


Recorded: 1989-1996


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: neo-progressive rock


Tracks: (1) Big Wedge (2) Just Good Friends (3) Brother 52 (4) Chasing Miss Pretty (5) Credo (6) A Gentlemen’s Excuse Me (7) Goldfish and Clowns (8) Lady Let It Lie (9) Lucky (10) State of Mind (11) Mr. Buttons (12) Fortunes of War (13) Internal Exile

Rating:

3.506 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Kettle of Fish:

After 1997’s Sunsets on Empire, Fish signed a contract with Roadrunner Records which included his back catalog. In 1998, they released the compilation Kettle of Fish which highlighted his solo career up to that point and included two new tracks.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Chasing Miss Pretty KF
  • Mr. Buttons KF

Roadrunner Records (1998-99):

After releasing Kettle of Fish, Roadrunner Records released Fish’s next studio album, Raingods with Zippos. Fish said, “I started to work on Raingods after returning from a writing sabbatical…Sessions gave me a lot of confidence as a singer/songwriter and working with other respected writers in focused situations showed me a different approach to creating music. It was a great experience overall.’” CO The album included the 20-minute epic Plague of Ghosts, “yet another return to form.” CO

Unfortunately, Fish’s relationship with Roadrunner Records soured when the greatest-hits package didn’t meet expectations and Zippos sold “as many as Sunsets with greatly reduced income.” CO


Raingods with Zippos (1999):

  • Incomplete (3/22/99, --) BB
  • Plague of Ghosts BB

Another Label, Another Album (2000-03):

In 2000, Fish got his back catalog returned and launched a new label, Chocolate Frog Record Company, named after a lyric from “Plague of Ghosts.” CO He explained, that a “head full of chocolate frogs is a Scottish term used for someone who isn’t quite with it, who’s drunk, out of it or acting weird. It seemed appropriate for someone who’s considered a ‘bit strange’ in the current manifestation of the music industry.” CO

“Inspired by the neosurrealism of Italian movie director Federico Fellini,” CO Fish named the next album Fellini Days. Fish “took the works of the director and laid them alongside his own experiences to create ‘a movie for people's ears.’ It threaded Fish’s now intense personal life with the surrealism of road experiences in a feast of images.” CO


Fellini Days (2001):

  • Our Smile BB
  • Long Cold Day BB
  • Clock Moves Sideways BB

The album was made available through mail order several months before it was available, which gave Fish the finances to “record with the production values his followers had come to expect.” CO This allowed Fish “to make albums on his own terms, to the standard and quality he wanted, with material he was in control of, under no serious commercial pressure.” CO

As Fish says, “It doesn’t really bother me, the fact that I don’t sell millions of albums these days.” CO “I don’t need the fame fix that is the current ‘junk’ of the modern music industry. I had that in the 80’s with Marillion.” CO Now “I have a private life and the ability to choose what I want to do and when, while at the same time I can earn a living doing things that I love.” CO

“Fish’s personal life was thrown into chaos when his wife Tamara decided to return to Berlin with their daughter Tara shortly before the tour began in early 2001. Huge debts forced the sale of the farmhouse and Fish ‘regrouped’ in the studio which was now separated from the main property.” CO “2002 was spent working on converting the studio into a home while still maintaining the integrity of the sound rooms so that he could continue to write and record albums.” CO

Personal Turmoil and Field of Crows (2003-04):

Fish and Tamara divorced in 2003. That same year, Fish started work on his new studio album, Field of Crows. The inspiration for the album came from “visiting the monument to ‘The Field of Blackbirds,’ a 15th century battle between the Ottoman Empire and the Christians who were mainly Serbian, and where so many men were killed on the field that both armies had to withdraw, that Fish got his principal image to work with.” CO

Fish explained that the album was “a life cycle. The main character ‘crow’ leaves behind what he knows, driven by dreams, desires and a legacy and heads to the open fields and the ‘big city.’ He joins the hunt and ends up being hunted and eventually caged where he’s left to dream of what he lost. Eventually he returns and so another circle begins. The field represents conflict, be it as a battle or a sports game or a shoot.” CO


Field of Crows (2004):

  • Shot the Craw BB
  • Scattering Crows BB
  • Moving Targets BB

Bouillabaisse

Fish


Released: September 25, 2005


Recorded: 1985-2004


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: neo-progressive rock


Tracks, Disc 1 (Balladeer): (1) Just Good Friends (2) Shot the Craw (3) A Gentlemen’s Excuse Me (4) Kayleigh (5) Solo (6) Incomplete (7) The Company (8) Fortunes of War (9) Our Smile (10) Lavender (11) Lady Let It Lie (12) Cliché (13) Scattering Crows (14) Tara (15) Caledonia (16) Raw Meat

Tracks, Disc 2 (Rocketeer): (1) Big Wedge (2) Credo (3) Incommunicado (4) Goldfish and Clowns (5) Long Cold Day (6) Brother 52 (7) Clock Moves Sideways (8) The Perception of Johnny Punter (9) Moving Targets (10) Plague of Ghosts

Rating:

3.288 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

About Bouillabaisse:

The two-disc compilation covered Fish’s solo years from 1989 to 2004, but also included three cuts from his Marillion days. There was also the song Caledonia, which had previously appeared on the 2002 A Tribute to Frankie Miller.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Caledonia (2002) BB

Looking Back (2005-06):

2005 proved an important time for retrospection as Fish released a double album compilation (Bouillabaisse) that looked back over his entire career. Even more significantly, however, was the 20th anniversary of his most significant work, Marillion’s Misplaced Childhood. In celebration, Fish performed the entire album live, as well as a set of solo material. Recorded in November 2005, the concert was documented on CD and DVD – a must for fans who had followed Fish’s career since the beginning. It was released the following year.

13th Star and A Feast of Consequences (2007-13):

Fish released his ninth studio album, 13th Star, in 2007. It was first made available via mail order in September 2007 and then to retail in February 2008. The album title was a reference to Mostly Autumn, a singer who Fish referred to as the 13th female significant other in his life. However, when she left him, it became a metaphor for an unknown future relationship. It was also the thirteenth studio album of his career if you include his four albums with Marillion.


13th Star (2007):

  • Arc of the Curve (3/3/08, --)
  • Zoe 25 (10/6/08, --)

A long hiatus followed 13th Star. Fish finally returned in 2013 with A Feast of Consequences. It was yet another independent release through Chocolate Frog. Like its predecessor, this was co-written with bassist Steve Vantsis.

In his personal life, Fish married his second wife, Katie Webb, in April 2009. Sadly, they divorced after less than a year.


Feast of Consequences (2013):

  • Blind to the Beautiful (4/28/14, --)

The End? (2015-20):

After Feast, Fish took an even longer hiatus. In 2015, he announced that the album he was working on would be his last. Three years later, he finally released an EP, A Parley with Angels, which featured live songs and some of the material which would wind up on the 2020 double album Weltshmerz.

Because of failed romances and family bereavements, it looked at times like the album wouldn’t happen at all. His father died from bladder cancer and Fish underwent surgeries for his spine and shoulder and dealt with two potentially deadly bouts of sepsis. On a positive note, he married his third wife, Simone Rosler, in 2017.


Weltschmerz (2020):

  • Weltschmerz (3/12/20, --)
  • Garden of Remembrance (7/24/20, --)
  • This Party’s Over (9/11/20, --)


Resources and Related Links:

First posted 4/26/2010; last updated 6/13/2021.

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