Magna Carta
past and present

the sixties and seventies



If ever there was a Yorkshire band, it was Magna Carta. However it formed in London and one of the duo was a Australian. Magna Carta got a record deal with Fontana. Their first contract was signed in a pub on a beermat. Chris and Lyell worked togeher but did no live appearances until they found Glen Stuart.


1969, 1970

In comes Garfunkel look and almost sound alike, with a 5(!) octave range. His heroine was Doris Day. The first professional gig was on the 10th of May in the Coalhole Folk Club, Cambridge. Two albums were cut by these three: ''Times of change'' and ''Seasons''.

1970, 1971, 1972

Lyell fell in love and decided to return to Australia. In comes the brilliant accoustic instrumentalist Davey Johnstone. He already played with Magna Carta on ''Seasons''. After two albums (''In concert'' and ''Songs from Wasties orchard'') Davey leaves to join Elton John. Today he is still touring the world.
In 1971 Magna Carta. headlined at London's Royal Albert Hall where they preformed their own gala concert with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Dankworth. They also played at a party at the Kensington Palace hosted by Princess Margaret.

1972, 1973

After Stan Gordon had joined the album ''Lord of the Ages'' was made. The title track is based on a poem written on the London Underground on cigarette packets picked up off the carriage floor. Things came rapidly afterwards.


Graham Smith was one of the musicians on ''Lord of the Ages''. He joined Magna Carta afterwards.


Things begin to go away. Magna Carta shrinking back to square one.

1974, 1975, 1976

Somewhere around this time the album ''Martin's cafe'' was recorded. It wasn't released until 1977 and only released on the Continent. Members came and went. Therefor it's not known which Magna Carta made the album. There were uncertainties about the kind of music to play. Stuart didn't like the rock direction the group decided to go. Chris is reluctant to recall the names of some Graham (drums) and some Amin (bass). These obscure characters came and vanished without a trace. Tommy came from the Natural Acoustic Band. Things started to pick up again.


Glenn Stuart left and started a pet shop in Richmond Surrey. Nothing was heard of him since. Nigel Smith joins for the rockiest album up to date: ''Putting it back Together''. The same album was also released as ''Took a long Time''.

1977, 1978

By joining Magna Carta, Robin Thyne was again playing with his former Natural Acoustic Band comrade Tommy Hoy. The album ''Prisoners on the Line'' sounds more like the old Magna Carta.


Pick Withers who already played on the album ''Putting it back Together'' joined. He soon leaves to join the latent superstars Dire Straits. He did not last long with them either.

1978, 1979

The only vinyl evidence of this line up is ''Live in Bergen''. This record was a Continental release only. The group worked everywhere. Differing opinions led to a parting of the ways. Tommy and Robin formed Nova Karta when they were in Holland. They recorded one apperantly duff album which lastet only six weeks. Chris tells it with a grin. The album ''No truth in the rumour'' was cut by a kind of Magna Carta. Chris, Lee, Tommy and futher member Doug Morter.


This version of Magna Carta released a 45, the last British release, and a near bootleg ''Two by four (Live at the Melusina)''. Al Fenn splits after traveling to India and the making of ''Midnight Blue''.

© 2009 Friends of Magna Carta