Marvin & Farrar

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In the early Sixties, there was no guitarist in British rock more iconic than Hank Marvin, whose sharp, twangy leads and bright Stratocaster tone with the Shadows defined instrumental rock in the UK much…
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In the early Sixties, there was no guitarist in British rock more iconic than Hank Marvin, whose sharp, twangy leads and bright Stratocaster tone with the Shadows defined instrumental rock in the UK much as the Ventures did in the United States. However, while the Shadows were massively popular in England in the early to mid-Sixties, as music evolved in the latter part of the decade, the group fell out of favor with record buyers, and in 1968 they broke up. In 1970, Marvin teamed up with fellow ex-Shadow Bruce Welch to form a new group which would embrace a more contemporary sound. Marvin and Welch invited John Farrar to join them in the new band; Farrar was a vocalist and guitarist from New Zealand who had opened for the Shadows with his band the Strangers during an Australian tour and was friends with Aussie pop sensation Olivia Newton-John, who happened to be Welch's wife. Simply calling themselves Marvin, Welch and Farrar, the trio released their self-titled debut album in 1971; the acoustic guitars, folk-influenced harmonies and mature songwriting of the group impressed critics and made a modest impression on the charts, but Marvin, Welch and Farrar unexpectedly found themselves competing with a revived version of the Shadows both in record stores and on tour, and their second LP, 1973's Second Opinion, was a commercial disappointment. As the trio struggled to find a steady audience, Welch became increasingly unhappy as his marriage to Newton-John was on the rocks. Welch left the group, and Marvin and Farrar began working as a duo. They released an album, simply titled Marvin and Farrar, in late 1973, which despite strong reviews fared little better in the marketplace than the two Marvin, Welch and Farrar LP's. That same year, Marvin rejoined the Shadows, and as the veteran group experienced a new wave of popularity after representing Great Britain in the 1975 Eurovision Song Contest, Farrar relocated to the United States, effectively ending the duo's working relationship. With Welch, Farrar had produced a number of Olivia Newton-John's early hits, and he continued to work with her in the United States, serving as her musical director and producer as well as writing several of her biggest hits. Welch, meanwhile, would rejoin Marvin in the Shadows, enjoying a long career with one of the UK's most enduring pop groups; he also worked with Cliff Richard on a number of his solo albums of the Seventies and Eighties.