Formed in Keighley, West Yorkshire, England during the Post Punk of early 1980’s out of the band ‘The Elements”, took their name from the title of the song “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family” from the 1974 David Bowie album, Diamond Dogs.
Something unique was brewing up a dark and broody storm in West Yorkshire at the time with bands like The Sisters Of Mercy, The March Violets, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Southern Death Cult (later became The Cult) forming the basis of what became the soundtracks to the Goth Subculture.
Skeletal Family soon gained popularity in the UK Independent Charts and furiously gigged the length and breadth of the UK and Europe, recorded tracks for the John Peels Sessions, supported The Sisters of Mercy during their 1984 Black October tour, released 2 studio albums ‘Burning Oil’ (1984) and ‘Futile Combat’ (1985) of which saw the release of Skeletal Family’s most successful single ‘Promised Land’ on Red Rhino record label.
Anne-Marie left Skeletal Family in 1985 to form Ghost Dance with Gary Marx, former guitarist of The Sisters Of Mercy. The remaining members of Skeletal Family briefly continued before disbanding in 1986.
Skeletal Family reformed in 2003 with Stan and Trotwood along with Karl Heinz. Anne-Marie rejoined her fellow band members in 2012 after she released her solo album ‘Day Of All Days’ in 2011.
In 2015, Cherry Red Records released Eternal, a definitive CD box set of Skeletal Family’s back catalogue.
They have remained one of the original Gothic Rocks bands staying true to their sound and have continued to tour and perform world-wide including Mexico, Poland and the US as well as regular headliners at Whitby Goth Weekend and Wave Gotik Treffen.
Skeletal Family are:
Hannah Small (Vocals)
Stan Greenwood (Guitar)
Roger Trotwood Nowell (Bass)
Adrian Ozzy Osadzenko (Drums)
Karl Heinz (Keys, Sax)
THE ELEMENTS / SKELETAL FAMILY BIOGRAPHY .. updated December 2019
The Elements were one of the many bands that sprung forth from the industrial wasteland of Keighley, West Yorkshire in the late seventies / early eighties.
Formed in 1979 they were originally known as Sulphate Attack. Vocalist Simeon Warburton left to form Modes For Mutants & then Dormmanu (check out his releases on Illuminated Records at https://www.discogs.com/artist/1220019-Simeon-Warburton)
With diverse infuences from bands such as The Bunnymen, X Ray Spex, Wah!, Bowie, Sex Pistols et al, the remaining members, consisting of bassist Roger ‘Trotwood’ Nowell, guitarist Stan Greenwood & sax / keyboard player Karl Heinz (Spud) decided to pursue a more poppy direction.
Recruiting vocalist Jayne Tretton, The Elements played numerous gigs around the Yorkshire / Humberside area & released a cassette only promo recorded at JSG Studios, Bradford. This featured original songs “Cannot Carry On”, “So Strange”, “Happiness Is Chemical” & “Fools Paradise”.
Jayne left the band in 1980 to front various dance orientated bands including Rodeo Jones, releasing tracks on both A&M and Bang Records (https://www.discogs.com/artist/360830-Jayne-Tretton).
In search of a new vocalist, the band were introduced to Trish who herself had just left Bradford group The Hustler Street Band. The Elements were gaining a large local following, again playing many gigs, one local Bradford gig at Scamp’s nightclub was the debut for Trish’s former band mates who had renamed themselves New Model Army, playing their first gig supporting The Elements on October 23rd 1980 with members Justin Sullivan, Stuart Morrow and Phil Tompkins.
Sadly Trish departed in early 1981 which resulted in Rogers partner, who herself was singing in various local bands at the time, Rosemary Robb taking over lead vocal duties.
With Rose the band recorded six demo tracks which included “Money In My Pocket”, “Flowers Are Fragile”, “Dance”, “So Sure”, “Shades Of Grey”, “Lies” & “Waltz” at Ric Rac studios, Leeds.
With many new original songs now written, the band recorded, at September Sound Studios, Golcar, Huddersfield, their debut vinyl album “Elementary” releasing it via Huddersfield based label Look Records, Cat no. LK/LP6649. This featured tracks:-
- Both Feet On The Ground 03:18
- Running Backwards 04:20
- Stranger In Town 03:46
- Kill Yourself 04:26
- Have You Got The Time 03:43
- If Looks Could Kill 04:04
- Someone 02:40
- So Strange 04:13
- Enjoy Yourself 03:06
- All My Best Friends 05:15
Always eager and experimenting to expand the bands sounds, Roger, Stan & Karl Heinz band invited local band follower Anne Marie Hurst, to participate as The Elements backing vocalist.
Although this period of the band never actually performed live as a five piece (which now included drummer Steve Crane) they rehearsed various new songs that Nowell, Stan & Heinz were writing, again demoing at Ric Rac Studios, Leeds.
Unfortunately with Rogers relationship with Rose deteriorating, Rose decided to leave the band.
With backing vocalist Anne Marie remaining and a new found enthusiasm from all members, the band again returned to Ric Rac, re-recording earlier tracks including “Lies”, “Guilt” & “Waltz”, plus two new compositions “Just A Friend” & “Trees”
Learning from the experience and success of their earlier Elementary album the band decided to release a 7” vinyl single as both a fund raiser and a promotional tool.
To reflect the new sound / direction of the band, a name change was deemed to be in order. Various ideas were muted, but whilst Trotwood and Stan were listening and flicking through various albums at the East Parade bedsit cum rehearsal room, they came across David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs album track “Chant of the Ever Circling Skeletal Family”. The rest is history ………………
The band released their debut single ‘Trees’ late 1981 on their own Luggage record label Cat No. RRP 00724. Whilst selling copies at gigs they handed a copy to Radio One DJ and champion of new music John Peel. Peel played the single on his Radio One programme numerous times, thankfully ensuing the remaining copies of the record were quickly snapped up via mail order.
A 1984 “Black October” tour with The Sisters Of Mercy plus supports to Siouxsie And The Banshees, Spear Of Destiny, Sex Gang Children Play Dead etc, ensured Skeletal Family / The Elements longevity in the Death Rock / Goth alternative scene.