Gentle Giant was a progressive British rock band from London, England. Active between 1970 and 1980, he is known for the complexity and sophistication of his melodies, which borrowed genres of progressive music and classical as well as medieval, jazz and rock. All members of the group, apart from the first two drummers Martin Smith and Malcolm Mortimore, were multi-instrumentalist.
The goal of band members was, according to singer Derek Shulman, to "push the boundaries of contemporary popular music at the risk of being unpopular". Indeed, sales never equaled the commercial highs of other contemporary bands such as Pink Floyd, Yes or Genesis, and Gentle Giant is often considered one of the most experimental formations of the 1970s.
The core of what would become Gentle Giant is the Shulman brothers: Phil, Derek and Ray. The brothers, of Scottish descent by the mother and Jewish by the father, were born in Glasgow, Scotland, in the Gorbals, a district at that time known for its great poverty. The family moved to Portsmouth, England, where Ray was born. Their father was an army musician, a jazz trumpet player who continued to play in Portsmouth. The latter, although a member of the working class, works all day long as a salesman and plays in concerts every night. He gives music lessons, so the house is always full of musicians. He encourages his children to learn music; Phil, Derek and Ray have all become multi-instrumentalists.
In the early 1960s, Derek and Ray formed a rhythm and blues band. Phil, basically their manager, integrated the training himself. In 1966, The Shulman Brothers Group, originally named The Howling Wolves, later named The Road Runners, officially decided to take the name "Simon Dupree and the Big Sound" and turned to a more soul / pop style. Derek, as singer and leader of Simon Dupree and the Big Sound, takes the pseudonym of Simon Dupree. His brother Phil plays saxophone and trumpet while younger brother Ray plays guitar and violin. We can note a brief participation of the future Elton John to the group as a pianist in 1967 >>>.