Tracy Hitchings

An Illustrated Biographical Sketch

© Russell W Elliot 1999

Last Updated: 12 May 2000

In the first ten years of her career as a performing artist, singer-songwriter Tracy Hitchings has recorded a solo album and provided lead vocals to albums by Quasar, Gandalf, Strangers On A Train and Landmarq. Her backing vocal credits span recordings by Arena, Landmarq, Pendragon, Peter Gee, Shadowland and Ulysses. Largely self-taught through her own experiences, her work is extensively interwoven with Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon, Shadowland and Strangers On A Train) and is credited in many of his bands' releases.

Tracy has a uniquely fresh and addictive theatrical style and an extensive vocal range. She can equally deliver pop ballads with sensitivity while having the pinpoint accuracy for the most demanding musical number as well as the sheer power required of the most agressive rock anthem. Tracy has a well-developed perception of cross-over and alternative styles and won the Classical Rock International Award for Best Female Vocalist in 1995 and again in 1998. A contagiously open communication style led Tracy to becoming a respected teacher. Currently working with students at the Stratford GMS school, she applies a youthful and energetic approach to the understanding, performance and enjoyment of music.

Tracy Hitchings' professional career today brings together two threads of history apparently driven by the actions of the now defunct Dutch SI Music label. The label's significant power to make decisions about where the performers would work and how they would be compensated had a profound effect on the careers of a whole series of British progressive rock recording artists. Their behaviour has driven many artists to form their own labels to more fully enjoy writing and recording flexibility and to reap a larger share of the financial rewards from their work.

In a role that gives her the space for her own creative approach to songwriting as well as an opportunity for a more focused schedule of recording and touring, Tracy is currently the lead vocalist with the Britsh progressive rock band Landmarq. An extensive set of rock and pop stage performance credits span her ten years in the business and she sings live with Landmarq today. She is well known for having an easy going, professional and efficient approach to recording as well.

Tracy's first commercial recording is on the second album by the British progressive rock group Quasar entitled The Loreli (1989) where she shares lyrics credits on four of the album's five tracks. The band toured extensively ("270 gigs in 18 months") which aside from founding member Keith Turner, likely contributed to a complex and challenging series of lineup changes for the group. Each of the band's earlier participants—vocalists Paul Vigrass and Susan Robinson (Solstice), keyboard players Dillon Tonkin, Peter Ware, Peter Shade and Steve Leigh (Landmarq), guitarists Cyrus Khajavi and Kevin Fitzgerald as well as drummers Steen Doosing and David Cairns—moved on. At the time of The Loreli, the photo shows the band included Keith Turner (bass, keys), Dave Wagstaffe (drums) and Toshi Tsuchiya (guitars, keys). After a long search for Susan Robinson's replacement, Tracy answered Quasar's advert in Melody Maker looking for a vocalist and passed the difficult audition with flying colours. She knew from that moment that she felt at home with, and was destined for, progressive rock music.

The Loreli
The Loreli
Image © Quasar/Keith Turner 1989
Quasar w/Tracy Hitchings
with Quasar from The Loreli
Image © Quasar/Keith Turner 1989

The original vinyl album (Q Records QUA-2, 1989) features Tracy's passionate and uniquely theatrical singing style over a symphonic instrumental backdrop. The title track tells the story of a mythical creature that lives on a rock in the Rhine. After being lured by its song to their doom, the duped sailors must then forever join the crew of a ghost ship bearing the the same name as the rock—"The Loreli." The album features Tracy's passionate and soaring vocals perfectly complimented by the orchestral synthesizer-rich progressive instrumental work of the other artists.

The band's earlier album Fire In The Sky (Q Records QUA-1, 1988) and The Loreli—released in Holland, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, United States while interest mounted in other countries—have both been subsequently reissued on CD by Progressive International. The USA version of The Loreli CD includes additional single edits of the tracks "The Loreli" and "Logic?". In addition to their two released albums, their output also includes a promo of their first attempt at "The Loreli" entitled Forgotten Dreams (cassette only, 1988) which has yet to surface since the lineup changed prior to its original completion. Quasar continued to tour through 1991/92 before they stopped to work on their next album originally planned for completion in 1993. A new album, with Keith May on guitar, a new keyboard player and Tracy Hitchings on vocals is now planned for completion in 2000.

In 1990, Tracy teamed up with Clive Nolan and Karl Groom to record the lead vocals for the stunning Strangers On A Train album The Key Part 1: The Prophecy, a true masterwork released by SI Music. Nolan's soundtrack oriented writing style and keyboard work provide not only a wonderful backdrop for Tracy's vocal theatricality, but classically derived instrumental progressions shine through as well. Acoustic, electric and bass guitar work by Karl Groom rounds out the album's percussionless instrumentals. The Prophecy was reissued in 1997 on the Nolan/Groom Verglas Music label.

The Prophecy
Image © Verglas Music 1997
Click on the cover for album review
The Labyrinth
Image © Verglas Music 1998
Click on the cover for album review

The first Hitchings/Groom/Nolan Strangers On A Train collaboration led to the writing and recording Tracy's From Ignorance To Ecstasy (SI Music SIMPly Six) solo album. It was recorded at Thin Ice Studios from May to June 1991. With words, music and keyboards by Clive Nolan, other artists involved included Dave Wagstaffe (drums), Ian Salmon (bass) and Karl Groom (guitars). Clive Nolan also provided backing vocals. The album was released on SI Music later that year and although the original is unavailable, a reissue is available (Verglas Music (UK) VGCD016).

From Ignorance To Ecstasy
Original SI Music CD Cover
Image © SI Music 1991
From Ignorance To Ecstasy
Verglas Music Reissue CD Cover
Image © Verglas Music 1999

From Ignorance To Ecstasy effectively integrates eight tracks of varying progressive styles together to fully illustrate the extensive range of Tracy's talent. Typical of this collection of artists, the songs are each stunningly performed and expressed dramatically and, as with his other work including the Strangers On A Train albums, Clive Nolan's production is outstanding.

Vocally strong throughout, the album contains mainly shorter progressive songs, opening with a rocking and highly memorable "Beauty And The Beast." The rocking style continues in "Escape" combining a quirky Kate Bush-like style from the title track into the stunning and extremely powerful epic length track "Caamora" which features Tracy's soaring vocals ("cleanse my soul") throughout. Two highly accessible prog-pop songs, "Everything I Am" and "Hide and Seek," both well worthy of radio airplay are also included. The album is instrumentally strong, balancing progressive excursions with vocal energy throughout.

Tracy Hitchings (1991)
From Ignorance to Ecstasy original CD booklet
Image © SI Music 1991
Tracy Hitchings (1991)
From Ignorance to Ecstasy jewel box artwork
Image © SI Music 1991

Two of From Ignorance To Ecstasy's ballads are the title track and the progressive "Horizons In Your Eyes." Tracy sings both with heartfelt sensitivity, incredible vocal accuracy and energy. The highly memorable theatrical ballad "Behind The Scenes" has the orchestral sound of a major West End musical. Performed with pinpoint accuracy, the track builds to an extremely powerful crescendo that concludes the album.

Landmarq. Not long after the Quasar break up, Dave Wagstaffe joined the initial lineup of Landmarq who were performing live in the progressive rock circuit and recording demos. SI Music asked to use one of the demo tracks on their tenth anniversary compilation album. The abridged version of "Suite: St. Helens" was selected and Landmarq were subsequently signed to the label. With the increasing complexity of their music, Landmarq's first vocalist, Bob Daisley who had been with Quasar prior to Hitchings, departed to pursue simpler rock music. Actor-singer Rob Lewis-Jones was the eventual replacement but he declined to join the band full time, reluctant to set aside a promising stage musical career.

When SI Music signed Landmarq to record their debut album Solitary Witness the band was in a precarious position -- they didn't have a lead vocalist. The album was actually recorded at Thin Ice Studios, a collaboration of Clive Nolan and Karl Groom and co-resident with the Verglas Music label in Virgina Water, outside of London.

Tracy Hitchings was asked to do the work and she accepted the job, but SI Music, having just released her solo album, intervened saying it wasn't a good idea that she do this job as well. Landmarq was asked to find another vocalist and the search began. After hearing some of Damian Wilson's work with Karl Groom's "Blue Heat" project at the studio, Landmarq called him in at the 11th hour to put the vocal tracks down for the album's 1992 release.

Damian stuck with the band for several years while also working with Threshold which earned him the coveted Vocalist Of The Year award from the Classic Rock Society. He was offered a more attractive deal with LaSalle and left the band after the second album Infinity Parade (1993). After almost a full year's search, Ian 'Moon' Gould was brought in to take over. Although Moon also won Vocalist Of The Year from the Classic Rock Society for his work with the band, artistic differences within the group arose and he departed before the band's next album was completed.

Tracy Hitchings
from Landmarq's
Science Of Conicidence

Image © Synergy Records 1998

Wilson, having concluded his contract with LaSalle, returned to Landmarq as the lead vocalist to complete The Vision Pit (1995) and Tracy Hitchings came in to do backing vocals (credited on "Hanblechia"). A European tour followed the album's release but Wilson moved onto other projects almost immediately after. A variety of other circumstances led to several of Landmarq's artists (Uwe D'Rose, Dave Wagstaffe and Steve Gee) accepting an opportunity to tour Europe in John Wetton's backing band in late 1995 with Tracy Hitchings in tow as their backing vocalist. Only two weeks after returning home, Landmarq went back to Europe for another tour. With Damian Wilson's numerous other projects taking priority, a firm decision was made that he would leave the band.

Interestingly, if the sequence of Tracy's solo and Landmarq's debut releases had either been reversed or spread by a few more months, both Tracy's and Landmarq's history could have been entirely different!

After her solo album in 1991, Tracy recorded the the lead vocals for the title track of Gandalf's Gallery Of Dreams. A series of other guests including Steve Hackett (Genesis) appear on the album; Tracy also did some backing vocal work on the recording. The title track is a typical Hitchings ballad, similar to her singing of "Sensing A Presence" and "The Vision Clears" from the second Strangers On A Train album or "The Loreli" from the Quasar recording. Although the dates in the liner notes (recorded May - November 1991) and the Sony / Columbia Music (Austria) outer sleeve (1987) disagree, the later date, after her solo album was released is correct.

Gallery Of Dreams
Gandalf's Gallery Of Dreams
Image © Columbia Records 1989

In 1992 Tracy flew to Stavanger, Norway to work on an album of pop-rock songs written and produced by Teri Refnes. Sadly, contractual disagreements halted the release Rainbow's End (Sir Production Norway) and the results of this chapter in Tracy's history is one that very few have ever heard. In 1993, Tracy made a guest appearance on the German progressive band Ulysses debut album entitled Neronia (Pyra Music) where she sings "Teenage Sweethearts" and "Forever Lost." The album was recorded at Thin Ice Studios.

Ulysses' Neronia
Image © Pyra Music 1993

The second installment of the Strangers On A Train trilogy, The Key Part 2: The Labyrinth was released on SI Music in 1993. The album again found Tracy working with Clive Nolan. Here Tracy's passionate vocal style perfectly compliments male vocalist Alan Reed in a series of duets and solo numbers Nolan created. With substantial additional instrumentation and light percussion, Nolan builds up the music incredibly with themes developed in the first being carried into and further explored in the followup. The duets add another dimension to the sound and further add to the overall theatrical presentation of the two albums' music working as an integrated whole. The Labyrinth was subsequently reissued by Verglas Music in 1998.

Tracy Hitchings
from Gandalf's
To Our Children's Children
Image © Seagull Music 1994

In 1994, Gandalf's To Our Children's Children was released on SI Music. Recorded between February and August 1993, Tracy contributed significantly to the album's overall sound with lead vocal work on five tracks which alternate with the album's remaining four instrumental numbers. Both song names and lyrical themes involve protecting the environment, the changing world political scene, and generally saving the planet for later generations. Tracy's passionate singing style delivers the album's messages over well produced instrumentals provided by Gandalf himself and a guest bass player (Erich Buchebner), drummer (Peter Rosmanith) and a couple of other performers. Arranged more basically yet with a larger keyboard content than the earlier Gandalf album she performed on, To Our Children's Children has a closer feel to the Strangers On A Train albums after repeated listenings than meets the ear when hearing it first. There are obvious classical derivations, sensitive keyboard and synthesizer voices to give the album a highly symphonic, almost new age feel to it. With SI Music no longer trading, the album remains available on Seagull Music (Austria).

To Our Children's Children
Gandalf's To Our Children's Children
Image © Seagull Music/SI Music 1994

Tracy joined Karl Groom's 'Blue Heat' project during 1994 to explore the quirkier side of pop music. Interestingly, she took over for Damian Wilson who at the time had departed to rejoin Landmarq. Recorded in June/July 1996 at Thin Ice Studios the songs are said to be exciting and form a currently unreleased album entitled Dancing On Stones. The recording includes ten tracks with Tracy's vocals, Karl Groom on bass, Dave Sparrow on keys and Ian Salmon on guitar. Clive Nolan contributed orchestral arrangements on one of the tracks. Tracy was also featured on Channel 4 TV's The Big Breakfast during this period (eat your heart out Denise VanOuten!).

During these years and in the years that followed, Tracy recorded backing vocals or contributed otherwise to a series of Shadowland albums by Strangers On A Train artists Clive Nolan and Karl Groom. She is thanked within the liner notes of Ring Of Roses (1992) and Through The Looking Glass (1993). She was part of the choir working alongside Landmarq regulars Dave Wagstaffe, Damian Wilson and Mike Varty ( Janison Edge) and others for the Shadowland album Mad As A Hatter (1996). Tracy also contributed to the 1993 Peter Gee album Heart Of David and the 1995 Pendragon recording Masquerade Overture.

In search of new challenges, Tracy assumed the lead vocalist role in Landmarq in 1998. In addition to providing lead vocals, Tracy co-wrote many of the songs on their stunning vocally-centered album, Science Of Coincidence (1998). The CD was recorded Arena Studios in the Docklands, produced by Mike Stobbie with the drums being recorded at Nolan/Groom's Thin Ice Studio and was released on the band's own Synergy Records label.

Image © Landmarq & Synergy Records 1999 (from their website)
Science Of Coincidence
Image © Synergy Records 1998

With a total running time over an hour, the album's eight song-based progressive rock tracks include two almost epic-length features. The first, a dramatic nautically-based song entitled "Lighthouse" uses word 'landmark' frequently within its lyrics. The album's final track, called "The Overlook" is explores the instrumental talents of the artists extensively. The songs work well together and the album has been thoughtfully integrated to deliver a total sound. With many sound effects used within the song, "More Flames For The Dancer" includes Tracy Hitchings-arranged choir work by the 'Landmarquettes' - a vocal ensemble that includes at least some of the artists' children. Science Of Coincidence is well produced and a very strong vocal album with occasionaly multi-tracking that clearly illustrates Tracy's extensive range, sheer vocal power and passionate theatricality. Her contributions have clearly certainly brought a unique flavour to the already instrumentally strong Landmarq.

Since the album's release and a brief European appearance, Landmarq has opened for Marillion and Karl Groom's prog-metal group Threshold. From Tracy's debut appearance with the Landmarq, it was clear that she would be a popular choice of vocalist. To promote the album, performances are being scheduled in the UK (Brentwood) and in Europe. Landmarq's next album is currently being written and should emerge before the end of 1999.

Recorded between 1996 and 1998, Clive Nolan and Oliver Wakeman's Jabberwocky (1999) is the most recent release featuring Tracy's vocal work. The album was released on the Verglas Music label in early 1999. In this highly conceptual masterwork, Tracy plays the girl in a musically theatrical story. She performs a stunning and highly memorable solo entitled "Glimmer Of Light" and has extensive lyrically theatrical vocal parts in "Dangerous World" and "Dancing Water"; she also contributes smaller sections to several other tracks and performs in the album's choir.

Image © Verglas Music 1998
Click on the cover for album review
Tracy Hitchings
Image © Landmarq & Synergy Records 1999

Landmarq completed 1999 with their first album of live recordings entitled Thunderstruck (Synergy Records (UK) SYN003). Unlike many of the year's live progressive rock albums, Thunderstruck contains stunning new arrangements of four classic Landmarq tunes tailored to effectively showcase Tracy's vocals since these were originally sung by male vocalists (mostly Damian Wilson). Combined with tracks from their latest album, Thunderstruck is actually a 'best of' compilation. There are additional live recordings in the archives and the band may release a 'part two' especially with significant interest being generated from this initial release of live recordings. The well-produced booklet accompanying the compact disc contains a vast number of photographs effectively commemorating the band's live performances.

Thunderstruck - Landmarq's first live album
Image © Synergy Records 1999
Steve Leigh & Tracy Hitchings
Steve Leigh and Tracy Hitchings
Image © Landmarq 1999

The live instrumental work captured on the album is superb; vocals have been mixed very perfectly to produce the full effect of Tracy's live performance theatricality. Thunderstruck features a dramatic live version of "Pinewood Avenue" from The Vision Pit and a wonderful rendition of the melodic and keyboard-laced "Borders" originally released on Solitary Witness (one of our favourites). Equally impressive are the live Hitchings versions of "Tailspin" and "Solitary Witness" originally from Landmarq's Infinity Parade.

A high octane version of their latest album's title track engineered to perfection will delight Tracy's fans. Live versions of other songs from Science Of Coincidence also include tremendous performances of "Between Sleeping And Dreaming," "The Overlook" and an extended version of "Summer Madness." The album effectively captures the ambiance of Landmarq's live performances—a must listen for those that have seen the band (review) or those that hope to someday do so.

Tracy Hitchings is a wonderful vocalist with tremendous power, a wide range and a unique theatrical style not often found in progressive music. While many of her recordings are generally available today through progressive rock music dealers and / or online sources (see below), three recordings are currently much sought after. These include her solo album From Ignorance To Ecstasy, which has just been reissued, and the yet to be released album Dancing On Stones as well as Teri Refnes' album, Rainbow's End. Although 1999 has brought us the solo album reissue and a new Landmarq album, the other rarities must emerge commercially to permit Tracy Hitchings' newest fans to obtain complete collections of her known recordings.

This article is always under construction. Please return to read updates as the details are filled in.

The following guide might be useful to those interested in acquiring Tracy Hitchings' recordings on CD:

Tracy Hitchings' Albums

Artist Listing Album Name (Year) Label and Catalog Number
Quasar The Loreli (1989) Progressive International PRO QU2, 1991  
Strangers On A Train The Key Part 1: The Prophecy (1990) Verglas Music VGCD011, 1997
1, 2, 3
Tracy Hitchings From Ignorance To Ecstacy (1991) Verglas Music VGCD016, 1999
2, 4
Gandalf Gallery Of Dreams (1991) Sony/Columbia (Austria) 481488-2, 1987
1, 3, 5
Ulysses Neronia (1993) Pyra Music PYRCD 1001
Strangers On A Train The Key Part 2: The Labyrinth (1993)   Verglas Music VGCD013, 1998
1, 2, 3
Gandalf To Our Childrens' Children (1994) SI Music/Seagull SIMPly 66/041266-2
3, 5
Landmarq Science Of Coincidence (1998) Synergy Records SYN002
3, 4, 6
C Nolan & O Wakeman   Jabberwocky (1999) Verglas Music VGCD014
1, 2, 3, 4

Potential Sources for the CDs

1:    E-mail Greg Walker
Website Synphonic
P. O. Box 2034
La Habra, CA 90632 USA
Phone/Fax (562) 947-1576
M-F after 1800 PST; Sat anytime

2:    E-mail Verglas Music
Website Verglas Music
P.O. Box 19
Virginia Water
Surrey GU25 4YE
United Kingdom
3:    E-mail German Music Express
Website German Music Express
Postbus 1291
6040 KG Roermond
The Netherlands
E-mail GFT Website GFT
GFT Compact Disc Mail Order
33a Tolworth Park Road, Tolworth
Surrey KT6 7RL
United Kingdom
Phone +44(0)181 339 9965 (M-F)
Fax +44(0)191 399 0070 (24 hr)
5:    Seagull Music
Ing. Heinz Strobl
Rechte Bahnstr. 10
A-3021 Pressbaum
Tel/Fax +43(0)2233-54965
6:    E-mail Synergy Records
Website The Spiral Staircase
Synergy Records
196 Lea View House
Springfield, London E5 9EA
United Kingdom
Phone +44 (0)20 8806 8418

Acknowledgements: The author would like to thank Tracy Hitchings, Clive Nolan, Steve Gee, Dave Wagstaffe, the Landmarq website and the Dutch Progressive Rock Page for their valuable input and assistance in the preparation of this online article. A special thanks to Quasar's Keith Turner for his input and permission to use band and album images within this project. We are also grateful for the direct support received from the Verglas Music (UK) and Seagull Music (Austria) labels and the images provided by record labels Verglas, Seagull, Synergy (UK), SI Music (Netherlands), Sony/Columbia (Austria) and M.C.P.S/Progressive International, as well as internet resources, the Dutch Progressive Rock Page and the Landmarq website. Our sincerest and most special thanks to Clive Nolan and Michelle Young who generously spent an afternoon with us to talk about their music earlier this year. Clive's recommendation to to try Tracy Hitchings and Strangers On A Train actually provided the impetus for this work. The rest, as they say, "is history."

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