ometime at the end of 1965 in Edinburgh ...

was formed by

Robin Williamson, Clive Palmer &
Mike Heron

(Foto: Ian Ferguson, early 1966)

In November 1966 Heron and Williamson embarked on a short UK tour, supporting Tom Paxton and Judy Collins.






Since 1963 Robin Williamson and Clive Palmer were playing as a duo, principally at the Crown Bar in Edinburgh.
In 1965 the duo added Mike Heron as a third member.
The trio took the name
The Incredible String Band

(Foto: Ian Ferguson, 1966)

They recorded their first album, titled
"The Incredible String Band", at the Sound Techniques studio in London in May 1966. It was released in Britain and the United States
in June 1966.

It won the title of "Folk Album of the Year" in Melody Maker's annual poll.

Melody Maker 3-12-66
click on picture

Since August 1966 Robin and Mike played
as a duo.

(from the Albert Hall programme)

4th November 1966: First concert outside Scotland at the Royal Albert Hall, London


Julie Felix show, July 1967

Torino 3-5-67

In early 1967, they performed regularly at London clubs, including Les Cousins. Joe Boyd became the group's manager as well as producer, and secured a place for them at the Newport Folk Festival, on the bill with Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.

Foto: David Gahr

At the Newport Folk Festival 1967 with Judy Collins listening.

"The most beautiful songs and most inventive sounds on any scene bar none. Emphatically not to be missed."
The Observer

July 1967 release of the album

"The 5000 Spirits or The Layers Of The Onion"

(Crawdaddy Sept. 1967)

Incredible Band
From the Rack
By Jack Davis,
Published: Thursday, April 25, 1968

THE jacket cover is repulsive. It resembles the pop psychedelia used to sell Monkees' mysticism to 14-year-olds. If you bothered to decode the words "Incredible String Band," you still wouldn't buy--for fear of getting the New Christy Minstrels. The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Elektra Records) has been non-popular for months ("It sells about the level of Tim Buckley," reports a record store clerk); but it's of the same inventive class as John Wesley Harding and Sgt. Pepper.

The Incredible String Band is Robin Williamson and Mike Heron. They can play almost anything on almost almost anything--ranging from oriental to semi-calypso to blues, rock, classical guitar things and children's songs, blending all into their unclassifiable style using guitar, bowed gimbri, sitar, mandolin, flute, harmonica and an exotic percussion arsenal.

The ISB seems to have invented its own musical rules, and approaches each of its creations with the clarity and wonder of the voice in Williamson's "No Sleep Blues": "I mixed stones and water just to see what it would do; and the water it got stony and the stones got watery too."

SPARKED by brilliant musical performances and their sophisticated simplicity and variety of arrangement, the songs evoke, at different moments, Dylan's lyricism and the Lennon-McCartney precocity. Singing goodbye to "First Girl I Loved" (now 'a grown-up female stranger"), Williamson uses one of his awkwardly sensitive metaphors; "But in the white hills and behind many a long water, you have gathered flowers; and they do not smell for me." Heron, in "Painting Box," imagines himself out of a dark world: "My Friday evening's footsteps plodding dully through this black town are far far away now from the world that I'm in. My eyes are listening to some sounds that I think just might be springtime. With daffodils between my toes, I'm laughing at their whim."

Anomalous, intelligent, exuberant; perhaps important: More string than band, less string than incredible, incredible just the same.

Click on picture to enlarge

"The best folk record by far this year is The 5000 Spirits or The Layers of The Onion. The total result is musically the most sophisticated piece of exparimenting that the British pop world has seen for some time. If this extraordinary and exciting record can be compared to anything, it is to the Beatles Seargent Pepper LP: It deserves to have just as much effect on the music scene and should be just as difficult to imitate."
The Guardian

1967: Single
 "Painting Box / No Sleep Blues"

Joni Mitchell does small tour of England opening for The Incredible String Band

Queen Elizabeth Hall, 4-10-67 with Shirley & Dolly Collins on stage

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The Observer 8-10-67
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Melody Maker 3-12-66

Flyer (Elektra Records/BeGlad)

(Click to enlarge backside text)
(Scan by Gray Levett/Facebook ISBDisco.)

Only released as a promo single in 1967 "Way Back In The 1960's / Chinese White"

(Observer, July 1967)

On 1.8.67 appearance at Corries Folk Festival, Edinburgh

(click on image to enlarge)

October 4, 1967
Double bill with Shirley and Dolly Collins

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Lesandre & Mimi

Lesandre (l) and Mouse (r) with cardboard bull's face which they used when dancing to "minotaur's Song"

Mimi & Mouse who actually were Mimi (l) & Lesandre (r)

One of the first appearances of Mimi & Lesandre where at the Saville Theater October 1967

ISB and Mimi & Lesandre

(click on image to enlarge)

Click to read the whole article

Preview of concert in Leeds (click on image to enlarge)

"Their songs, backed by guitars, sitars, gimbri, drums, rattles, and battery-driven mini-organ, range from the beautiful to the bizarre and from weird to whimsical. Yet they are all impressive individually in one way or another and the Incredibles are two of the most original and exciting songwriters on any scene."

Melody Maker 1967

Click on picture to enlarge

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4