January 28, 2004 – Melvyn Paul “Mel” Pritchard was born in Oldham, Lancashire, England on January 20th 1948.
Mel and lifelong friend Les Holroyd were together at Derker Secondary Modern school where they joined a school band, then went on to form Heart and Soul and Oldham blues-rock band called The Wickeds. The band gained a good reputation playing semi-professional gigs. After adding two members from a rival band, the Keepers, the group emerged as Barclay James Harvest in 1966.
Initially signed to EMI, releasing a single on Parlophone in 1968, they recorded five albums for Harvest. Idiot rock journalists called the band “The Poor Man’s Moody Blues” because they had the need to classify every genre as a pigeonhole, rather than discover music for what it is. Tracks like “She Said” and “Mockingbird” were of extreme quality and originality, which probably resulted in the band persevering, in spite of lackluster commercial success.
BJH developed a large fanbase on the European continent, which led to a 1973 recording contract with Polydor and the amazing Barclay James Harvest – Live album a year later, followed by their trademark Mellotron driven subsequent albums.
After being seriously injured in a car accident, Pritchard refused to give up, but changed to a less stressing way of drumming with eventually switching to a less strenuous electronic drum kit.
He stayed with the band throughout its history, resulting in 23 studio and live albums between 1970-1997. Following the band’s split in that year, Mel worked with his friend and bassist Les Holroyd in his band “Barclay James Harvest featuring Les Holroyd”
He died in his sleep on January 28, 2004 of a heart attack at the age of 56.