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The Rev. Arthur Brown, born Arthur Wilton in Whitby, Yorkshire on 24 June 1942, is a British rock and roll singer known for his flamboyant, theatrical style and significant influence on shock rockers such as Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson.
Brown attended London University and Reading University and studied philosophy and law, but was also interested in taking advantage of his large vocal range of several octaves.
First coming to public awareness in the late 1960s, Brown quickly became known for his outlandish performances, which included setting his head on fire (actually a burning helmet) and performances in the nude. His debut album, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968) was a surprise hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The album included Pete Townshend as producer, and featured a major hit single entitled “Fire” (not to be confused with many later songs of the same title). His group was also called The Crazy World of Arthur Brown and included Carl Palmer (later of Emerson, Lake and Palmer) on drums and Vincent Crane (later of Atomic Rooster) on keyboards.
While on tour in the United States, Brown put on such outrageous stage shows that he was banned from performing in the country – the only musical artist to ever earn that particular distinction.
Though Brown never managed to release another recording as commercially successful as “Fire”, he did release three noteworthy albums as Kingdom Come in the early 1970s. (Arthur Brown’s Kingdom Come should not be confused with the hard rock/glam band of the same name from the 1980s.) The Kingdom Come albums featured a wild mix of progressive rock and demented theatrics, including Brown’s simulated crucifixion. Kingdom Come often performed in full costume with makeup, and photos of Brown from this period clearly show him sporting a distinctive eye makeup scheme that Alice Cooper borrowed. The third and final Kingdom Come album, Journey, is noteworthy for being one of the first (if not the first) rock albums to feature a drum machine.
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