15. The Last Dance - Farewell MAGNUM
In spring and summer 1995 the band went on another tour at some venues around Birmingham to cut travelling costs, support acts were local bands like THE QUEST or BIG GUNS. They also played a few gigs in Sweden with MILLION as support because that country had been left out during the tour the year before. The setlist was generally the same as on the last tour.
Tony wrote eleven new songs for the next album, three of which were to be called “Baby Blue“, “Looking For A Way“ (earlier called “Miles and Miles“) and “Perpetual Commotion“. These songs were put on a demo that was sent out to some record companies as the EMI deal had expired, too. They went back to the studio in autumn to work on more songs for the next album and came up with four more songs, two of which were “Revelations“, and “Different Kind Of Love“
However, Tony had recently become tired of what MAGNUM were doing and of what MAGNUM did to him. The fans were expecting an album and a tour, year after year, and every song he wrote had to be MAGNUM-style. Increasingly, he felt like a prisoner in his own cage. No major label came up to sign them and the money was getting tight. By the end of September, he told the others that he was going to quit! The rest of the band were gobsmacked.
Nobody had been expecting this. First they tried to convince Tony to stay, which was fruitless. Then they thought of simply hiring a new guitarist and carrying on, but they were about to lose much more than a guitar player. Being the only songwriter, Tony was essential for the band, and his very own style had always given the band their unique character. So Bob and the others realized that it was pointless to carry on without him. In the end they convinced Tony to do one last tour with them to say goodbye to the fans and to find a decent end for MAGNUM.
Ollie Catley, who ran the info-service, and Ashley, chief editor of the “Nitelight“-magazine broke the news to the fans a few days later. Most fans, including me, were shattered and could hardly believe it.
The farewell tour was unique in MAGNUM's history. Hardly had there been so many emotions on a tour with a band really rocking their heads off and with fans (and musicians) weeping at the end of the concerts, especially at the very last one. On stage everything appeared to be in perfect harmony but behind the scenes the impression was different. Tony seemed to be very relaxed and relieved, Bob was sad, Mickey wasn't sure where to go and what to do and Wally was very grumpy and didn't feel like talking to anyone. Mark announced in the “Nightlight“-magazine that he was thinking of a solo album to be called “An Event Of Sequences”, with six songs for it being already complete and that Mickey and Laurence Archer would also be playing on it. He is still to prove he meant it…
The band covered most countries in which they had built up their reputation over so many years: Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland, and, of course, the UK ,with the very last MAGNUM gigs being staged on December 16th and 17th in Wolverhampton's Wulfrun Hall. A live album and video were announced to be recorded during the tour to be released and marketed shortly afterwards through the “Nitelight“-magazine. The running order of the last tour was the same as on the farewell album, a double CD aptly named “The Last Dance“. It was a greatest hits show that would satisfy every fan in the audience: “Intro“, “Changes“, “Back To Earth“, “Just Like An Arrow“, “Love's A Stranger“, “Les Morts Dansant“, ”Two Hearts“, “Rock Heavy“, “How Far Jerusalem“, “The Tall Ships“, “Wild Swan“, “Start Talking Love“, “Rocking Chair“, “Vigilante“, “Kingdom Of Madness“, “Drum Solo (End To End)“,“Tell-Tale Eyes“, “The Last Dance“ and “Sacred Hour“. The show was started by an intro tape with an old Vera Lynn song, “We’ll Meet Again“ which eventually merged with the Prokoviev intro. Bob was so full of emotions that he mixed up the two stanzas of “Start Talking Love“ (he kept it that way until MAGNUM’s reunion tour).
The German part of the last tour had been staged by the Rainer Hänsel Konzertbüro, who also had a little record company, CBH-records. Their recordings were marketed and distributed by SPV Records and so “The Last Dance“ came out in Germany on SPV on 20th May 1996. The cover, designed by Mark Wilkinson, showed a beautiful elf girl and a white unicorn in a dark cave, illuminated by a bright full moon.
As the album was really difficult to get in the UK, Receiver Records bought the rights for Britain and put out their own edition in 1997. The name was changed into “Stronghold“, it got a new Rodney Matthews cover with a fortress on a remote hill in the middle of a jungle. Four tracks from the Christmas concerts 1992 were added, “Only In America“, “You're The One“, “The Spirit“ and “Days Of No Trust“. Two of them were presumably intended as bonus tracks for the “You're The One“ single, which was never released though.
As soon as the last concert was over, the band dispersed. Tony returned to his studio to work on his new songs and asked Bob to help him record the demos. Wally sold all his guitars and quit the rock music business for good. Mark became a successful businessman and played in 3M (Classic Whitesnake) with Bernie Marsden. Mickey first recorded “Devil’s Canyon” with MOLLY HATCHET, then he was given the opportunity to drum on the debut album of a new American band, THE HOLOGRAMS, who were with CBH records, too. He also went on tour with them in Germany supporting MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND. After some engagements in local Birmingham bands he joined a folk rock band called THE BUSHBURY MOUNTAIN DAREDEVILS or short