2000
2001
2002
1964-1981 1982-1999
 
From left:  
Guy LeBlanc:  keyboards : vocals
Denis Clement :  Drums
Colin Bass : Bass, vocals
Andrew Latimer : Guitars, vocals
2000

Life's what happens when you're busy making plans...no sooner did the dust seem to settle than a storm blew up that surpassed everyone's worst nightmares. It began in late 1999...

As Camel arranged the early preparations for their Y2K tour to tour with 'Rajaz', the clouds began to gather. At first, things proceeded smoothly with Latimer, Bass and Stewart eagerly anticipating their reunion and rehearsals for Y2K. Camel's UK agent, Paul Boswell, was dilligently booking performance dates and it was shaping up to be a more extensive tour for the band, with opportunities to perform in new countires. With the lineup of the trio seemingly solid, all thought it a straight-forward matter to arrange a keyboardist. A message from East coast promoter Rob La Duca reached CP in early 2000, with a simple suggestion to check out a French-Canadian keyboardist named Guy LeBlanc. Good ol' technology. LeBlanc, also an independent recording artist, had his own internet presence so it was merely a matter of visiting his site and listening to a few sound bites. Latimer promptly arranged to meet Guy LeBlanc.

In mid-March, Guy LeBlanc officially joined Camel for tour Y2K. It was smooth sailing for a whole 2 weeks when Camel Productions received an unexpected e-mail from drummer Dave Stewart saying he had accepted a position as manager of an Edinburgh drum shop and would not keep his commitment to the tour. Momentarily stunned by the news, Latimer, Bass and Hoover tried unsuccessfully to negotiate with Stewart, eventually accepting the need to replace him, albeit with great reluctance.

Bass suggested his former band-mate Clive Bunker who had once played with Jethro Tull. Bunker accepted the gig and arrived at Little Barn Studios for rehearsals on 4th August. Spirits were momentarily high but years of alternative playing styles hampered Bunker's ability to perform the difficult time-sequences demanded by Camel music and spirits quickly crashed. This, it would transpire, would be little more than a mere blip on the artistic landscape. Only 48 hours later a virtual tidal wave struck when manager Susan Hoover was seriously injured in a horse-riding accident. As the Life Flight Rescue heliopter lifted her skyward, it seemed tour plans would vanish into the clouds along with her.

Hoover would later quip "I wasn't about to take the hit for cancelling the tour". Insisting the band was made of sterner stuff, she refused to cancel the tour and promptly began working from her hospital bed. But there was still the problem of a drummer. Fortunately, LeBlanc had an ace up his sleeve. 10 days from the first performance, LeBlanc's compatriot, Denis Clement (pronounced Den-ee Clahmah) arrived at Little Barn studios. Despite being a completely unknown entity, it was clear after 10 minutes into their first 'jam' that he was the man they needed.

High energy replaced the tension and rehearsals began in earnest. On 21st September, Hoover left hospital in a wheel chair and 3 days later attended Camel's full scale rehearsal to hear Camel Y2K for the first time. 26th August saw the first official performance of the band where, at concerts end, Hoover received a standing ovation.

But of course it just wouldn't be interesting if it suddenly all went smoothly. Performing to sell-out crowds that were blown backward by the power and force of this lineup, events would catch Latimer up. Finally relaxed and his guard down, a cold virus firmly took hold after as many days as Clement had before the first performance. He would suffer throughout the tour, eventually losing his voice altogether in Holland. Upon reaching the UK in early October, Latimer chipped a bone in his knee, which was eventually nicknamed 'chip', but his cold would claim the Dublin performance at the 11th hour when doctors ordered him to rest or risk damaging his vocal chords. During the interim, Hoover recovered adequately to travel to the UK by 4th October and triumphantly walk, unaided, into the Cambridge gig. By the time the band hit Greece, Latimer was sufficiently recovered and Camel's Tour Y2K ended on the high note of a 'Lady Fantasy' sing-along as the Greeks gave the band a sendoff that would erase any thought of the previous drama, replacing it with a sense tremendous accomplishment and satisfaction.


In spring of 2001, Camel completed a much-anticipated tour of South and Central America. This segment of Y2K had been postponed from November 2000 due to prior committments of other band members and due to Latimer's need to return home not only to recover fully from the cold that had plagued him but also for knee surgery to remove 'Chip'. By Easter of 2001, Camel were enjoying the warm welcome of fans throughout the southern hemisphere.

On the 3rd March, Camel were included in the UK's Channel 4 television series 'Top Ten' (on Progressive Rock) which included interviews with Camel's original band members. Much was said about change, the good the bad and the ugly of it, but mostly the good. Andrew Latimer is keenly aware of his responsibility to the 'sound' that is Camel. Whatever changes the future may bring, Latimer will guide Camel carefully, always maintaining contact with the roots of Camel. As original drummer Andy Ward said in his interview 'change is a good thing and it's been good for Camel'.

2000
2001
2002
1964-1981 1982-1999
 
 
Watch this space
2002

It is now 2002 and the next chapter in Camel's history is gradually unfolding. Not unlike Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, there is much excitement yet to come.

Join us for the ride and the view...