The Chameleons

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The Chameleons
Also known as The Chameleons UK
Origin Middleton, England
Genres Post-punk
Years active 1981–1987, 2000–2003
  • Epic
  • Statik
  • Geffen
  • Paradiso
  • Glass Pyramid
  • Artful
Associated acts
  • Years
  • The Cliches
  • The Politicians
  • Magazine
  • The Sun and the Moon
  • The Reegs
  • Invincible
  • Bird
  • Bushart
  • Black Swan Lane
  • Red Sided Garter Snakes
  • ChameleonsVox
Past members Reg Smithies
Dave Fielding
Mark Burgess
Brian Schofield
John Lever
Martin Jackson
Alistair Lewthwaite
Andy Clegg
Kwasi Asante

The Chameleons (known as The Chameleons UK in North America)[1] were an English post-punk[2] band formed in Middleton, Greater Manchester in 1981. The band originally consisted of singer and bassist Mark Burgess, guitarist Reg Smithies, guitarist Dave Fielding and drummer John Lever (replacing original drummer Brian Schofield). They released six studio albums and one EP before disbanding in 2003.

Burgess alone continues to play Chameleons songs live under the name ChameleonsVox.


Early career

The Chameleons were formed in Middleton, England in 1981 by Burgess, Smithies, Fielding and Schofield. Burgess previously played with the band The Cliches; Smithies and Fielding with the band Years. Schofield was soon replaced by Lever (from The Politicians).[citation needed]

After performing several radio sessions for BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel,[3] The Chameleons were signed to Epic Records and in 1982 released their debut single, "In Shreds".[4]

Their contract with Epic soon ended, and the band signed to Statik Records and released their debut studio album in 1983, Script of the Bridge. Their second and final album for Statik, What Does Anything Mean? Basically, was released in 1985. Following this, The Chameleons signed to Geffen Records, releasing their third studio album, Strange Times. Following the sudden death of the band's manager Tony Fletcher, The Chameleons disbanded.[4]


In 1990, The Chameleons posthumously released an EP, Tony Fletcher Walked on Water.... La La La La La-La La-La-La, with the title paying tribute to their former manager.

Burgess and Lever formed The Sun and the Moon, who released an eponymous studio album on Geffen in 1988.[2] Smithies and Fielding formed The Reegs, who released two albums, Return of the Sea Monkeys (1991) and Rock the Magic Rock (1993). Lever later joined Bushart, who released the album Yesterday Is History (2008). Burgess released his debut solo album in 1993, touring America the following year,[4] and also worked with Invincible, Bird and Black Swan Lane.


File:The Chameleons vox (Rock in den Ruinen 2013) IMGP3855 smial wp.jpg
ChameleonsVox performing at Rock in den Ruinen festival in Dortmund, Germany

The Chameleons reconvened in January 2000 to prepare for a May tour of England, which was followed by further, international tours.[4] 2000 also saw the release of the album Strip, featuring older material reworked in an acoustic format. After a final studio album, 2001's Why Call It Anything, another unplugged album (This Never Ending Now) and a reunion tour which took them across Europe and the United States, the band dissolved once again in early 2003.[5]

In 2009, Burgess and Lever reformed to play Chameleons back catalogue material, under the name ChameleonsVox. They issued an EP, M+D=1(8), in November 2013.[6]

In 2014, Lever and Fielding reunited to record an album as Red Sided Garter Snakes. The group's album, Endless Sea, also featuring contributions from vocalist James Mudriczki (of Puressence) and Clegg, is due for July 2015 release.[7]


The Chameleons

Main lineup

  • Mark Burgess - vocals, bass (1981-1987, 2000-2003)
  • Reg Smithies - guitar (1981-1987, 2000-2003)
  • Dave Fielding - guitar (1981-1987, 2000-2003)
  • John Lever - drums (1981, 1983-1987, 2000-2003)

Other members

  • Brian Schofield - drums (1981)
  • Martin Jackson - drums (1982)
  • Kwasi Asante - percussion (2001-2003)

The core quartet were augmented by keyboardists Alistair Lewthwaite and Andy Clegg for live shows in the 1980s, and by percussionist-vocalist Kwasi Asante during their reunion period. Former Magazine drummer Martin Jackson also briefly replaced Lever during 1982–83 while the latter was on sabbatical).


  • Mark Burgess - vocals, bass
  • Neil Dwerryhouse - guitar
  • Chris Oliver - guitar
  • Yves Altana - drums
  • Roger Lavallee - guitar


Studio albums
  • "In Shreds"/"Less Than Human" (1982)
  • "Up the Down Escalator"/"Monkeyland"/"Prisoners of the Sun" (1983)
  • "As High as You Can Go"/"Pleasure and Pain"/"Paper Tigers" (1983)
  • "A Person Isn't Safe Anywhere These Days"/"Thursday's Child"/"Prisoners of the Sun" (1983)
  • "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)"/"Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)" (live)/"Pleasure and Pain"(live) (1985)
  • "Tears"/"Paradiso"/"Inside Out" (1986)
  • "Swamp Thing"/"John, I'm Only Dancing" (1986)
Live albums
  • Live at the Markthalle, Hamburg (1985)
  • John Peel Sessions (1990)
  • Tripping Dogs (1992)
  • Here Today... Gone Tomorrow (1992)
  • Live in Toronto (1992)
  • Aufführung in Berlin (1993)
  • The Radio 1 Evening Show Sessions (1993)
  • Free Trade Hall Rehearsal (1993)
  • Live Shreds (1996)
  • Recorded Live at the Gallery Club Manchester, 18th December 1982 (1996)
  • Live at the Witchwood (2000)
  • Live at the Academy (2002)
  • Acoustic Sessions (2010)
Compilation albums
  • The Fan and the Bellows (1986)
  • Dali's Picture (1993)
  • Northern Songs (1994)
  • Return of the Roughnecks – The Best of The Chameleons (1997)
Video releases
  • Live at the Camden Palace (1985)
  • Arsenal (1995)
  • Resurrection Live (2001)
  • Live at the Gallery Club & The Hacienda, Manchester (2002)
  • Live from London (2004)
  • Singing Rule Britannia – The Chameleons Live (2004)
  • Ascension (2006)


  1. Palmer, Robert (15 October 1986). "The Pop Life". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kellman, Andy. "Sun & the Moon | Music Biography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Blocksidge, David; Clarey, Tina (1 June 1984). "The Chameleons". City Fun. Retrieved 15 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ankeny, Jason. "The Chameleons UK | Music Biography, Credits and Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "The Chameleons – News". The Chameleons. Retrieved 15 July 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Mark Burgess' ChameleonsVox debuts video for 'Sycophants' — first new music in 10 years — slicing up eyeballs // 80s alternative music, college rock, indie". 21 November 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links