The progressive rock group known as FM formed in Toronto, Canada, in 1976. The band began life as a duo as Cameron Hawkins supplied keyboards, vocals, and bass and Jeff Plewman -- aka the mysterious, bandage-swathed Nash the Slash -- added vocals, violin, and an electric mandolin. Those last two aren't exactly the usual instruments one expects to find in a rock band, but they fit in nicely. In a short time FM added a third artist, drummer Martin Deller. Over the years, other new blood stepped in, including drummers like Randy Cooke and Greg Critchley, guitarist Simon Brierley, and another electric mandolin player, Ben Mink. FM managed to complete a long list of albums and singles through the late '70s into the '80s, and even the '90s.
The year after they formed, FM released their debut album, Black Noise, and a two-sided single that carried the tunes "Phasors on Stun" and "Dialing for Dharma." The commendable debut album was re-released a year later, branching the group's fan base out from Canada and over into the United States. The re-release found its way in the growing market, and went gold for its Visa label. That same year a sophomore album hit the stores, Headroom: Direct-to-Disc. About the time FM began work on their next album, Surveillance, they ran into distributor trouble and a few financial tangles. Things moved along with a switch over to Capitol Records for distribution and the label Passport. Bad luck followed the group, and Passport shut its doors as well.
Over the next several years FM worked with various labels (Duke Street, MCA, and A&M) and a number of singles, a few more albums, and some reissues followed. By 1983 though, it seemed a lost cause, and the group called it quits. That would have been the end, but Nash the Slash, who had left the band years before for a solo career, brought the guys back together when he found himself in need of a band to tour with him. Quality Records gave the group a chance to do another album. Things didn't work out well, and maybe tired of swimming upstream against bad luck, FM split again in 1989.
In the horror movies, the monster always comes back to life, just when you are sure it is gone for good -- FM were just as hard-centered. So once again, this time in 1994, the group rose from the ashes, first with another reissue of Black Noise, and then a year later with the release of RetroActive on the Now See Hear label. It was probably no surprise that afterwards the group split up once more. Nash the Slash continued releasing his own albums into the 21st century, but, aside from the 2001 archival collection Lost in Space with tracks featuring Nash recording with FM, no further albums by the group were forthcoming. In 2006, FM briefly re-formed for a pair of concert appearances, featuring a lineup of Hawkins, Deller, and Italian violinist/mandolinist Claudio Vena. As for Nash the Slash, he announced his retirement from music on his website in 2012; he died in 2014 at the age of 66. ~ Charlotte Dillon
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