Roy Harper's life story up until this time could fill pages. He started his career during the skiffle boom of England's late 50s; and by the mid-60s, his busking had landed him a regular slot at the influential Les Cousins folk club. His first album was released in late 1966, and a couple of other albums followed for various labels, all produced by Shel Talmy.
Lars Hollmer, Hans Bruniusson, Lars Krantz and Henrik Bebben Öberg formed the Uppsala-based Samla Mammas Manna in 1969. Not your typical rock band, even by a long shot, they released their self-titled debut in 1971 on Sweden's Silence Records. Mostly centered on Hollmer's electric piano and organ, it was a mishmash of ideas and lo-fi recording in the keyboardist's chicken house. Subsequently, percussionist Öberg dropped out; and prior to their second album's recording, guitarist Coste Apetrea joined up.
Armed with a two-album deal from A&M Records (and reportedly signed by Herb Alpert) it was at manager Giorgio Gomelsky's request that Christian Vander firmly took the reins of Magma to realize his epic work, Mekanïk Destrukïw Kommandöh. It tells the story of Nebëhr Gudahtt, a sort of apocalyptic prophet from the planet Kobaia—Book of Revelations-type stuff, really. Recorded versions existed as early as January and the piece was performed in New York in July (with a horn section that included the Brecker Brothers); the album, however, is the grandest of presentations.