With a 30-year history, IQ are widely regarded as one of the world’s most highly respected progressive rock bands. The group was formed in 1981 by guitarist Mike Holmes and keyboard player Martin Orford. They recruited bassist Tim Esau that year, followed by vocalist Peter Nicholls and drummer Paul Cook in 1982, when they released their first cassette album ‘Seven Stories Into Eight’. Constant gigging throughout the UK led to them becoming a regular fixture at London’s legendary Marquee Club.


Their first vinyl album ‘Tales From The Lush Attic’ was released in 1983, and was followed by the genre-defining classic ‘The Wake’ in 1985. Shortly after a live set ‘Living Proof’ was released in 1986 featuring music from the first two albums.However, tensions within the band, plus a punishing live schedule, resulted in the departure of Peter Nicholls in 1985, at the end of a UK tour with Wishbone Ash.


With new singer Paul Menel, the band headlined London’s Piccadilly Theatre and secured a lucrative record deal with Phonogram. New studio albums ‘Nomzamo’ (1987) and ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ (1989) were promoted by extensive European tours with Magnum and Mike And The Mechanics.


In 1990, dissatisfied with the lack of support from Phonogram, Paul Menel and Tim Esau left IQ. The remaining members recruited Les ‘Ledge’ Marshall on bass and a chance meeting with Peter Nicholls led to his rejoining the band, but tragedy struck when Les died suddenly and unexpectedly in the summer of that year.The 1991 release of the live and rarities album ‘J’ai Pollette d’Arnu’ was a significant event, being the first release on Giant Electric Pea, a new label founded by members and associates of IQ. This year also saw the arrival of John Jowitt as the band’s new bassist.


With a stable line-up once more, IQ resumed live work in the UK, Europe and North America while also writing new songs which would form the basis of ‘Ever’ (1993). The sumptuous live box set ‘Forever Live’ was released in 1996, followed in 1997 by the band’s magnum opus, the monumental double concept album ‘Subterranea’. This was supported by a completely new multi-media live presentation, featuring the album performed in full, which earned the band universal acclaim.


In 1998, IQ re-recorded their first cassette album as ‘Seven Stories into ’98’ and released the rarities album ‘The Lost Attic’ in 1999. New studio album ‘The Seventh House’ followed in 2000, and 2002 saw the release of the ‘Subterranea: The Concert’ DVD. The release of 2004’s ‘Dark Matter’ and the ‘IQ20’ 20th Anniversary Concert DVD saw IQ back at the very top of the progressive rock tree. ‘Dark Matter’ was voted Album of the Year in countless music magazines around the world.


In 2005, Paul Cook left IQ after 23 years’ service. He was replaced by Andy Edwards (ex-Robert Plant Band) who features on the 2-DVD live set ‘Stage’, filmed in the USA and Germany that year. Another line-up change followed in 2007 with the departure of Martin Orford after 26 years. His replacement was Mark Westworth, formerly with Darwin’s Radio. After a short autumn tour in 2007, IQ set about completing work on their next studio album.


2009 saw the release of ‘Frequency’, IQ’s ninth studio album, a musical tour de force which found the band still very much at the top of their game. It received universally positive reviews. Andy Edwards’ decision to leave the band led to the return of original drummer Paul Cook, and in 2010 IQ marked the 25th anniversary of their seminal album ‘The Wake’ with the release of a deluxe 4-disc collector’s box set featuring a host of previously unheard studio outtakes, demos and live tracks. The accompanying tour resulted in a live CD/DVD of the album performed in its entirety, filmed in Zoetermeer, Holland. At the end of the year, Mark Westworth and John Jowitt both announced their departures from the group.


2011 is IQ’s 30th anniversary year. The arrival of keyboard player Neil Durant and the return of bassist Tim Esau finds the band celebrating this landmark in their illustrious career with four original members in the line-up. IQ are currently performing live shows throughout Britain and Europe.

Current members

Peter Nicholls – vocals, backing vocals (1981–1985, 1990–)

Mike Holmes – guitars (1981–)

Paul Cook – drums (1982–2005, 2009–)

Neil Durant – keyboardist (2011-)

Tim Esau – bass guitar (1981–1989, 2011-)


Seven Stories into Eight (cassette) (1982)

Tales from the Lush Attic (1983)

The Wake (1985)

Nomzamo (1987)

Are You Sitting Comfortably? (1989)

Ever (1993)

Subterranea (1997)

The Seventh House (2000)

Dark Matter (2004)

Frequency (2009)

Live Albums

Living Proof (live) (1986)

J’ai Pollette D’arnu (1991) (b-sides and live tracks)

Forever Live (1996)

Subterranea : The Concert (2000)

The Archive Collection: IQ20 (2003) (“official bootleg” of live concert)

The Wake in Concert (2010)


Forever Live (VHS/CD set 1996, DVD set 2007)

Subterranea : The Concert (DVD, 2000)

IQ20 – The Twentieth Anniversary Show (VHS 2000, DVD 2004)

Live From London (DVD, recorded 13 May 1985 in London, 2005)

IQ Stage (DVD, 2006)

Forever Live (DVD, 2007)

The Wake in Concert (DVD, 2010)


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