There has been some question as to the AMM lineup at various points in their history.  It is a complicated issue considering that the group has been around for nearly fifty years now and has constantly changed its membership over the years.  Additionally there have been plenty of guests, members at large and collaborative performances to further complicate the issue. Over the course of my reviews of the various bootlegs floating around I have made various assumptions w/r/t to the line up on a particular recording, some of which have conflicted with the information circulating with the sources.  In general the information that comes with the sources is highly suspect – they simply use information that is highly generalized or from sources that are not particularly accurate (the AMM page on Wikipedia is fairly useless for instance).  My process is to always start with principle sources, amend it with secondary sources and then to finally rely on the evidence of my ears. Based on this process I have complied the following timeline of AMM’s membership, all of which is verified via the sources cited.

AMM Timeline


Early 1965
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare(1)


Mid 1965
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Lawrence Sheaff (1, 5)

1966 to mid-1967
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Lawrence Sheaff, Cornelius Cardew (1, 2)

Cardew officially joins in January(2; p. 254)

Mid-1967 to April 1968
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Cornelius Cardew (1, 2, 8)

Lawrence Sheaff leaves group a few months after recording AMMMusic (8, 5, 1; p185) probably April 20th 1967

April 1968 to 1969
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Cornelius Cardew, Christian Wolff, Christopher Hobbs (1, 2, 5)

Christopher Hobbs joins April 1968 (2; p. 304)
Christian Wollf’s Sabbatical Year(1; p.185, 2; p.304)
John Tilbury filling in for Cardew at times
(1; p.185)

1969 to May 1971
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Cornelius Cardew, Christopher Hobbs (1, 2, 5)

Hobbs leaves the group in May 1971(2, p.650)

May 1971 to March 1972
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Cornelius Cardew (1, 2; p.650)

March 26th 1972 – final AMM show(2; p. 651)

AMM: double duos

March 1972 to January 1973

The occasional double AMM:  Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare and Cornelius Cardew, Keith Rowe(1, 2; p. 651)


mid-1972 to 1975
Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare (1, 2, 3)


Summer 1976
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, Lou Gare, Cornelius Cardew(1; p.186, 2l p.816)

Unrecorded, no performances, practices only, which apparently didn’t work out.


1977 to 1979
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost (1, 2, 3)

(1979/80:  Supersession: Evan Parker/Keith Rowe/Barry Guy/Edwin Prévost)


late 1980 to 1986
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, John Tilbury  (1, 3)

1986 to 1994
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, John Tilbury, Rohan de Saram (1, 3)

1989(?) to 1992
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, John Tilbury, Rohan de Saram, Lou Gare(4)

1994 to mid-2004
Keith Rowe, Edwin Prévost, John Tilbury

May 1st 2004:  Final AMM show


2005 to present
Edwin Prévost, John Tilbury


The sixties are of course the most contentious, being a long time ago and featuring the largest amount of changes. Cardew joining, Sheaff leaving in 1967, Hobbs and Wolff joining and then the fracture in the 70s. Tilbury’s Cardew bio goes a long way to providing specific dates for some events though others remain somewhat vague (no specific date for Sheaff leaving the group for instance just “April 1967, though his last concert with the group is mentioned, as being at the Commonwealth Institute which the Factsheet(5) lists only one in April on the 20th.

1968 to 1970
The information that I begin with for AMM from 1968 to their breakup in 1972 is primarily sourced from Prévost’s article AMM 1965/1994 — a brief and mostly chronological historical summary published in No Sound is Innocent(4) :

In 1968 American composer Christian Wolff joined the ensemble for the duration of his sabbatical year in Britain. Also during this time Christopher Hobbs, a percussionist and composition student of Cardew’s, at the Royal Academy of Music, regularly performed with AMM. John Tilbury occasionally participated when Cardew was not present.

From the early 1970s until the fracture of AMM in 1972 the ensemble remained the quartet: Cardew, Gare, Prévost and Rowe.” (4, p.185)

1969 is a question: was Christian Wolff’s “sabbatical year” – was it a school year, so Autumn 1968 to Summer 1969? Or was it literally 1968?  Additionally by saying that Hobbs played “during this time” does Prévost mean exclusively during Wolff’s time? Considering that Hobbs is part of the group for The Crypt sessions (12th June, 1968) but not Wolff I’d say this is the case.  This is further backed up by the fact that Hobbs was part of the group ion December 1969 when they played in Denmark as released as part of the Laminal box set. Thus I think that that sentence is too compress, it seems that Hobbs was a part of AMM from 1968/1969 presumably starting around the time that Wolff did. Alas there are no AMM recordings floating around with Christian Wolff , leaving this as one of the most egregious missing eras in the historical record. In the various bootlegs floating around It seems to be generally assumed that Hobbs is still part of group in 1970 and there has been some question as to why I don’t always follow this assumption. Again it is the above quote that by “early 1970 the ensemble remained the quartet”.  Clearly Hobbs left at this point but what exactly qualifies as the “early 70s”? Of the two bootlegs that I have in question from this period (Jan. and Feb. 1970) it sounds like there are two percussionists in the January recording and only one on the February recording. Thus I make the cutoff here.

In the 70s the originally group came to an end but several interesting events occurred. First off due to prior commitments the group had a tour and a festival in the Netherlands. With irreconcilable differences between the Rowe/Cardew and Gare/Prévost camps they played as the double duos. Gare/Prévost presumably playing as they would in AMM II but the Cardew/Rowe duo is completely unheard at this point. The record indicates that they were more in the traditionally abstract AMM realm (as opposed to Gare/Prévost’s more ‘free jazz’ sound) and would often play over tapes of the Peking Opera and other such revolutionary sound musics). AMM II would be the other major event of the mid 70s, this was the continuing duo of Gare and Prévost, who constantly got billed as AMM so they rolled with it. At the end of the 70s when the duo of Rowe and Prévost formed they used AMM III a the moniker indicated that the Gare/Prévost duo was AMM II, which I’ve used throughout.

The most strange and interesting things though occurred in 1976 when Rowe made an attempt to get the quartet back together again. There was a concert on April 1st of that year that Rowe refers to as a “hidden” AMM concert that included himself, Cardew and Prévost plus flautist John Wesley-Barker and double-bassist Marcio Mattos(2; p. 816). This event has been heretofore unknown only revealed in Tilbury’s massive Cardew biography.  The other event, more well known, was a series of practices in June of 1976 of the quarter of Gare, Cardew, Prévost and Rowe(2; p.816).  These apparently didn’t work out and Tilbury cites Gare as feeling that Cardew didn’t have the level of commitment necessary and abandoned the attempt.

This is basically the question of Rohan de Saram. He was definitely considered part of the group, but he clearly was the one with the most demanding schedule (being a member of the Arditti String Quartet at this time) and thus there are cases of the trio AMM as well as a quartet with Lou Gare.  There also are various lineups with the clarinettist Ian Mitchell (quartet and quintet with de Saram) but I tend to think of those as more guest spots as I would the occasional shows with Evan Parker.

1989 to 1992
The early 90s quintet AMM was something I only stumbled upon during the course of this review process. I have a bootleg from 1987 from this quintet and in the course of my research I found this line in the updated CD liner notes accompanying the CD release of The Crypt:

“And the band goes on: for to date we have still not recorded the current quintet line-up of de Saram, Gare, Prévost, Rowe and Tilbury.” – Edwin Prévost, Februrary 1992(5)

This version never would be recorded and it seemed that Gare left again soon after. De Saram would soon follow though there would be the occasional gig through at least 1994.

After Rowe left AMM in 2005, Tilbury and Prévost made the controversial decision to continue on as AMM as a duo. I refer to this as AMM IV as per Rowe’s definition that AMM should be at least trio with himself and Prévost at the core.  It is interesting to note that AMM IV now often plays with other musicians but they are always listed as “AMM+” indicating that these are all guest spots. These guests have included Sachiko M, Christian Wolff and John Butcher among others (see the comments for more info).


1) Edwin Prévost, No Sound is Innocent, Copula, 1995
2) John Tilbury, Cornelius Cardew: A Life Unfinished, Copula, 2008
3) Notes on AMM: Entering and Leaving History Stuart Broomer, CODA Magazine no. 290. 2000
4) Edwin Prévost, The Crypt Liner notes, 1992 (Matchless)
5) AMM FactsheetThe Crypt Liner Notes (not online), Matchless Recordings 1992
6) The AMM page at the European Free Improvisation Home
7) Meta Machine Music, Rob Young, The Wire Issue #132 (February 1995)
8) Edwin Prévost, AMMMusic Liner Notes (originally published in RER Quarterly vol.2 no.2, Nov. 1988)

22 thoughts on “AMM Membership timeline

  1. It is interesting to note that AMM IV now often plays with other musicians but they are always listed as AMM+ indicating that these are all guest spots. To date these guests have included Sachiko M, Christian Wolff and John Butcher.

    There was also an AMM+David Jackman set a couple of years back. Intriguingly though, when AMM played a quartet set with Margarida Garcia and Barry Weisblat in London around the same time the group was just listed as Prevost,Tilbury,Garcia and Weisblat (or something similar) and the name AMM was not mentioned.

    Interestingly, although the AMM+Christian Wolff set you refer to was indeed advertised that way (and also so were the AMM+Wolff sets in the 90’s) the performance ended up being a quintet of Prevost, Tilbury, Butcher, Wolff and Ute Kanngiesser. Before they began playing, Prevost announced the set with the line “welcome to AMMMusic”


  2. That is interesting, thanks for the info, I’ve updated that part of the post to not sound so definitive.

    BTW did you see any of the AMM+Christian Wolff shows in the 90s? If so, how did it differ (if at all) from the aforementioned Prévost, Tilbury, Butcher, Wolff and Ute Kanngiesser show?


  3. Yes I think there was just the one London set with Wolff in the 90’s, at the Conway Hall and yes I did attend but I remember little about it other than Wolff beginning the set sat alongside Tilbury and moving elsewhere (though to exactly what I struggle to remember) later in the performance.

    I think I still have a flyer from the gig somewhere, not that that would help here much. I should dig out a load of those old flyers and scan them for you one of these days.

    The AMM gig I attended but no one else seems to remember was a trio performance very shortly after David Tudor died, and as the group neared the end of the set one of them (I suspect probably Rowe) began to play a tape of Tudor talking. This was brought up in the mix as the music died away and the musicians left the stage to just leave his voice in the room.


  4. Thanks for the info Richard. I’d love to see any AMM flyers you have!

    That’s interesting about that show after David Tudors death, I’m don’t think I’d heard that before. That made me remember that once Keith mentioned playing a recording of Barber’s Adagio for Strings on (I think) an anniversary of Cardew’s death (I hope I’m remembering that correctly) at the end of an AMM show.


  5. Interesting always to read the way others perceive events of the past.
    The 1st April 1976 gig we did at the Drill Hall was a special opportunity for me and a turning point. Indeed, I preferred People Liberation Music as a performing venture at that time, and there was no feeling I had then that this was AMM or a ‘hidden’ AMM at all. Cor, Keith and Eddie invited me to play an improvised music concert with them. I was working with Marcio at the National Theatre at the time and was keen to perform with him. We also played a number of other gigs at that time, one in a college on the Holloway Road and some others, the location of which I’ve forgotten now.
    I was most surprised to find the name AMM ever used again after 1975.
    I did publish Keith’s poster for the Drill Hall gig on this blog some time ago.


  6. Hey John,

    Very good to hear from you, thanks a lot for taking the time to write. When I was researching for this post, I was looking for more specifics on the attempted AMM reunion and noticed this passage in Tilbury’s excellent Cardew bio about the “hidden AMM” concert. Tilbury alas doesn’t go into much detail though he notes that that was how Keith Rowe thought of it. As Keith was trying to bring the group back together maybe he thought of this as a first step? If I get a chance I’ll have to ask Keith sometime (or perhaps he’s reading this and could post here).

    Thanks very much for the link to that poster, a great piece that. The SCAMMELL truck certainly lends some credence to the show being in the AMM lineage.


  7. again, maybe I’m confused, but John, if you say “there was no feeling I had then that this was AMM or a “hidden” AMM at all”, why did you write on the AMM Facebook page in September that “Keith did the poster which included a Scammel truck to include the letters AMM. I feel this gig to be an AMM one, albeit a one off.”?


  8. I’m a little confused by the discussion here, but I do know that there was a quartet AMM/Wolff set in London around 2002 sometime, I have a recording of it somewhere.

    the plan was for there to be a quartet CD on Matchless, taken from a show around that time at Dartmouth and/or the London set, but they weren’t happy with either, so they didn’t come out (the trio was having a lot of trouble agreeing on things in the last few years they were together).


  9. Hmmm, well maybe that is the concert I have in mind Jon, but surely it was earlier than that? I am terrible at placing these kind of things into historical order, and should go in search of the flyer I think I have but it feels earlier than that to me, late nineties I thought.

    Certainly I am pretty certain that the only public UK AMM gigs I missed from 1995 to 2005 were the ones in Scotland, so whenever the concert in question was I was there.


  10. Richard, it was definitely after the show I saw at Dartmouth, which was part of their US tour in 2001.

    heh, Robert, I figured when I posted that that it might push you over the top to finally joining… 🙂


  11. Marcello Carlin (a reliable longtime music journalist) reviews a AMM/Wolff show from Sept 2002 at Conway Hall here:

    thinking about it more, this date makes perfect sense, as I think Keith gave me a copy of this in Jan 2003 when I was over for the Doris recordings, as that’s when it was under discussion for release and he was curious for my opinion on it.


  12. Aha. Yes reading that review that is the right concert indeed. Funny how it seems so much longer ago than it actually is. I don’t remember it all that well at all, though other, evidently earlier AMM concerts I remember well.

    Now, where did I leave my slippers? 😉


  13. Thanks much for linking to that review Jon, now I wish that Matchless had put that one out – I want to hear it! (actually I consider not hearing any of the Christian Wolff/AMM shows to be a major gap in my AMM knowledge).

    Now, where did I leave my slippers? 😉

    I bet those kids that you can’t get off your lawn took ’em 😉


  14. I definitely have it somewhere, Robert. I’ll get you a copy next time it turns up, I need to round up everything I have for this KCR fest (which is a definite go, by the way, somewhere in the range of 96 hours).

    it’s not very exciting, it didn’t come out for good reason. Eddie had even listed on the Matchless site that an AMM/Wolff CD was en route, so if it was releasable, it definitely would have come out. the Dartmouth set was also not that strong, although the last couple of minutes were as beautiful as anything I’ve ever seen. Eddie and John had both completely stopped, Keith was slowly slowly slowly fading out his drone, and Christian had a little toy whistle he was playing very quietly. really memorable!


  15. Ah cool, yeah I think we’ve talked about this a bit before. Still would enjoy hearing it, so if you find it I’d definitely appreciate a copy.

    Good to hear the KCR fest is definitely on, I’ll get you that stuff we talked about soon.


  16. Reply to jon abbey.

    Yes, my two postings do seem at odds. My Facebook AMM group that I felt the gig to be an AMM one, while my reply here states that at the time I had no feeling that it was an AMM gig.


  17. Hey John,

    Thanks a lot for the updated links – good stuff! Now all I need is a recording of the show and we’ll be all set 😉


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