Jellyfish: the tumultuous story of the great lost band of the 1990s

The last time Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning spoke to each other was in the spring of 1994. They hooked up in Los Angeles to record a song for a tribute album to Harry Nilsson, the American singer-songwriter who’d once run wild with John Lennon and had died of a massive heart attack earlier that year. Having cut the track in an afternoon, the two high-school friends went their separate ways. Or, to be more accurate, Manning split for a career as a jobbing musician, while Sturmer effectively vanished.

Both of them prodigiously gifted musicians and songwriters, Sturmer and Manning seemed to spark best off each other. In 1989 they formed a band to realise their shared vision of a single group capable of sounding like all the music they’d discovered on FM radio while growing up in suburban California in the 1970s; a heady mix of The Beatles, the Beach Boys, Cheap Trick, ELO, 10cc, Fleetwood Mac, Wings and much more besides. They called their band Jellyfish, accurately conveying the sense of something imbued with grace, yet amorphous, alien-looking and fleeting.

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