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Sweden played a crucial part in the progressive rock revival of the 1990s, but amid dark-sounding King Crimson-influenced bands like Anekdoten and Anglagard, the positive-thinking Yes-enlightened act the Flower Kings felt almost out of place. Yet, the Flower Kings became, along with the American Spock's Beard, the '90s prog rock band with the largest fan base, the biggest sales, and the widest international appeal.
The Flower Kings came to life in August 1994, but retrospectively, their first album came out before their inception. That year, guitarist/singer/composer Roine Stolt, who enjoyed relative European fame in the 1970s as a member of the Swedish progressive rock band Kaipa, brought together ex-Jonas Hellborg drummer Jaime Salazar and ex-Samla Mammas Manna percussionist Hans Bruniusson to record a solo album, The Flower King. Stolt's music was graced by a Jon Anderson-like aura and combined complex structures with catchy heartfelt melodies, and the prog fans welcomed the album with open arms. Roine brought in brother Michael Stolt (bass, vocals) and longtime friend Tomas Bodin (keyboards) to perform the material live, and thus the Flower Kings were born and The Flower King, the album, is now usually perceived as the band's first.
Back in the World of Adventures was released in November 1995 on the band's own label, Foxtrot Music, and contained the stage favorite "Big Puzzle," while the Flower Kings started to tour in Europe. It was shortly followed by Retropolis (May 1996), the band's most '70s-influenced album to date, which yielded "The Judas Kiss" and "There Is More to This World," still arguably one of their best anthems. Retropolis helped the Flower Kings reach Japan, South America, and North America (especially Quebec). The mammoth two-CD set Stardust We Are, which included "In the Eyes of the World," "Church of Your Heart," and the 25-minute epic "Stardust We Are," was released in 1997. With four albums (including one double CD) released in less than four years, music critics around the world started to wonder how Roine Stolt managed to write this fast. Obvious filler material on Stardust We Are had people thinking the band should have been a bit more selective and made it a one-CD affair. Still, the band's fan base was growing, as were the sales. A compilation album, Scanning the Greenhouse (containing a fantastic rendition of Genesis' "The Cinema Show") was released to prepare Americans for the band's first U.S. tour, and a limited-edition CD containing live improvisations and unreleased tracks was issued by Ipso Facto for the Quebec market, while Roine Stolt released his critically acclaimed solo album Hydrophonia -- all in a year's work.
Another two-CD set, Flower Power, saw the light of day in early 1999. Even more ambitious, it contained the 60-minute suite "Garden of Dreams" and the quirky "Psychedelic Postcard," which paid tribute to one of Roine's main (although rarely detected) influences: Frank Zappa. Flower Power was the band's first album to be released in the U.S. by Inside Out Music America, which acquired rights to the band's complete catalog for domestic distribution. The Flower Kings' first live album, Alive on Planet Earth, was released in 2000 while Roine was touring with the supergroup Transatlantic (with Pete Trewavas of Marillion, Neal Morse of Spock's Beard, and Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater). A new studio album, titled Space Revolver, followed later that year with bassist Jonas Reingold replacing Michael Stolt. Unfold the Future appeared in 2002, with the live set Meet the Flower Kings following in 2003. Paradox Hotel was released in 2006.
The Flower Kings is a Swedish progressive rock group. Formed in August 1994 by veteran guitarist Roine Stolt as a touring band to support his solo album The Flower King, the band stayed together after the tour and have gone on to become one of the most prolific studio recording units in rock music of their era. In thirteen years they released nearly 18 hours of music spread over 11 albums. Their music is similar to early symphonic progressive rock groups such as Yes, marked by sharp dynamic changes, polyrhythmics, heavy bass, vocal harmonies, abstract and occasionally nonsensical lyrics, and extended song lengths.
History and Band Notes 
The Flower Kings have seen frequent personnel changes. The original line-up for Stolt's solo album consisted of Stolt (vocals, electric guitar, bass, and keyboards), Jaime Salazar (drums), and Hasse Fröberg (vocals). They later added Michael Stolt on bass and Tomas Bodin on keyboards for the supporting tour. Michael Stolt was replaced by Jonas Reingold in 2000, and Jaime Salazar by Zoltan Csörsz in 2002. Daniel Gildenlöw of Pain of Salvation joined the band the same year as a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist.
Other contributors have included Hasse Bruniusson (percussion) and Ulf Wallander (saxophone).
Roine Stolt has written the vast majority of the material the band has recorded, with Bodin contributing most of the rest. The music is best described as symphonic progressive rock, bearing a strong resemblance to the music of Yes, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, and early Genesis, with jazz fusion and blues influences. The band's lyrics are almost uniformly positive and uplifting, affirming such values as love, peace, and spirituality, and furthering their association with Yes.
Their 1999 album Flower Power contains one of the longest progressive rock tracks ever recorded, the eighteen-section, nearly 60-minute "Garden of Dreams."
Roine Stolt recorded three albums with supergroup Transatlantic, with members of Dream Theater, Spock's Beard, and Marillion, in 2000, 2001, and 2009.
In June 2007 they released The Road Back Home, a compilation of remixed songs from 1994 to 2006, plus "Little Deceiver" (a previously unreleased track) and the full version of their cover of Genesis' "The Cinema Show".
Zoltan Csörsz was replaced by new drummer Marcus Liliequist for one album, but returned for the 2007 album, The Sum of No Evil. He was subsequently replaced by Erik Hammarström in 2008. In 2008, Ola Heden, previously of Reingold's side project Karmakanic, joined on guitar, vocals and keyboards.
In November 2008 the band were the opening act of the Ecco Prog Fest in Moscow.
On February 2, 2012 it was announced that the band will release a new album in 2012. Due to be released June 18, it will be featuring new drummer Felix Lehrmann.
Roine Stolt stated about the long break The Flower Kings took: "It was a very positive and productive break - as all comes down to inspiration and being creative. We were running out of steam around 2008 so it was crucial to take a break and recharge batteries. We were going on and on for years making new albums and playing tours and after a while we felt lost without a clue why we kept doing it. I think it is extremely important to make music for the right reason, and money, while important, shall not be the prime reason to go on"...
Roine Stolt also talked about the recordings of Banks of Eden: We always record live in the studio nowadays, it gives the music more muscle and an organic elasticity in groove and dynamics that is sorely missing in many modern prog bands production when they use sequencer and build it up around drum- machines. We want it to be like a really good live recording, but of course the old vintage equipment help us to sound less “digital” and one dimensional"...
Personnel Current membersRoine Stolt - guitar, vocals, keyboards, bass guitar (1995–present)Hasse Fröberg - vocals, guitar (1995–present)Tomas Bodin - keyboards (1995–present)Jonas Reingold - bass guitar (1999–present)Felix Lehrmann - drums (2012–present)
Former members Jaime Salazar - drums (1995–2001)Michael Stolt - bass guitar (1995–1999)Zoltan Csörsz - drums (2001–2005; 2007)Daniel Gildenlöw - vocals, guitars, keyboards (2002–2004)Marcus Liliequist - drums (2005–2006)Erik Hammarström - drums (2008)Ola Heden - vocals, keyboards, guitar (2008)Guest musiciansHasse Bruniusson - percussion (1995–present)Ulf Wallander - saxophone (1995–present)Pat Mastelotto - drums (2007)