John Holden is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer from Cheshire, England.

Ive had a strong emotional connection to music for as long as I can remember. In particular, as a youngster, I encountered progressive rock. I enjoy music that can, at times be pastoral and melodic, sometimes powerful and soaring but always constantly interesting. The idea that there are no rules or boundaries has always appealed to me.

Having played and composed for many years, John made the decision to commit to creating a full album of original material. He decided that involving additional musicians would significantly enhance the music and his debut album, Capture Light was released in 2018.

I have been amazed and thrilled by the talented musicians I have managed to work with. Everyone made a fantastic contribution. When you work with people of such high calibre it really elevates the music and definitely makes you raise your game!

Commenting on been placed Runner Up in the Progzilla Radio 2018 Album of the Year;

I wanted to see if I could make music that would earn its place in the genre. Thankfully the album was critically well received and given extremely good reviews. It was so exciting to get such amazing feedback from the people who count the most the wider prog audience!

Johns much anticipated follow up album, Rise and Fall was released in 2020.

I gained a lot of experience creating the first album and was determined the next one had to maintain that quality but am delighted to say it exceeded my expectations. By its nature, Progressive music can be quite technical, however I wanted to build more emotion into the songs; it takes the music to a higher level.

2021 saw John deliver Circles in Time comprising six lovingly crafted pieces.

I was keen to maintain momentum and commenced writing new music immediately after the release of Rise and Fall. With the enforced lockdowns in 2020 I found that I could devote so much more time to creating! My original intention was to have a release ready for late 2021, however all the work was completed far more quickly than expected. With this album I wanted to explore different avenues. There are many diverse elements, with each song having a specific identity; rock, folk, jazz, flamenco and classical all play their part and of course with the twenty-minute KV62 I finally got to do something epic!

In typical Holden fashion, the style and content of the new music is not standing still. With the 2022 release of Kintsugi.

For this album I decided to play a lot more of the music myself. It was a challenge and even though it took me twelve months, I really enjoyed the process and the end results. I also wanted to continue the exploration of different styles and arrangements. Often the subject matter dictates my approach. If I can say what is needed in four minutes thats fine. However, I now have the capability to compose longer form music if that is required. As long as the writing is progressing then I am happy.

The latest addition to Johns canon is Proximity & Chance released in 2024.

For this set of compositions, I wanted to experiment at fully integrating an orchestral soundscape into a rock format. So often orchestral sounds are used as replacements for existing synths and keyboards. I decided to have them at the forefront and play a leading role. For other songs I wanted a harder rock edge. So, the album has plenty of contrasts. When starting this project, I was committed to making the songs as entertaining as I could. Hopefully that feeling communicates to the listener.

With great critical acclaim for his music John is attracting and an ever-increasing audience; how does he reflect on the journey so far?

It has certainly been an adventure! I have been told that the music sounds like a labour of love, that is absolutely true and how it should be. The response to the albums has been amazing, I am very proud of the music and overjoyed that others seem to enjoy it too.

"Music has always been my passion; I love the way it can take you on a journey and fire the imagination."

Proximity & Chance

Released 31st May, 2024

John Holden’s fifth album, coming soon.


Released 2022

‘Excellent. An adventurous and engaging album full of great songs, concepts and ideas. One to enjoy and also return to again and again’ – Progradar

‘The undeclared King of Classical Prog fusion has reached into his treasure chest and pulled forth a cornucopia of riches’ – The Progressive Aspect

‘Another triumph, memorable songs, stunning musicianship and tasteful production. On my shortlist for album of the year’ – DPRP


Released 2021

‘Prog rock magnificence, radio-friendly gratification, and spiritually resonant songwriting to yield his most stimulating, diverse, and timeless statement yet!’Rebel Noise

‘Capture Light was wonderful, Rise and Fall superb, and somehow John has raised the bar even higher with his third album. Highly recommended!’Progzilla

‘The latest triumph for a musical storyteller. With a stellar cast of guest artists John Holden tells fascinating tales with imaginative, inspired music.’The Progressive Aspect


Released in 2020

‘An entrancing and enchanting musical journey of magnificent proportions’Progradar

‘You won’t be able to stop playing this from start to finish, and then again!’All Things Rock and Prog

‘A fantastic release from one of the most interesting artists of our day’La Gazzetta dello Spettacolo


Released in 2018

‘Well produced. Lovely musicianship and vocals’Steve Hackett

‘A remarkable debut. Definitely worth exploring’The Progressive Aspect

‘Truly a wondrous experience. I’m seriously impressed’The Prog Mind


  • All
  • Capture Light
  • Circles in Time
  • Kintsugi
  • Proximity & Chance
  • Rise and Fall




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Luke Machin

Proximity & Chance

I have been aware of Luke through the bands The Tangent, Karnataka and more recently Cyan. I had often seen his name in the Top Guitarist polls. So he was on my radar!
Not only does Luke possess amazing technique he has a great sense of melody and I thought his style would work perfectly for my music.

Luke Machin Official Website

Shaun Holton

Proximity & Chance

I have always enjoyed the Australian band Southern Empire. I noticed on the latest release ‘Another World’ that they add a new vocalist. I was immediately impressed and decided to approach Shaun about singing on the songs ‘The Man Who Would Be King’ and ‘Agents’. Shaun has an incredible range and cover all styles from delicate through to powerful rock. Looking forward to future collaborations.

See all Links

John Hackett

Proximity & Chance

I have been a huge fan of John’s for many years (decades actually). He is without doubt one of the finest flautists in the progressive genre. When I decided that the instrumental ‘A Sense of Place’ needed some flute there was only one choice. Luckily John was available and he added his distinctive sound.

hacktrax.co.uk | Facebook | Spotify

Iain Hornal


I first became aware of Iain when he played bass for the Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman band. He was excellent! I did some research and realised he also played and sang with ELO. From listening to his solo work it was obvious he had wonderful vocal abilities. I managed to get him to record his multi-part vocals just before he went into rehearsals for a major tour with 10CC. I am sure we will work together again in the future.


Dave Bainbridge


I have long been an admirer of Daves work, I spoke to him at a Lifesigns gig and we discussed his availability to record for the Circles in Time album. It became obvious that his schedule was too busy and it was not going to happen. Luckily, for the fourth album Dave managed to find some time and it was great to have his masterful playing on the track Building Heaven. I had originally asked for a solo at the end of the song, however Dave added parts throughout the song and brought some beautiful elements that really added to the music.


Henry Rogers

Circles in Time, Kintsugi

I first heard of Henry when Oliver Wakeman was putting a band together and mentioned working with a drummer from ‘near Crewe’. Intrigued, I found Henry’s website and discovered his studio was in the next village, three miles away! The final two songs that were written for the album ‘Circles’ and ‘Dreams of Cadiz’ both required drums to add impact towards the end of each track. I contacted Henry and booked a session after he had returned from Real World Studios where he had been working with Marillion’s Mark Kelly.

It was great to be in the same room and be able to explain exactly what I was looking for rather than via endless calls and emails. An outstanding drummer, his love of music is infectious. Henry has a fantastic studio, great insights into the recording process and how to obtain the best possible results.


Eric Potapenko

Circles in Time

Eric entered the picture when I heard him playing with Vikram Shankar. I loved the way the two of them sounded together. I made the decision to write a song, ‘Avalanche’ that would feature them both in leading roles. I also thought it would be nice to have the introduction of the song reflect their initial session that I had heard. Thankfully it fitted perfectly.
Eric is such a great player; he has a wonderful technique combined with a great feel. It was also good to introduce an American sensibility to the music on the song ‘High Line’ and Eric duly obliged.


Frank Van Essen
Violin and viola

Circles in Time, Kintsugi

For the song ‘The Secret of Chapel Field’ I decided that it required some real strings. I had recently discovered Frank’s music via his beautiful album, ‘Meditations of a Sound Mind’. 
I approached Frank to add violin and viola to the track and was very impressed so asked if he could also contribute to ‘High Line’. For me, the interaction between the violin and Peter Jones’ saxophone on that song is a real highlight. Frank is such a great musician and I am sure I will be utilising his talents in the future.


Elizabeth Holden

Capture The Light, Rise and Fall, Circles in Time, Kintsugi, Proximity & Chance

It is hard for me to imagine making music without the collaboration of Libby. She helps with the lyrics but contributes so much more. We discuss song concepts, usually whilst cooking and having a glass of wine, and how we can bring stories and ideas to life. She assists in all aspects of the process from artwork and visuals to promotion and social media. She also has an amazing musical sensibility and can pick up on things that I miss or sometimes am too close to and lose objectivity. She also has to put up with listening to endless demos and mixes. Without doubt her input is immense!

Michel St Pere

Rise and Fall, Kintsugi

Having seen Michel’s band Mystery in concert I was very impressed with his song-writing and wonderful guitar playing.

The final song to be written and recorded was Ancestors and Satellites. The music needed a special solo to bring the album to a close; I immediately thought of Michel and was so pleased when he agreed to participate. I could not imagine anything more fitting than the powerful but sensitive guitar solo he provided.


Jon Camp

Rise and Fall

Being a fan of Prog music in the 70’s meant I was well aware of Renaissance and Jon’s bass playing. As the band did not have a lead guitarist, I was fascinated how his playing fulfilled that role in the band.

By chance I discovered Jon lived ten miles from me. We had some initial chats and Jon kindly agreed to add some bass to the song Rise and Fall. Not only is Jon an amazing and unique musician he is also extremely supportive, offering advice and enthusiasm for the music. I am sure we will collaborate more in the future.


Nick D’Virgilio

Rise and Fall, Circles in Time

I have to admit that Nick has been one of my favourite drummers for the last decade. I knew he had played with Genesis and Spock’s Beard, but it was his work with Big Big Train that I enjoyed the most. Nick is also the resident session drummer at Sweetwater Studios.

I originally asked him to play on the track Dark Arts and was so impressed that I asked him to replace all the drums on four more tracks!

Nick is an amazing musician and brings so much to the music. Absolutely thrilled to have him involved.


Lauren Nolan

Rise and Fall

Lauren sings like an angel. I knew she had a great voice as I had heard the album, Awakenings that she did with Vikram Shankar under their Our Destiny banner.

For The Golden Thread, Libby suggested that we have a female voice to augment Joe’s vocal. I was unsure which lines would work best, so I asked Lauren to sing the whole song. When I heard what she had done it was obvious that it would work best as a duet. The two voices work so well together and are a highlight of the album. Lauren also added her ethereal voice to Ancestors and Satellites which brings a lovely dreamlike texture.


Sally Minnear

Rise and Fall, Kintsugi, Proximity & Chance

I had watched the DVD Dave & Sally Live in the Studio and was so impressed that Sally was the first person I contacted when recording started on my Rise and Fall project.

Those sessions were really important and gave everything momentum. Sally did guides for Rise and Fall and Heretic (which still has her voice in the mix) and excelled on her featured song, After the Storm.

Sally has such a great voice and is just lovely to work with.


Simon Fitzpatrick

Rise and Fall

I knew of Simon from his work with Carl Palmer. I then stumbled on some Youtube videos where he was doing solo bass versions of songs. I was more than impressed. 

I felt the bass part I had in Heretic could be stronger and Simon duly obliged and for the last song, Ancestors and Satellites, his bass adds a lovely melodic pulse through the verses. I only recently discovered that Simon also played in Celestial Fire with Sally Minnear. A small world indeed!


Zaid Crowe

Rise and Fall, Circles in Time

Zaid plays in the band Axiom. I started following their progress and loved their modern approach to music.
We had some phone conversations and I persuaded him to come up with a guitar solo for Dark Arts.
He sent me what I think is a perfect fit. He absolutely nailed it!
Thanks buddy!


Vikram Shankar

Rise and Fall, Kintsugi, Proximity & Chance

I came across Vikram on Facebook. He was playing some outrageous solos and I was hooked.

I got in touch (as I do) and asked if he would consider doing a solo on a song I was working on; Heretic. He quickly delivered the solo and some additional parts for the song. I was so impressed that I asked him to play on pretty much the whole album.

He can play any style and has the amazing ability to do exactly what is best for any song. He also has the ability to take some of my basic ideas and extended them. The introduction to Leap of Faith and the string arrangements on The Golden Thread are just two examples where Vik’s compositional abilities really shone.

Vik added so much to the album. An immense talent!


Billy Sherwood

Capture Light & Rise and Fall

I got in touch with Billy in the spring of 2016. Initially, he agreed to listen to some of my demos with the possibility of doing some mixes. I sent over Crimson Sky and he sent back the track with a much better mix and a wonderful new guitar solo. I was delighted with how it sounded! The next song he worked on was Dreamcatching. On hearing this he told me, ‘The bass could be moving around and creating a lead element, playing simply under the narration; then flying from there with melodies and a sense of soaring.’ That sounded good to me!

For the track Dark Arts, I knew I wanted a driving bass sound that sometimes locked in with the drums and at other times went in its own direction. This was perfect for Billy’s style and adds so much interest to the song.

Billy was the first person I ever contacted and was definitely a catalyst in giving me the confidence to approach others. I am in no doubt that having the involvement of someone with such a great reputation gave some instant credibility. I will always be grateful.


Joe Payne

Capture Light, Rise and Fall, Circles in Time, Kintsugi

I read Prog Magazine (of course) and when I saw that someone called Joe Payne had won Best Male Vocalist two years running in the Readers’ Poll, I thought I would check him out.

I found some YouTube clips of Joe singing with The Enid. Both Libby and I were amazed at his range and the quality and tone of his voice; we immediately booked tickets to go and see him live. After the show we met up and had a brief chat; I can’t recall exactly but I probably did ask him if he ever did sessions. Fast forward eight months, having left the band Joe was now pursuing a solo career. I made contact again to see if he might be interested in collaborating on some songs. Having agreed, he worked on One Race; it sounded so good I immediately asked if he would do Capture Light. I knew that song needed a special voice to bring it to life and technically it required someone with a good vocal range. Luckily Joe has a five octave range so I knew he could deliver. The results were beyond expectation – spine tingling! By now I was working on the final song for the album and again Joe agreed to sing on what would become Tears from the Sun

When the time came to record new material, I already knew Joe would be perfect for Heretic and The Golden Thread. While we were sorting out vocal arrangements for these, I asked if he would do me a favour and put down a guide vocal for Dark Arts. He kindly agreed and when I heard it there was no point in using anyone else! Being just a few feet away and hearing him sing the end section was something I will always remember.

Joe is a perfectionist and that is apparent in his approach; his vocal contributions add so much to the ‘emotion’ of the songs which really elevates the material. He also paid me the great compliment of including the song Capture Light in his live shows.


Oliver Day

Capture Light, Rise and Fall, Circles in Time

I found Oliver on YouTube; a young musician playing in a YES tribute band. He was nailing all of it – in every song! My thought process was, ‘If he can play Steve Howe solos’ he can certainly play mine.’

With contact made, Oliver proceeded to work on Ancient of Days and we developed a style of working that suited us both. Oliver would send me multiple takes on multiple guitars, and sometimes even multiple pick up choices. I would then select my favourite elements and add them to the master track. I kept sending him songs that needed some additional guitar and he just kept delivering outstanding work. For the song Capture Light, I wanted a string sound evocative of the Renaissance period. I mentioned this to Oliver who told me he had recently acquired a lute – serendipity! Although a difficult instrument to play, within a week I received the beautiful lute part that appears on the finished song. 

When working on new songs I suggested that we do something together. Oliver had some ideas that I took and turned into After the Storm. I hope is happy with how it turned out!

Oliver is a super-talented guitarist; he can play anything; electric, acoustic and in any style – a producer’s dream! 


Oliver Wakeman

Capture Light & Rise and Fall

Whilst completing the song Capture Light I decided I wanted a better piano sound. This idea then grew into wanting a more lyrical and expansive piano part throughout the song. I was fully aware of Oliver’s abilities having seen him during his tenure with YES, so I made contact to see if he was interested in contributing and ‘yes’ he was! After some discussions he charted-out the relevant piano parts and sent his tracks through. They were stunning! Just what the song needed.

I immediately asked him to play on what was to be the last track to be recorded, Tears from the Sun. This was quite an expansive piece and required a full array of keyboard sounds; piano, electric piano, church organ, harpsichord, synths. In all cases the playing was just fantastic. 

On Rise and Fall, one of the key tracks to get right was The Golden Thread; it needed the fluidity and flavour of the Edwardian era. This was something we discussed, and Oliver delivered just what the song required. 

Working with Oliver is a total joy; such a talented musician.


Emily Dolan Davies

Capture Light & Rise and Fall

I had seen Emily promoting her drumming sessions on Facebook. Her resumé was very impressive, so I decided to see what she could do with Ancient of Days which had sections requiring complex drumming. Emily took on the challenge and provided some wonderful playing. I think she did a couple of takes on the drum solo and that was it! After that she was my go-to musician for drums. Totally professional and nothing seemed too much trouble for her. She also came up with the goods when, at the last minute, I wanted to replace the drums on Crimson Sky and Seaglass Hearts, even though she had only returned from touring in the USA the previous day. Emily is such a lovely person and tremendous player.


Julie Gater

Capture Light

In many ways Julie was the starting point for the album. She was already a friend of Libby’s and in conversation mentioned that she was looking to create some music for a new venture. Julie was more than capable of writing and playing the music herself, one of her jobs is a piano teacher. But as she also runs a retail business, teaches yoga and does gigs, she felt she needed some extra help. Libby suggested that maybe I could contribute, so we started working together every few weeks and had a lot of fun.

The more I composed, the more the idea of doing some of my own songs developed. I have no singing voice and that had always prevented me from creating fully; now for the first time I could write songs rather than just instrumentals. It was also around this time that Libby began to get involved with writing lyrics. After completing the music for her project, Julie and I continued meeting and the sessions developed into her recording vocals for my material. The majority of the songs originally had Julie singing on them, even if they were guide vocals that I could send to other vocalists. She also has a fantastic understanding of musical theory and possesses perfect pitch. If I wanted harmonies it was like choosing from a menu, ‘Do you want a 3rd above?Or a 5th below?’ Julie played such an important role in making this album happen. Many, many thanks.


Pete Jones

Capture Light, Rise and Fall, Circles in Time, Proximity & Chance

I first became aware of Pete when he released his Cocoon album under the banner of Tiger Moth Tales. Having already recorded Julie’s vocals, I thought he would be a good match for the duet on Seaglass Hearts. I also asked him to record a simple backing vocal for Dreamcatching. Pete is always busy and in demand. I had contacted him just as he was rehearsing and ready to go to Japan to play keyboards with Camel, so I had to be patient and wait for a ‘window of opportunity’.

A few weeks after his return, Pete got in touch saying he had done the vocals and had also added flute and saxophone parts, should I want to use them. The new parts sounded just great and now I cannot imagine the songs without those elements. 

When composing Leap of Faith there was only one person that I wanted to consider. Luckily Peter agreed! I loved Pete’s ‘choir of monks’ and the perilous flight of the story’s protagonist. The concept was to bookend the album with Leap and Ancestors and Satellites which have some thematic links, it therefore made sense to use Pete again of course he did a splendid job.

A tremendous musician who can play just about anything to an amazing standard. I think maybe in future I might just write some tunes and get Pete to play everything!


Gary O’Toole

Capture Light

I had admired Gary’s drumming for a while having seen him playing live with Steve Hackett on many occasions. I had recorded programmed drums for the song No Man’s Land, they sounded ok but I knew it needed some real finesse, especially on the hi-hats during the verses. I contacted Gary and he agreed to do the session and kindly added some backing vocals. This was also the first time I had worked with a drummer via the internet, so of course when Gary sent me his finished tracks, I realised the next task for me was learn to mix drums! An excellent drummer and top chap!


Marc Atkinson

Capture Light

I was given Marc’s details by Robin Armstrong when I was enquiring about potential singers. Marc had just released his solo album, Home Grown and I thought he had a great voice. I already had Julie’s guide vocals on Ancient of Days and wanted to hear it sung in a deeper register. I emailed Marc with the demo and he promptly produced some great vocal tracks; his voice has such emotion. I really hope to work with Marc again in the future.


Jean Pageau

Capture Light, Rise and Fall, Circles in Time, Kintsugi

When I came to the final arrangement of Ancient of Days, I decided I wanted a mixture of voices. I thought it would be interesting to have both male and female voices that would combine and evolve throughout the track. I had been very impressed with the Delusion Rain album by Canadian band Mystery, especially the vocals of lead singer Jean. So, in typical fashion I tracked him down and asked him to add his unique vocals to the track. In no time at all he had recorded several takes of both lead and harmony parts. These fitted in perfectly and blended so well with the other vocals. 

Jean and I remained in touch and I thought the title track, Rise and Fall would suit him, as it required a vocal that was both powerful and vulnerable. Jean took the lyrics and altered the opening melody which gave the song an extra dimension.

A delight to work with, Jean possesses a fantastic voice. Merci beaucoup Jean.


Robin Armstrong

Capture Light & Rise and Fall

I was aware of Robin’s work via his Cosmograf releases. During the course of the projects Robin has been kind enough to give me his opinions and advice. When it was time to get the albums mastered there was only one choice. I wanted Robin to be involved because, not only did I know I would get a great finished sound, but he was already familiar with the material.

Robin makes a vital contribution in helping me get the best possible sound. He picks up every detail that needs correction. He taught me many valuable lessons. A real musician’s musician and a very talented man, I owe Robin a huge debt of gratitude.