born on 9/7/1972 in Wigan, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
Simon Tong (born 9 July 1972) is an English guitarist and keyboardist who was a member of the Verve between 1996 and 1999 and is currently a member of Erland and the Carnival and Transmission. He has played with Damon Albarn on tour with his bands Blur and Gorillaz, and as a member of the Good, the Bad & the Queen. He ranks in BBC's "The Axe Factor" as the 40th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years.
Tong grew up in English town Skelmersdale, the subject of his most recent release, Prospect of Skelmersdale with his project The Magnetic North.
The Verve; 1996–1999
From 1996 to 1999, Simon was a guitarist and keyboardist for The Verve. He was brought in to replace lead guitarist Nick McCabe after the band's first short-lived split, but remained with them when McCabe returned. Their third album was 1997's highly acclaimed Urban Hymns. He played on many of their hits from that time such as "The Drugs Don't Work", "Bittersweet Symphony" and "Sonnet". The Verve disbanded in 1999 and later reformed in 2007, this time without Tong. By 2009 they had disbanded again.
The Shining; 2002–2003
After The Verve disbanded, Tong and Simon Jones (The Verve) were members of short lived band The Shining from 2002 to 2003.
Following Graham Coxon's departure from Blur in 2002, Tong was recruited as the guitarist for the band's live performances in support of the album Think Tank (2003). He continued the relationship formed with frontman Damon Albarn by contributing guitar to Gorillaz' 2005 album Demon Days and playing guitar in the Gorillaz live band for the Demon Days Live performances. Tong also contributed guitar to Gorillaz' 2010 album Plastic Beach and substituted for lead guitarist Jeff Wooton on certain dates of the Escape to Plastic Beach Tour.
Erland and the Carnival/The Good, the Bad and the Queen; 2006–present
In July 2006, it was reported that Tong would again be working with Damon Albarn. NME reported that Albarn had foregone plans to record a solo album and instead formed a new group The Good, the Bad & the Queen, which featured Tong with Albarn, former Clash bassist Paul Simonon and drummer Tony Allen. The band released their self titled debut studio album on 23 January 2007, with the single "Herculean" in October 2006. The album enjoyed very good reviews and a second single, "Kingdom of Doom", was also released in January 2007 as part of their pan European tour.
The band was active again after a decade, releasing their second album, Merrie Land on 16 November 2018, which was supported by a 2019 tour, and a short tour in the December of 2018.
The Magnetic North; 2012–present
Simon Tong co-created The Magnetic North with Erland Cooper of Erland and the Carnival, and Hannah Peel of John Foxx and the Maths. They originally planned on only releasing one album in 2012, Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North, but due to its popularity reconvened to release follow-up Prospect of Skelmersdale in 2016, a concept album about Tong's Transcendentalist hometown, Skelmersdale.
Tong also set up a record label with Youth (of Killing Joke) called Butterfly Recordings. The first acts to be released are Indigo Moss and Duke Garwood along with a compilation entitled "What the Folk".
He is a member of the band Transmission with Youth, Paul Ferguson (of Killing Joke) and Tim Bran (of Dreadzone) which has released a single called "Noctolucent" and an album "Beyond Light" in 2006. He has also played guitar on several tracks on the 2007 Client album "Heartland". He is also recording and performing as a member of heavy-weight folk rock band Erland and the Carnival.
- "6Music News – Chilis star wins Axe Factor". BBC. 30 April 2010. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- "The Magnetic North's Simon Tong Discusses Past, Present, and 'Prospect of Skelmersdale'". TRANSVERSO. 16 March 2016.