Founded in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1985 by Colin Angus, Derek McKenzie, & Keith McKenzie with the band name Alone Again Or. The group changed its name to The Shamen in late 1985. Early Alone Again Or and The Shamen material was primarily psychedelic indie rock. The group's first album under the name The Shamen was 1987's "Drop".
By 1987, Colin was inspired by M/A/R/R/S and similar new groups that used sampling and beats. As he delved into exploring new technology and dance sounds, the new direction caused the Shamen lineup to shift: Derek McKenzie, unimpressed with the changes, left the fold to return to school in 1987. Colin added energetic new bass player Will Sin (a.k.a. Will Sinnott) in October 1987 and he himself moved to concentrate on vocals and guitar. At this point, the pieces were in place for the group to become what they would eventually be remembered for: one of the early pioneers of what became known as "indie-dance", inspiring a glut of late-'80s pop bands like EMF and Jesus Jones and also paving the way for more influential groups like Saint Etienne.
The Shamen single "Jesus Loves Amerika" (1988) was both a politically-charged release and an advancement of their sonic aesthetic, showcasing the group's adventurous new electronic-rock hybrid sound with the newly-added Will Sin. After 1989's "In Gorbachev We Trust" album, the group relocated to London. They fell in with Paul Oakenfold, Orbital, Mixmaster Morris, Evil Eddie Richards, and the Synergy tour. Soon they released the drastic sea change that was their mini-album "Phorward", which embraced electronic completely and was the final stepping stone into the group's most successful and influential era.
With the release of 1990's wide-eyed "En-Tact", with its all-embracing, psychedelic utopian worldview embodied by its accompanying singles ("Pro>gen", "Hyperreal", "Omega Amigo", "Make It Mine", "Possible Worlds"), the group became an internationally charting electronic act. Mr. C (raps, vocals) and Plavka (vocals) were added to increase the group's vocal presence (Plavka, who provided the enthusiastic lead vocal on single "Hyperreal", only stayed in the lineup until 1991). Tragically, Will Sin drowned on May 23, 1991, immediately after the filming of a Shamen promotional video in Tenerife for the song "Move Any Mountain" (the popularized title of "Pro>Gen"). His untimely death lent the otherwise hugely optimistic and ebullient song a subcurrent of strangely contrasting sadness and mortality.
After a necessary break to deal with the death of friend and bandmate Will, The Shamen reconvened and released the album "Boss Drum", a massive hit with multiple singles. It charted worldwide, going platinum in the UK. After the success of this era, the group's popularity waned: underground dance and electronic circles felt the success Colin et al had achieved made them a pop act, and therefore to be perceived as less substantial. Two albums were released in the mid 1990s, 1995's "Axis Mutatis" and 1996's "Hempton Manor". The group continued on until 1998, when their final album, "UV", was released.
The Shamen had fifteen hits in the British singles chart, five of which made the top ten. Standout hits included "Ebeneezer Goode" (which went to number one despite — and likely because of — its transparent drug content: "E's are good - Ebeneezer Goode") and the widescreen rave sounds of "Pro>gen" (later renamed "Move Any Mountain" after its infectious chorus) (which went to number four).