During the late '80s and '90s, Nick Webb and Greg Carmichael produced a series of mellow albums classified as adult contemporary music, though the guitarists encompass the range of jazz and new age as well. Both grew up in England during the '60s listening to pop/rock, though Webb studied jazz guitar at Leeds College of Music while Carmichael focused on classical guitar at the London College of Music. Originally formed by Webb and Simon James, Acoustic Alchemy later became Webb and Carmichael; the duo initially worked for Virgin Airlines, providing in-flight music on trans-Atlantic trips. Signed to MCA in the mid-'80s, Acoustic Alchemy released its debut album, Red Dust & Spanish Lace, in 1987.
After two subsequent releases, the duo signed with GRP in 1990. Their second GRP album, Reference Point, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Positive Thinking followed in 1998 in the wake of Webb's February 6 cancer-related death; their jazz content was quite small, but Acoustic Alchemy's albums consistently charted number one on the adult contemporary charts. By 2000, Carmichael unveiled a revamped Acoustic Alchemy that included longtime sidemen like bassist Frank Felix, guitarists John Parsons and Miles Gilderdale, and keyboardist Terry Disley, as well as new members such as keyboardist Tony White. That year's The Beautiful Game was the new lineup's first release. AArt followed in 2001 and proved to be the group's biggest splash, landing them another Grammy nomination that year.
Empowered by that success, the band continued to tour and, when they had time, record. The resulting two albums, 2003's Radio Contact and 2005's American/English (still on Higher Octave), further solidified the new lineup and ushered in the release of the concert/documentary DVD Best Kept Secret in 2006. 2007 found Acoustic Alchemy collaborating with Higher Octave labelmates Down to the Bone for the album This Way. In 2011, Acoustic Alchemy marked the band's 30th anniversary with the release of the album Roseland. ~ John Bush