Mark Stanway joined Magnum in April 1980, having previously played with Rainmaker and Little Acre - bands who had crossed paths with Magnum as they appeared on the same circuit (notably the legendary Railway venue in Birmingham). Magnum's line-up featured guitarist/songwriter Tony Clarkin, vocalist Bob Catley, bassist Colin "Wally" Lowe and drummer Kex Gorin.
At the time of Mark joining the band, Magnum had released two studio albums for Jet Records - "Kingdom of Madness" (1978) and "Magnum II" (1979) as well as the live album "Marauder", all featuring Richard Bailey on keyboards.
Mark's first recorded appearance with Magnum was on the "Changes" single, a remix of a track which had originally featured on "Magnum II". His first appearance with the band on stage was at the Reading Festival on 24th August 1980 - the closing day of a weekend festival that had also featured Whitesnake, UFO, Iron Maiden, Slade, Def Leppard, Gillan, Budgie and numerous other big rock names. Part of Magnum's set was broadcast on Tommy Vance's "Friday Rock Show"
With Mark on board, Magnum began recording their third studio album "Chase the Dragon" at the Townhouse Studios, London with American producer Jeff Glixman (Kansas, Gary Moore, etc). While tracks from the album, such as "Soldier of the Line", "Sacred Hour" and "The Spirit" were introduced into the band's live show and soon became stage favourites, internal problems at Jet Records caused the album release to be delayed until March 1982. The album was received positively by fans and the music press and reached #17 on the UK album chart. UK tours supporting Tygers of Pan Tang and Krokus were undertaken around this time, eventually leading to the band's own headline tour to support the album's release.
With Jet Records unwilling to fund an external producer, guitarist Tony Clarkin produced the following album "The Eleventh Hour", recorded at Portland Street studios, London and released in May 1983 (UK album chart #38). Despite lacking the production budget of it's predecessor, the album still contained many first rate songs such as "The Prize", "The Word", and "The Road to Paradise". The band toured extensively to promote the album, adding second guitarist Robin George to the stage line-up. During this period Mark Stanway also toured Scandinavia with Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott's solo band.
Reading Festival 27 Aug 1983
Growing disillusioned with the lack of financial and promotional support from Jet Records, in a bid to be released from the label, Magnum announced that their shows at the Reading Festival on 27 August and Birmingham Tower Ballroom on 12 September 1983 would be their final shows before the band would split up.
Now released from Jet, Magnum staged a UK tour in early 1984 during which they premiered new material penned for their next album. However, the band problems were not over yet. Firstly, Due to illness Tony Clarkin was absent from the band during these shows, his place being filled by Laurence Archer (ex-Stampede). Secondly, with no new recording contract forthcoming to improve the band's financial situtation, Mark Stanway co-formed Grand Slam with Phil Lynott and Laurence Archer, leading to a busy period of touring and recording during 1984. Mark was replaced briefly for live shows by Eddie George during this period and Kex Gorin left Magnum to be replaced by Jim Simpson.
Eventually Magnum secured new management and a record deal with FM Records and Mark returned for the recording of the seminal "On a Storyteller's Night" album (produced by Kit Woolven and recorded at UB40's Abbatoir Studios in Birmingham). Featuring fan favourites such as "How Far Jerusalem", "Les Morts Dansant" and its title track, the album, released in May 1985 and reaching UK #24, firmly cemented Magnum's place as one of the UK's foremost melodic rock bands and would go on to become the highest selling album of their career. Magnum undertook extensive UK touring throughout 1985, to promote the album including two nationwide tours (introducing new drummer Micky Barker) plus an appearance at the annual "Monsters of Rock" festival at Donington Park on 17 August 1985 at which the band signed a new recording contract with Polydor International.
Recording for the band's next album "Vigilante" took place with producer Roger Taylor (Queen) at Mountain Studios., Montreaux. Released in September 1986 (UK #24) the album featured a more commercial sound than any of the previous albums and raised Magnum's profile considerably, opening up fresh touring markets for the band across Europe and keeping the band on the road well into 1987. Tracks such as "Need a Lot of Love", "When the World Comes Down" and the title track would be mainstays of the band's live show for many years.
UK Tour, Nov/Dec 1985
UK "Vigilante" Tour 1986
Magnum's next album "Wings of Heaven", recorded at Wisseloord Studios, Holland with producer Albert Boekholt, and released in March 1988 was to be the band's highest charting album (UK #5) and included no less than three UK Top 40 singles. Alongside radio-friendly tracks such as "Start Talking Love", the album also contained it's fair share of traditional Magnum "epics" such as "Wild Swan", "Don't Wake The Lion" and "Pray For The Day". Two UK tours took place in 1988 as well as an extensive European tour and the band also filmed the "On The Wings of Heaven" concert video at London's Hammersmith Odeon.
The follow-up album "Goodnight LA", recorded at the studio of the same name in Los Angeles with producer Keith Olsen during 1990, was a bid for US success, with Tony Clarkin being teamed up with co-writers Russ Ballard, Sue Shiffrin and Jim Vallance for several of the tracks and an overall commercial feel to many of the songs. While the album did not achieve the US breakthrough that had been hoped for (the album was never released in the US), it reached UK #9 upon its release in July 1990 and the touring to promote it saw Magnum playing to capacity crowds at London's Wembley Arena and Birmingham's NEC. The tour was also captured on the live album "The Sprit" released in 1991 and marking the end of Magnum's association with Polydor.
Following the band's split with Polydor, Magnum's next album "Sleepwalking" was released on independent label Music For Nations in October 1992 (UK #27). Produced by guitarist Tony Clarkin (as would all subsequent albums) many fans considered it a return to the "traditional" Magnum sound. This was followed in November 1993 by "Keeping the Nite Light Burning", an album of acoustc-based reworkings of previous material which emphasised the band's versatility.
Magnum signed to EMI for "Rock Art". the band's last studio album of the 1990s, released in July 1994 (UK #57). The following year Magnum announced - to the great disappointment of its ever-loyal fanbase - that the band was to split up following a farewell tour - a decision of Tony Clarkin, who expressed a desire to pursue fresh musical interests and, after two decades of writing almost exclusively for Magnum, develop his songwriting outside of the confines of the band. Magnum's farewell tour of 1995 was documented on the double live album "The Last Dance" (titled "Stronghold" in some territories).
Following Magnum's farewell tour, Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley formed a new band Hard Rain, as a new vehicle for Clarkin's songwriting. Micky Barker joined folk/roots band the Bushbury Mountain Daredevils, while Mark Stanway and Wally Lowe pursued business interests outside of music. Bob Catley also launched a solo career, eventually quitting Hard Rain in 1999 to focus on solo projects. Despite initial plans to continue Hard Rain with the band's backing vocalist Sue McCloskey assuming lead vocal duties, these plans did not come to fruition and by 2001 Clarkin had responded favourably to a request from Magnum's agent Derek Kemp to reform the band.
In 2001 Tony Clarkin contacted Bob Catley and Mark Stanway to suggest they reformed Magnum. Both Catley and Stanway were receptive to the idea and agreed to work on a new album and tour. Bass player Al Barrow (from Hard Rain and Bob Catley's solo band) replaced Wally Lowe, who had by now retired from the music business and was living in Spain. The new album, "Breath of Life" was recorded with Tony Clarkin programming all drum parts, though for touring duties Harry James (ex-Thunder) completed the new line-up which, aside from Harry James being replaced during 2005-2007 by Jimmy Copley due to clashes with the reformed Thunder's schedule, would remain in place until December 2016. Extensive UK and European touring proved that Magnum was still a big draw at concert venues.
Since the reformation of Magnum, the band has released a succession of highly acclaimed albums - "Brand New Morning " (2004), "Living The Dream" (Live DVD, 2005), "Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow" (2007), "Wings of Heaven - Live" (2008), "Into the Valley of the Moon King" (2009), "The Visitation" (2011), "Evolution" (2011), "On the 13th Day" (2012), "Escape From the Shadow Garden" (2013), "Escape From the Shadow Garden - Live" (2014), "Sacred Blood Devine Lies" (2016) and "The Valley of Tears" (2016).
In December 2016 Mark Stanway announced his departure from Magnum due to "irrevocable circumstances", ending his 36-year association with the band. Mark wished the band well for the future and has since stated that he remains proud of his shared history with the other band members and all that the band achieved collectively.