The Ship was formed in March of 1971 to perform five shows of a nearly hour-long folk opera of the same name, written by two of it's members. The initial performances took place in a chapel above a popular folk music coffeehouse on the University of Illinois campus. The enthusiastic response of the local audiences convinced the group to continue playing the piece and to take it on the road to other college campuses. The work was retired after being recorded in 1972 on an album for Elektra Records and a couple years of live performances and the group moved on to playing individual original songs. By late 1975 the band had gone through some personnel changes and had established a strong reputation in the studio, writing and recording commercials, backing up other artists, and cutting demos of their own songs for concert promotion and radio play. They produced an album of material by the group's principal songwriters, Mark Hamby and James Barton. That album, TORNADO (1976) has been reissued on this digitally re-mastered CD with a clearer, more dynamic sound than was possible on the original vinyl. In April of 2008, the band members reunited to play a reunion concert in the same coffeehouse chapel where it all started and they now work together on a limited basis when time and schedules allow.