Galley and Holland resurfaced with Trapeze a year later, adding second guitarist Rob Kendrick and bassist Pete Wright to the band. Hot Wire was released in late 1974 and a second self-titled album followed in 1975, after which the classic trio briefly reunited for a tour in 1976 when Hughes returned following Deep Purple's breakup. After Hughes left again, Trapeze returned in 1978 with new frontman Peter Goalby, who performed on the band's final album Hold On. Several more lineup changes occurred in the following years, including Holland joining Judas Priest in 1979, before the band broke up in 1982 as Galley joined Whitesnake.
In 1991, Hughes, Galley and Holland reunited Trapeze for a string of tour dates the following year, adding Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes for the shows. The tour resulted in a live album, Welcome to the Real World: Live at the Borderline, which was released in 1998. The trio revived Trapeze again in 1994 with second guitarist Craig Erickson, completing a brief tour early in the year before permanently disbanding. Following the band's breakup, both Galley and Holland remained relatively inactive, while Hughes continued with his solo career and collaborations with various artists. Galley later died of oesophageal cancer on 1 July 2008 and Holland died on 16 January 2018, leaving Hughes the sole surviving member of the classic line-up.
Trapeze formed in March 1969, with the original lineup featuring former The Montanas members John Jones (trumpet, vocals) and Terry Rowley (keyboards, guitar, flute), along with former Finders Keepers members Glenn Hughes (bass, vocals, piano) Mel Galley (guitar, vocals) and Dave Holland (drums). One of the band's early performances was filmed for an appearance on the BBC2 show Colour Me Pop, recorded on 5 July 1969 at Club Lafayette in Wolverhampton, at which they performed the song "Send Me No More Letters". Local promoter Tony Perry described the show as "one of the most outstanding nights at the ", praising the band's performance as "fantastic". Later in the year, Trapeze signed as the first act on Threshold Records, a record label founded by The Moody Blues and distributed in the United States by London Records and elsewhere by Decca Records. The band reportedly declined an offer to join Apple Records, the label founded by The Beatles, as they believed that they would have more creative freedom with Threshold.
Working with The Moody Blues bassist John Lodge as producer, Trapeze recorded their self-titled debut album at London's Morgan Studios and Decca Studios. Despite Jones being the band's official lead singer, Hughes performed all vocals on the release. Hughes has revealed that he was asked to sing on the album by the group's management, who deemed him to be the better of the two vocalists. Before the end of the year, the Rowley composition "Send Me No More Letters" was released as the band's first single, backed with "Another Day" (written by Galley, Hughes and Jones). Trapeze was released in May 1970. The album was generally well-received by critics – Billboard magazine described it as featuring "a strong rock personality" and dubbed it "a candidate for big chart action", while journalist Nigel Williamson hailed it as "a classic period example of English prog, mixing pastoral whimsy, swirling psychedelia, rock guitars and pop harmonies". It also received significant airplay on BBC Radio 1 from DJs such as Bob Harris and Pete Drummond, and was played in full by the station. Trapeze was promoted on a string of shows in the UK between January and July.
In August 1970, Jones and Rowley left Trapeze, returning to The Montanas. Rather than replacing the departed members, Hughes, Galley and Holland continued as a power trio, adopting a style more akin to hard rock and funk rock. On 13 November 1970, the band released their second album Medusa in the UK, which was issued in the US in March 1971. Produced again by Lodge, the album has since been highlighted by multiple critics as the band's best release, as well as one of the decade's most underrated hard rock albums. Writing in the booklet for a 1994 reissue of the album, author John Tracy claimed that Medusa was "greeted with instant, and seemingly universal, acclaim". Ultimate Classic Rock writer Eduardo Rivadavia credited the album for contributing to the early development of the heavy metal genre in 1970. "Black Cloud", written by Galley with brother Tom, was issued in the US as the only single from the album backed with "Your Love Is Alright", written by the three band members.