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Wishbone Ash are a Britishmarker rock band who achieved success in the early and mid-1970s. Their popular records include Wishbone Ash (1970), Argus (1972), There's the Rub (1974), and New England (1976). They were one of the first of many bands to come who used twin lead guitars.

Wishbone Ash are considered to be one of the major innovators of the harmony twin lead guitar format. Their contributions helped in Powell and Turner being voted "Two Of The Ten Most Important Guitarists In Rock History" (Traffic magazine 1989), and part of the "Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time" (Rolling Stone magazine). Melody Maker (1972) described Ted Turner and Andy Powell as "the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds".

Formed in Devonmarker, United Kingdommarker, in 1969, out of the ashes of organized in July 1966 trio The Empty Vessels (later renamed to Tanglewood), which had featured Wishbone Ash's founding members Martin Turner (bass/vocals) and Steve Upton (drums and percussion), the original line-up was completed by guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner. In 1974, Ted Turner left the band, and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield. The band continued on with strong critical and commercial success until 1980.

After revolving line-ups featuring former members from King Crimson, Trapeze, and Uriah Heep, Laurie Wisefield quit in 1985. In 1987, however, the original line-up reunited for several albums - "Nouveau Calls", "Here to Hear", and "Strange Affair" - until 1990, when Steve Upton quit the band. After Martin Turner was replaced in 1991, the band recorded "Live In Chicago", before Ted Turner quit in 1993. Since 1995, the band have continued with mixed critical and commercial success, changing members on several albums. In 2004, Martin Turner formed his own version of Wishbone Ash, and tours frequently.

History

Formation and rise to fame (1969-1980)

Wishbone Ash, Charlotte, N.C., USA, 1972
Ash were formed in October 1969 by bass guitarist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton. When Tanglewood's original guitarist, Martin's brother Glenn Turner left the trio and returned to his native Devonmarker, their manager, Miles Copeland gave an advertisiment for a guitar player and also for a keyboardist. After an extensive search for a guitarist, the band could not decide between the final two candidates, Andy Powell and Ted Turner. It was suggested that they try both guitar players "just to see what it sounds like". Differing from the twin lead sound of The Allman Brothers Band, Wishbone Ash included strong elements of progressive rock, and also of folk and classical music. After the band members wrote several suggested band names on two sheets of paper, Martin Turner picked one word from each list - 'Wishbone' and 'Ash'.

In early 1970, the band scored an opening spot for Deep Purple. During sound check, Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore was warming up alone onstage when Andy Powell walked up, plugged in, and began jamming along with Blackmore. Blackmore later recommended the band to producer Derek Lawrence and helped them secure a record deal with Decca/MCA Records.

The band's eponymous debut album, Wishbone Ash, was released in 1970. One year later, the group released Pilgrimage. The band struck gold in 1972 with Argus, their commercial peak. The album was voted by the readers of Sounds magazine as the "best rock album of the year", also "Top British Album" (Melody Maker magazine). "Argus" is now regarded as one of the all-time classic rock albums. The band were getting international acclaim for their live performances as they gained popularity around the world.

The band had now begun to play major arenas as headliners. Wishbone Four (1973) was the band's first record without producer Derek Lawrence, as the band decided to produce the album themselves. In 1973, the band released a double live album entitled Live Dates. Not long after, guitarist Ted Turner left the band and continued to write, and play music. After replacing Turner with guitarist Laurie Wisefield, the band relocated to America and recorded the There's the Rub (1974) album. Locked In (1976), produced by Tom Dowd, saw the band moving towards US soft-rock territory and the group even began touring with a keyboard player.

1976's New England returned to the traditional Wishbone Ash style. Front Page News (1977) was the band's final US-recorded album of this period and contained a mix of rock numbers with more mellow tracks as well.

In 1978, after years of experimental albums, the band decided to return to its roots with No Smoke Without Fire, the first to be produced by Derek Lawrence since Argus in 1972. The album contained mainly songs written by Laurie Wisefield and Martin Turner. The band spent six months making the next album, Just Testing. Released in February 1980, the album contained mostly Martin Turner material. Pressured by MCA to make more commercial music, the band considered bringing in a lead singer and restricting Martin Turner's duties to bass guitar only. After 11 years, the band's front man and co-founder found himself in what he regarded as an untenable position and reluctantly parted company with Wishbone Ash.

Lineup instability (1981-1986)

Turner was replaced by John Wetton, formerly of King Crimson and several other classic groups. Number the Brave was released in 1981 and featured Wetton's lead vocals on just one song, although during album sessions he had offered songs such as "Here Comes the Feeling" that would eventually sell millions when released on Asia's 1982 debut album. Wetton did not continue with Wishbone Ash beyond the album sessions and continued with Asia. Wishbone Ash were dropped by MCA the same year.

Wetton was replaced on the Number the Brave tour by former Uriah Heep bassist Trevor Bolder. Also joining the band was female backing vocalist, Claire Hamill, who had sung on both the Just Testing and Number the Brave albums. The new Wishbone got mixed reviews. In 1982 , after Hamill's departure, the band experimented with heavy metal on the Twin Barrels Burning album. Surprisingly, the album became the highest charting Wishbone Ash album in years.

Trevor Bolder left the group to rejoin Uriah Heep in 1983, to be replaced by bassist/vocalist Mervyn Spence (ex-Trapeze). The group continued with a heavy metal side on 1985's Raw to the Bone, which became the first Wishbone Ash album not to make the charts. Not long after, Laurie Wisefield quit after being in the band for eleven years for a varied career that would include work with Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Roger Chapman, Jeff Wayne and the Queen musical We Will Rock You. He was replaced by Jamie Crompton, who in turn was succeeded briefly by top sessioner Phil Palmer. Early in 1986, Mervyn Spence quit as well, to be replaced by ex-Kinks bassist Andy Pyle.

Reunions and departures (1987-1994)

In 1987, I.R.S. Records founder and original Wishbone manager Miles Copeland began a series of albums entitled "No Speak", which featured all instrumental music. In order to launch the label successfully, Copeland needed a big name band that would bring publicity to the project. Copeland approached the four founding members of Wishbone Ash about having the original line-up record an all-instrumental album. For the first time in 14 years, Andy Powell and Steve Upton joined forces with Martin Turner and Ted Turner to record the album Nouveau Calls, released in 1987. The original line-up's tour of 1988 was a huge success, as the band played large venues for the first time since the late 1970s. In 1989, the band released a full-fledged reunion album with vocals entitled Here to Hear, featuring mainly songs written by Ted Turner, and Martin Turner.

In 1990 the band went back into the studio to record the follow up to Here to Hear. The band were shocked when founding member Steve Upton, the band's drummer for their entire career, announced his retirement from the music business. They quickly enlisted session drummer Robbie France to help out on some studio tracks and live shows. The band permanently settled on drummer Ray Weston. Strange Affair was released in 1991.

Later in 1991, the band decided to continue without founding member Martin Turner, with the bassist/vocalist being replaced by returnee Andy Pyle, who had been in the band years earlier. The band toured throughout 1992/93, releasing the live album The Ash Live in Chicago. 1994 saw the second and final departure of Ted Turner.

Revolving line-up era again (1995-present)

At this stage Andy Powell, the only surviving original member decided to re-structure Wishbone Ash. In addition to forming a completely new line-up (Ray Weston had begun lining up new projects while Andy Pyle's services were dispensed with), Powell also reviewed the way in which the band's business affairs were managed. Whereas the band had previously existed as a true group democracy and members received income on an equity share basis, the new set-up would see Wishbone Ash operating very much as Andy Powell's personal business venture, with musicians hired on a session basis. Powell enlisted guitarist/songwriter Roger Filgate, bassist/vocalist Tony Kishman joined and drummer Mike Sturgis. The new line-up debuted on a short UK/European tour in the Spring of 1995.

By the time of the band's 25th anniversary tour in late 1995, Tony Kishman was finding touring difficult due to other performing engagements in the United Statesmarker. Founding member Martin Turner returned to hold the bass and vocal position for touring duties, although Tony Kishman would be recalled to record lead vocals for the band's next album. Illuminations was released in 1996 and featured the Powell, Filgate, Kishman, Sturgis line-up. Powell relied on fan donations and outside assistance to help finance the album. Original member Martin Turner, who honoured the bulk of touring commitments to promote the album, was not featured on the album and was not retained for future studio/live projects, though he would remain part of the overall Wishbone Ash set-up through his work in assembling various archival releases, album remasters, etc.

By 1998, Kishman, Sturgis and Filgate had departed. Powell initially contacted members of the Mk.2 Wishbone Ash line-up with a view to a reformation in support of the then recently released 'Distillation' CD boxed set. Martin Turner and Laurie Wisefield were interested, but both had reservations about the business structure, in particular the notion of being effectively employed by Powell as hired hands. Powell pursued the idea no further and instead formed another new line-up with bassist Bob Skeat, guitarist/vocalist Mark Birch, and former drummer Ray Weston. During the line-up changes, Andy Powell released two electronic dance albums on UK indie label Invisible Hands Music under the name Wishbone Ash. The albums were ambitious dance projects that contained electronic beats blended with Wishbone Ash guitar riffs. Trance Visionary was the first of the pair, spawning a 12" single of four mixes that was a clubland smash and reached number 38 on the UK dance chart. Original members of the band were particularly offended that the album featured samples from their original recordings which were neither credited in the sleeve notes or in the songwriting credits (Powell and producer Mike Bennett took all songwriting credits). Psychic Terrorism followed.

The band then released an acoustic album of classic and new songs entitled Bare Bones before hitting the road in 2000 to celebrate their 30th anniversary. A filmed show was held at Shepherds Bush Empiremarker in London, where the band welcomed special guests Laurie Wisefield and Claire Hamill as well as other friends for a star-studded concert that resulted in Live Dates 3 and a live DVD.

In 2001, Mark Birch was replaced by guitarist Ben Granfelt. The band hit the road for their most extensive touring schedule in years. Wishbone Ash returned to the studio in 2002 for the Bona Fide album. 2003 saw the band touring across the world with Savoy Brown, playing their largest number of American dates since the 1980s.

Ben Granfelt left the band to continue working on his solo career. Granfelt's mentor, Muddy Manninen, joined the band. In late 2006, the band released a new studio album entitled Clan Destiny. In 2007, longtime drummer Ray Weston left the band, stating that he was tired of constant touring and wanted to concentrate on different things . He was replaced by seasoned session drummer Joseph Crabtree, known for his work with Pendragon and King Crimson violinist David Cross. In late 2007, the band released their latest album Power of Eternity; their first with new member Joseph Crabtree.

Controversy

The months leading up to their 40th anniversary proved to be controversial. Andy Powell's attempted registration of Wishbone Ash as a trademark led to a response from the three founding members, whereby they also asserted their entitlement to the name. According to founder member Martin Turner, Andy Powell had registered the brand name as a trademark in 1998 for his own use. This was done without the required consultation of the other co-owners of the brand (the original band members), who had at no time sold or otherwise forfeited their rights. Turner also stated that Powell had sold rights to many of the original band's co-owned recordings without their consent.

Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash

In 2005 original Wishbone Ash member Martin Turner formed his own band under the name Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash. Turner's band has released live albums containing Wishbone Ash songs as well as a re-recording of the original band's 1972 Argus" album. This band is not affiliated with Powell's Wishbone Ash in any way.

Special events

Wishbone Ash have developed two group gatherings, AshCon in the UKmarker and AshFest in the United Statesmarker. These began in 1994 and have developed into gatherings of the 'faithful' and have since become annual fixtures.

Band members

Discography

References

  1. Wishbone Ash


External links




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