~ We Stand as One (lyrics)
The classic rock bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s enjoy a unique place in popular musical history. The Beatles had gone their separate ways, Britain had already experienced the Blues Boom, and Psychedelia had made its impact. The creative possibilities were infinite.
Wishbone Ash embarked on the nascent Progressive Rock scene in 1969, taking full advantage of a fertile musical environment where they produced a distinctive brand of melodic rock. Inspired equally by British folk traditions and American jazz and R&B, the group played to public and critical acclaim.
50 years later, having pioneered the use of twin lead guitars, Wishbone Ash has gained worldwide recognition, based firmly on a regime of relentless touring.
The band includes founding member Andy Powell, who handles lead vocals and trades licks with Yorkshire’s Mark Abrahams. Bassist Bob Skeat, a 25 year veteran of the band, drives the rhythm section along with Joe Crabtree, one of the best of Britain’s new breed of drummers .
Wishbone Ash, the quintessential road band, is an acknowledged influence on many other bands including Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden along with younger bands like Opeth. Power and melody have made the Ash a hard act to follow, while they are currently being discovered by new generations of loyal rock fans.
An exceptional recording and touring career has seen Wishbone Ash weather many changes in record labels, personnel and musical trends. Today, the band is still going strong, with most of their vast catalog intact on CD, an award-winning website and a date sheet the envy of many other bands.
Recording highlights are, of course, the multi-million selling 1972 album “Argus,” considered to be one of the all-time classic rock albums, together with “Pilgrimage” (1971) and “New England” (1976). More recently, “The Power of Eternity” (2007), “Elegant Stealth” (2011) and “Blue Horizon” (2014) garnered enthusiastic praise. It was not until 2019 that the album Coat of Arms was to be released and that has proved to be a real career-capper.
The band’s biggest seller, the double album “Live Dates” (1973), is one of the most highly rated live albums of the 1970s.
There is the inevitable box set titled “Distillation” (1993) and also the unplugged album, “Bare Bones” (1999), which shows the softer side of the band. In 2008, at the invitation of XM Satellite Radio in the USA, Wishbone Ash produced a fresh, live recorded performance of the “Argus” classic, in front of a small invited studio audience. The resulting CD, “Then Again Now,” includes bonus tracks like “Way of the World.”
In 2009, the band celebrated its 40th anniversary with a show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire Theatre, which is available on DVD. Also on DVD is a behind-the-scenes ‘rockumentary,’ “This Is Wishbone Ash” (2010), detailing the recording process of “Elegant Stealth” interspersed with concert footage.
With 24 studio releases, 11 live albums and five live DVDs to date, Wishbone Ash continues to prove they are not a band to rest on their laurels.
An ongoing series of live performance releases entitled “Roadworks” captures the excitement and energy Wishbone Ash performances from around the world. Currently there are 6 available in the series.
In May 2015, the band embarked on two unusual live recording projects: a direct-to-vinyl performance at renowned Metropolis Studios complex in London; and a three-day residency at Le Triton Theatre in Les Lilas, Paris that was recorded for a DVD release in October 2015.
Also in 2015, Andy Powell released his musical memoir, “Eyes Wide Open: True Tales of a Wishbone Ash Warrior” (co-written with Colin Harper, Jawbone Press). With a Foreword by Scottish novelist Ian Rankin (best known for his “Inspector Rebus” crime series), “Eyes Wide Open” offers an inside track of five decades of life on the road and in the studio.
2017 saw the release Wishbone Ash: The Vintage Years (Snapper Music) a massive and highly acclaimed 32-CD deluxe box set spanning the years 1969 to 1991, featuring a coffee table book with interviews with original band members, posters, discs, rare photos and more. 3 years in preparation, the limited edition project sold out in months.
Finally, and most fortunately for Ash fans all over the world, just before the Covid 19 pandemic hit the world, a brand new studio CD full of new songs was released on German label Steamhammer/SPV. Titled Coat of Arms, the band itself was unprepared for how well this latest offering in this, its 50th year of existence, would be received by the press, as well as by its worldwide fan base. Standout tracks like We Stand As One and Back In The Day formed the basis of two new videos and Classic Rock magazine in the UK rated it as one of the 25 best album releases in 2020.
Summer dates hit by the global pandemic have been for the most part, rescheduled for 2021 when the world will no doubt, be a very different place. Wishbone Ash plans to fight on with that indomitable warrior spirit which has seen this intrepid and innovative British treasure, weather a half a century of rock & roll, to date.
Andrew Powell was born on Feb. 19, 1950 in Stepney, in the heart of London’s East End. Being born within the sound of the bells of Bow Church qualifies him as a true Cockney, but in truth he grew up in the town of Hemel Hempstead, 30 miles north of the city. Andy first picked up a guitar at the age of eleven. He was originally inspired by Chuck Berry and the instrumental music of Cliff Richard’s back-up band, The Shadows, and in particular by the lead guitar style of Hank Marvin. Powell credits his later experience as a teenager working and learning his craft in local soul bands, for honing his musical ear. Some of that work involved constructing harmonized horn arrangements. This proved invaluable in Wishbone Ash, being the same creative process employed later on, in the composition of many of the band’s famous twin lead guitar lines. Andy credits the great flowering of British rock at the end of the 60s as the basis for his guitar style, particularly the summer of 1967 when artists like Cream, Hendrix, Fairport Convention and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac all made a huge impact on him as an early festival goer.
A firm friend of Mark Abrahams and also a fellow Yorkshire resident, albeit being born in Truro, Cornwall, Mike has spent most of his life working with drums, drummers, bands and even orchestras.
As a teen Mike played with the City of Leeds Youth Concert Band, as well playing regularly in pit orchestras covering music from shows such as Grease, Cats, Les Misérebles and Starlight Express to name a few. Mike worked with Mark in Coyote and has also enjoyed time in the studio with various artists and bands over the years, a setting he very much enjoys.
Away from playing Mike has worked within the music industry for over 20 years and enjoyed time at the likes of Pearl Drums and Yamaha. The time with these companies saw him work around the world with different products and artists such as Todd Sucherman, Gary Husband and the late great Ricky Lawson.
Bob Skeat was born in London into a musical environment also with with East End roots, like Andy. His father, Bill Skeat, played woodwind instruments, and from the ’60s to the ’80s was one of the top session musicians in the UK. Bob studied piano from the ages of 5 to 11. As an early teenager, Bob listened to pop and rock – everything from T-Rex to Led Zeppelin – but when he heard “Burlesque” by Family, he knew that he wanted to play bass. His uncle Len (one of the country’s top jazz bass players) gave him his first bass, and he’s been hooked ever since. He started playing in school bands, and was gigging by the age of 16. After having impressed Andy as the bassist in an opening act for Wishbone Ash, Bob was initially hired for studio work, tidying up some vintage bass lines. No stranger to sessions as well as live performance, having appeared with a diverse collection of acts such as Toyah and Gilbert O’Sullivan, Bob and Andy immediately hit it off and have formed a firm musical friendship that has lasted 25 years. .
Mark Abrahams was a fledgling 9-year-old guitarist when he discovered the music of Wishbone Ash. Inspired to figure out some of the well-known riffs that have influenced legions of guitarists for nearly a half-century, Mark has the music of Wishbone Ash ingrained in his soul as well as his fingers, citing the Ash guitar style as the bedrock of his approach to playing rock.
A varied and technical career in music instrument retail as well as decades of live work put in with bands on the Yorkshire club circuit meant that Mark was primed and ready when the call came to join Wishbone Ash. He and Andy have formed a firm musical partnership and Mark has made a truly impressive recording and writing debut on the current Coat of Arms album.