Wishbone Ash Biography

The members of this UK progressive rock band first came together in 1966 when Steve Upton (24 May 1946, Wrexham, Wales; drums), who had previously played with the Scimitars, joined Martin Turner (b. 1 October 1947, Torquay, Devon, England; bass/vocals) and Glen Turner (guitar) in the Torquay band, Empty Vessels. This trio then moved to London where they took the name Tanglewood and were managed by a young Miles Copeland. Glen Turner departed, before the similarly-titled Ted Turner (b. David Alan Turner, 2 August 1950; guitar) joined the band. He had previously played in the Birmingham band, King Biscuit. Wishbone Ash was formed when Andy Powell (b. 19 February 1950, Stepney, London, England; guitar) of the Sugarband joined Upton, Turner and Turner. Signed to MCA Records in the UK and Decca Records in the USA, Wishbone Ash’s hallmark quickly became the powerful sound of their twin lead guitars, heavily influenced by the music of the Yardbirds and the Allman Brothers Band. Their biggest commercial success was Argus, released in 1972. This was a prime example of the band’s preoccupation with historical themes, complex instrumentals, and folk rock.

Ted Turner departed in 1974, and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield, formerly of Home. Wishbone Ash continued successfully, becoming tax exiles in the USA, returning to England in 1975 to play at the Reading Rock festival. Locked In and New England were released through Atlantic Records in the US. In 1980, Martin Turner was replaced by John Wetton (b. 12 July 1949, Willingdon, Derbyshire, England), formerly of Uriah Heep and Roxy Music, who featured on Number The Brave alongside folk singer Claire Hamill (b. Josephine Clare Hamill, 4 August 1954, Port Clarence, Middlesbrough, North Riding of Yorkshire, England). Wetton was subsequently replaced by ex-Uriah Heep bass player Trevor Bolder (b. 9 June 1950, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England). The new line-up released only one album before disbanding in 1982, and it was the recruitment of Mervyn Spence to replace Bolder and tackle the lead vocals on Raw To The Bone that seemed to give some of its former vitality back to Wishbone Ash.

In 1987, the original quartet began working together again, recording the brand new Nouveau Calls. This project involved the renewal of their relationship with Copeland, which had sundered in 1977, and a contract with his I.R.S. Records label. Here To Hear followed before Upton retired from the music business and Martin Turner opted to concentrate on a solo career. Ray Weston and Robbie France filled in on the band’s final I.R.S. album, 1991’s Strange Affair. Ted Turner left the band in 1995, leaving Powell to continue performing and recording with a line-up featuring Weston, March Birch (guitar/vocals) and Bob Skeat (bass). In the late 90s, Powell worked with producer Mike Bennett on the experimental Trance Visionary set, which fused the band’s traditional progressive rock sound with club rhythms.

The band returned to a more traditional sound on the 1999 acoustic album Bare Bones. The following year, they embarked on a series of 30th anniversary shows to the delight of their loyal and devoted fanbase. Ben Granfelt replaced Birch on the well-received 2002 studio set Bona Fide, but was in turn replaced by Muddy Manninen for the 2006 follow-up Clan Destiny. Martin Turner also launched a rival version of the band during this period.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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