Rock n Roll

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Wishbone Ash

Wishbone Ash circa 1969

Steve Upton (drums & percussion),  Andy Powell (guitar & vocals), Ted Turner (guitar & vocals), Martin Turner (bass & vocals)

This was one of those bands that anyone worth his salt would love to work for.  A great bunch of guys who were all goof friends with not just each other but their roadies too.

I started on a temporary basis for a few dates while they were recording their first Live Album using The Rolling Stones mobile truck.  I was hired to make sure that the sound was clean and clear with no hums or buzzes.  I did my job so well that the asked me to go on their first American tour in 1969.  We arrived at Washington Dallas Airport, as best I can remember, and as the plane off loaded the baggage out came the band gear, guitars, amps, drum cases, etc. 

Oh let me explain, back in those days we were able to put the band gear onto a plane as baggage.  We would drive the truck onto the runway, find our plane and drop $50 onto the baggage handlers and they would put the gear on as excess baggage.  Then at the other end of the flight we would show up with a rental truck and again just drive onto the runway and find the plane and drop another few bucks and load the gear onto the truck.  Sometimes if finding the rental truck took too long the gear would start coming down the conveyor belt and there was hell to pay then as it was not supposed to be there.

On this particular tour, remember it was my first time in the USA, the truck had been arranged by someone in the US and out of our control.  When the truck did arrive it was a huge tractor trailer or 18 wheeler to use the American vernacular.  Everything was great except for one thing... they didn't order a driver beyond delivering the truck to the airport.  I had to be the hero and open my big mouth and said I could drive it.  Not that I had ever driven an 18 wheeler before.  The biggest truck was a 10 tonner which was a rigid truck.  I had one of the other drivers give me the 5 cent tour on how to drive it then I was off with a half load, our gear wasn't really enough for such a big truck.  I was a quick learner and it wasn't long before I got the hang of going forward but at one point it came to needing to back up and I was totally lost.  The other drivers took pity on me and held my hand for the first few days until I got the hang of things, thanks guys.  Fueling up was another very different undertaking for me.  I was used to the basic gas station or the small European fuel stop, but when I saw those huge truck stops they looked like entire villages or towns for trucks.  I had no idea what to do or where I was supposed to go, again the other drivers showed me.  I managed to get through the tour with out any real incidents or accidents.

Not only were these a great bunch of guys but their version of the blues music was right on for me.  They were basically a jam band that their jams became famous and eventually some of their best recording like Phoenix, The Pilgrim, Time Was, The King Will Come.  All long numbers that got their audience hooked on a riff. 

After a few gigs in England it was off to America again for the Summer Stock tour, a longer 3 month tour this time.  The day before we left for America we were doing a big gig and Alexander Palace and I did a stupid thing... I backed up too far and stepped right off the stage and almost broke my ankle.  I went to the facility nurse and within minutes my ankle had swollen to the point where they had to cut off my boot to wrap it up so I could walk.  I was more afraid of the band leaving me behind from the tour.  But no they did take me,  I spent a lot of the next few days rolling around on road cases feeling pretty silly.

Later in the tour I got roped into helping drive one of the 18 wheelers, not new after the first tour, but still a bit scary.

After the first US tour ended they were experiencing a good run in Europe so I stayed with them for another tour of Britain and some Europe dates.  Then they went into the studio to record their next album and there was nothing for me to do during that time.

It was not long before I got the gig with Emerson, Lake and Palmer to prepare for their upcoming "Brain Salad Surgery" tour.


Wishbone Ash - The King Will Come by alexandru2006


 

Created by Phillip Seaman
Modified 10/23/2015