Will The Real Wishbone Ash Please Stand Up
"It's local promoters taking advantage of the good work this band has been doing," said Powell. Most recently, Martin Turner's German shows have been promoted under the Wishbone Ash moniker, prompting Powell to seek legal recourse. "Myself and the band's business partners—people who have worked for years to keep the band treading the boards and keeping the recorded catalog current—see it as a raiding party," said Powell. "I am now taking legal action in respect of this infringement of my trade mark. It's time to stop this nonsense."
Powell, a guitar legend in his own right, and the only remaining founding member, has recorded and toured exclusively under the Wishbone Ash banner since 1969--more than 40 years. In the last 20 years alone, Wishbone Ash has released 15 CDs (including nine studio releases) and five DVDs. None of these has featured Martin Turner. The band's most recent release, The Power of Eternity, has garnered rave reviews from the music press internationally.
During the band's early history, the lineup changed several times, with founding members leaving and rejoining. When, in 1993, Powell became the sole remaining original member, there was no thought of calling it a day. Powell later registered the trade mark Wishbone Ash in 1998. He has maintained the mark since then, producing numerous DVDs and CDs of new material. In addition to being co-writer on the majority of the recorded works, he's performed around 4,000 Ash shows worldwide.
"My mandate was to simply carry forward with the band," Powell said, "as has always been the case since 1974 when the first member to leave, Ted Turner, tendered his resignation. This continuity has overwhelmingly always been what the fans have wanted, and they proved that in the early 1990s by backing our recording and promotion of the album Illuminations. At no time did I consider the band dead; we'd been through worse".
In recent years Martin Turner registered www.wishboneash.co.uk . He then tentatively resurfaced using the name 'Wishbone featuring Martin Turner' performing Wishbone Ash songs from the very early part of the band's career. All was fine for a year or so until the name of Martin Turner's band was changed to Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash. His ".co.uk" website started pushing the Wishbone Ash aspect of the name firmly to the fore. Then, making matters worse, some Turner gigs were actually being promoted as 'Wishbone Ash' concerts. Fans who turned up expecting the long-running Powell-fronted band were disappointed and confused. Journalists who were unaware of the band's history sometimes wrote about Turner's band as if it actually were Wishbone Ash. Inevitably, this sparked claims of 'passing off ' from Wishbone Ash and its business partners.
"Over the years, band members had left in a piecemeal fashion to pursue solo careers and other ventures," said Powell. "Anyone who has followed the band knows that Martin Turner, for example, quit in 1980 and again in 1991 after a brief three-year reunion." After leaving in '91 Martin produced a solo album. "His own website says that he'd 'moved on' from Wishbone Ash, using the name Martin Turner and calling the CD Walking the Reeperbahn," said Powell. "This had nothing to do with Wishbone Ash and seemed to be a move on Martin Turner's part to distance himself from the band and take his career in another direction. His website actually at one point admitted that I was a continuous member of the one true band and that he was not."
Founded in England in 1969, WishboneAsh has released more than 30 albums to date, and has been touted as one of the first dual-guitar rock bands. Rolling Stone magazine counted Ash guitarists Andy Powell and Ted Turner among the world's top 20 best of all time. The group's 1972 classic release, Argus, was voted Album Of The Year by readers of UK's Melody Maker and NME. It was remixed and reissued in 2002 as a special 30th anniversary edition and consequently was the fastest selling reissue in MCA's history. Powell's name is synonymous with the Gibson Flying V. Over the years, he has been prominently featured in such notable publications as Guitar, Guitarist and, most recently, Vintage Guitar. He has also recorded with the likes of George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Stewart Copeland and Renaissance.
Wishbone Ash's current line-up also features former Gringos Locos guitarist Jyrki "Muddy" Manninen, a five-year Ash veteran who brings a rootsy style to the band with his slide playing. Bassist Bob Skeat has been in Wishbone Ash for 12 years and has also in the past, worked with everyone from Colin Blunstone, Gilbert O'Sullivan and Chris Farlowe to Princess Stephanie of Monaco. Interestingly, he worked with Ash's other 1970s guitar titan, Laurie Wisefield, in Brian May's musical hit "We Will Rock You." Drummer Joe Crabtree has worked with the likes of King Crimson's David Cross and Pendragon.
Wishbone Ash has embarked on an intensive tour plan taking the band 'round to next July in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The October tour of the UK began on the 2nd and ends the first week of November. Then in January 2010 the band hits the road again for the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. Canada's blues prodigy, Jimmy Bowskill, will be opening for the band on this six-week tour. For a complete list of tour dates and venues, visit www.wishboneash.com/tourdates In addition, the band will revisit Warsaw and Poznan in Poland, along with the Czech Republic. A USA East Coast tour is in the final booking stages, planned for March 2010. Italy and Switzerland will also be visited this time around, just prior to the usual spring UK tour. A USA West Coast tour and a possible Far East visit are being discussed for June. The new DVD Wishbone Ash 40 - Live in London was released in Europe on Oct. 10. This 40th anniversary show from Shepherd's Bush Empire was produced by RCN TV, the same team who made the highly acclaimed Wishbone Ash Live in Hamburg DVD.
Click here to read today's full Day in Rock report