A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
Sounds, April 1971 by Ray Telford
Wishbone Reaching People
I count Wishbone Ash among my favourite British groups for few other reasons other than for their musical individuality and their complete honesty with themselves and everything (situations and people) which surrounds them in the business of making music.
Ted Turner and Steve Upton, guitarist and drummer respectively, particularly seem to have kept their senses of proportion on an even keel. They returned from Wishbone Ash's debut American visit two weeks ago, a trip which they can only bring themselves to describe as priceless in' education and experience. It seems that Stateside tours these days are as much a part of a reasonably successful group's first year than it is for them to trundle their way round the college circuit. To fly the ocean now is not so much of a status symbol, and Steve and Ted make no pretensions otherwise.
They toured extensively with American group Guess Who, who according to Steve, drew something of a different audience than they had been used to here. "They appeal to certain people the same way as The Tremelos used to. It almost put us at a disadvantage but the reactions were still great - much better than we honestly expected."
Ted: "We treated the tour as an educational trip which is about all you can do when you go across there for the first time, and it did teach us so much. It was a lot to take in at once, though.
"The album has been released but there was still the thing of having to introduce ourselves in so many ways because everything is practically totally different. In some states we found that they knew all about the group but there were others where the album hadn't done much. Anyway, a record could be out across there for. a year before it takes off just because of the vastness of the place. In Britain you know you've nearly always had it if nothing happens within three months."
It came as something of a surprise to learn that the group have already set up a second American tour for July and particularly so as they have to record a second album and have a full date sheet to honour between now and then. "I think we only have about four days off until we go over again," said Steve, "and we're, having a bit of a hard time trying to get rehearsals done. During the tour we kept the same set as we had been playing over here."
Steve believes that the reason why British groups generally go down well in the States is because of their having to work to the peak of their abilities to survive here. "'I'm not saying that America is easy but things seem so much more relaxed. Like groups who are on the same bill will usually come up to you arid have a chat but over here, and I know from experience, other hands never think of anyone else but number one. When we first went over there on the first few gigs we felt we had to be one ahead of the crowds all the time and we weren't going down too well until we realised that it wasn't the audience's fault but ours. They really like to participate and at the same time listen, really listen, to what you're doing."
According to Ted and Steve some of the group's best gigs were with The James Gang, Seatrain and Elton John. They did five gigs with Elton John and Seatrain and the Filmore East near the end of the tour. "We played both Filmores, East and West. We were really knocked out by the crowd on the east coast but the Filmore West was really terrible. We played with Poco there and I think that the audience was one of the worst we've played to anywhere. They're so blase and conceited."
But as he points out in retrospect. "No two places are the same and one thing which we were really conscious of and that was there were things which we as English people couldn't do on an American stage - that applied everywhere."