They say such things only happen once in a blue moon...
Well, Friday 31 August 2012 was indeed a blue moon – the last until July 2015, in fact – and Wishbone Ash history was certainly made with the onstage reunion of the Classic 1970s Wishbone Ash personnel of Martin Turner, Steve Upton, Ted Turner and Laurie Wisefield rounding off a fantastic MTWA performance before a select gathering of loyal supporters at the MTWA Garden Party in the grounds of the Liscombe Park studio complex in Buckinghamshire.
For the event, MTWA compiled a specially constructed set list, intentionally including mainly songs that have not featured on the New Live Dates and Life Begins CD releases, to allow for a fresh album of lesser heard live “rarities” to be compiled. So, for one night only, many of the standards such as most of the Argustracks, were rested to allow for the performance of some deeper cuts from the extensive Wishbone Ash repertoire. The entire band worked extremely hard in rehearsals to make this a truly different experience for the MTWA supporter, with a playlist quite different from that played at other shows this year.
MTWA also took the opportunity to premiere one brand new track, as promised, in the form of “Mystify Me”, and so the event marked the pivotal point at which MTWA enters its next stage of development with the creation of fresh music to add to the existing catalogue. Many have already expressed that the new song aired carries forward the key qualities of Wishbone Ash, yet at the same time has a fresh identity that MTWA can truly call its “own”. With the creative process for a new studio album ongoing, this is a truly exciting time for MTWA supporters.
While the set was already full of surprises, no one could possibly have predicted the on stage reunion of four core members of the classic 1970s line-ups. Ted, Steve and Laurie, together with key behind the scenes personnel from the classic era of the band, had received an invite to the event on a social basis, with no obligation to perform, and aside from Ted’s appearance, which had been rehearsed the day before the event, what happened on the night evolved quite naturally and spontaneously.
The reunion of the classic quartet began unfolding just after the gates to the event had opened. Ted had already been spotted checking out his gear on the stage, and so his presence was already known, but Laurie and Steve were escorted into the grounds secretly through a back gate and so few of the gathered audience were aware they were in attendance until much later.
In the backstage enclosure it was a joy to behold as the band members were reacquainted. There were firm handshakes and embraces aplenty as first Laurie and then Steve arrived, and it was blatantly obvious to the small gathering of close friends and associates backstage that this core of the classic Wishbone Ash membership still have an enormous amount of love and respect for one another, both as musicians and as human beings. The journey of life may have placed a distance between them geographically, but it was clear to see that these four musicians still hold a big place in their hearts for each other and have nothing but fond memories of their shared experiences of years gone by.
Please note there are no pictures or other documentation of the actual moment the four met up in the same place for the first time in well over two decades due to the fact that those with cameras in the near vicinity showed the necessary respect to allow the four men the chance to enjoy this special moment in relative privacy. As the day went on there would be plenty of photo opportunities and all four of the classic members were all more than happy to make themselves available for meet and greets, photo calls and “on the record” press interviews.
Back to the music....
Ted has, of course, performed with MTWA on several occasions already, and for this event everyone involved thought it would be an excellent idea to showcase Ted’s talents on some different songs. It's unlikely that anyone in the audience expected him to appear midway through the rarely performed “Valediction” and take the guitar solo for the closing section – a masterstroke that was entirely Ted’s suggestion. Given that no one has recollections of this song being performed live in the early days, it could be that this was the first time Ted had ever performed this tune on stage. Ted remained on stage for “In The Skin” and “The King Will Come”, performing his trademark solo work on these tracks for the first time in many years, with the distinct tones of Ted’s lap steel echoing around the Buckinghamshire countryside. “Why Don’t We” topped off Ted’s mini-set.
While Ted’s appearance was not a total surprise, given his previous involvement with MTWA, the moment where Laurie Wisefield emerged to play “Living Proof” came totally unexpected and was, in fact, only decided on at the very last minute. Laurie played the iconic guitar solo to this stage favourite flawlessly, reminding us of why he is considered one of the finest guitarists in the business.
Laurie gave a touching speech, thanking the fans for their support as well as paying tribute to both WA history and the current MTWA members, before announcing that Steve Upton was in attendance and that, although Steve would not be performing, the crowd should call him to the stage to take a bow. Chants of “Stevie, Stevie...” followed and Steve graciously took his place alongside the other core members - Martin, Ted and Laurie – to rightfully bask in the applause from the gathered faithful. A defining point in Wishbone Ash history, it was a truly moving moment to see this legendary line-up of classic Wishbone Ash personnel together on stage to celebrate their shared history as co-creators of some of the finest rock music ever created. The atmosphere was charged with emotion and grown men in the audience were seen weeping tears of delight as they witnessed what many had previously thought unachievable – in particular the first public appearance of Steve Upton at a Wishbone related event in 22 years. Steve was afforded an overwhelming reception fitting for someone who is generally regarded as "Wishbone Royalty" by longtime supporters. The smiles on the faces of the audience were matched only by those of all the WA and MTWA musicians gathered on stage, who displayed grins from ear to ear (no pun intended!).
The performance ended with Martin, Ray, Danny, Dave, Ted and Laurie all onstage together for “Jailbait”. Many were surprised how well Ted and Laurie worked together, given the obvious lack of times they’ve played together – Walthamstow in May 1991 being the only other occasion. Four lead guitarists on stage together could have been a recipe for disaster, but these four players knew exactly when to step to the fore and when to back off and allow another to take the lead – no egos on display, just total respect for each other as players and a touch of humour here and there as well. A perfect end to a fantastic performance.
A meet and greet session followed, with all the gathered musicians happily mingling with the crowd to sign autographs, answer questions, chat and pose for photographs, etc. The chance to obtain treasured signatures of Martin, Ted, Steve and Laurie alongside the MTWA members was certainly an autograph collectors dream come true! People were even buying additional copies of Martin's autobiogarphy, knowing this may be their only opportunity to get the core members signatures on the title page.
A special mention should also go to the various behind the scenes personnel from the very early days of Wishbone Ash who attended the event – many of whom will be familiar names to fans from the No Easy Road book. These included Chris Runciman (early sound/tour manager), Rod Lynton (publicist and the man who introduced Martin Turner and Steve Upton to Miles Copeland, resulting in the formation of Wishbone Ash), Mark “Hobbit” Emery (Wishbone Ash soundman who relocated with the band to America in 1975) and audio supplier Terry Finn. There were various wives, partners and offspring of the original members as well as MTWA as well as many musician friends including Debbie Bonham, John Young and original MTWA guitarist Keith Buck. This resulted in some emotional reminiscences of times gone by. Overall there was a fantastic warm feeling and a family-like atmosphere, reminding everyone of the positive vibe that existed with the classic line-ups of Wishbone Ash.
The event was also attended by journalists such as Dave Ling, Mark Taylor and Chris Welch, and professional photographers Mike Inns, John Price and Noel Buckley. There were also personal messages sent from those unable to attend such as John Wetton, Trevor Bolder, Mervyn Spence and Andy Pyle as well as a message of congratulation from Aubrey “Po” Powell (of classic Wishbone Ash sleeve designers Hipgnosis)
This day will surely be talked about by both musicians and supporters for many years to come. We encourage you to send us your photos of the event and share your memories on our forum and Facebook pages. Further material will be added over the coming days, as we await professional photography and video footage. In the meantime please enjoy the fan photos here - there are also a selection of galleries covering rehearsals, soundcheck, performance and backstage shots at our Facebook page (click link).
Gary Carter, 1 September 2012
Standing In The Rain; Rest In Peace; Haunting Me; Fire Sign; Mystify Me; The Pilgrim; Broken Down House; No Easy Road; Doctor; Lady Jay; Valediction (with Ted); The King Will Come (with Ted); Prelude; In The Skin (with Ted); Why Don’t We (with Ted); Way Of The World; Living Proof (with Laurie); Jailbait (with Ted/Laurie)
Classic Wishbone Ash reunited
SEP 1 2012
Laurie Wisefield, Martin Turner, Steve Upton and Ted Turner reunited for MTWA Garden Party - Liscombe Park Studios, Bucks, 31 August 2012.
MTWA wish to thank all fans, musicians and associates for showing their support and making the MTWA Garden Party at Liscombe Park such a great success. More to follow from the event shortly
Martin and Ted Turner celebrate Geoff Downes' 60th Birthday
AUG 28 2012
Martin Turner, Ted Turner and ELO cellist Hugh McDowell were spotted at Asia/Yes keyboard player Geoff Downes' 60th birthday discussing ELO and Wishbone Ash sharing the bill in Buffalo in 1973.
Martin Turner on GTFM
AUG 15 2012
Martin Turner will be making another radio appearance to promote his autobiography No Easy Road.
Martin will appear on the GTFM Rock Show presented by Andy Fox 9-11pm on Thursday 16 August www.gtfm.co.uk. The programme will re-broadcast on BCFM 93.2FM www.bcfm.org.uk on Friday 17 August 9-11pm.
We are pleased to confirm that all advance orders of Martin Turner's autobiography No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash have now been mailed. Everyone who ordered in advance should receive their signed copy within the coming days (please allow for delivery time to your respective territory).
If you haven't yet ordered the book, you may do so by visiting our ordering page.
We look forward to hearing your comments and reviews of the book
No Easy Road - signed edition
JULY 11 2012
As reported yesterday, Martin Turner's autobiography No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash and Beyond is now in stock.
Martin has been at management offices today signing copies for advance order customers.
No Easy Road - Book Update
JULY 10 2012
The news you have all been waiting for - the No Easy Road books have now arrived back from the printers!
We're happy to report that the books have passed quality control and everyone involved with Martin Turner behind the scenes is delighted with the final product.
There will now follow several days of signing, followed by packing, after which the books will be mailed on Monday 16 July at the latest.
No Easy Road - Book Update
JULY 4 2012
Great news for those who have ordered Martin Turner's autobiography No Easy Road: My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash and Beyond...
We have total assurance that stock will be delivered into the fulfillment company mailing the books on Tuesday 10 July (yes, that's 2012!). There will then be several days of Martin signing pre-orders, plus the orders being packaged. The books will then be mailed, as last announced, on Monday 16 July.
Thanks again to everyone for your patience on this matter - we are sure you will be pleased with the end product.
MTWA Garden Party - Update
JUNE 28 2012
Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash and its management would like to thank all who have been in touch expressing an interest in attending the MTWA Garden Party in Buckinghamshire on 31 August 2012.
The response to this proposal has been overwhelming and the interest expressed has exceeded all expectations and the number of applicants by far exceeds the number of invitations available to this intimate event.
To be fair to all who expressed interest, invitations have been allocated by draw and the lucky applicants will receive their official invitations shortly. We regret any disappointment to those who have not been lucky this time.
We regret that no further applications for this event can be accepted and only named ticket holders will be admitted.
MTWA Garden Party update
JUNE 26 2012
Please note the application process for the MTWA garden party is now CLOSED - no more enquiries please. A further update regarding existing applications will be made in due course.
Durham and Cleethorpes festival update
JUNE 20 2012
In this update concerning this weekend's festival appearances in Durham and Cleethorpes, we are pleased to announce that Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash will now be headlining these events, following the withdrawal of Robin Trower, owing to family illness.
MTWA will now play a 90 minute set at each show.
See our tour dates page for links to festival websites and further information.
Garden Party update
JUNE 19 2012
Last call for those interested in attending this event - please firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 9pm on Wednesday 20 June, after which no further applications will be taken.
Borderline review - Record Collector
JUNE 7 2012
This review from top UK magazine Record Collector, by respected journalist Mark Taylor
Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash
View: standing, left, near bar
Refusing to throw down the sword with his former band-mate, Andy Powell, bassist and original singer, Martin Turner, continues to front his own version of Ash, focusing on their classic vintage years. A rammed Borderline was treated to two sets filled with many delights. Turner, in colourful trousers and a single dread lock, had twin lead guitars care of the playful Ray Hatfield, and Danny Wilson, who took on vocals in 'Rock ’N’ Roll Widow'. Epics like opener 'The King Will Come', 'The Pilgrim' and 'Phoenix', were master classes for younger bands in the art of time-changing songs. Their not so serious side was expressed with a snippet of 'The Lumberjack Song' before 'Warrior', and grown men gleefully danced to such gems as 'Sometime World', 'Ballad Of The Beacon' and the rousing 'Blowin’ Free'. Some of the best sounds to come out of the 70s.
MTWA Garden Party
JUNE 1 2012
Some exciting news for the Jubilee weekend...
We are proposing a MTWA Garden Party, with MTWA friends and press, on Friday 31 August 2012, at a venue to be confirmed, within the rolling Buckinghamshire countryside.
* MTWA will perform a specially constructed live set which will differ greatly to that performed during the No Easy Road tour.
* The band has taken on board many of the comments aired on its fan forum and are intent on compiling a show that will please the band's most loyal supporters and those with a keen appreciation of the wider Wishbone Ash catalogue.
* The performance will be recorded for a future live release and, as such, will focus primarily on songs that have not featured on the various live releases to date.
* Expect to hear a full electric set featuring returning classics from the extensive MTWA repertoire - songs that have not featured in recent shows
* MTWA HAS ENJOYED SOME POSITIVE TIME IN THE STUDIO RECENTLY AND WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT A BRAND NEW MTWA STUDIO RELEASE WILL FOLLOW IN DUE COURSE. THE BAND HAS AUTHORISED US TO STATE CATEGORICALLY THAT THERE WILL BE AT LEAST ONE NEW SONG PLAYED FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THIS SEPECIAL EVENT.
This event will be by exclusive invite only – please contact email@example.com to register your interest in attending this special event.
Book Preview #5 - Wishbone & Quo
MAY 25 2012
We are pleased to present another exclusive taster of Martin Turner's forthcoming autobiography No Easy Road - My Life and Times with Wishbone Ash and Beyond.
Moving much further into the story, the time is 1976 and Wishbone Ash are on tour in the US, promoting the Locked In album.
Supporting us on some of the US shows were Status Quo. They had achieved a great deal of success in the UK and Europe by this time, with both album and singles success, but their brand of denim-clad boogie rock had failed to make an impression in America. Possibly this was because America already had a number of bands doing a similar thing and it was almost like taking coals to Newcastle. They had a very hard time trying to crack the States and they rarely went back there again. There are a lot of people who didn’t make it in America - Cliff Richard is probably the earliest example of a successful British artist who is unknown in the States. On one of the gigs Status Quo did with us, their guitarists Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt had come from the dressing room up to the stage ready to play. Then their bassist Alan Lancaster and drummer John Coghlan came walking through to go to the stage and suddenly the pair of them started fighting. They were smacking the shit out of each other, having this full-on bundle, just a few yards away from me. I went over to them and grabbed them and said “Guys, for fuck’s sake, your guitar players are up there onstage. You’ve got a show to do – why don’t you just postpone your little brawl until after the show.” They were clearly not happy, but they went on and did the show. Years later Status Quo memorably opened the Live Aid event and were seen by millions as they performed ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’. What a great way to open that show.
Just a few years earlier Martin and the Empty Vessels had encountered Status Quo in an earlier formation...
We supported sixties singer Tommy Quickly. He was completely drunk on stage but his backing band were great – they turned out to be Status Quo, although at this time they were known as Traffic Jam.
In 2012 the wheel turns full circle and we are proud to announce that Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash will be special guests of Status Quo at a prestigious open air concert at Singleton Park, Swansea on 25 August, an event promoted by one of Wishbone Ash's promoters from the 1980 tour.
MTWA on Twitter
APRIL 30 2012
MTWA is now on Twitter
If you have a Twitter account, please follow us!
Martin Turner in Classic Rock magazine
APRIL 23 2012
Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash are featured in the latest issue of Classic Rock magazine, where Martin is interviewed by Dave Ling.
Martin Turner BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Interview
APRIL 11 2012
Continuing the series of media appearances to promote the No Easy Road autobiography and book another Martin Turner interview is now online.
Martin was interviewed on the Sue Marchant show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire last night and the interview is online for a limited time.
No Easy Road - Book Preview #4
APRIL 10 2012
As the arrival of Martin Turner's autobiography No Easy Road edges nearer, here is another extract from the book.
The year is 1970. The Empty Vessels have come to an end following Glenn Turner's departure, and Martin Turner and Steve Upton have recruited guitarists Ted Turner and Andy Powell. Wishbone Ash is formed and the band begin gigging, mainly around the London area. By April 1970 they have started to travel further afield, taking in a show at Liverpool's legendary Cavern Club along the way...
Most of our early gigs were in and around the London area, but by the Spring of 1970 we were starting to travel further afield. We played The Swan in Yardley, Birmingham, which was Ted’s neck of the woods. I can remember going up to Birmingham and meeting Ted’s family – his mother, father and sister, who were all lovely people. We also played The Cavern Club, where the Beatles had started, in Liverpool. The place had become quite legendary because of the Beatles, but we arrived there to find this disgusting smelly little hovel of a place. The backstage area was a closet with room for one or two people. The drainage and ventilation were awful. Condensation would run down the walls and the place just stank of mould. It was very unhealthy in a lot of respects, but a great gig nonetheless, despite having clearly been left untouched for so long that it was literally falling apart at the seams. Years later, of course, it was rebuilt very accurately, using many of the bricks from the original building. I heard that the sewage discharged into an open pit at the back, hence the rather unpleasant aroma. When they dredged it all out they even found skeletons which dated back to the fifteenth or sixteenth century – nice job for someone! I went back there recently and thought they’d done a brilliant job and turned it into a really nice gig. It’s a lot better than it was originally. Across the road they have a wall of bricks with the names of all the bands that played there. Right in the middle of the wall are the Beatles and just beneath that is Wishbone Ash! What a flattering place to be – right at the centre! Somebody in Liverpool must have been incredibly fond of us to have afforded the band that level of significance. It’s quite an honour – thanks Liverpool!
LIMITED EDITION SIGNED COPIES of No Easy Road can be ordered from ourstore page.
Book & VIP Ticket Competition on Classic Rock
APRIL 5 2012
Classic Rock magazine's website are running a competition to win a copy of Martin Turner's autobiography No Easy Road as well as VIP tickets to the forthcoming Milton Keynes concert.
Closing date for competition is 9 April 2012
Martin Turner on Total Rock Radio
APRIL 5 2012
On Rich Davenport's Rock Show this week (on www.totalrock.com Thursday 5th April 21:00-23:00 UK time, repeated Saturday 7th April 08:00-10:00 UK time) Martin Turner, will be talking about his new autobiography No Easy Road and also discussing the current MTWA tour. Martin will also choose a couple of classic Ash tracks, and the show will also feature an exclusive competition to win a signed copy of No Easy Road and a pair of VIP tickets to the band's show at The Stables in Milton Keynes on Wednesday 11th April 2012.These tickets will be located within the first two rows of the auditorium and will include pre-show access to the band's soundcheck as well as a meet and greet with the band before the show - the only occasion on which such access will be available during the No Easy Road tour. Full details of the competition will be on the Total Rock website when the show is broadcast (www.totalrock.com/swag)
In our third preview of Martin Turner's autobiography No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash and Beyond, Martin talks of his move to London in May 1969:
On 13 May 1969 Steve, Glenn and I packed all of our equipment together with a case full of clothes each and headed for London – with nowhere to live! We had talked about doing this for years, but we were having such a great time where we were that there had been no incentive to move. But my accident on New Year’s Eve changed the whole equation for me. Steve, at the time, was a little conservative. He wanted to give notice and work out a month at his job. He wanted us to save some money before we went so that we would be able to get flats and generally support ourselves, and he was quite right. Steve was that bit older and more responsible whereas I tended to shoot from the hip. I remember my parents’ reaction when I told them we were going to London to try to make it in the music business. My mother’s reaction was that of a typical mother “Make sure you’ve got enough clothes, towels and sheets, dear”. Although he had come out with us on our early gigs and had generally been supportive of my interest in music, Dad was unconvinced that I was going to be able to make a career out of music and was sure I was going to be back with my tail between my legs in a couple of months.
This was actually quite good for me as it actually gave me something to kick against. It gave me an absolute determination to succeed in order to prove him wrong. Years later, after I had achieved success in the music business, Dad was really quite proud of my accomplishments. He loved music and being around young people and I would send him albums and he would give me feedback.
When we arrived in London we knocked on the door of the only guy we knew there – Phil Dunne, a recording engineer at Advision studios. He came to the door and said “Wow, what are you guys doing here?” We said “Well, here we are, Phil. We said we were going to come to London one day and this is it.” And he said “Oh my God, you’re kidding me? Why didn’t you let me know?” Phil immediately found us a bedsit in Chalk Farm and that’s where we lived for the first few months.
Shortly before we moved to London, we’d changed the name of our band to Tanglewood. As we were going to London to start from scratch in the music business, we thought we may as well pick a new name but, with hindsight, the change was fairly pointless as the new name only lasted five minutes. Since we’d been known as the Empty Vessels for a very long time, that’s how I will always think of the band. After having come up from the West Country, where we had built up a solid reputation, had a lot of contacts and had managed to keep a pretty busy working diary, it came as quite a shock when we discovered just how difficult it was for an unknown band to get work in London. Because we were new kids in town we didn’t have a huge network of contacts. Also, there were so many bands starting out around that time. A lot of bands and artists were trying to do the same thing as we were. Just getting a foot in the door was near impossible, although we did get a handful of gigs here and there. We knocked on a lot of doors, spoke to agents, managers and record companies. Some of them expressed interest, but nothing came of it.
Garden Party Reunion covered by Classic Rock
SEP 3 2012
The classic 1970s Wishbone Ash reunion at MTWA's Garden Party is covered on Classic Rock magazine's website. The article includes exclusive interviews with Martin Turner and Steve Upton - the latter giving his first interview since his 1990 departure.