Martin Turner and his management team are disappointed that Andy Powell has once again chosen to spread mistruths concerning the state of affairs between himself and the other co-founders of Wishbone Ash in the public domain, both in a recent Japanese magazine interview (reproduced on Andy’s website) and also in a syndicated and clearly orchestrated web release published late last year. There is surprise and disappointment that he should think that such malicious statements will not be countered. And there is astonishment that he would risk the legal consequences of libel and defamation.
The position of the three co-founders of Wishbone Ash – Steve Upton, Ted Turner and Martin Turner – remains the same. They would always prefer that behind the scenes matters are dealt with privately and that any comments they make in the public domain will only be in direct response to mistruths and misleading spin published elsewhere. It is with genuine sadness that this statement has become appropriate, and it is hoped that Mr Powell will cease abusing the public domain in this way. The great name of “Wishbone Ash” deserves better. Disputes should be kept private.
However, as Mr Powell has made various false statements in public, the following statements are in response.
On January 20 2010 Mr Powell published a message which invited the public to believe that Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash had booked a tour of the Netherlands. “That band cancelled” said Mr Powell, stirring fans to believe it was Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash.
That is a complete fabrication. Not only has MTWA NOT cancelled any Dutch gigs, MTWA has not even booked any. MTWA will be touring Holland and Germany, amongst other European territories, later in the year. As we have made clear before, if a gig is not confirmed on this website, it cannot be regarded as official.
We also wish to point out once again that, contrary to comments made on Mr.Powell's website, MTWA does not support, endorse or encourage any misleading promotions of its concerts. Promoters of Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash are provided with all the marketing essentials required to promote their concerts and are instructed to use only the official biographical details and promotional images as supplied. It is a contractual requirement that NO OTHER MARKETING MATERIALS CAN BE USED WITHOUT PRIOR APPROVAL FROM MTWA. Promoters are instructed to bill Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash only by its full title, as this is in both the promoter's and the artist's interests, commercially and ethically, as well as in the interests of the fan-base, who should know exactly what to expect on the night. The two bands presently performing Wishbone Ash music each present a completely different slant on the WA theme, and Martin Turner is happy performing Wishbone Ash music in the way it was originally conceived withsongs in which he had a substantial creative input. Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash has a strong desireNOT to be confused with Andy Powell’s line-up, for obvious reasons, and there is a big clue in the MTWA brand, that Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash is the version containing Martin Turner. Martin wants people to know they are coming to see Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, not Andy’s band. Original Wishbone Ash members Steve Upton, Ted Turner and Martin Turner wish to make it known that they are aware that many of Andy Powell’s concerts for 2010 are already being promoted using classic images of the original Mk.1 line-up of the band, as were several concerts during 2009. Steve, Ted and Martin will not be appearing at these concerts and are disappointed that their images are being used to promote shows that are being performed by Andy Powell’s band. This gives the false impression of a reunion of the original band and will ultimately lead to fans being disappointed. We urge fans to contact us in the first instance should they come across further instances of such misrepresentation and exploitation.
Should fans have any concerns about the advertising of any of Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’s concerts, we urge them to contact us with specific details, rather than engage in posting on fan forums, which results in wildcat speculation and childish and abusive follow-up postings. Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash’s agents will deal with any concerns efficiently and courteously and any genuine errors will be rectified. Juxtapose this with the dismissive response Martin Turner’s team recently received from Andy Powell‘s lawyers. When requested to remove a photograph of the original Mk.1 band being used misleadingly to promote one of Andy Powell’s bands’ concerts, Andy’s lawyers responded to state that Andy or the band "cannot be held responsible" and that MTWA should complain to the promoter, not to Andy. Fair enough, but to avoid considerations of double standards, perhaps the element of Andy Powell’s fan-base that has acted in a judgemental manner towards Martin Turner’s team when third party mistakes have occurred in the past would care to consider Mr Powell’s lawyers’ advice before making silly comments in the public domain. This double standard has been pointed out to Andy and his team in private letters, but Andy and his team have continued to encourage / not curtail hysterical abuse against MTWA on their website, blaming MTWA for promoter errors, when Andy and his team have had assurances of immediate response from MTWA [despite Andy’s lawyer’s opinion].
Add this to the sanctimonious unpleasantness and astonishing number of straightforward lies and misrepresentations contained in Andy’s recent Japanese interview, misleading gullible readers and defaming MTWA and its team. Fortunately, the “reasonable man” is able to see through the self pity and spiteful agenda of a brilliant guitarist, but dubious businessman, who has registered in bad faith a trade mark belonging to several other core members, whose share of ownership, in law, is NOT dependent upon being on the road for 40 years. Martin Turner has already made clear the facts and circumstances surrounding the issues referred to by Mr. Powell in his interview, whereas Mr. Powell has made so many truculent public statements that he regularly contradicts himself and besmirches the brand. He has registered the name in bad faith and he has taken legal action. And he publicly wonders why his ex-colleagues don’t trust him.
We accept that each member of the original band will have his own perspective on events through the years. However, much of Andy Powell’s recent Japanese interview goes well beyond the realms of an “alternative viewpoint” and can be described as nothing short of bare faced LIES. It is saddening that a rock star of Andy’s pedigree should resort to such a malevolence and bitterness.
Once again, for the record, nobody from MTWA has ever approached Andy Powell to ask his permission to use any name. Martin Turner does not need to ask Andy Powell for permission to use a name that Martin co-owns. For Andy to state in public that he was approached for permission to use the brand “Wishbone featuring Martin Turner” is pure fantasy, like other sections in the interview. Wishbone ft Martin Turner was negotiated by Mr Powell’s agent following threats from the Andy Powell camp to promoters in the UK [threatening, improperly, that Mart had no rights to the name and promoters who used it would be sued] – where promoters would only book Martin’s band if it was called Wishbone ft Martin Turner, due to Andy’s legal threats. Wishbone ft Martin Turner involved a gentleman’s agreement with Andy Powell which was regularly broken by Mr.Powell and his team.
The truth is that Andy was notified during his 2004 legal action that MTWA would be called MTWA. MTWA pleads guilty to communicating with Andy regularly since Andy started legal action against Mart in 2004, when he tried to force Mart to hand over his residual rights to the name and brand. Legal action resulting in Andy’s claims being dismissed and Mart being told he could keep his website domain and name, a website that Mart had registered in 1998, and soon after started using as a classic Wishbone Ash site, contrary to the indication of Andy’s public comments. As has been stated before, Mart, Steve, Ted and Laurie all own residual rights in the name. Why should any of them give up their rights? Since 2004, MTWA has tried to negotiate a way forward where the two bands can live together in harmony. It is ludicrous that Andy and his team wish to fight a dirty battle in public. That only demeans the brand. If the two bands could live in harmony, it would stop unscrupulous promoters playing one band off against the other. It would stop the farcical situation where some fans who would ideally like to see both bands, are worried about mentioning Mart’s name at an Andy Powell concert, for fear of the abuse that is regularly dished out by those close to Andy. This comment is sadly becoming all too common. Shame on those who perpetrate and perpetuate it.
Regardless of suggestions and speculation elsewhere, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash has operated totally in accordance with the law – more specifically British law – since its inception. All legal requirements have been met and all extant music industry procedures have been followed. Specifically, merchandising bearing the classic Wishbone Ash designs has been properly licensed with permission and EXCLUSIVE license from the original designers / copyright holders, not pirated as per Andy Powell’s “speciality” shop’s unauthorised usage of these designs. Similarly, MCPS has been paid on song-writing royalties to ensure the core members of the Mk.1 and MK.2 line-ups of Wishbone Ash are remunerated fairly and properly for the songs-writing credits featured on MTWA’s releases. Juxtapose this with Andy Powell’s [and his lawyer’s] refusal to address the issue of unpaid royalties and publishing or produce proof of the correct licenses on projects he has initiated involving the original band members’ co-owned performances and copyrighted compositions, despite several requests. How ironic then that Andy Powell should accuse Martin Turner of “living off past royalties” and state that the original co-founders are “in denial of reality and have no balls”.
There is a tragic culture of distortion, intimidation and malevolence coming from Andy Powell and his organisation and we urge all reasonable people not to get involved with this sad misuse of the public domain.
Any reasonable person must surely wonder why Andy Powell continues to portray himself as a bitter old man, full of self-pity, rather than a rock star in his prime, enjoying a life that many can only dream of.
The fact is that there are two bands playing Wishbone Ash music and both have rights to use the name. Fans should be delighted there are two bands performing Wishbone Ash music. Of course there is potential for confusion in the market place, but this can be minimised by the two bands working together. Legal action is ridiculous. Unlike certain other bands with one core member, there has never been a legal agreement over the name and there has never been a transfer of the core members’ shares in the ownership of the name / brand. Andy cannot legally stop Martin from using the name. Yet his lawyers have been instructed not to negotiate, even on matters of mutual interest, unless all the ex-members hand over their trade mark rights.
It is fully understood that there are fans who believe that Andy should own the name by virtue of his uninterrupted membership of the touring arm of the Wishbone Ash brand. That opinion is not shared, certainly not by the law, but it is respected. There are those who prefer Andy’s band to Mart’s. That is respected. MTWA believes that there should be passion and opinion. But there should also be respect and dignity. Unfettered conspiracy theories are counter-productive to the Wishbone Ash brand.
Conversely, there is a significant constituency which considers Andy’s use of the brand to be confusingto those who remember and prefer “Wishbone Ash” as being the Mk. 1 and Mk 2 versions [especially as Andy’s lawyers advise that Andy has no need to correct photos of the original members]. Mart, Ted and Steve would prefer that Andy goes out as “Andy Powell’s Wishbone Ash”. If this matter proceeds to court, that is the likely ruling. However, rather than go to court and publicly humiliate the brand, Mart has THROUGHOUT this process agreed NOT to oppose Andy’s use of WA, provided Andy takes more care of the publicity photos, and provided Andy withdraws the threat of legal action. Andy has steadfastly refused. Under these circumstances, is there any wonder that the original members thought it would be unwise to join Andy at the Sheperds Bush event? Other ex-members of Wishbone Ash also believed participation to be unwise.
It is regretful that Andy Powell should continue to endorse “wrecking tactics” by allowing animosity and potentially libellous remarks to be made about Martin Turner on his website forum. It is also disappointing that he chooses to embrace litigation rather than work with the original co-founders of the band / brand to reach an agreement that would ensure that all parties’ interests are fairly protected and represented. Such misadventure will encompass several years of futile embarrassment for the brand, whereas a sensible agreement would allow all parties to move on positively and with dignity intact. Surely that is what 99.9% of the millions of fans of Wishbone Ash worldwide would want? Apart from those with blind faith and closed minds, none of the fanbase would want to see Andy and Martin [and numerous witnesses] risking oblivion of the brand in court. Even if Andy decides that his chances do not warrant the risk, is he prepared to embrace Jaw jaw, not war war?
Finally, those that have watched Mart schlep up and down the motorways of Europe in his minibus, playing to handfuls of people in the early days of MTWA, gradually building his own brand and fanbase, celebrating all of his post-sixty birthdays on the road, will know that this is not about money. This is about the music and Mart’s joy at being back on stage playing music that he was responsible for. He is not setting out to harm Andy, and judging by Andy’s and Mart’s current itineraries, there is a returning and recurring fanbase seeing both bands, despite the hostilities. Andy’s current itinerary begs the question as to how MTWA is causing him harm. Confusion in the market place? Only for those who want to create division. Two bands on the road playing Wishbone Ash music. That should be celebrated.
Once again, it is an absolute shame that the public statements issued and endorsed by Andy Powell have been so misleading. It is an indignity that these public statements have demanded response and truth. Let us hope that the dirty linen can be brought back into the private, left to the advisers to resolve, either by agreement or in court, but without the humiliation of self pity, false witness and schadenfreude in public.
Cut through the rewritten history, misinformation and lies, and it is clear that the Emperor's new clothes should probably not be worn in public.