Wishbone Ash

Wishbone Ash

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Wishbone Ash

Wishbone Ash are a British rock band who achieved success in the early and mid-1970s. Their popular records included Wishbone Ash (1970), Pilgrimage (1971), Argus (1972), There's the Rub (1974), and New England (1976). They were one of the first bands to use twin lead guitars.

Wishbone Ash are considered to be one of the major innovators of the harmony twin lead guitar format. Their contributions helped Andy Powell and Ted Turner to be voted "Two of the Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History" (Traffic magazine 1989), and to appear in the "Top 20 Guitarists Of All Time" (Rolling Stone). Melody Maker (1972) described Powell and Turner as "the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds".

Formed in Torquay, Devon, in 1969, out of the ashes of trio The Empty Vessels (originally known as The Torinoes, later briefly being renamed Tanglewood in 1969), which had been formed by Wishbone Ash's founding member Martin Turner (bass & vocals) in 1963 and complemented by Steve Upton (drums and percussion) in 1966. The original Wishbone Ash line-up was completed by guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner. In 1974, Ted Turner left the band, and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield.[1] The band continued on with strong critical and commercial success until 1980.

After revolving line-ups featuring former members from King Crimson, Trapeze, and Uriah Heep, Wisefield left in 1985. In 1987, however, the original line-up reunited for several albums Nouveau Calls, Here to Hear and Strange Affair until 1990, when Upton quit the band. After Martin Turner was replaced in 1991, the band recorded The Ash Live in Chicago, before Ted Turner left in 1993.[1]


Formation and rise to fame (1969-1980)

Wishbone Ash were formed in October 1969 by bass guitarist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton. When Tanglewood's original guitarist, Martin's brother Glenn Turner left the trio and returned to his native Devon, their manager, Miles Copeland III advertised for a guitar player and also for a keyboard player. After an extensive search for a guitarist, the band could not decide between the final two candidates, Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation to Martin).[2] It was suggested that they try both guitar players "just to see what it sounds like". Differing from the twin lead sound of The Allman Brothers Band, Wishbone Ash included strong elements of progressive rock, and also of folk and classical music. After the band members wrote several suggested band names on two sheets of paper, Martin Turner picked one word from each list - 'Wishbone' and 'Ash'.[3]

In early 1970, the band scored an opening spot for Deep Purple. Blackmore later recommended the band to producer Derek Lawrence and helped them secure a record deal with Decca/MCA Records.

The band's eponymous debut album, Wishbone Ash, was released in December 1970. One year later, the group released Pilgrimage. The band peaked commercially in 1972 with Argus, their highest placed entry in the UK Albums Chart (#3).[1] The album was voted by the readers of Sounds as the "best rock album of the year", also "Top British Album" (Melody Maker). The band were getting international acclaim for their live performances as they gained popularity around the world.[4]

The band had now begun to play major arenas as headliners. Wishbone Four (1973) was the band's first record without producer Derek Lawrence, as the band decided to produce the album themselves. In December 1973, the band released a double live album, Live Dates. There was an album released called Wishbone Ash Live in Memphis, which was a promo to FM radio stations but never sold in stores . Not long after, guitarist Ted Turner left the band. After replacing Turner with guitarist Laurie Wisefield, the band relocated to the United States and recorded There's the Rub (1974).[1] Locked In (1976), produced by Tom Dowd, saw the band moving towards US soft-rock territory and the group began touring with a keyboard player.

1976's New England returned to the traditional Wishbone Ash style. Front Page News (1977) was the band's final in USA recorded album of this period.

In 1978, after years of experimental albums, the band decided to return to its roots with No Smoke Without Fire, the first to be produced by Derek Lawrence since Argus in 1972. The album contained mainly songs written by Laurie Wisefield and Martin Turner. The band spent six months making the next album, Just Testing which was released in February 1980. Pressured by MCA to make more commercial music, the band considered bringing in a lead singer and restricting Martin Turner's duties to bass guitar only. After eleven years, Martin Turner decided to part company with the band.

Line-up instability (1981-1986)

Turner was replaced by bassist vocalist John Wetton, formerly of Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep and U.K.. Number the Brave was released in April 1981 and featured Wetton's lead vocals on just one song, although during album sessions he had offered songs such as "Here Comes the Feeling" that would eventually sell millions when released on Asia's 1982 debut album. Wetton did not continue with Wishbone Ash beyond the album sessions and rejoined Asia.

Wetton was replaced on the Number the Brave tour by the former Uriah Heep bassist Trevor Bolder.[1] Also joining the band was female backing vocalist, Claire Hamill, who had sung on both the Just Testing and Number the Brave albums. In 1982, after Hamill's departure, the band experimented with heavy metal on the Twin Barrels Burning album. It became the highest charting Wishbone Ash album in years (UK #22).[1]

Bolder left the group to rejoin Uriah Heep in 1983, to be replaced by bassist/vocalist Mervyn Spence (ex-Trapeze).[1] The group continued with a heavy metal side on 1985's Raw to the Bone, which became the first Wishbone Ash album not to make the charts. Not long after, Wisefield quit after being in the band for eleven years for a varied career that would include work with Tina Turner, Joe Cocker, Roger Chapman, Jeff Wayne and the Queen musical We Will Rock You. He was replaced by Jamie Crompton, who in turn was succeeded briefly by Phil Palmer. Early in 1986, Mervyn Spence quit as well, to be replaced by ex-Kinks bassist Andy Pyle.[1]

Reunions and departures (1987-1994)

In 1987, I.R.S. Records founder and original Wishbone manager Miles Copeland III began a series of albums entitled No Speak, which featured all instrumental music. In order to launch the label successfully, Copeland needed a big name band that would bring publicity to the project. Copeland approached the four founding members of Wishbone Ash about having the original line-up record an all-instrumental album. For the first time in fourteen years, Andy Powell and Steve Upton joined forces with Martin Turner and Ted Turner to record the album Nouveau Calls, released in February 1988.[1] The original line-up's tour of 1988 was a huge success, as the band played large venues for the first time since the late 1970s. In August 1989, the band released a reunion album with vocals entitled Here to Hear,[1] featuring mainly songs written by Ted and Martin Turner.

In 1990 the band went back into the studio to record the follow-up to Here to Hear. The band were shocked when founding member Upton, the band's drummer for their entire career, announced his retirement from the music industry. They enlisted session drummer Robbie France to help out on some studio tracks and live shows. The band permanently settled on drummer Ray Weston. Strange Affair was released in May 1991.[1]

Later in 1991, the band decided to continue without founding member Martin Turner, with the bassist/vocalist being replaced by returnee Andy Pyle, who had been in the band years earlier. The band toured throughout 1992/93, releasing the live album The Ash Live in Chicago.[1] 1994 saw the second and final departure of Ted Turner.

Reunion years to present (1995present)

At this stage Andy Powell was the only original member left in Wishbone Ash. Powell enlisted guitarist/songwriter Roger Filgate, bassist/vocalist Tony Kishman joined and drummer Mike Sturgis. The new line-up debuted on a short UK/European tour in spring 1995.

By the time of the band's 25th anniversary tour in late 1995, Tony Kishman was finding touring difficult due to other performing engagements in the United States. Founding member Martin Turner returned to hold the bass and vocal position for touring duties, although Tony Kishman would be recalled to record lead vocals for the band's next album. Illuminations was released in 1996 and featured the Powell, Filgate, Kishman, Sturgis line-up. Powell relied on fan donations and outside assistance to help finance the album.

By 1998, Kishman, Sturgis and Filgate had departed, and so Powell sourced Bob Skeat on bass guitar, Mark Birch as the other half of the twin lead attack and former drummer Ray Weston. Wishbone Ash went on to release two electronic dance albums on UK indie label Invisible Hands Music.The albums contained electronic beats blended with Wishbone Ash guitar riffs. Trance Visionary was the first of the pair, spawning a 12" single of four mixes that was a clubland smash and reached number 38 on the UK dance chart. Psychic Terrorism followed.

The band then released an acoustic album of classic and new songs entitled Bare Bones before hitting the road in 2000 to celebrate their 30th anniversary. A filmed show was held at Shepherds Bush Empire in London, where the band welcomed special guests Wisefield and Hamill as well as other friends for a star-studded concert that resulted in Live Dates 3 and a live DVD.

In 2001, Mark Birch was replaced by guitarist Ben Granfelt. The band hit the road for their most extensive touring schedule in years. Wishbone Ash returned to the studio in 2002 for the Bona Fide album. 2003 saw the band touring across the world with Savoy Brown, playing their largest number of American dates since the 1980s.

Ben Granfelt left the band to continue working on his solo career. Granfelt's mentor, Muddy Manninen, joined the band. In late 2006, the band released a new studio album entitled Clan Destiny. In 2007, longtime drummer Ray Weston left the band, stating that he was tired of constant touring and wanted to concentrate on different things.[5] He was replaced by Joe Crabtree, known for his work with Pendragon and King Crimson violinist David Cross. In late 2007, the band released Power of Eternity; their first with new member Joe Crabtree.

On 25 November 2011 Wishbone Ash released their 23rd album, the well received Elegant Stealth, which is also the first album to be recorded by the same line up as the predecessor since 1989.

In 2013, a dispute about trade mark infringement and the use of the name "Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash" was decided in court.

Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash

Main article: Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash

In 2004, founding Wishbone Ash member Martin Turner returned to form his own version of the band under the name Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash. The group has toured extensively throughout the UK and Europe and has released three live albums 'New Live Dates Vol.1', 'New Live Dates Vol.2' and 'Life Begins' (the latter also available on DVD), all containing classic Wishbone Ash songs, as well as a re-recording of the original band's 1972 Argus album.[6] Original Wishbone Ash guitarist Ted Turner has also made appearance with the band.

In July 2012 Martin Turner published his autobiography 'No Easy Road - My Life and Times With Wishbone Ash and Beyond' through his www.wishboneash.co.uk website. The book chronicles the classic Wishbone Ash years, as well as Turner's personal journey, and contained contributions from former Wishbone Ash members Ted Turner (who also wrote the foreword to the book), Laurie Wisefield and Ray Weston, as well as other key figures in the story.

On 31 August 2012, the band held a Garden Party at Liscombe Park, Bedfordshire where they played a number of less frequently performed songs for an invited audience that included fans, music press, family and friends. The band were joined on stage by Ted Turner, Laurie Wisefield and Steve Upton, marking a re-union of 4 out of 5 members of the two classic line ups of Wishbone Ash.

Special events

Wishbone Ash have developed two group gatherings, AshCon in the UK and AshFest in the United States. These began in 1994 and have developed into gatherings of the 'faithful' and have since become annual fixtures.


Role Albums and years
Wishbone Ash (1970) Pilgrimage (1971) Argus (1972) Wishbone Four (1973) There's the Rub (1974) Locked In (1976) New England (1976) Front Page News (1977) No Smoke Without Fire (1978) Just Testing (1980) Number the Brave (1981) Twin Barrels Burning (1982) Raw to the Bone (1985) (1985 1987) Nouveau Calls (1987) Here to Hear (1989) Strange Affair (1991) (1992 1994) (1995 1996) Illuminations (1996) Trance Visionary (1997) Psychic Terrorism (1998) Bona Fide (2002) (2004 2005) Clan Destiny (2006) Power of Eternity (2007) Elegant Stealth (2011)
Vocals/Guitar Andy Powell
Vocals/Guitar Ted Turner Laurie Wisefield Jamie Crompton Ted Turner Roger Filgate Mark Birch Ben Granfelt Muddy Manninen
Bass/Vocals Martin Turner John Wetton Trevor Bolder Mervyn Spence Andy Pyle Martin Turner Andy Pyle Tony Kishman Bob Skeat
Drums Steve Upton Ray Weston Mike Sturgis Ray Weston Joe Crabtree


Main article: Wishbone Ash discography

Studio albums

  • Wishbone Ash (1970)
  • Pilgrimage (1971)
  • Argus (1972)
  • Wishbone Four (1973)
  • There's the Rub (1974)
  • Locked In (1976)
  • New England (1976)
  • Front Page News (1977)
  • No Smoke Without Fire (1978)
  • Just Testing (1980)
  • Number the Brave (1981)
  • Twin Barrels Burning (1982)
  • Raw to the Bone (1985)
  • Nouveau Calls (1987)
  • Here to Hear (1989)
  • Strange Affair (1991)
  • Illuminations (1996)
  • Trance Visionary (1997)
  • Psychic Terrorism (1998)
  • Bare Bones (1999)
  • Bona Fide (2002)
  • Clan Destiny (2006)
  • Power of Eternity (2007)[1]
  • Elegant Stealth (2011)
  • Blue Horizon (2014)

Live albums

  • Live in Memphis (Radio Promo LP, 1972)
  • Live Dates (1973)
  • Live in Tokyo (Japan only release, 1979)
  • Live Dates Volume II (1980)
  • Hot Ash (Edited US version of Live Dates Volume II and more, 1981)
  • Live in Bristol (1990)
  • Live in Chicago (1992)
  • The King Will Come (1999)
  • Live Dates 3 (2001)
  • Almighty Blues: London and Beyond a live album recorded on the two-year 2002-2003 tour in support of the studio album Bona Fide. Portions were also released on a video of the same name. It marks the final appearance of guitarist Ben Granfelt.
  • Live in Hamburg (2007)
  • Argus "Then Again" Live (2008)
  • 40th Anniversary - Live in London (2009)


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography, 5th, p. 1076-1077, Edinburgh: Mojo Books.
  2. Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash - official site - history - 1960s. Wishboneash.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-08-19.
  3. Wishbone Ash Biography. Wishbone Ash official site. Retrieved on 2007-07-11. Finally there were two lists, one of which had the word Wishbone on it and the other of which had Ash. The combination sounded intriguing - actually, it sounded like more than it was.
  4. Wishbone Ash Biography. Wishbone Ash official site. Retrieved on 2007-07-11. The British music magazine Melody Maker awarded Argus the accolade of "The Best British Album Of The Year".
  5. Guy Roberts. Front Page News: Ray Weston. Wishbone Ash official site. Retrieved on 2007-07-11.
  6. Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash - official site. Wishboneash.co.uk. Retrieved on 2012-03-01.

External links

  • The official Wishbone Ash website
  • Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash website, also featuring historical information on the band's vintage years
  • The official Ted Turner website for all the latest news and upcoming tour dates, from the original Wishbone Ash guitarist
  • The official website of guitarist Laurie Wisefield
This page was last modified 13.01.2014 15:40:46

This article uses material from the article Wishbone Ash from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia and it is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.