Martin Turner, ex-Wishbone Ash, is joined by his band to deliver Wishbone Ash’s classic first album in its entirety (Worthing Pier Southern Pavilion, Friday, September 14).
“It came out in 1970… or 1870 as I sometimes say! It just feels so long ago!”
Next year will actually be the 50th anniversary of the band itself: “We formed in late 69, but as we got into the 1970s, we decided that we didn’t want to have anything to do with the 60s. We wanted to be new and fresh. We were a 1970s band! It was great. It was a very creative time. There were a lot of people in the music business that were very creative at that time. Music wasn’t run by accountants and people wanting guaranteed results.
“But really I suppose it was all just timing. The 60s were a time when the baby boom people, the people born in the late 40s, were starting to have freedom after the 1950s which was a miserable time. We were teenagers in the 60s and we wanted to expunge all that had gone before. We wanted to rebuild things. We didn’t want to obey the rules, and so we launched into hippydom and free love.
“The 50s had been so depressing and grey. World War Two was an absolute horror show in terms of the devastation and dysfunction that it produced in people’s lives. I remember my parents and my relatives talking about it constantly, and I grew up with this sense of it having been an absolutely-cataclysmic event which of course it was. And then in the 1950s, money was very tight, and things were all very difficult. But by the 1960s we were teenagers and we were tired of all the grey, miserable stuff. We wanted to smoke marijuana and to party and to have this huge creative outpouring.” And so the seeds for Wishbone Ash were sown: “We were in the west country and we were a three-piece band, and we were big fish in a small sea.” But a turning point came when Martin realised that if he was going to become a professional musician, he had to move to London: “I thought we would give ourselves maybe a year and see where it took us. We came up to London in the summer of 69.”
It was tough: “My brother, who was the guitar player, left the band and got a job, and we tried to replace him. We auditioned everyone that was available and that’s when we came up with the idea of the two lead guitars that could play together. It was just a series of accidents really… or maybe fate took a hand.”
But another turning point came when whey supported Deep Purple at Dunstable Civic Hall: “Ritchie Blackmore was definitely impressed. When we were playing, he was standing at the side of the stage watching. He never said a word, but afterwards he called a friend of his.”
One thing led to another and Wishbone Ash ended up with a record deal: “I can picture it all like it was yesterday, but in some ways, it feels like another life!”