Wishbone Ash

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Wishbone Ash
Origin Torquay, England, United Kingdom
Years active1969–present
Labels MCA, AVM, Neat, IRS, Invisible Hands Music, Permanent, Talking Elephant, Decca, Steamhammer/SPV
Associated acts Martin Turner
Website wishboneash.com
Members Andy Powell
Bob Skeat
Joe Crabtree
Mark Abrahams
Past members Ted Turner
Martin Turner
Steve Upton
Laurie Wisefield
List of Wishbone Ash band members

Wishbone Ash are a British rock band who achieved success in the early and mid-1970s. Their popular albums included Wishbone Ash (1970), Pilgrimage (1971), Argus (1972), Wishbone Four (1973), There's the Rub (1974), and New England (1976).


Wishbone Ash are noted for their extensive use of harmony twin lead guitars, which had been attracting electric blues bands since Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page had played together in the Yardbirds in 1966. [1] [2] [3] 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 )[ citation needed ]. Melody Maker (1972) described Powell and Turner as "the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds". Several notable bands have cited Wishbone Ash as an influence, including Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Thin Lizzy, Metallica, Dream Theater, Overkill and Opeth. [4] [5]

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. [6] The band continued on with strong critical and commercial success until 1980. There followed line-ups featuring former bass players from King Crimson (John Wetton), Uriah Heep (Trevor Bolder), and Trapeze (Mervyn Spence), 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. [6] This left Andy Powell as the sole remaining original founding member of Wishbone Ash to continue the band on into the future.


Formation and rise to fame (1969–1980)

Wishbone Ash on stage in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, in 1972 Wishbone-ash-charlotte-nc-m.jpg
Wishbone Ash on stage in Charlotte, North Carolina, US, in 1972

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). It was suggested that they try both guitar players "just to see what it sounds like". Differing from the twin lead sound of Southern rock pioneer 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'.

In early 1970, the band secured an opening spot for Deep Purple. Its guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, later recommended Wishbone Ash to producer Derek Lawrence, as well as helping them secure a record deal with Decca/MCA Records. The band's 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). [6] 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.

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 (ex-Home), the band relocated to the US and recorded There's the Rub (1974). [6] 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 last album of this period that was recorded in the US. 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, Andy Powell, Laurie Wisefield and Steve Upton expressed to bassist/vocalist Martin Turner that they planned to recruit a lead singer / frontman, thus restricting Martin Turner's duties to bass guitar only.[ citation needed ] Turner felt unable to support such plans and described the position he was being put in as "untenable". Following a band meeting at his house, Martin Turner parted company with the band. Ironically, the band never recruited the proposed frontman and Turner, in his 2012 autobiography, described the situation as "constructive dismissal". However this was not a view held by the rest of the remaining band members or the then management.

Line-up changes (1981–1986)

Turner was replaced by bassist and 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 instead co-founded Asia.

Wetton was replaced on the Number the Brave tour by the former Uriah Heep bassist Trevor Bolder. [6] 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). [6]

Bolder left the group to rejoin Uriah Heep in 1983, to be replaced by bassist/vocalist Mervyn Spence (ex-Trapeze). [6] The group continued with a rock side on 1985's Raw to the Bone , which became the first Wishbone Ash album not to make the charts. Not long after, Wisefield left after serving as guitarist in the band for eleven years, going on to 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. [6]

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. 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. [6] 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 , [6] 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 drummer Robbie France, but replaced him with Ray Weston when it was determined that personal conflicts between France and Martin Turner could not be resolved. Strange Affair was released in May 1991, featuring mainly songs written by Andy Powell and Ted Turner. [6]

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 . [6] 1994 saw the second and final departure of Ted Turner. Following Turner's departure, Pyle and Weston also left the band.

Reunion years to present (1995–present)

At this stage Andy Powell was the only original member left in Wishbone Ash. Powell enlisted guitarist/songwriter Roger Filgate, bassist/vocalist Tony Kishman, 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 replaced him on bass and vocals for the duration of the tour, before Kishman returned 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.

In 1997, Filgate, Kishman, and Sturgis departed, so Powell brought former drummer Weston back into the fold, along with new members guitarist Mark Birch and bassist Bob Skeat. Wishbone Ash then 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.

Wishbone Ash performing in Aberdeen, Scotland on 28 October 2006 Wishboneash1.jpeg
Wishbone Ash performing in Aberdeen, Scotland on 28 October 2006

In 2001, Mark Birch was replaced by Finnish 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 in 2004 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. 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 court case relating to a trade mark infringement and the use of the name 'Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash' was decided. [7] The court ruled in favour of Andy Powell with the comprehensive judgement forming a clear history of the band since its inception. On 19 February 2014 the 24th studio album Blue Horizon was released. The reviews for this album were generally very positive indeed. As of 2014 this line-up of the band, having been together since 2007, became the longest-lasting line-up of Wishbone Ash in the group's history. On 16 May 2015, Wishbone Ash recorded a live to vinyl album at Metropolis Studios. [8]

On 21–23 May 2015, Wishbone Ash recorded the DVD Live in Paris at Le Triton  [ fr ] in France. The performance included additional percussion and guitar contributions from Andy's son Aynsley Powell. In May 2017, it was announced that Mark Abrahams, a long time Wishbone Ash fan, would be joining on guitar duties. Abrahams is a guitarist who previously owned Vision Guitars, a guitar shop in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England. On 25 June 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Wishbone Ash among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. [9]

On 24 September 2019 it was announced that Wishbone Ash were signed to Steamhammer/SPV and will release Coat of Arms, their first studio album in six years, on 28 February 2020. The album's lead single, "We Stand as One", was premiered on to the band's 50th anniversary in autumn 2019 and was released on 10 January 2020. [5] [10] [11] [12] The second single "Back in the Day" was released on February 7, 2020. [13] The album cover has been created by a heraldry artist Olaf Keller in the Regal Coat of Arms design studio.

Martin Turner - (Ex Wishbone Ash)

Martin Turner began touring in 2004 with "Martin Turner's Wishbone Ash", performing material by the classic line ups of the band. Occasionally Ted Turner and Laurie Wisefield have joined his group on stage as guests. He published his autobiography in 2012. [14]

In 2013 Andy Powell took legal action to protect the Wishbone Ash registered trademark and prevent Martin Turner from using his chosen group name. The court ruled in favour of Andy Powell and Martin Turner's application to appeal was refused. Since then he has toured and recorded with his band as "Martin Turner - (Ex 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.


Current members
Former members


Related Research Articles

<i>Wishbone Four</i> 1973 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Wishbone Four is the fourth studio album by British rock band Wishbone Ash, released in 1973. It was a departure from their previous album, Argus, in that it lacked that recording's overall cohesion and atmosphere and the loose conceptual framework of a stately, pastoral and warring medieval England. Containing only hints of the extended twin-lead guitar harmonies, Wishbone Four's stylistic variety found its footing in acoustic folk elements in half of the eight-song set, two aggressive and melodic starters on each side of the vinyl release, and the band's first use of horns on the semi-autobiographical "rave-up" touring song "No Easy Road".

<i>Theres the Rub</i> 1974 studio album by Wishbone Ash

There's the Rub is the fifth studio album by rock band Wishbone Ash. It is the first album to feature guitarist/vocalist Laurie Wisefield, who would be a major part of the band's creative direction for the next 11 years. It also marked a change in sound. It was the band's first album to be recorded in America and was produced by legendary producer, Bill Szymczyk. Although the trademark twin guitars were still evident, the album had a more "American" feel with a smoother production sound. Nevertheless, after the disappointing critical response the previous studio album, Wishbone Four, reviews for "There's The Rub" were much more positive.

<i>Locked In</i> (album) 1976 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Locked In is the sixth studio album by the rock band Wishbone Ash, and their second with guitarist Laurie Wisefield who had joined the band in 1974. The album peaked at No. 36 in the UK Albums Chart in April 1976, their lowest UK chart placing to date. Considered by many, including the band themselves, to be one of the weaker entries in their extensive catalog. The band frequently place the blame on producer Tom Dowd, who insisted the band play much quieter in the studio, removing much of the energy of their performances. The band had switched U.S. distribution from MCA Records to Atlantic Records for this and the next release, New England.

<i>New England</i> (Wishbone Ash album) 1976 studio album by Wishbone Ash

New England is the seventh studio album by rock band Wishbone Ash released only seven months after Locked In. It was a success compared to Locked In but still did not chart as high as most of their previous albums. It peaked at No. 22 in the UK Albums Chart. This album marked the "Americanization" of Wishbone Ash, as the band relocated from England to the Northeastern United States for tax purposes.

<i>Front Page News</i> 1977 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Front Page News is the eighth album by rock band Wishbone Ash. It peaked at No. 31 in the UK Albums Chart.

<i>No Smoke Without Fire</i> 1978 studio album by Wishbone Ash

No Smoke Without Fire is the ninth studio album by rock band Wishbone Ash. It was the first album since 1972's Argus to be produced by Derek Lawrence. The album peaked at No. 43 in the UK Albums Chart.

<i>Just Testing</i> 1980 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Just Testing is the tenth studio album by the British rock band Wishbone Ash, released on 18 January 1980 by MCA Records. Recorded primarily at Surrey Sound Studios in England, it was the last to feature the original lead vocalist and bass guitarist Martin Turner until the release of Nouveau Calls (1987). The track "Helpless" is only the second cover version released by the band on a studio album, the previous one being "Vas Dis" on Pilgrimage.

<i>Number the Brave</i> 1981 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Number the Brave is the 11th studio album by rock band Wishbone Ash. It is the first album in the band's history recorded without founding bassist/vocalist Martin Turner. Turner was replaced by John Wetton, formerly of King Crimson and Uriah Heep. Also featured on Number the Brave was singer Claire Hamill as backing vocalist, who would join Wishbone Ash on the 1981 tour to promote the album. Following "Vas Dis" on Pilgrimage and "Helpless" on Just Testing, the album featured only the third cover version released by the band on a studio album, Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready", previously a hit for The Temptations.

<i>Twin Barrels Burning</i> 1982 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Twin Barrels Burning is the twelfth studio album by British rock band Wishbone Ash. It was recorded at Sol Studios and released in 1982. It was the highest charting Wishbone Ash album since 1976, reaching No. 22 in the UK Albums Chart. Conversely, it was the final album to appear in that listing to date.

<i>Raw to the Bone</i> 1985 studio album by Wishbone Ash

Raw to the Bone is the 13th album by rock band Wishbone Ash. It is the only Wishbone Ash album to feature Mervyn Spence on bass and vocals. It is also the last album with guitarist/vocalist Laurie Wisefield, who ended his eleven-year stint with Wishbone Ash after the release of this album.

<i>Live Dates 3</i> 2000 live album by Wishbone Ash

Live Dates 3 is a live album from the rock band Wishbone Ash. It was recorded live at le Plan in Ris Orangis, Paris on 22 October 1999. It features 4 tracks originally recorded by the Mark I line up of Turner/Upton/Turner/Powell (1969-74) and 5 tracks recorded by the Mark II line up where Laurie Wisefield replaced Ted Turner (1974-1980). "Wings Of Desire" originally featured on the 1991 album Strange Affair.

Martin Robert Turner is an English musician best known for his time as the bass guitarist, lead vocalist and a founding member of the rock band, Wishbone Ash.

Martin Turners Wishbone Ash

Martin Turner - Ex-Wishbone Ash is a British rock band formed in 2004 by Martin Turner, original bassist, lead vocalist and one of the songwriters of Wishbone Ash Mark 1 and Mark 2 Line up. Including various reunions, his tenures with the "original" Wishbone Ash band lasted 1969-1980, 1987–1991 and 1995-1996. The band initially saw Turner joined by guitarists Keith Buck and Ray Hatfield, as well as drummer Rob Hewins. The band toured extensively throughout the UK and also in Europe with live performances featuring material from Wishbone Ash's heritage years, mixing live standards with lesser heard songs from the Wishbone Ash back catalogue, as documented on the New Live Dates Vols. 1 and 2 albums, released in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Original Wishbone Ash member Ted Turner guested with the band onstage, as documented on the live albums. In March 2008 Keith Buck left the band and was replaced by Danny Willson (ex-Showaddywaddy). In December of the same year it was announced that drummer Rob Hewins had been replaced by Dave Wagstaffe. Hewins went on to join Showaddywaddy late in 2011, making his live debut in January 2012.

<i>Live in Tokyo</i> (Wishbone Ash album) 1979 live album by Wishbone Ash

Live in Tokyo is a live album by the British rock band Wishbone Ash, the album was recorded when the band were playing live at Tokyo Sun Plaza in Japan, on November 10th and 15th, 1978; during their No Smoke Without Fire tour. Released in LP record on March 1979 under MCA Records label. The album was never released outside Japan until 2010 when it was released on compact disc on the Enigmatic record label.

<i>Classic Ash</i> 1977 compilation album by Wishbone Ash

Classic Ash is a compilation album by the rock band Wishbone Ash. It was released in 1977 on MCA Records. It was not issued in the U.S.

The Best of Wishbone Ash is a 1981 greatest hits album released by Wishbone Ash. It was their second compilation after 1977's Classic Ash. This was not issued in the U.S. The album contained tracks from the band's first 10 studio albums although not all albums were represented.

<i>The Very Best of Wishbone Ash: Blowin Free</i> 1994 greatest hits album by Wishbone Ash

The Very Best of Wishbone Ash: Blowin' Free is a 1994 greatest hits album released by Wishbone Ash. The album is heavily weighted towards the original Turner/Upton/Turner/Powell line up with only "Outward Bound and "Persephone" from the Mk II line up featuring Laurie Wisefield who replaced Ted Turner on guitar in 1974. All tracks are the original studio versions except "Throw Down The Sword" which is from Live Dates.

David Alan "Ted" Turner is an English guitarist and vocalist best known for his work with the 1970s rock band Wishbone Ash, in which he was famed for his twin lead guitar instrumental arrangements with Andy Powell. Turner also contributed lap steel guitar to a variety of Wishbone Ash recordings.

<i>Argus "Then Again" Live</i> 2008 live album by Wishbone Ash

Argus "Then Again" Live is a live album by rock band Wishbone Ash.


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