History of April Wine

IN THE BEGINNING….

april-wine-in-the-beginningIt all began in Nova Scotia late in 1969. The Henman brothers, David and Ritchie, got together with their cousin Jim Henman and fellow musician Myles Goodwyn to form a band called April Wine, a name chosen simply because they were two words that sounded good together. Fifteen studio albums, three live releases, numerous compilations, a boxed set and thousands of concerts later April Wine has become enormously popular in Canada, the United States and throughout the world.

THE FIRST DECADE….

By the spring of 1970 April Wine had relocated from Halifax to Montreal and were making a self-titled album for Aquarius Records. This first album established Myles Goodwyn as a composer with Fast Train receiving much airplay throughout Canada and becoming the main reason April Wine was able to record a second album. In the fall of 1971 Jim Henman left the band and was replaced by Montreal native Jim Clench.

Famed producer Ralph Murphy worked with the group on their second album On Record. Murphy’s mission was to give April Wine a major international hit and he came very close to doing just that. The album pushed the band into the North American public spotlight for the first time. You Could Have Been a Lady, originally recorded in England by Hot Chocolate, was a phenomenal hit for April Wine. This song provided the band with a #1 hit in Canada and allowed them to crack Billboard’s Top 30 in the USA where it remained for 11 weeks. On Record also included another notable tune; a cover of Elton John’s Bad Side Of The Moon.

Following the Gold success of the second album it was clear that April Wine had the chance to become one of Canada’s most significant rock bands. Ralph Murphy would be back to produce the follow up album but there would be changes in the band. By the completion of Electric Jewels a new April Wine would emerge. This band would no longer include the Henman brothers.

THE NEXT GENERATION….

april-wine-the-next-generationEarly in 1973 the two remaining members, Myles Goodwyn and Jim Clench, faced the dilemma of taking the band to the next level. After a few auditions Jerry Mercer and Gary Moffet joined the band and April Wine became a tighter, flashier band. The two new members helped to complete album number three; Electric Jewels. This album remains a fan favorite with such classic songs as Weeping Widow, Just Like That and Lady Run Lady Hide. It provides a great example of the writing talents of Goodwyn and Clench. The following spring the band hit the road with a national tour called The Electric Adventure. This tour was the first to use dramatic lighting and pyrotechnic displays as an integral part of their show, a feature that would prove to be extremely popular during their international stardom and would lend influence to various emerging artists, Garth Brooks for one.

THE MAKING OF THE CLASSICS….

april-wine-the-making-of-the-classicsForever For Now, the band’s sixth album, included a Canadian music milestone for the band; the best selling Canadian single the band ever released. Both the single, You Won’t Dance With Me, as well as the album reached critical acclaim with the single reaching Gold and the album reaching Gold then Platinum in Canada.

Many people consider Stand Back to be one of the band’s greatest accomplishments. This album provided the hits Tonight Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love and I Wouldn’t Want To Lose Your Love but the non-hits were even more remarkable. Songs like Cum Hear The Band, Slowpoke, Don’t Push Me Around and Oowatanite helped push Stand Back to Double-Platinum status in Canada.

With the release of The Whole World’s Goin’ Crazy, Steve Lang had replaced Jim Clench on bass guitar. This album made April Wine the first Canadian band to achieve Platinum advance sales orders and included another April Wine classic in the ballad Like A Lover, Like A Song.

Forever For Now, the band’s sixth album, included a Canadian music milestone for the band; the best selling Canadian single the band ever released. Both the single, You Won’t Dance With Me, as well as the album reached critical acclaim with the single reaching Gold and the album reaching Gold then Platinum in Canada.

A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS….

The year was 1977 and when The Rolling Stones decided to record Love You Live at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto April Wine was the “smoke screen”. April Wine was selected to pose as the headliner for a charity event with a group called The Cockroaches as the opening act. Of course the Cockroaches, to everyone’s delight, turned out to be The Rolling Stones. April Wine’s album Live At The El Mocambo was a compilation of April Wine’s most popular concert songs with two additional covers and the studio track She’s No Angel, which went onto become a Canadian hit. The subsequent tour led to yet another change for the band.

NOW WE’RE FIVE….

april-wine-now-were-fiveFollowing the release of Live At The El Mocambo a fifth member was added to the band. Brian Greenway joined the lineup for the summer 1977 tour and gave the group some added flexibility. Brian could sing, write and play harmonica but his greatest contribution to April Wine was on guitar. Since Myles was a surprisingly skilled keyboard player it was invaluable to have a third guitar player and April Wine could now create arrangements for three guitars which would develop into the group’s trademark power rock image during the following years.

THE CAPITOL YEARS….

april-wine-the-capitol-yearsThe band’s seventh studio album would prove to be the group’s turning point. It was the third single from First Glance that made April Wine an international success. Radio listeners in Flint Michigan made Roller a top request number. This single was eventually a Top 30 hit in the U.S.A. and First Glance became the band’s first Gold record outside of Canada. Roller remained on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart for 11 weeks while First Glance stayed on Billboard’s 200 Album chart for 11 weeks as well. 1979 proved to be a very good year for Canadian Wine indeed.

Major artists such as Rush, Journey and Styx requested that April Wine open their shows in the United States. American audiences were finally being exposed to this “new” band called April Wine. Canada’s best kept secret was finally out in the open.

It was a confident group that recorded Harder…Faster in the summer of 1979. The album featured the hardest rock that April Wine had ever recorded. This album included such powerful songs as I Like To Rock, which American radio embraced, and Say Hello which went to the top of the charts in Canada. The popularity of these songs helped keep the album on Billboard’s 200 Album charts for a whopping 40 weeks! Harder…Faster helped the group collect more Gold and Platinum awards on both sides of the border.

The first months of 1980 saw April Wine touring as Nazareth’s opening act throughout the United States. In city after city promoters remarked on the powerful pairing of the bands. Most felt that the show would be a better draw if April Wine headlined. The time had finally come for April Wine to take top billing outside of Canada. A decade of hard work had finally paid off.

THE SECOND DECADE

april-wine-the-second-decadeThe group’s ninth studio album, The Nature Of The Beast, became April Wine’s greatest success. Released in January of 1981, the first single Just Between You and Me broke Billboard’s Top 20 and remained on the their Hot 100 Singles chart for 16 weeks. The same song hit position number 11 on Billboard’s Album Rock Track chart and charted for an incredible 10 weeks. Later that year the millionth copy of the album was sold in the U.S.A. and April Wine had finally attained international “Platinum” status. The song Crash And Burn was even featured in an NBC Movie of the Week! The album remained on Billboard’s 200 Album chart for 34 weeks peaking at the 26th position. The album went on to claim more awards for the group as it collected Gold and Platinum on both sides of the border and Double Platinum in Canada.

During the 1980′s April Wine had the strongest concert repertoire ever and the demand for appearances had never been greater. They were in demand in Canada, the United Sates, England and Germany. In fact it seemed their popularity was traveling more than they were. There was the feeling that the band could tour forever.

Whether writing the songs, producing them, or promoting them, Myles Goodwyn had been working against some kind of “deadline” for the last three years with no significant time off. He needed a break… so he took one. After a hiatus of 18 months, during which the band recorded Power Play with such cutting edge hits as Anything You Want You Got It and Enough is Enough, the band was ready to tour again. The 1982 Power Play tour was the largest tour April Wine had ever attempted. It incorporated the most elaborate stage the band had ever used. Their return to Canada, after two years away, saw them sell out shows across the country. Yes the band was welcomed home with open arms but Power Play, even though successful, did not meet with the critical international acclaim that the group’s previous two albums enjoyed. Both Enough Is Enough and If You See Kay charted on Billboard’s Album Rock Tracks and remained there for a number of weeks but Enough Is Enough only remained on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart for 8 weeks. However the album itself peaked Billboard’s 200 Album chart at 37 and remained on the chart for a strong 20 weeks, still a phenomenal accomplishment, but perhaps not enough for this perfectionist band from Canada.

With the release of Animal Grace, the group’s eleventh undertaking, things took a turn for the worse. This Could Be The Right One entered the charts very quickly but stalled just as abruptly. The album had taken an extremely long time to record and a rift had begun to form in the band.

In a move that seemed to symbolize the distance between Myles and the band, he and his family moved to the Bahamas. The group would get together once more for a farewell tour of Canada. The tour was a bittersweet one, with the die-hard fans realizing what lay ahead. A twelfth studio album was released that featured only two remaining members of the group; Myles and Brian. The rest had decided to go their separate ways.

THE SOLO YEARS….

Myles Goodwyn subsequently released a self-titled solo album on Aquarius Records in Canada and Atlantic Records in the States while living in the Bahamas. Brian Greenway released Serious Business on Atlantic Records in the States as a solo project in 1988. Jerry Mercer helped form the Buzz Band with Breen LeBoeuf and did various studio projects.

THE THIRD DECADE….

april-wine-the-third-decadeIn late 1988 Myles moved back to Montreal and started to receive phone calls from the United States about the possibility of a new April Wine album. The demand was there and Myles had already been talking to the other band members about a possible reunion. In July of 1992 April Wine played its first concert in 8 years to a sold out audience in the Canadian province of Manitoba. For the balance of that summer they played to sold out shows right across Canada. The band was welcomed home again!

The demand south of the border was strong as well. The band was selling out shows across the States with 20,000 people coming out to see them in San Antonio, Texas. In fact St. Louis, Missouri ended up adding a second show and the scalpers in Las Vegas were getting a high dollar for the valued tickets.

In 1992 the band consisted of Myles Goodwyn, Brian Greenway, Jerry Mercer, Jim Clench and Steve Segal. The group’s thirteenth studio album, Attitude, was released in 1993. It was their first studio release in 10 years. Attitude went Gold in Canada, driven by the hit If You Believe In Me. Segal remained with the band for the 1994 release of studio album number fourteen; “Frigate”.

1995 saw Steve Segal leave April Wine. April Wine returned to their roots as a 4 piece Rock band with 2 guitars, bass and drums as they were when they first started out in 1969.

From 1995 to 2000 April Wine continued to tour Canada and the USA doing 80-100 shows a year playing to their ever growing legions of fans.

2000 TO PRESENT DAY

The studio album, “Back To The Mansion” released in 2001 was April Wine’s 15th studio album and first new release since 1994, and featured original members Myles Goodwyn (vocals, guitars and keyboards), Brian Greenway (guitars, vocals), Jim Clench (bass, background vocals), Jerry Mercer (drums).

“April Wine Live 2003” was released in spring of 2003 and featured the band’s live
stage show. It was recorded in Kitchener Ontario. It also featured Carl Dixon on keyboard,vocals and guitar who had joined the band for 3 tours.

June of 2004 saw April Wine travel to Sweden to be part of “Sweden Rock 2004”
They shared the stage with HEART, FOGHAT, UFO and many others.

In 2006 April Wine celebrated their 37th anniversary together with the release of their 16th studio album, “Roughly Speaking”. (Released November 21st 2006)

Jim Clench left the band in January of 2007. He was replaced by Breen LeBoeuf, a talented Bassist and Singer, and a longtime friend of Jerry and Brian. Breen brings the experience of his many years as a member of the legendary Quebec rock band “Offenbach” with him to April Wine. The fans accepted Breen right from the first show
at Higher Ground in Burlington Vermont in February of 2007.

In November 2008, April Wine signed with ARM Entertainment of St. Paul, MN. as the April Wine’s agency in the USA. Roger Anderson and his company have been booking many shows for the band in the USA to the delight of American fans. S.L. Feldman & Associates continues to represent April Wine in Canada. Late 2008 also saw the departure of Jerry Mercer from the band. About to turn 70 years of age in April of 2009, Jerry decided to retire. Jerry had been the driving drumming force of April Wine for 35 years!

Blair Mackay joined April Wine as the new drummer in January 2009. Blair has a Master of Music degree in performance, and like Breen, was accepted by the fans right from the first show, coincidentally at Higher Ground in Vermont.

In March of 2009, April Wine was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame during Canadian Music Week in Toronto. They also received The Lifetime Achievement Award for being part of Canadian Music History for 40 years.

On April 18th of 2010, at the Juno Awards, April Wine was inducted in to the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

2010 sees the band continue their hectic pace touring both the United States and Canada to acclaimed reviews. They continue to satisfy fans with a live mix of straight ahead rock n’ roll and power ballads, an April Wine mainstay.

In 2011, April Wine did 62 shows through Canada and the USA to very receptive fans, including 14 sold out shows in 17 days in British Columbia theaters.

In July of that year, Breen announced he was leaving the band. After a search for a suitable replacement, Richard Lanthier was chosen as the new bassist bringing a new tighter bass sound to the rhythm section.

2012 will see April Wine enter into their 42nd year as a band, with just as busy a schedule as ever… quite an accomplishment for any rock n’ roll band!

2012 MEANS NEWS! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

Spring 2012 starts with a new change in the group’s line-up. Roy “Nip” Nichol replaces Blair Mackay at the drums. Nip is from Cornwall, Ontario and has been playing drums since the age of 15. He is also a great singer and having four vocalists in the band at the same time will be a new experience for the legendary band.

A new April Wine studio CD will be released later in the year. The last studio release was Roughly Speaking in 2006. This new recording will be the first of the long awaited Vile Series. There will be three CD’s in the series and the group plans to release all three within the next two years!

Also new in 2012 is Myles opening for April Wine at live performances. This is an exciting adventure for the fans as they will be able to hear “stripped” down versions of April Wine classics. The opening set will be a intimate opportunity as Myles plays a variety of songs he composed, as well as songs that influenced him and subsequently the musical direction of the group.

And furthermore, new this year will be the release of a “bluesy” solo recording by Goodwyn called Myles Goodwyn and Friends of The Blues.

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