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For the better part of the last twenty-eight years, the Average White Band has performed sold-out shows around the world, confirming the timeless appeal of their brand of funky soul. Formed in 1972, their roots may have been Scottish, but the collective heart of the band belonged to the soulful sounds coming from Memphis, Detroit, and Philadelphia in the 60's.
AWB was formed in 1971 by Alan Gorrie and Malcolm "Molly" Duncan, with Onnie McIntyre, Hamish Stuart, Roger Ball and Robbie McIntosh joining them in the original line-up. Duncan and Ball, affectionately known as the Dundee Horns, studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (now part of the University of Dundee), and were previously members of Mogul Thrash.
The band's breakthrough was a support slot at Eric Clapton's comeback concert in 1973. MCA Records released their debut album, Show Your Hand, which sold poorly. Bruce McCaskill who was Clapton's tour manager liked the band's music and agreed to manage them. He borrowed money to take them to the U.S. and to promote them. McCaskill had many contacts from his days with Clapton and managed to get Atlantic Records to sign them. The band relocated to New York, signed to Atlantic and released the follow-up, AWB, better known as "The White Album". This album was the first of many with renowned producer Arif Mardin, and reached #1 in the U.S. Hot 100 chart.
However, tragedy struck on 23 September 1974, when McIntosh died of a heroin overdose. (Gorrie also overdosed but Cher kept him conscious until medical help arrived.) McIntosh was replaced by Steve Ferrone (of Bloodstone, and, like McIntosh, previously with Brian Auger's Oblivion Express), becoming the band's only black member.
In 1975, the single "Pick Up The Pieces" from the album AWB also hit #1 in the U.S. chart. The track is probably their best known today. The band followed up with the LPs Cut the Cake (1975) and Soul Searching (1976), both big sellers and yielding further Top 40 singles. Their next LP, Benny & Us, was a collaboration with soul legend Ben E. King.
After several more albums, AWB's audience and sales dwindled. Although a dalliance with disco yielded the 1980 hit Let's Go Round Again, covered in the late 1990s by Louise, the group disbanded by 1982. Ferrone worked with Duran Duran whilst Hamish Stuart joined Paul McCartney's touring group. In 1985 Gorrie released a solo album, Sleepless Nights. Gorrie, Ball and McIntyre reunited in 1989 to record Aftershock, but Ball left the band shortly after its release. Eliot Lewis co-wrote with Gorrie on this album and joined the band replacing lead singer Hamish Stuart.
Average White Band has continued recording (Soul Tattoo 1997, Face to Face, 1999) and touring since. When Eliot Lewis left AWB in September 2002 to pursue other musical opportunities, he was replaced by Klyde Jones (see AWB). Their most recent album release in April 2003 was entitled Living in Colour.
The AWB line-up then included Alan Gorrie (bass, lead vocals), Klyde Jones (guitar, keyboard, lead vocals), Onnie McIntyre (guitar, vocals), Fred Vigdor (sax, keyboard, vocals) and Brian Dunne (drums). Gorrie and McIntyre are the only remaining original members of the band.
2006 saw yet another successful tour for the band but with New Jersey native, Rocky Bryant, replacing Brian Dunne as drummer.
Also in 2006, Hamish Stuart toured with Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band as the bass guitar player.
Added on to version 2 on May 22, 2009
Formed: 1972 in Scotland
Styles: Funk, Quiet Storm, Pop/Rock, Smooth Soul
Group Members: Alan Gorrie, Roger Ball, Malcolm Duncan, Steve Ferrone, Alex Ligertwood, Robbie McIntosh, Onnie McIntyre, Hamish Stuart
Their self-effacing name to the contrary, Average White Band was anything but -- one of the few white groups to cross the color line and achieve success and credibility playing funk, with their tight, fiery sound also belying their Scottish heritage, evoking American R&B hotbeds like Detroit, Memphis, and Philadelphia instead. Singer/bassist Alan Gorrie, guitarists Hamish Stuart and Onnie McIntyre, tenor saxophonist Malcolm Duncan, keyboardist/saxophonist Roger Ball, and drummer Robbie McIntosh comprised the original Average White Band lineup. Veterans of numerous Scottish soul and jazz groups, they made their debut in 1973 as the opening act at Eric Clapton's Rainbow Theatre comeback gig, soon issuing their debut LP, Show Your Hand, to little notice. After adopting the abbreviated moniker AWB, a year later the band issued their self-titled sophomore effort, topping the American pop charts with the Arif Mardin-produced instrumental "Pick Up the Pieces." The record's mammoth success was nevertheless tempered by the September 23, 1974 death of McIntosh, who died at a Hollywood party after overdosing on heroin.
Ex-Bloodstone drummer Steve Ferrone replaced McIntosh for AWB's third album, 1975's Cut the Cake, which scored a Top Ten hit with its title track as well as two other chart entries, "If I Ever Lose This Heaven" and "School Boy Crush." (Put It Where You Want It, issued later that same year, was simply a retitled and repackaged Show Your Hand.) With 1976's Soul Searching, the group reclaimed the full Average White Band name, scoring their final Top 40 hit with "Queen of My Soul." Following the live Person to Person, they issued Benny & Us, a collaboration with soul legend Ben E. King. However, after subsequent outings, including 1978's Warmer Communications, 1979's Feel No Fret, and 1980's Shine, failed to recapture the energy of AWB's peak, the group dissolved in 1982, with Ferrone later joining Duran Duran and Stuart recording with Paul McCartney. Gorrie, Ball, and McIntyre reformed Average White Band in 1989, tapping vocalist Alex Ligertwood for their comeback effort Aftershock. Oft-sampled by hip-hop producers throughout the 1990s, the group continued touring prior to releasing Soul Tattoo in 1996. The live album, Face to Face, followed three years later. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide (http://music.msn.com/music/artist-biography/the-average-white-)
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