April Wine in concert in 2008
|Origin||Waverley, Nova Scotia, Canada|
|Years active||1969–1986, 1992–present|
|Labels||Aquarius, MCA, Capitol|
Although April Wine officially began in late 1969 in Waverley, Nova Scotia, their roots can be traced back to St. Johns Newfoundland in 1967/68. David and Ritchie Henman moved there when their father took a job at a local furrier company, Mitchell Furs. They would be heard jamming in a house on the corner of Bonaventure Avenue and Fleming Street in St. Johns before relocating to Nova Scotia. The original members were brothers David Henman on guitar and Ritchie Henman on drums. Their cousin Jim Henman joined in on bass and Myles Goodwyn completed the sound on lead vocals and guitar. In early 1970 the band relocated to Montreal. Shortly after arriving in their new home the band was signed by Aquarius Records. They recorded and released their debut album April Wine in September 1971. The album spawned their first single, "Fast Train", which received fairly steady airplay on radio stations across Canada and established Myles Goodwyn as the band's main songwriter. The single's success led the band's label to ask for a second album amid the first of many lineup changes: Jim Henman left the band in the fall of 1971 and was replaced by Jim Clench.
Under the guidance of producer Ralph Murphy, April Wine recorded their second album, titled On Record. The first single from the album was a cover version of the song "You Could Have Been a Lady" by the band Hot Chocolate. The record was a commercial success, hitting number two for a single week on the RPM Canadian charts, as well as cracking the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States where it stayed for 11 weeks, peaking at No. 32. Immediately following that triumph, April Wine released a second single from On Record, titled "Bad Side of the Moon". This song, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, also got much airplay on Canadian radio stations and was a minor hit in the U.S. as well. Both tracks remain staples on classic rock radio stations in Canada. On Record was certified Gold in Canada and the band, along with Murphy, returned to the studio to exploit the popularity generated by their second release.
During the recording of the band's third album, still another line-up change occurred. Before the album's completion, brothers David and Ritchie Henman resigned, leaving Myles Goodwyn as the only remaining original member. Goodwyn and Clench decided to continue the band and began auditions for replacement musicians. Eventually drummer Jerry Mercer (formerly of the Canadian band Mashmakhan) and guitarist Gary Moffet were chosen, and together they finished recording the band's third album entitled Electric Jewels, which contained songs such as "Weeping Widow," "Just Like That" and "Lady Run, Lady Hide." These songs would remain in April Wine's concert set lists for many years. In support of this album, the band embarked on the Electric Adventure Tour which featured a massive lighting and pyrotechnic show.
The band's fourth release, Stand Back, went double platinum in Canada, riding on the success of the singles "Tonight Is A Wonderful Time To Fall In Love" and "I Wouldn't Want To Lose Your Love". The song "Oowatanite" became a concert favourite and stands as one of the most popular songs the band has ever recorded. Following the supporting tour for Stand Back, the roster of members was again shaken up. This time, Jim Clench departed and was replaced by Steve Lang. Clench would stay active in music, doing stints in the rock bands Bachman–Turner Overdrive and Loverboy.
The next release by the band would be titled The Whole World's Goin' Crazy. The album would be the first April Wine release to hit platinum status based on advanced sales orders alone. The album contained the popular title track as well as a successful smash single, the ballad "Like A Lover, Like A Song". Following the supporting tour for Crazy the band returned to the studio to record their sixth album, Forever for Now. The album would be another platinum seller and contained the band's biggest single to date, "You Won't Dance With Me".
On 4 and 5 March 1977 April Wine was booked to play a charity concert at the famed El Mocambo Club in Toronto, Ontario. Co-headliner on the bill was a band called "The Cockroaches", who turned out to be The Rolling Stones. The pseudonym was a poorly kept secret and huge crowds turned out for the event. April Wine's performance was captured and released as the album Live at the El Mocambo. The band got its first chance at touring the U.S. following the El Mocambo gig, first opening for The Rolling Stones, then for various popular headliners, including Styx and fellow Canadian band Rush.
Another line-up change occurred in 1977, though rather than someone leaving, the band added a fifth member, Brian Greenway, who was brought in as a third guitarist. Not only could Brian contribute on guitar, he was also an accomplished singer and harmonica player.[not in citation given] His addition gave April Wine a powerful three guitar attack that would become synonymous with their hard rock sound. Also, with Brian on board to cover guitar duties, it allowed Myles Goodwyn to switch to keyboards for the band's long list of popular ballads. Incidentally, Brian Greenway's former band, The Dudes, also contained April Wine alumni David and Ritchie Henman.
1979 saw continued Canadian success, and the beginning of international success. The band's seventh album, First Glance, had an immediate impact and the first two singles were both successful on Canadian radio. It was the third single, a raucous rocker called "Roller", that brought the band mass appeal across North America. "Roller" started its momentum in Michigan and soon was a popular hit across the U.S., finding its way into the Billboard Hot 100 where it stayed for eleven weeks. First Glance also found an audience in the U.S., staying on the Billboard album chart for many weeks, making it April Wine's first gold record outside of Canada. Constant touring helped propel the band to greater success, as American audiences from coast-to-coast embraced the hard rock of this "new" band from Canada.
Following on the popularity of First Glance, April Wine released Harder ... Faster. "Say Hello" and "I Like to Rock" were popular hits on both sides of the border and Harder ... Faster proved to be yet another multi-platinum release for the band. It would stay on the Billboard top album chart for 40 weeks. The supporting tour for the album began as an opening slot for Nazareth on their national tour across the United States.
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The Nature of the Beast was released in January 1981, and riding on the popularity of the hit singles "Just Between You and Me" and the band's cover of the Lorence Hud song "Sign of the Gypsy Queen", the album hit multi-platinum success back home in Canada, and was the first April Wine album to reach platinum status internationally. April Wine embarked on an extensive support tour, performing to their largest crowds ever. Following The Nature of the Beast tour, the band went on an eighteen-month hiatus.
In July 1982, April Wine released their tenth album, Power Play. The album included the singles "Enough is Enough", "If You See Kay" and "Anything You Want, You Got It". The latter would become the band's opening number on the supporting tour, while the "Enough is Enough" video started receiving frequent rotation on MTV. The Power Play tour in 1982 was the band's most extensive. Despite decent sales, Power Play was not met with the same critical acclaim the prior two albums had received; both the album and its singles charted well on Billboard's lists, but for shorter periods of time than earlier albums and singles.
The band started writing and recording the next album, Animal Grace, but during the lengthy process the band members were not getting along, and Myles Goodwyn moved from his native Canada to the Bahamas. Both Animal Grace and its single "This Could be the Right One" rose quickly on the charts, but stayed only for a short time. In 1984 the band got together for its announced "Farewell Tour".
The 1984 tour was successful enough to spawn another live album, One for the Road. Goodwyn then began working on what was intended to be his first solo album in 1985. However, April Wine still contractually owed Capitol Records one more album. Greenway joined Goodwyn in Nassau, along with Montreal session musicians Daniel Barbe (keyboards), Jean Pellerin (bass), and Marty Simon (drums, percussion), to record what was supposed to be the band's final album, Walking Through Fire.
In September 1985 (later in certain countries), the album Walking Through Fire was released under the April Wine name; however, only Goodwyn and Greenway remained of the lineup from the previous album. Goodwyn released a self-titled solo album, and Brian Greenway also released an album following the band's break-up, but April Wine remained on hiatus for the remainder of the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1988 Myles Goodwyn moved back to Canada from his home in the Bahamas. Although there was interest in an April Wine reunion, and the subject was discussed among the former members, other commitments prevented them from getting together until 1992. April Wine returned to the stage that year, starting with a free concert in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The reunited band consisted of Goodwyn, Greenway, returning drummer Jerry Mercer and bassist Jim Clench, who hadn't played with the band since 1975. Filling out the act was third guitarist Steve Segal. The band toured in both Canada and the US.
In 1993 the band released the first "true" April Wine album in a decade, titled Attitude. It was certified gold in Canada soon after its release. Segal remained with the band through one more studio release, 1994's Frigate.
The band released another album in 2001, entitled Back to the Mansion. Also in 2001, the band's song "Roller" was featured in the movie Joe Dirt. Then in 2003, they released the live album called Greatest Hits Live 2003.
In 2004 Silverline released April Wine's first DVD-A called From the Front Row ... Live!. From 2001 to 2004 their live shows included Carl Dixon (formerly of the bands Coney Hatch, and The Guess Who) on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals.
April Wine entered into its 37th year as a band in 2006. On October 31 of that year, Aquarius Records released April Wine Rocks!, a new compilation of April Wine favourites, including a bonus live tune and a new album, entitled Roughly Speaking, was released on November 28, 2006.
By the end of 2006, Clench had left the band for the second time and was replaced by bassist Breen LeBoeuf in January 2007. A year later, Mercer announced his retirement; his scheduled final show in Calgary Alberta, ringing in the 2009 new year, was cancelled due to bad weather. Mercer was replaced by drummer Blair Mackay in January 2009.
LeBoeuf left April Wine in July 2011 and was replaced by Richard Lanthier from the Yes tribute band Close to the Edge. Mackay left April Wine in March 2012 and was succeeded by Roy "Nip" Nichol, who had performed with the Stacey Thorn Band, Sam Hill and most recently Spare Partz.
April Wine continues to tour across Canada annually and also plays festivals in Europe and in the United States, with the group now consisting of Goodwyn, Greenway, Lanthier, and drummer Roy "Nip" Nichol.
Former bassist Steve Lang died on February 4, 2017 at age 67 after suffering from Parkinson's disease.
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