Riders on the Low road

Andy Fairweather-Low
Andy Fairweather-Low

50 years in the music business Andy Fairweather-Low tells MARTIN HUTCHINSON he has many great memories – ‘perhaps TOO many’ – ahead of next month’s Lancashire date

Andy Fairweather-Low formed the hit group Amen Corner in 1966 but forgot to include himself.

“That’s right,” he laughs.

“I’d been the guitarist in a band when I put Amen Corner together, but then there was no job for me!”

He had recruited Neil Jones as the guitarist, and the band didn’t need two axemen.

“So I sang,” he says simply.

With the soul-based repertoire, the Welsh septet had hits with the likes of ‘Gin House Blues’, ‘Bend Me Shape Me’, ‘High in the Sky’ and the chart-topping ‘If Paradise is Half as Nice’, before splitting in 1970.

Some of the band went on to form Fairweather, but after one hit, Andy decided to go it alone, and 40 years ago, his first solo hit, ‘Reggae Tune’ entered the charts.

More solo success followed with ‘Wide Eyed and Legless’ and ‘La Booga Rooga’.

The pop hits sort of dried up around this point, but Andy was not done with music and taking up the guitar again with a vengeance, he soon became one of the worlds’ premier guitarists and the man to call if you were off on a world tour.

“I also spent a lot of time learning and listening,” he says, coincidentally after having just finished rehearsing for the day.

“One of the reasons Amen Corner split was that I wanted to play guitar again.” He explains.

“Unlike some of the greats, I wasn’t a natural guitarist. I’ve had to work at it and I do every day. I’m always practising.”

And he must be practising well because last year he appeared at Madison Square Gardens playing ‘Gin House Blues’ in a show celebrating the worlds’ best guitarists.

“I looked around me and thought, ‘what the heck am I doing here among this lot?’.”

Andy’s services have been called upon by the elite of the music world: Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Eric Clapton and Roger Waters are just four legendary figures with whom Andy has toured.

But since 2007, Andy has concentrated on a new band – The Low Riders.

“We recorded our first album in 2007,” he says. “And after a few changes, we’re very settled.”

Along with Andy on guitar, there is drummer Paul Beavis (“Paul was with me back on my solo hits in the seventies.” says Andy), Dave Bronze on bass and ex-Wizzard member Nick Pentelow on woodwind.

The music the band plays covers many styles, as Andy explains.

“We cover everything really; blues, skiffle – all sorts. I do stick the hits in, but there’s lots of other stuff like Donegan, Presley... I could go on forever.”

“We also play some instrumentals like ‘Apache’, ‘Peter Gunn’ and ‘Tequila’.”

Andy plays Darwen’s Library Theatre next month.

“Darwen is the one gig that we do on all our tours,” he says.

“It’s always on the list and it’s very intimate. In fact we recorded our first DVD there.”

“And in the theatre we do about two hours and 15 minutes with an interval. “

“I’ve really settled into that way of doing things now. There’s no support and we can give a fuller picture.”

The band’s latest album – ‘Zone-o-Tone’ – has recently been reissued to coincide with Andy’s UK tour.

“I’m very proud of it,” he beams. “It’s influenced by all the different styles of music I listened to as a youngster.

After 50 years, Andy must have many great memories.

“Yes, perhaps too many. I’ve been unbelievably lucky in my career.

“I performed The Wall with Roger Waters in Berlin, and jammed with Jimi Hendrix; add those to all the people I’ve had the privilege of working with and you can see that I’ve been blessed.”

Andy Fairweather and The Low Riders appear at The Library Theatre, Darwen, on Saturday November 22.

Tickets are £18-£22 (may be subject to a booking fee) and are available from the Box Office on 01254 706006 and all the usual agencies.