Andy Fairweather Low is a walking encyclopedia of who's who in rock.
Three sold out Friars gigs do not tell the whole story of this
remarkable musician. There was a 26 year gap between his last two albums
because as you will see he has been a member of Roger Waters, Eric
Clapton and Bill Wyman's touring bands and played to 400,000 as part of
The Wall's staging in Berlin in 1990. And aside from that Andy has
played with George Harrison, Stevie Nicks, Linda Ronstadt and Joe
Satriani amongst countless others. He has recently recorded with Kate
Bush and is about to complete an album with The Gaddabouts a band also
featuring Steve Gadd, Edie Brickell and Pino Palladino. Oh, and he
recorded with Jimi Hendrix as well.
We spoke to Andy at his home in Wales in June 2011
Thanks for talking to the Friars Aylesbury
website. We're very honoured!
honoured to be asked.
gig at Friars was the legendary last gig at the Borough Assembly Hall,
the last night of Friars Phase Two before we moved to the bigger
the night I had a twelve string guitar that ended up as a nine string
So that gig
holds memories for you!
Yes for many reasons. Looking at the
photos of that gig,
I am wearing a T shirt that says 'All Quad's Children' which I was given
at a recording session in Nashville for Spider Jiving (1974 album) which
I wore for years till it fell to pieces! The overdubs for that album
were done in a quadrophonic studio.
you just after that after album and around the time of La Booga Rooga.
You came back to Friars seven weeks later and sold out the new hall
We had Dave Mattacks on drums in the band at the
time and for some reason we bet him to streak through the hall which he
did and that's why I remember that second Friars gig so well! He did it
early in the evening so I'm not sure many people noticed! (see
McGarrigles news-sheet below for confirmation! - Ed)
say drummers are mad!
back at those 1975 gigs you had a quality band with you. Not just
Mattacks, but pedal steeler BJ Cole and keyboard player John 'Rabbit'
David on bass of course. A fabulous band and I was lucky to get players
of that calibre to go out (and play). All the soloing and improvisation
was BJ and Rabbit and we just held the thing down. I was going along
with it but I was bemused by it all, no doubt about it.
These were pedigree quality musicians.....
played in my Sweet Soulful Music album in 2006, which was my first album
in 26 years. There wasn't much keyboards on that album, but Rabbit
played on two on the tracks. He's a hell of a player and he played on
the first Bob Marley album, Catch A Fire. He was at the Island studios
in a band called the Sons of the Jungle and he played the accordion on
Johnny Nash's I Can See Clearly Now. A bit of useless information for
your third appearance in 1976........Mick Weaver was in the band along
with BJ Cole still. Was that the Mott The Hoople guy or have I got him
confused with someone else.....
by this time, you'd broken into the mainstream with the immortal Wide
Eyed and Legless and Reggae Music which were two hit singles.
was Blue Weaver. Mick Weaver was also known as Wynder K Frog. He made
some Booker T type records. Legend has it that it was Mick who played
the organ on the old World in Action theme tune. But Mick Weaver was in
my band whilst Blue Weaver was with me in Amen Corner and then Mott The
Hoople and many others.
got it right - there was a Weaver connection in there!
connection! Mick was there after Rabbit. All the musicians I've had have
been fantastic. But the band never got enough money and I never got
enough money so that was when we had to stop. I was making no money
coming on to that and I'm jumping forward a bit here. Your most recent
album Sweet Soulful Music was released 26 years after the last, Mega
Shebang. In that time, your life is like reading a rock bible - you've
worked with everyone!
worked with everyone I wanted to work with...there was one I didn't want
to work with, but I can't go there...
and then, I do look back, but I am very much fixated with looking
forward. I was working on the Sweet Soulful Music and I was looking back
at some of the names I have worked with. Joe Satriani for example.
With the band having not made any money, this was
presumably the driving force behind you changing tack as a musician....?
Yes, I was
forced to change tack. I couldn't get a record deal even if I begged.
Unfortunately I did sort of beg, give me any sort of deal, I need this.
Anyway, they didn't bother and that left me flat broke, no work and no
chance of getting any. The Sex Pistols were a defining moment at A&M
(which we'll come on to later) and I just couldn't get a deal. So at
that point I thought if anyone phones up offering a charity gig, I
happen to be around. I was obviously available so I did a few and
eventually I got a phone call from Roger Waters who I had first met in
1967 on a package tour - Amen Corner, The Move, Jimi Hendrix and Pink
Floyd. I actually recorded with Hendrix in New York in 1969.
thing really opened up the door. I started working with him in 1984 and
finished working with him in 2007 after The Dark Side Of The Moon tour.
I seem to
remember you leaving Waters' band citing your solo album as where you
were at and that was what you wanted to concentrate on...
worked with Eric Clapton from 1991 to 2004. I started on a Japanese tour
with him, then did the MTV Unplugged album and that went on for 13
years. The truth is that the Waters gig was more art...I played some
bass but basically watched two other guitarists every night and I just
wanted to play. I was never going to do that if I stayed with Roger. He
rang me up and asked me to play on the current The Wall tour but it was
we'll have to find something for you to do. I said I wasn't sure I could
do that now that the genie was out of the bottle.
played as the support to Eric Clapton's UK tour. I'm no longer in the
main band. But we were finished by 8.15 every evening! It was fantastic
and just fantastic to play.
on the bill with someone you know so well.....
gigs were May this year, our first work as a band since we supported
Robert Cray in June last year.
with Waters and Clapton, you can only have cemented your reputation in
the period between your albums......
always a rhythm guitar player. You don't seem to get them anymore as
everyone wants to be a lead guitar player. I never saw myself like that
which is a problem. I was always happy to play bass for Roger who
treated me so unbelievably well. You can't play with someone for so long
and it not work. It certainly wasn't a lack of musicianship
I be seeing The Wall? Yes, hopefully later this month in Paris.
But...for me as a guitar player, The Wall doesn't
suit me. The object of seeing The Wall is hearing it note for note like
the original album....
with technological advances, the show is physically superior as a
production.....than 30 years ago.
I did the
1990 Berlin production of The Wall with Roger which commemorated the
falling of the Berlin Wall. We rehearsed for three months for that. I'd
never seen so many swinging cranes for that show. It was apparently the
largest number of cranes in the smallest place in Europe. It's a lot of
cranes flying around your head. In terms of people, all the fences came
down and they gave up any notion of security. There were people
everywhere you looked as far as you could see.
hundreds of thousands of people there weren't there?
between 300,000 and 400,000 people were there. Unfortunately the first
bricks (in the production) were put up in front of me. Oh never mind...I
didn't take it personally! It wasn't planned.
worked with some of the most iconic names in music in Waters, Clapton
and George Harrison and many many more beside, but one of the things I
hadn't realised until relatively recently was that you did the backing
vocals on one of my favourite songs, Who Are You by The Who....
Oh yeah! I
played on seven songs on that album and played guitar on another song
afterwards. Not many get to do that I might add. The link though is Glyn
Johns who produced my albums in the 70s hence the connection with Pete
Townshend. He produced The Who as well as Rough Mix by Pete. He also
produced Eric Clapton's Slowhand, I was around then as well. Sometimes
it is about who you know and I knew Glyn.
certainly didn't do you any harm did it!
didn't, that's for sure. Quite recently, I worked with Kate Bush, quite
Director's Cut album?
No - on
newer stuff. Who knows when it will come out. We'd never met before
either. Is she as lovely as she seems? Yes, unbelievably fabulous. We
hit it off straight away and it made me realise I'd worked with a lot of
women too. Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, I spent a year with her. Two
albums with Linda and one with Linda and Emmylou Harris. Charlie Dore as
well, another Glyn connection, as was Stevie Nicks and Linda Ronstadt.
pictures of you at Friars in August 1975, on stage serving the champagne
was one Pete Frame....
have a field day trying to do a Rock Family Tree of who you have worked
quite a bit of paper!
around a long time! The recent Clapton tour, the final night at the
Albert Hall was my 105th appearance there!
on my 200th now!
mentioned Joe Satriani earlier and you working with him (in 1995). Seems
an odd match in many ways? You've got a bluesy background and some
gospel in your current shows...
thought?! With me, less is more, because I don't know the more, but Joe
did know the more. Another Glyn Johns production, cut as live album in
the studio with Manu Katche (renowned drummer) and Nathan East (Clapton
and Phil Collins bassist)...
they're no slouches are they?!
No and I am
not in that league. Joe phoned me up and I said to him, do you know what
I do? And he said 'yeah' but I said I couldn't see myself fitting in. He
sent me something to listen to and it was tough. Other guitar players
were shocked when they found out I was playing - Joe will never do
that again....(laughs) When I listened to those demos, they were
unbelievable. And I got the part of trying to play it. There's a bit of
camouflage going up there....
Joe is a
lovely guy and a great player.
Your CV is
amazing when you consider amongst other things you have played with
Hendrix. At the start of your career, everyone knows you had hits with
Amen Corner, but your next taste was Natural Sinners with Fair
Yes, but we
fizzled out. I headed back to Wales and started writing which led to
Spider Jiving being recorded in Nashville and the start of another
career. My career ended at the point (despite being popular on the
university and college circuit) as I mentioned earlier when my record
company A&M signed the Sex Pistols. They had to let them go with all the
money they had paid them as they upset the staff so much. They came in
were rude and would spit, shout, swear....the people who worked for A&M
said we aren't paid enough to be treated like this so they had to let
that anyone who has a vinyl copy of God Save The Queen is sitting on a
goldmine - I think it is one of the most valuable rarities.
A&M probably has. I'll tell you what it was like. I was touring at the
time and played a gig in Sheffield at the same time the Pistols were in
town. I took ill and they had to call the doctor from the hotel and he
said he wouldn't come out if I had been one of the Sex Pistols and had
to be persuaded to come out. That Pistols thing went everywhere, it
wasn't just about making records, it pervaded society.
that time certainly needed a big kick, it just didn't need the spit
thought that change was going to happen although not everything that
came with it. Your enforced change of tack was clearly the making of
you, all good things out of adversity and that....
It was the
injection of new young people with enthusiasm and naivety which we were
all losing. If you can just keep that, it's fine. I'm a better guitar
player now than when I started but I don't have that naivety.
recently and you are about to go into rehearsals for an upcoming gig....
finished a big gig last weekend, Wintershall, which Gary Brooker of
Procol Harum puts on every four or five years. We're doing a gig this
weekend with my band, Gary, some horn players and some girl singers.
I've worked with Gary for 25 years and every Christmas we gig with a
band called Nose, Stilletos, Shoes. That Wintershall gig....Eric
Clapton, Georgie Fame, Paul Carrack, Lulu, Roger Taylor with his band
with guests Ron Wood and Jeff Beck.
I'm off to
New York soon to work with The Gaddabouts to work on finishing a new
album. This band, apart from me, features Steve Gadd, Pino Palladino and
your upcoming UK plans, are you going to be touring with your band The
Low Riders or maybe with the Gaddabouts?
Andy at Friars 30th August
1975 (Geoff Tyrell)
lost my manager and agent as it wasn't working out. So I am having
meetings with agents at the moment and should have some answers soon,
then we'll get a tour set up and we'll get out. Will be me and The Low
Riders. I toured earlier this year with Bill Wyman. Have some German
dates later in the year, so may be next year. I'm managing myself now.
back to 1983 and Willie and The Poor Boys. That's still going on and
will be fitting in a couple of dates in July with him. It's all good and
I am enjoying playing more than I ever did. I think I am a good
guitarist but I know I have played with some great ones. I'm aware of
how I am, the older you get the better you get!
forward to seeing you again. With very best wishes from everyone at
As I said,
Friars was such an important gig and seeing those pictures brings back
such good memories.
Andy Fairweather Low site
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