April Wine is a Canadian rock band formed in 1969. According to the band, they chose the name 'April Wine' simply because members thought the two words sounded good together. The band has released more than twenty albums and forged a live performance reputation that still sees them drawing devoted crowds across Canada and around the world more than forty years after taking their first steps into the hard rock spotlight.
April Wine began in late 1969 in Waverley, Nova Scotia (a suburb of Halifax). 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 self-titled album April Wine in 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 gave the band's label confidence and work began on a second album, but not before a change in the line-up (the first of many over the course of the band's career). 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", originally by the band Hot Chocolate. The record was a commercial success, hitting number 5 on the Canadian charts, as well as cracking the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States where it stayed for eleven weeks, peaking at #32. Following quick on its heels, April Wine released a second single from On Record, titled "Bad Side of the Moon". This song, originally by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, also found success 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 to this day. On Record was certified Gold in Canada and the band and Murphy hit the studio to cash in on the promotional momentum generated by their second release.
During recording of the band's third album, yet another line-up change took place. Before the album's completion, brothers David and Ritchie Henman left April Wine leaving Myles Goodwyn as the only remaining original member. Goodwyn and Clench decided to carry on and began auditions for replacements for the Henmans. Eventually drummer Jerry Mercer (formerly of the Canadian band Mashmakhan) and guitarist Gary Moffet were chosen. The addition of the two new members unified April Wine as a tight, powerful touring band. Together they finished recording the band's third album, entitled Electric Jewels. The album was met with instant favour from the band's fan base. It contained songs such as "Weeping Widow", "Just Like That" and "Lady Run, Lady Hide" which would stay in April Wine's concert set lists for many years. In support of the new album, the band embarked on the Electric Adventure Tour which featured a massive lighting and pyrotechnic show that dazzled fans from coast to coast.
The band hit hard with their fourth release, Stand Back. 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 album went double platinum in Canada. 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 band had yet another change in their line-up. This time, long time member Jim Clench departed and was replaced by Steve Lang. Clench would stay active in music, even doing stints in the legendary 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".
In mid-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 was brought in as a third guitarist. Not only could Brian contribute on guitar, he was also an accomplished singer and harmonica player. 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, a very confident April Wine unleashed its hardest rocking album on Canadian and American audiences. The album was titled Harder ... Faster and lived up to its name with classic tracks like "Say Hello" and "I Like to Rock". Both 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. Most promoters across the U.S. were blown away by the pairing of the two veteran bands and most felt that April Wine could easily have carried the tour as headliners. In their first decade, April Wine had gone from national success in Canada to international stardom. While their peak was yet to come, their subsequent fall was to loom soon after.
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April Wine's first decade had seen the band go from Canadian success to international recognition and a hard rock force to be reckoned with. Expectations were high following the success of 1979's Harder ... Faster. The Nature of the Beast leaped from record stores in January 1981. Fan reaction was phenomenal and sales soared. Riding on the popularity of the smash hit singles "Just Between You and Me" and "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 as well. The album was an instant classic. Songs like "All Over Town", "Bad Boys", "Future Tense" and "Crash and Burn" were all crowd favourites. April Wine embarked on an exhausting support tour that saw them playing to their largest crowds ever, and filling arenas everywhere they went.
Rather than continuing their ride of popularity and success, April Wine came to an abrupt but temporary halt following the tour to support The Nature of the Beast. Myles Goodwyn, the band's songwriter, producer and promoter, was starting to feel the exhaustion of constant touring and recording. The band took a much needed rest.
After an eighteen-month hiatus, April Wine returned. Refreshed and ready to roll again, the band released their tenth album, titled Power Play. The album contained songs like "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 to be the largest tour in April Wine's history, complete with a huge stage and a lighting show that fans had come to expect from the band. Fans, hungry to see them after being off the road for two years, flocked to concerts in huge numbers. However, even though it had decent sales, Power Play was not met with the same critical acclaim their prior two albums had generated. Both the album and its singles charted well on Billboard's lists, but did not have the same staying power that earlier albums and singles had achieved. Despite still being a popular concert draw, the failure (as the band saw it) to match the success of their previous albums was a letdown.
Things would go from bad to worse within the band during the recording of the follow-up to Power Play. The album writing and recording took much longer than any of their earlier albums. During the process a rift started between certain members of the band. At this time, Myles Goodwyn moved himself and his family from his native Canada to the Bahamas, further distancing himself from the rest of the band. April Wine's eleventh album, Animal Grace, started out with a quick rise on the charts, but it fell off just as quickly as it entered. The single "This Could be the Right One" also suffered the same fate. 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 1986, the album Walking Through Fire surfaced under the April Wine moniker. Fans weren't convinced by the name, though, as only Goodwyn and Greenway had returned. The other members had long since taken their leave and gone their separate ways.
Myles Goodwyn and Brian Greenway both released solo albums following the band's break-up. But for the most part things were quiet in the April Wine camp for the remainder of the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1988 Myles Goodwyn moved back to Canada from his home in the Bahamas. Almost immediately he began to be hounded as to whether there would be an April Wine reunion. Talks started slowly with other members. Some were interested but other commitments were getting in the way. An April Wine reunion was almost written off. But by 1992, April Wine returned to the stage, starting with a sold out concert in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The 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 yet again enjoyed cross-border touring success.
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 would release 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 were filled out with the multi-talented Carl Dixon (formerly of the bands Coney Hatch, and The Guess Who) on guitars, keyboards and backing vocals.
April Wine entered into its thirty-seventh year as a band in 2006. On October 31, 2006, Aquarius Records released April Wine Rocks!, a brand new compilation of April Wine favourites, including a bonus live tune. A new album, entitled Roughly Speaking, was released on November 28, 2006.
By the end of 2006, Clench had departed from April Wine for the second time, and was replaced by bassist Breen LeBoeuf in January 2007. A year later, Mercer announced his retirement, and was scheduled to perform his final show with April Wine in Calgary Alberta, ringing in the 2009 new year. Mercer's final scheduled show, however, was cancelled due to bad weather.
In 2010, April Wine was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, with Myles Goodwyn and Brian Greenway accepting. The ceremony was held during the Juno Awards April 18, 2010 in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.
LeBoeuf left April Wine in July 2011 and was replaced by Richard Lanthier from the Yes tribute band called Close to the Edge.
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 Blair Mackay, who replaced Mercer in January 2009.