Alan Gorrie, a Scottish bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and singer and founding member of the Average White Band chats with Kevin Cooper about touring for fifty-two years, reforming the band in 1989, the AWB logo and their final Farewell Tour.

Alan Gorrie is a Scottish bassist, guitarist, keyboardist and singer and is the founding member of the Average White Band. He remains one of two original members in the group’s current line-up, Onnie McIntyre being the other.

Having previously played in Forever More, he formed the Average White Band in London in 1972 who became a successful Funk and R n’ B group. They became best known for their million selling instrumental Pick Up The Pieces, their 1974 album AWB and 1975’s Cut The Cake.

AWB’s break through was a support slot at Eric Clapton’s comeback concert in 1973. MCA Records released their debut album, Show Your Hand in 1973 which unfortunately sold poorly. Clapton’s tour manager, Bruce McCaskill agreed to manage them. He borrowed money to take them to America and managed to get Atlantic Records to sign them. They then released AWB, better known as The White Album which reached number one in the charts. In 1975 the single Pick Up The Pieces from that album reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The group initially disbanded in 1983, but reformed in 1989 with only Alan Gorrie and Onnie McIntyre being the constant members. AWB have in total released twelve studio albums, seven live albums and nine compilation albums. They have announced that this latest tour will unfortunately be their last.

Whilst busy preparing for their Farewell Tour, Alan Gorrie took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Good morning, Alan how are you doing today?

Hi Kevin, I’m good thanks for asking. It’s warm and sunny here so I am very happy. However, more to the point, just how are you today?

I’m doing okay thank you and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

You are quite welcome; I am very pleased that you have done this, because as you know BBC Radio Nottingham in your neighbourhood was the only BBC Regional Station to decline an interview in the build up to the tour, despite the station regularly playing Average White Band tracks. Our PR guy, Dave at Planet Earth, couldn’t believe it.

(Laughter) I have to say that I personally find it unbelievable because The Average White Band were one of, if not the number one soul and funk band of the 70s and 80s. Back then you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Pick Up The Pieces or Let’s Go Round Again and the music that you guys made was never off the radio.

I would have to agree with you there, after Daryl Hall and John Oates I suppose, they were the two artists who were able to actually execute soul music convincingly and genuinely. Anyway, it is all coming to an end unfortunately, as these things have to. There is a lifespan to everything.

It’s funny that you should mention Hall and Oates as we have recently heard the announcement that they really do not like each other (laughter).

That’s right; I do know that Daryl and John no longer get along. John became a born-again Christian, and that always seems to carry with it the burden of rejection to anyone who is not following in the same footsteps. The two have also had a legal difference over their publishing catalogue which I find distressing because I know from bitter experience the one thing that you should never do is break-up your catalogue.

For one, when it is intact, it is far more accessible. Everybody from film directors to advertising agencies, you name it know exactly where to go for a one-stop shop to get a tune or whatever. However, if you split it up, it all gets piddly jiggly and then people just don’t bother. They will move on to somewhere else where they will get one stab at getting what it is that they want in one go. So, I really do not know just why John is doing this, I really don’t. I have always found him to be a lovely lad, but he’s decided to go down a different road to Daryl; it happens (laughter).

Well now that we have sorted out Daryl and John’s problems I have to ask you, just how is life treating you?

Life at the moment is very nice thank you. I am currently working on the UK tour; I’m trying to get a running order of songs that we want to play on the tour. What we want to do is to get stuff that we played right at the beginning, and feature some of that early on in the programme. It will be stuff that we haven’t played over there in the UK for many a year. So, I am busy doing that at the moment; I am up to my armpits in all that stuff (laughter). But, to answer your question, life is treating me fine thank you.

We have had fifty two glorious years of The Average White Band, why is it coming to an end right now?

Firstly, let me thank you for your kind words. It’s always nice to hear when someone like you really does appreciate what we have been doing for those fifty two years and for that I truly thank you. In answer to your question, it’s a logical, natural thing for us to do. There is a lifespan to everything whether it is a tree or a person, a genre of music or what have you, and we just felt that this was the right time to be totally honest about it and say, “look folks, we are going to stop touring, we are going to do it this year, and we are going to give you one last great throw of the dice and do it properly.”

When you consider that we could only tour Britain once every three years, I know that Onnie (McIntyre) and I are not going to be able to do it in another three years. So, we thought that this is a good time, we are still fit and healthy, we can still sing, play and jig about, and give it our best shot so let’s do it at the end of this year then we don’t have to worry about touring anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we can still make a record; we can do a special something together, or do a TV show or whatever but it is the touring that we are stopping really. We are not just stopping music; we are simply stopping the touring.

Are you looking forward to the forthcoming UK tour, and will it be tinged with a bit of sadness?

There will always be a bittersweet element whenever we finish a night playing all of the stuff that you have done all of your life, knowing that you and the audience are never going to be there together again (laughter). That is going to be a little bittersweet, but I am sure that we will keep it all together, but yes, it is going to be tinged with a bit of sadness at the end of every evening, simply because we won’t see those folks again, and they won’t see us again. That is obviously going to weigh on us a little bit, but I know that we are not going to let that tinge the performance in any way, shape or form, or any of the energy that we are putting into it. It is just going to be one of the factors of us being upfront saying, “that’s it folks” (laughter).

What, if anything, do you know of our fair city?

Unfortunately, I don’t know that much about Nottingham at all because as far as I know, we have only ever appeared in Nottingham once and that was back in 1979 or 1980 in a TV thing at a theatre that was not far from what used to be Yate’s Wine Lodge. That is my last memory of Nottingham I am sad to say. But I can’t for the life of me recall anything more than that (laughter).

Well, I just might be able to help you there (laughter). It was 1980 and you performed at The Theatre Royal here in Nottingham for a TV show called Rock Goes To College. I was fortunate enough to be there (laughter).

Wow, is that right and you were actually there, well tell me, were we any good (laughter). Now you come to mention it, I do seem to recall the show being in a small, intimate venue, something like an old music hall. If we get the time, I might just pop into the theatre and have a look around, see if it stirs up any old memories.

I’m biased but I have to say that you were very good.

Thanks for that, I’m so pleased that we actually managed to put on a good show, even though I can’t remember it (laughter). I have to tell you that my current knowledge of Nottingham is being a bit of a fan of Nottingham Forest Football Club (laughter). When we were at Atlantic Records, a very good friend of ours David Clipshome who was from Nottingham took me to the League Cup Final at Wembley. I’m sure that you know that it was the year that Liverpool played Nottingham Forest and I have to tell you that I have been a closet Forest fan forever since (laughter). I am keeping my fingers crossed that they are one of the teams who can keep away from the trapdoor this year.

We are currently waiting to see the outcome of out appeal regarding the points deduction.

Really! Jesus Christ, not you as well. Why do the powers that be always manage to pick on the smaller clubs with their admitted infringements when a club like Manchester City who have something like 115 pending infringements don’t get touched? I personally feel that it is a case of money talks and the rest of us walk. I’m not surprised, that is just typical of governments and policy all over the world now. The bigger you are, the safer you are. The Football League has become a big political organisation like everything else, whilst the actual game itself, together with the fans no longer seem to matter. I get the feeling that they are more concerned about the worldwide TV audience together with the income from all of that, together with the advertising, but please, do not get me started on that (laughter).

That is a real bugbear of mine. You can ban a player for nine months, for betting. Meanwhile on his shirt he has got a betting company, and all around the ground there are advertisements for Betway and Bet 365. Whenever I see a Premier League game, it is all about betting adverts. The temptation must be absolutely incredible for these guys to actually have a flutter, and then they get a bit addicted to it. They punish them whilst meanwhile the advertising and the income from betting literally pours in. It is just so easy, if you have a mobile phone, you don’t even have to go to the bookies anymore; it’s crazy, absolutely crazy.

Now that we have at least tried to correct some of the Premier League’s mistakes, I suppose that we really should get back to the band, don’t you agree?

(Laughter) only if we must.

Taking you back to 1972 when you co-founded the band, could you ever envisage that you would still be playing and still be as influential some fifty two years later?

(Laughter) no, of course not. Absolutely no way could we have seen past five or ten years, in fact ten years was a stretch for any band back in those days. Especially when you were doing something that was off the beaten track in terms of what UK music was all about in 1972 when we started forming the band. We were actually bucking the trend with soul music and R n’ B when Britain was firmly in the grip of the likes of David Bowie, Hard Rock and Prog Rock. All of that was The British Invasion around the world with bands like (Led) Zeppelin, it was all what I call Kerrang in one way or another (laughter). We were going for a very subtle, quiet, tucked-in approach to soul music. We knew that we were taking a chance, but we never saw longevity in it.

In 2011 you enlisted the services of lead sing Brent Carter who most of us will recognise from his time spent with Tower Of Power. When you approached Brent, just how long did it take him to agree to join the band?

About two minutes (laughter). Brent had been a friend of ours for a long time, as we did a lot of gigs in the States with Tower Of Power. Brent was the lead singer in Tower Of Power for around six years, certainly at a time when we played a lot of gigs with them. He always liked to join us on stage for the encore, or he would pop up at our sound checks in order to sing some of our stuff. He was a little more familiar with that kind of singing than what Tower Of Power needed which was very much belting it out at the top of your lungs all the time in order to defeat a horn section (laughter).

Let me say that I am not demeaning Tower Of Power in any way, but for a singer that is a very tough task. It was such a difficult task that Brent would often lose his voice whilst singing with Tower Of Power. I have to say that never happens to him with AWB because quite honestly, he has said in front of the guys in Tower Of Power, “where I grew up, we didn’t grow up with Tower Of Power, we grew up with AWB” which was the music that his family and friends all listened to when he was growing up. So, it was an easy, natural fit for Brent.

There can’t be a person in the world who hasn’t heard Pick Up The Pieces, who doesn’t know Pick Up The Pieces, or perhaps has a copy of the record in their collection. Did that one single track open doors and make things easier for the Average White Band?

Yes, in a word completely. It was one of those universal things that happen once in a while. When a song has no words, no lyrics, it doesn’t come up against any preconceived barriers that people might have or have to learn or think about. It is simply a piece of music. If it then has a groove that can’t stop people dancing, which it infectiously continues to do, then you really are quid’s in really when you think about it (laughter). You have got this wonderful groove together with a great melody that everybody knows deep in the back of their head, even if they don’t know who it is or who did it, that riff is ingrained in life nowadays. So, in answer to your question, for the AWB it opened millions of doors, and took us across boundaries culturally, musically, and racially as well.

This won’t surprise you when I say that I have been listening to my AWB collection over the past couple of days and I have picked out three songs which I feel highlight and represent the body of work that the AWB put out. They are Soul Searching, Queen Of My Soul and It’s A Mystery. Putting you firmly on the spot, do you have a favourite AWB song?

No, I don’t have one favourite, but I will say that I have got quite a lot of favourites (laughter). You will be pleased to know that Queen Of My Soul is one of them, as it happens. I do really love Atlantic Avenue, I love playing live When Will You Be Mine, I don’t know what it is about that tune, it’s like Pick Up The Pieces, it just seems to play and sing itself. Obviously, Let’s Go Round Again has become over the years something of an anthem, and again, it is one of those things which simply cannot fail. You would have to really bugger it up to get a poor reaction to that (laughter). I love Soul Searching which, as you know, became an album title track, and that was our biggest Platinum album here in the States.

It was one of those albums where we kind of put a whole program together and the album flowed from one song to the next to the next. We had a lot of different orchestral and instrumental aspects to that album so yes, that song has a real resonance for me oh, and I wrote it (laughter), which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I like playing it, nothing at all, honestly (laughter). The songs that are easy to play make themselves bloody obvious and they are the ones that become our favourites. I really do love Person To Person; I love Keeping It To Myself, that’s one that Ben E King picked for the album that we made with him. I was well chuffed with that, and we really did a lovely version with him, so we are actually going to be playing that on the tour. It was one of the early ones that other artists liked to perform as well.

With AWB having such an immense back catalogue, just how difficult is it for you to put a set list together for the forthcoming tour?

Yes, I have to be totally honest with you and say yes, it is difficult. It is also difficult to gauge what different audiences might like because the audience is not homogenises, wherever you go, different cities, different places seem to like different pieces of music. What we try and do is get a feel from people like yourself ahead of time to know, ‘well that might play well in Nottingham, this might play in Manchester and in Glasgow we know that it is going to be this’ and so on and so forth. I liken it to putting out a team to play a game of football; you might not put out the same team that you put out against Liverpool that you would against Luton. It is totally horses for courses, trying to gage what the atmosphere on the night might be, and just what the reception will be.

Being as professional as you all are, I suppose if one song isn’t working then you can slip out of one song and easily drop into another?

Oh yes, we can switch gears at any time if we realise that there is an atmosphere in the audience that is leaning one way. We call it calling an audible, which goes something like, ‘right lads turn left’ (laughter). We will do something on the spur of the moment, on stage, which a lot of people won’t even notice. We have got signals and things which we will use in order to make a change from the menu.

Taking you back to 1983, looking back, was it the right time for you to call it a day temporarily?

Yes, it was the perfect time to call it a day. We had started to bicker, there were musical differences, and after that magical ten years it’s what happens. I can’t think of many artists; The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, to anybody who haven’t had a split of some kind after ten years of doing it, especially living in each other’s pockets for those ten years. People automatically develop a little bit, they grow in other directions, they want to do other things, sometimes it’s all convivial, sometimes it’s not quite as convivial, and so for us, that ended up being a divorce for us at that time. We all moved on and went to different pastures.

Hamish (Stewart) went to work with Paul McCartney, Steve (Ferrone) went to work with Eric (Clapton), I went to work with Daryl Hall, and I did a lot of writing with people as varied as Smokey Robinson, Ronnie Milsap and Jacki Graham over there in London (laughter). I found myself all over the place being a roving writer as it were. We all found new careers in a way and that was the right thing to do. We couldn’t have done any of these things if the band had stuck together of course. Plus, at that time we really were not getting along with our record company Arista here in the States and I have to say that was really unfortunate.

They didn’t understand what the Average White Band were all about, and it was just one of those marriages that certainly wasn’t made in heaven. The empathy between the AWB and Atlantic Records was terrific, so much so that RCA in the United Kingdom really were fantastic with us, but obviously the parent label was over here in the States which so happened to be Arista at that moment in time, and they just didn’t get it. Whenever that happens you almost feel like you are orphans, you really do. It certainly doesn’t help the situation; it’s as if the players and the coach are trying to do one thing, whilst the upstairs officers are making decisions that don’t make sense (laughter). I keep analogising to football simply because the same things apply; what’s bad in the boardroom is bad for the boys on the pitch and bad for us out there on the stage.

The band reformed back in 1989, you have briefly mentioned Hamish. Was it a shock or was it expected that he would no longer be a part of the AWB?

To be totally honest with you it was neither one nor the other. Having said that I couldn’t imagine that he would have wanted to be a part of the band. At that time, he was already off on another world altogether and has continued to do so. What you have to remember is that Onnie, Hamish, and I didn’t part ways on the best of terms anyway. So, in reality, it was never expected that Hamish would rejoin the band. So those of us who really did want to do it together got back and formed the nucleus of AWB Mk 2 (laughter).

Who has influenced you musically?

Oh my Lord (laughter) now then, just where do I start (laughter). As a bass player James Jamerson would be at the top of the list for the tremendous work that he did at Motown. I would have to include Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn over at Stax Records when you remember all of those great records by Booker T. & the M.G.’s. Before that, there was an old stand-up jazz bass player called Ray Brown, my dad pointed him out to me when I was 10 years old and it was Ray Brown who got me interested in the bass. If we are talking vocally then its number one, number two and number three and they are all Marvin Gaye (laughter).

When you think of his repertoire he was the man with three different voices. As well as Marvin I loved Wilson Pickett, I loved Otis Redding, I love Al Green, all of these people were huge influences on me, and Stevie Winwood. Stevie was always the unsung hero of British soul singers, what an amazing singer. All of these people influenced me as a vocalist. Guitar playing wise I loved Bobby Womack, I love Phil Upchurch, I tend to like the chunky guitar players and not so much the soloists. I love the guys that make that groove thing happen. Thinking about it I would have to put Bobby Womack into the singer category too, what a soulful singer he was.

I was recently talking to Simon Bartholomew and Andrew Levy, the guys from The Brand New Heavies and they told me that they took their influences from you and the Average White Band.

Did they really, poor boys (laughter). That really is so lovely to hear, honestly. I went to one of their early press receptions which was being held at a small place called The Orange in West London, West Kensington. I went along quite late in the evening, to this gig that they were doing with some friends. This was right at the start of the Acid Jazz scene here in the UK. So, a friend and I went along to see them, and their encore was Pick Up The Pieces (laughter). For some reason or other I didn’t get to meet them; the place was jam packed as it should have been, and I have to say that they were great, they really were great.

And when they finished off with Pick Up The Pieces and I thought, ‘well good lord’ (laughter). ‘How nice is that.’ They made a huge impact, and I think that it actually helped us, The Heavies together with Incognito, The New Disciples, and a few of the Acid Jazz guys as they were classified at that time. They actually helped bring back the R n’ B music that we did traditionally. Without them, it might have been harder for our new band, as it were, to make its mark once again and start rebuilding an audience.

I was recently listening to Work To Do from AWB your second studio album, back in 1974, and without meaning any disrespect to anyone involved with the song, I have always thought that it would have been a perfect song for The O’Jays and one Edward (Eddie) Willis Levert.

I have to agree with you and say that it is a fantastic tune. We had come back from Los Angeles after working with Bonnie Bramlett with a bundle of albums under our arms, and one of the albums was Brother, Brother, Brother by The Isley Brothers. We loved the whole album but in particular we all loved that track. We felt that if we upped the tempo a bit and put a horn section on it we would be quids in with that one. I have always honestly felt that should have been the second single off what we call The White Album, which has AWB on it (laughter). We always thought that Atlantic Records should have put that out as a single, instead of rushing us into the studio to write a new album.

It would have bought us some time, and that time would have allowed us to write a better album than Cut The Cake became. I have to be totally honest with you and say that there were a few fillers on that album, in our opinion and that was because they really rushed us back into the studio. They thought that Cut The Cake was the follow-up because it had the horn riff in the middle. We kind of knew that Work To Do could have been a hit single around the world. It had great vocals together with all of the elements, and going back to your question regarding favourite tracks, well there’s another (laughter). It is another tune that plays itself night after night.

On the subject of The Isley Brothers, in 2018 you recorded, what I personally feel is a brilliant version of Harvest For The World with Chris Jasper. Just how did that materialise?

I gave Chris a call, and said, “we love Harvest For The World, and we would like to find a new way of doing it. Would you be interested in coming along and producing it with us” to which Chris replied, “yes, absolutely” and he lives not far from me. I went round to his place and his son is a bit of a programmer, so we talked about it and Chris suggested that we bring the tempo down and do the song more as a modern-day ballad. So, Chris got his son to do some programming and bit by bit it worked out.

After that, we went into the studio with Chris, and in doing that, Chris said that when he heard our version of Work To Do, because he played piano on The Isley Brothers version, he was the kid on the piano, he said, “I always wanted that to be a horn thing and damn it, I hear you guys and you have done what I wanted to do” (laughter). Chris was blown away when he heard our version of Work To Do. He had a feeling that the piano section should have been a horn thing, but The Isley’s didn’t really use horns on any of that album, so he just played that part on the Grand Piano. It really was great fun working with Chris.

I was fortunate enough to interview Ernie Isley, who, as you knew, is a tremendous guitar player.

Yes, just a bit (laughter). Ernie is also on that album playing acoustic guitar.

They were scheduled to come over to the UK on a fiftieth anniversary tour of Shout, but then Covid hit, and they have never re-arranged the tour.

To be totally honest with you, I really don’t know what condition Ronald (Isley) is in these days, to tell you the truth, and I don’t think that Chris has been remotely involved with The Isley Brothers for a long time now so it would just be the two of them, Ronald and Ernie. Chris used to be an integral part of the band, Fight The Power and all these later 70s and early 80s albums. Chris and Ernie were a huge part of that.

I asked Ernie if he, together with Chris, were now going to take the plaudits and accept that they were the two players responsible for putting the funk into The Isley Brothers and he simply wouldn’t have any of it. He really is such a humble human being. He said that, in his opinion, the sound had just evolved.

I believe that. I think that’s what happens. The Isley’s, like ourselves, have never been afraid to cover other people’s tunes. On the album that I am talking about, Brother, Brother, Brother they covered Carol King tunes, they covered Jackie DeShannon tunes, they covered all sorts of things and made them their own because of their sound so, things do evolve that way especially when you are writing your own stuff.

When you get into rehearsals and then into the studio, rehearsal takes one direction and then you get back into the studio and everything evolves a little further with the producer and all of the situations in there, together with the relationships between the musicians. Whenever you are making real records as we call them, you have pretty much got all of the musicians sitting around in a circle, eyeballing each other, and that is where the magic comes from. So what Ernie is saying is absolutely true.

These arrangements and these things do evolve naturally just as long as you are all working together. It’s not evident in the kind of music that is made by people sending each other files via email, with a note saying, ‘add your guitar part here’ and, ‘stick your vocal there’ and ‘wave a flag there’ (laughter). It is a whole different way of making music. I understand it but it doesn’t create the sort of magic that gives me the chills. All that we have ever wanted to do is make the kind of music that will give the people the shivers.

We keep mentioning the fact that you have now been in the business for fifty-two years, have you enjoyed the ride so far?

Yes, I have, very much. Having said that I have to admit that it has been a lot harder since Covid-19. Covid put a real kick into everything from travel to logistics to accommodation. The entire infrastructure that we used to rely on faultlessly is no longer the same, and a lot of the people who we used to rely on for help, guidance and all that have now quit since Covid. We are now lacking a lot of the really great professional people that made the business run like silk.

I asked Burt Bacharach the same question and he said that in his opinion the whole music industry changed after 9-11 as no one no longer enjoyed travelling after the events of that dreadful day.

I have to totally agree with Burt’s sentiments, it’s quite true. It took a very long time for American domestic travel together with culture and attitudes to come back to equilibrium after 9-11. It was the first time that the United States had ever been attacked on its own soil, apart from Pearl Harbour. And none of us were around for Pearl Harbour. It was the first time since Pearl Harbour that the United States had been attacked. I was born in 1946 and basically with my parents and my grand-parents we were literally still in the war, mentality. There is no way that you can let go of six years of war footing in a year or two.

I can remember ration books until I was six years old and austerity until I was probably twelve. It was a whole different mindset and I suppose that we were much more blasé about the events of 9-11 than the Americans were because Britain had been attacked, Britain was in the war, and we knew what it was all about. We had been there, seen it, it had happened to us, again and again. So, for Americans 9-11 was a whole new experience, a brand-new shock and for that I forgive them for the time that it has taken them to get over it, if, in fact they have ever got over it.

I’m so please that you mentioned Burt Bacharach, what a great musician, writer, performer, conductor, and arranger. , I have just recently watched a documentary whilst in the States on Burt, which featured Dionne Warwick, Dusty Springfield, Cilla (Black), almost everybody who Burt ever worked with and listening to the accolades that they had for him, his work ethic and everything was simply amazing.

Burt did speak fondly of the rivalry between Cilla and Dionne. As you know, whenever Dionne released a record over there in the States Cilla would cover it here in the UK and have the bigger hit with it. Burt said that Dionne hated that so much that she could not be in the same room as Cilla.

Let me tell you, that was normal in those days. Back in the 1960 we didn’t get the imports here, and that is something that really became a part of everyday life in the 70s. Almost every artist here in the UK at some stage or another covered American artists. Those were the only ones that record companies would put out and promoted. What you have to remember is that when I was growing up there was hardly any music on the radio at all, not until we had Radio Luxemburg and then Pirate Radio that we had a constant supply of R n’ R and modern music.

All that we had was what the good old BBC played on the Light Programme (laughter). It’s true, so the only records that would get promoted were the British versions of American records. However, that said, both Dusty’s and Cilla’s versions were absolutely brilliant. I can remember Burt coming over to the UK and he arranged, conducted, and produced the Cilla version of one of his tracks here in London. So, it wasn’t just a slide-by cover, Burt was actually on the studio floor with Cilla.

I loved Dusty’s work in particular Dusty In Memphis. There are rumours abound regarding Dusty being a total diva and a pain in the backside to work with, so I asked Burt for his take on the situation.

Did you really, and what did he have to say on the matter?

He said that as with most albums that he had worked on, it was hard work, but they needed to get it done so in his words he became a taskmaster, they worked together on the album, and everything was okay.

I have to tell you that in my opinion Dusty was one of the shyest people ever. Obviously, for many an album we worked with Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd, so we got the lowdown from them on what it was like working with Dusty on the Dusty In Memphis album. They both said that Dusty was not confident in her abilities; she needed coaxing and help in a foreign environment, where she had never been before, working with a set of musicians who she had never met before, with a programme of music which they all believed that she could deliver, and she wasn’t sure that she could deliver it.

Dusty was one of those people who was fraught with indecision and self-consciousness and all sorts of things. Her whole life was driven by a kind of bi-polar thing. She certainly had that in the studio, particularly when she was recording Dusty In Memphis. I have never heard anyone giving her a bad rep, and I have to say that she was a truly amazing singer. Take The Look Of Love; what a vocal performance, she doesn’t try to dress it up as something else, she just sings perfectly, she takes Burt’s cue and I remember her doing a beautiful duet with Burt on one of the British TV shows and it was just marvellous.

Do you have any regrets?

Not off the top of my head (laughter). Let me put it this way, if I had to do it all over again, then yes, I would do it exactly the same way. Of course, there have been ups and downs but there have been so many great ups, so many highs, and so many wonderful things have happened to us on this journey, so much so that I wouldn’t change a thing. If you don’t have any down bits you don’t learn. Honestly, you learn from the games that you lose, far more than the games that you win.

That helped to strengthen us, and it has most probably really helped Onnie and I to keep this going, certainly in the last 15 years, and keep building it up as much as we humanly can. We needed the earlier setbacks in life to instruct us as how to deal with all of that and help the younger guys in the band to deal with their ups and downs as well. I would say to them, “this is okay you will get over this, all we have to do is this, that and the next thing and it will work” (laughter). We have learnt that from the setbacks and from my personal point of view, it has been absolutely brilliant. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Who is finally going to own up to having a lady’s bottom for a band logo?

(Hysterical laughter) that would be me. I’m to blame for that (laughter)

It has to be one of the most distinguishable logos that I have ever seen. From the very moment that you see it you immediately know who it is and what it is.

It is not politically correct in a lot of places nowadays, but I can’t help that. As you say it is instantly recognisable; it has, let’s say, achieved its aim, its original aim. For me it was the most obvious thing for me to do with a W especially if you have a warped mind (laughter).

I have to tell you that I have been playing The Blue Workshop today.

Have you really (laughter). Well, The Blue Workshop is where the nucleus of The Average White Band was born. I have to tell you that it is that song, The Blue Workshop that accurately describes the place where artists would come from all over Scotland on the second Sunday of every month and jam together. We got a feeling of the jazz artists meeting the soul music singers, like me, together with a few rock musicians, everybody joined in and found a new way to perform with each other.

From that myself, Mollie Duncan, and Rodger Ball all met and hung out, enjoyed each other’s company there and in the ensuing time until The Average White Band started, Mollie and I kept saying, “we have got to get the team back together again somehow or other” in the meantime the good ones all gravitated to London and at that point it became possible for is to put the band together.

When I was listening to The Blue Workshop, I thought that it had a Steely Dan feel to it.

Wow, did you think so, that’s really great to hear. When I first put the track together, all that I was thinking about was Ramsey Lewis. So, I was basically making a track bed that was similar to The ‘In’ Crowd. I was trying to find that groove, that’s what was in my mind and the track bed for the tune.

And a massive tune here in the UK on the Northern Soul scene was Wade In The Water by Ramsey Lewis.

Oh yes, absolutely. Ramsey Lewis was a great favourite of all of us, he was a lovely piano player, really brilliant, and everything that he did was fabulous. Those live records: The ‘In’ Crowd, Wade In The Water, all that stuff, right up to the album Sun Goddess which Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire produced because Maurice used to play the drums for Ramsey.

Any thoughts on any solo work?

Once I get through this year of touring because I simply do not have the time right now. I have got to find the time to stop the bus in order to take care of a couple of things that I have got on my docket (laughter). I have a couple of things in mind, but I just can’t get the time, these things need time. That’s it (laughter).

Who did you first see performing live in concert?

That would have been a band from Dundee called The Poor Souls. They had a wonderful singer and bass player called Doug Martin who was the godfather of soul in East Scotland.

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

That would have been I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt. Also, up there would have to be Piano In The Dark by Brenda Russell.

I have been fortunate to see Bonnie a couple of time now and what can you say; she is such a fantastic performer.

(Laughter) she is absolutely brilliant.

She currently opens her show with her version of Need You Tonight by Inxs.

(laughter) she’s got balls I tell you.

What is currently on your live rider?

Some Tequila for the horn players and Brent, a bottle of Scotch for me, Onnie, and the crew, lots of lemonade, biscuits, and lots of dark chocolate please (laughter), and perhaps the odd packet or two of dark chocolate digestives (laughter). There would be plenty of tea and honey in an attempt to hold on to our voices for as long as we can.

Testing your memory, what was the first record that you bought?

That would be a 78 rpm of Blue Suede Shoes by Elvis Presley.

Has it survived the test of time?

It just might be amongst all of my dad’s old 78s which are currently residing in the basement (laughter). We had them shipped over here when the family home in Scotland got broken up once my uncles and aunts had all passed away. There was no way that we were ever going to put the records up for sale. So, we actually had them shipped over and they all survived. I think that those 78s of Elvis, Buddy Holly and Bill Hayley will be in amongst those currently stored in the basement. They are all available on CD nowadays, so I already have all of the CD versions (laughter).

I will be at Rock City on 13th May photographing and reviewing the gig there.

That’s great Kevin; I’d like to meet you then.

Alan on that note let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been absolutely delightful. You take care and good luck with the tour.

Thank you, Kevin it really has been wonderful. I have really enjoyed talking to you. It’s a big ask, 18 dates so we will take all of the luck that we can get. Make sure that you come by and say hello when we get over there to Nottingham. Bye for now.

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